Reimagining the “Other” Windows


The following is a blog post by Satya Nadella, President of Microsoft’s Server Tools Business, discussing how Windows Azure is providing the critical backend capabilities developers need to create amazing new apps for Windows and Windows Phone.

There has never been a more exciting time to be a developer. Today at Microsoft’s Build conference, I had the opportunity to speak to thousands of developers who are key to Microsoft’s goal of reimagining Windows. These are the people who are writing the applications that will light up Windows 8, Windows Phone and Windows Azure. Just as we have reimagined Windows and Windows devices from the chip to the developer platform and the user experience, we have also reimagined Windows from the backend.

Inside Microsoft the cloud momentum and focus is real and palpable. We are building some of the most diverse internet-scale workloads in the industry: Skydrive, Office 365, XBOX Live, Bing, Ad Center, Dynamics…the list goes on. All of this has pushed us to reimagine the Windows backend, to re-examine the core hardware abstraction at the datacenter and multi-datacenter level, as well as building a new modern application platform. We call this the Cloud OS.

What the Cloud OS means to the developers at Build is that regardless of their preferred language, tool or framework, Windows Azure is the most complete platform to build on. Our focus is to make sure we’re creating an experience that makes it easy for developers to do what they do best: build apps. The unique value we’re delivering with Windows Azure is the power to easily create and scale applications though the power of platform services that enable a variety of device experiences, social and Web-based applications.

Today, we announced the extension Windows Azure Mobile Services to include support for Windows Phone 8, in addition to Windows 8 on which third-party apps such as USA Today depends. Windows Azure is the backend engine that makes it possible to provide push notifications (USA Today headlines, money and tech) on a single framework that supports multiple formats while allowing the apps to be distributed broadly through the Windows Store.

In the enterprise, identity management and extending business processes are key for developers. Workday is a great example of an ISV building a Windows 8 enterprise app for financial and human resources. By integrating with Office 365 and Azure Active Directory for single sign on, they are able to securely access existing enterprise assets and provide users a seamless, intuitive experience.

When people think about console games, they don’t necessarily think about the cloud. But when Halo 4 releases next week, 2 million concurrent players will experience the power of Windows Azure, which is used to power the entire multi-player experience. It also meant that the Halo 4 team was able to cut costs by more than 60 percent from the previous release. The team reduced the development time with high levels of infrastructure automation, and that in turn allowed them to re-platform the entire codebase in less than a year. Finally, with the flexible and on-demand architecture of Windows Azure, each Halo 4 developer had their own development environment, which allowed development and testing to run in parallel. 

We want the Cloud OS to be the platform any developer will want to build on. As part of that commitment, today we also announced a series of updates for Windows Azure, including Web Site language support for .NET Framework 4.5 and Python, making this service even more open for developers, the preview of the new Windows Azure Store and the availability of Visual Studio Team Foundation Service.

The world of devices poses a huge opportunity and, collectively with developers, we have the opportunity to drive more value, agility and innovation in the industry. If you aren’t at Build in person, I encourage you to watch the keynote and check out the sessions online to hear more about how we’ve reimagined Windows for both devices AND the backend.


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