At Build this week Microsoft did its best to woo developers of all kinds, offering cross-platform tools and software upgrades to improve productivity, and above all clarifying its vision for universal apps.
The company's underlying goal is to get as many developers as possible to use its tools and build Microsoft applications for Windows and other platforms. To see whether Microsoft is on the right track, developers should be looking at the following software:
Visual Studio 2015 release candidate
Step-by-step, Microsoft is getting closer to the launch of Visual Studio 2015, which was at the center of many of the announcements at Build. On Wednesday, the Visual Studio 2015 release candidate was made available for download, with a go-live license for taking it into production.
The program offers functionality for building universal apps for Windows phones, tablets, PCs, Xbox, IoT and the HoloLens head-mounted computer. An important piece of the software is cross-platform support for building applications for Android and iOS. To go along with that, there are dozens of new productivity and diagnostics features, Microsoft's developer division boss S. Somasegar said in a blog post.
Visual Studio Code preview
A full version of Visual Studio isn't the right choice for all developers. A new alternative is Visual Studio Code, a preview of which was also made available for download this week. It's a free, cross-platform code editor for building Web and cloud applications on Mac OS X, Linux and Windows laptops and desktops. It has rich code assistance, navigation and integrated debugging. The latter now includes support for Node.js; support will be extended to other platforms coming soon.
Preview of .Net Core for Mac OS X and Linux
As part of its platform expansion, Microsoft made an early preview of .NET Core for Linux and Mac OS X available for developers to experiment with. Since Microsoft began the process of open sourcing .NET Core last November, the company has seen great momentum for the project, with new capabilities and a community forming around it, according to Somasegar.
Universal Windows Platform Bridges toolkits
In a bid to ensure there are lots of applications for Windows 10 phones, Microsoft will make it possible to transform Android and iOS apps to versions that can run on its upcoming OS. A lack of apps has hobbled Windows Phone, and if Windows 10 is to become a success Microsoft needs to address this.
Project Astoria will allow Android developers to target Windows 10 phones using their Android IDE. With Project Islandwood, Apple developers will be able to build universal Windows apps from within Visual Studio 2015 using existing Objective-C code. Microsoft plans to reveal more information before the end of August. For now, there are invite-only previews of both projects.
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