Microsoft yesterday revealed plans to allow iOS and Android developers to port their games to Windows 10. During the keynote of its Build Conference, the company revealed that they want developers to be able to easily bring their games to Windows 10 without the need to recode the whole thing. If it’s successful, Windows may finally see real benefits in its mobile sales.
Currently, most app developers will choose iOS or Android for their main platform, and at some point bring their game to the other platform. Porting a game for Windows phones rarely enters the equation, which means Windows phone users only have access to those games developed by the companies large enough to make the effort. Anybody even remotely familiar with app development will know that porting across operating systems usually means rewriting a game’s entire code. Microsoft plans to cut out all that effort with two new software development kits, one in Java and C++ for Android and the other in objective C for iOS. It won’t be as simple as copying and pasting a game’s code, but it will cut out the bulk of the work that normally comes with porting an app across different operating systems.
Microsoft wants developers to start by bringing their code across to Windows 10 with little to no changes, but then implementing some changes that enable the app to take advantage of the features of a Windows OS, such as Xbox Live and Live Tiles. The company has been testing the new software with King, developers of the popular mobile game Candy Crush, and apparently results have been positive.
“We want to enable developers to leverage their current code and current skills to start building those Windows applications in the Store, and to be able to extend those applications,” Microsoft’s Terry Myerson told The Verge.
Microsoft is also looking at enabling websites and desktop apps to merge into universal apps. They have worked out a way to enable a website to run as an app, which affords them some extra functionality such as system notifications and in-app purchases. As for the desktop apps, the real challenge will be getting the programs to perform in app form as well as they would in desktop form. For this task, Microsoft is working with Adobe on turning Photoshop Elements into a universal app. Adobe has already confirmed the program will be made available on the Windows Store, so it makes sense that both companies would be keen to get it up to snuff as soon as possible. Universal apps may still struggle to gain traction, however, with higher-end programs unable to be viably converted into app form.