MS wants Win10 on a billion devices, will support Android apps

— 2:25 PM on April 29, 2015

Microsoft wants Windows 10 to be the platform for developers. At its Build 2015 keynote this afternoon, the company set some ambitious targets for Windows 10 adoption, and it unveiled some initiatives to make building Windows apps easier for developers also working on competing platforms.

Windows 10 wouldn't be appealing to developers without a large installed base. To that end, Microsoft wants as many devices as possible running Windows 10, and it's set a target of a billion devices running Windows 10 within "two or three years" of the new operating system's release. The company's plan to make Windows 10 a free upgrade within the first year of its release should significantly help encourage users to adopt the new OS.

Another major theme of the keynote was building bridges to developers on other platforms, most notably iOS and Android. Windows 10 will include an "Android subsystem" with extensions to Windows services like location information to allow developers to re-use their existing Android code. Microsoft demonstrated this feature by showing a hotel-finding app, originally built for Android, running on a Windows-based phone and searching out hotels in San Francisco based on the device's location.

iOS developers will be able to get in on the fun, too. Microsoft VP Terry Myerson demonstrated an Objective-C Xcode project that had been converted into a Visual Studio solution. He then demonstrated the app running in a simulator on Windows. Myerson noted that the wildly popular Candy Crush Saga had already been ported to Windows using this process, and he claimed that developer King only needed to make a few modifications to its code to make the jump.

These initiatives could entice developers to pay more attention to the Windows platform, but companies like BlackBerry have already attempted to bring Android apps onto their platforms with little success. If Microsoft meets its goal of moving a billion users onto Windows 10, however, that platform could become difficult for developers to ignore.

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