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Catching up to the future of apps

While Apple users have been able to access their downloaded games, data and photos across any of their devices for three years, Microsoft users are still unable to. 

Speaking at the 2014 Microsoft TechEd conference in Auckland last week, Microsoft technical evangelist Andy Wigley said the ability to have apps run across multiple devices has been a goal for Microsoft for some time now.

“The app platform, going back ten years was adequate, Windows was good, at the time, but then of course Apple came in and disrupted the market with a new definition of what a hand held device should be, and the programmes offered on it.

“We had been playing catch up to a certain extent, we have these great devices; always have, but the slick consumer gadgets, that’s the hard market,”.   

While some might say Window’s ‘unified app system’ sounds similar to Apple’s cloud application system, Wigley says Microsoft jumps a few steps ahead by integrating its apps onto the Xbox One gaming platform.    

Another major benefit is users no longer have to purchase different apps for their phone, tablet or laptop; a single app will runs across all screens, whenever and wherever they want.  Microsoft’s cloud system will sync all purchases, information and notifications across the different devices instantly, Wigley says.  While on the Xbox One, developers can fine-tune their apps to work with the controller and Kinect.

The anticipated release of Windows 9 will bring about a whole new set of opportunities for the developer and the user, Wigley says. 

“Having that simplicity in productivity and connectivity is what users want, it’s what they need.    

“Across our devices we’re concentrating on the convergence. The next wave of our operating system will continue that process; we’re increasingly focused on making it easier for developers to use the same skills and the same tools to create apps that work on multiple devices” says Wigley. 

Although the Windows app store has roughly 300,000 apps, that’s a far cry from rivals Apple and Android whose app store numbers are each around 1.2 million. 

While critics argue that many of the essential titles such as Youtube and Snapchat are unavailable in the Windows app store, Wigley maintains that it’s not about quantity, but quality.   

In addition, he says frequent user complaints about infectious apps packed with malware led to Microsoft deciding to clean out its Windows app store and increase security for the apps it provides.   

“You have to have the balance between allowing developers to express their creativity and create interest in apps but they have to do it within this sandbox that makes sure they don’t introduce gateways for people to exploit programmes and get malware onto devices,” says Wigley. 

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