Windows Phone 8 also needs apps to show off its capabilities and to sway wary consumers who may already be committed to Android or iOS -- or may even be buying their first smartphone -- that Windows 8 is the way to go. It's compelling for developers to have a way to create apps that run across the millions of expected Windows 8 desktops and laptops, and then to leverage that code to quickly create apps for tablets and phones, too. Microsoft hopes this will spur development, and we do too. The Surface tablets may look promising, but if no compelling apps ship for Windows RT, consumers won't considier these tablets as a viable alternative to Android or iOS.
Unfortunately, Lieberman admits that another holy grail -- the capability to run a single app across multiple platforms -- won't be ready with the first release of Windows Phone 8. "We do believe that is a compelling goal that we would like to get to," he says. "It is something we want to figure out how to get to as quickly as we can."
Mobile development has been a fractured mess for years. When app developers can easily scale across platforms, we come closer to the ideal of write once, publish many. Logically, that means we'll have more apps -- and sooner -- across both mobile and desktop platforms. That's exactly what the nascent Windows 8 Metro app ecosystem needs.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.