In my last post I focussed on the role Project Scorpio and Windows Mixed Reality will play in VR gaming.

Windows 10 is the final version of windows. Windows as a service delivers incremental updates frequently instead of less frequent version upgrades. Universal Windows Platform is the code-it-once and use-it-everywhere app platform. W10 underwent 3 major updates till date and has attained many new features along the way.

However, one question still lingers around and that is the engagement of developers and the trust they have on Windows.

In this post I will try to answer this question and why it matters for VR.

Lets Talk Some Context

As you may remember in the last post I said Microsoft has the best vision of VR’s future and I still vouch for that.

Vision is one thing but implementing and seeing-it-through to the end is a whole another story.

Microsoft themselves failed at doing this with Windows Phone. The platform was a breath of fresh air for smartphones and had the best home screen implementation till date on a smartphone. But, with its failure Microsoft hurt many developers who invested heavily in the platform.

In today’s tech-space companies like Microsoft cannot survive without developers. Evident from the dominance of android, despite being a not-so-secure or beautiful OS. It is a story of developer trust and that trust being backed up by google.

The story at MS’s end is very different, yes Windows has like 7 million WIN32 apps and the main reason being the lack of a better alternative. In mobile space developers had much better alternatives and they embraced them, hence the demise of windows phone or windows 10 mobile.

The Problem

Windows 10 app ecosystem hasn’t exactly thrived 

The very concept of UWP apps was brilliant. It reduces the developer’s workload by a great deal. They also introduced a number of  “bridges” that promised to reduce workload even further. These “bridges” were meant to let the developer code for any platform (android ,iOS, web and even WIN32) and use around 60-80% of that code and deploy it as a UWP apps.

The UWP bridges slide form BUILD 2015
The UWP bridges slide form BUILD 2015

Visual studio was converted as the only solution you will need to build apps for almost all platforms(with the inclusion of Xamarin). In-spite of all this W10 is not regarded as the best place to develop or monetize.

Reasons That Limit W10 Success

The Windows 10 store is the primary one. Even after three major platform updates the store is still not the best place to exhibit your apps.

There are thousands of brilliantly designed true -UWP apps showing the platform in all its glory. Yet these flares of brilliance gets drenched in between other “crappy” apps that flood the store.

  • Ill-equipped Search functionality: There is no way to know whether the game if for pc or mobile unless you open the game listing. Search functionality is lacking in the fact that you don’t get what you wanted most of the time. There is no option to filter out the old “8.1” apps/games from those that are built as UWP’s.

 

No way to know if the game is for mobile/PC
W10 store search results: No way to know if the game is for mobile/PC
  • Android bridge died a premature death: Secondly, many of those promises have been just that promises. Android bridge died a premature death. iOS bridge is more or less abandoned, WIN32 bridge is not finished yet. Worst of all the web bridge is resulting in “ugly” web wrappers that neither does justice to MS’s own design language nor ushers any user engagement.
The "ugly" WEB wrappers plauging the store.
One of the “ugly” WEB wrappers plaguing the store.
  •  Weak foothold in the mobile arena: Lastly, MS has never had a strong foothold in the mobile arena where majority of user engagement is. Their efforts have been at best half-hearted and uninspiring, Android and iOS are light-years ahead. WP as an ecosystem had infinite potential. If MS had really tried way back this would have been a different story but past is past. I personally wish MS did it right then, but hey mistakes happen.

 The Answer To the Question

I think Microsoft needs to come clean with developers.

With BUILD 2017 around the corner, use the event to accept the fact that they are not doing their best.

  • Ask what they should do to make them love windows again. This is where developer update comes in. A developer update kills two birds in one shot. It can make developers happy and in the long run, customers too.
  • A redesigned storefront will go a long way in doing that. A place where the crème de la crème of UWP offerings are highlighted instead of “old” apps . 200000 beautifully designed and functional apps is way better than a million “crappy” one’s.

It can showcase the prowess of both the developer and the platform. Developers get to be noticed and make some money at the same time.  If this is done in time then when VR hits mainstream Windows 10 and MS will be more than ready. Developers will have a place to display themselves and their creations, they will embrace it.

The Conclusion

Whatever Microsoft wants to do with VR, they should address the concerns of developers.

Time is short for Microsoft to get it right. If it does, developers will be more than happy to bring their VR offerings to windows first and to update existing one’s.

If it doesn’t then we are possibly looking at another “Windows Phone” aka the seat of a spectator!

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