Microsoft developer directions: One Windows core doesn't mean one store

Does a common Windows core across phone, PC/tablet and entertainment console mean there also will be a single store across these platforms? Not yet, if ever.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

During this week's Build 2013 developer conference, many of the nearly 6,000 attendees were hoping and expecting to hear more about Microsoft's unified Windows platform vision.


But next-to-nothing new was said -- at least in sessions I've attended and heard others discuss in the past two days -- about the progress Microsoft is making toward "write once and run on any Windows" vision.

Microsoft Developer and Platform Evangelism Chief Steve Guggenheimer teased the keynote crowd a bit today by advising developers who wanted to get a head start in building apps for Xbox One to cut their teeth by building Windows 8 apps. This wasn't a startling revelation, given that we already know that the Xbox One includes a Windows core that includes many of the same components that the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 cores include.

In an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit on June 27, Guggenheimer shared a few more tidbits about Microsoft's cross-Windows dev-platform vision.

When asked whether there might be a possibility of any "framework for a 'universal app' structure, Guggenheimer reconfirmed Microsoft is working to improve code reuse across the different Windows platforms.

(His exact response was: "Well, it is always a little different on different devices because of the size & input differences, but we are doing a lot of work to make it as easy as possible to reuse code and layout when building across multiple devices.")

Guggenheimer declined to provide any new guidance as to when and whether there will ever be a unified store for Windows Phone, Windows and Xbox.

"Nothing to disclose on Stores today," he told another questioner on Reddit.

Later in the Reddit session, Guggenheimer was asked again whether there ever will be just one store across phone, tablet/PC and Xbox.

"We have some good learning from the client/server model on where the common core is effective and where it is not. We want to continue to take that learning to the devices/services model," he replied. (I kind of take that as a no, but maybe I'm reading into things.)

Guggenheimer provided some hints on other developer topics during today's Reddit.

On how Microsoft plans to encourage development of higher quality apps, Guggenheimer said "One of the things we are doing on our team is looking at a combination of downloads and ratings as a way to give feedback to our partners and developers. We're also amping up our technical team and resources to help developers improve their apps.

On when and whether Microsoft plans to bring WinJS support to Windows Phone, he answered "We hear ya :)"

On the topic of why Microsoft isn't fully supporting XNA as a gaming-development framework in the future, Guggenheimer reiterated that Microsoft's work to create more commonalities across Windows variants requires "some tradeoffs."

"XNA was a great tool but we've been going towards a common core we need some common frameworks and programming models. Using Unity allows devs to target more devices with the frameworks," he said.

(Microsoft and Unity announced a new partnership at Build today.)

Microsoft officials have said that in order to publish apps in the Xbox Store, developers will have to be Microsoft Studios publishing partners. But when chided for not announcing details of plans for supporting indie gamers on Xbox One this week, Guggenheimer deflected that criticsm.

He said: "The intent was not to announce a program for indies, but we did want to give developers confidence that from a technology perspective that we are really building towards a common core without announcing any new or specific programs for the Xbox One."

And as to why there was basically nothing at Build this week about what's coming on the Windows Phone development/OS front, Guggenheimer simply said "there was nothing new to disclose on Windows Phone today," and "stay tuned for more to come." As I've noted previously, the timing of Build this year was not great for Windows Phone, as Windows Phone 8 GDR3 isn't expected until fall 2013, and Windows Phone Blue not until early 2014, according to sources.

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