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Microsoft: ‘We still have some work to do to get iOS developers to work with us’

Visits to Microsoft’s app store in Windows 10 may be eight times the rate of Windows 8 but the business still has some work to do to convince more developers to work with it, according to marketing boss Yusuf Mehdi.

The technology business has gambled the success of Windows 10 on the idea of Universal Windows Apps, an app that will work exactly the same way on a smartphone, computer, tablet and the Xbox One console because it uses literally the same code on every device. It's designed to appease those developers reluctant to spend big sums of money repurposing their apps from the more established operating systems to Windows.

Over 1.25 billion people have visited the store since it launched in the summer, but developers aren’t taking to the offering as fast as Microsoft would like, which has pushed it to redouble efforts to explain how the more integrated experience is boosting engagement.

“We have to get more Universal Windows Platform Apps running, that’s been growing every month and that’s been good,” said Microsoft's corporate vice president of Windows and devices group Mehdi at the Credit Suisse Technology Broker Conference this week (1 December). “When we’re talking to developers the big part of what they say is, 'look, I’ve made this huge investment in code, is there way for me to leverage that and the ability to take the IOS and do that bridge?'”

Microsoft launched the app store in July as part of Windows 10 and wants the operating system to hit a billion monthly active users by 2018, cementing its goal positioning as service rather than typical product. Such a broad userbase would prove irresistible for developers, particularly when it comes to gaming.

An Xbox ships with Windows 10 and that lets players stream games from their console straight to their PC; so if someone is in the living room watching a movie on the console for instance, the other person could be in another room playing a game.

But despite the early signs of success, Microsoft’s mobile manoeuvre still has a mountain to climb. iOS and Android devices dominate the mobile space, making developers less inclined to have a mobile experience on desktop in the way that Microsoft envisages. With Universal Apps, the technology business is trying to prove the relevancy of its Windows platform, although time will tell whether developers will think this too.

Apps are set to be a hotly contested battleground in the tussle between technology giants to monetise mobile inventory. Its value to media owners and advertisers has been boosted by the fact that (for now) ad blockers don’t work within them, while Google’s Eric Schmidt has said the popularity of apps is “reordering dominance of [technology] leaders”.

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