To sweeten the pot, Ballmer gave attendees a free Surface tablet/laptop, 100GB of free cloud storage via SkyDrive, a free Nokia Lumia 920 Windows 8 phone and a discounted developers registration to the Windows store.
Ballmer asked that attendees go out and create lots of apps for the Microsoft environment, promising that Microsoft would follow through with advertising that should boost the market for those apps. "We will do more marketing for the Windows 8 system, for Windows phones and for Surfaces," he says. "You will see our best work, and you will not be able to go to a magazine, to the Internet or turn on the television set without seeing our ads frequently."
In response to a massive Microsoft effort, apps available in its Windows Store have grown from about 1,000 two months ago to more than 10,000 today, according to the website winupdate.com, the sole purpose of which is to analyze the store's inventory. Still more than 85% of the apps are free, the site says.
Whatever success Microsoft has with consumers, it has a more difficult time with businesses, Golvin says. "What we've seen in our data, the enthusiasm for adopting Windows 8 especially in the enterprise is much, much lower than it was for Windows 7," he says.
That doesn't mean enterprises aren't keeping an eye on what Microsoft is up to, judging from attendees at Build 2012.
Preston Doster, a consultant with Slalom Consulting in Dallas, attended seeking more detail on how the pieces of the Microsoft puzzle fit together. Clients say that they're interested in the possibility of slates that can join enterprise domains for work purposes, Doster says, something iPads cannot do. That potentially gives businesses more control over Windows 8 devices, he says.
With ability to insert entire blocks of code from other sources into new Windows Store applications, it should be possible to readily convert existing line-of-business applications written in .Net, enabling transition from Web apps to desktops. That means quicker adoption of touchscreen devices into businesses, he says. "Enterprise customers show lots of interest in applications for Windows 8," he says.
He says some clients are already porting some applications to Windows 8 as a proof of concept, but haven't committed to using them in production.
Ken Sutcliffe, a developer for Cancer Care Ontario, already uses Windows Phone applications to help in the treatment of cancer patients. Brock Dodgson, the development manager for the agency, says he is looking for what new technology could augment the existing application. For example, near field communication supported by Windows Phone 8 could be used to share drug information sheets between clinicians and patients. "I'm trying to see where it might fit in," Dodgson says.
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