SAN FRANCISCO _ Perhaps the biggest item on the to-do list in Redmond was figuring out how to unify development of apps for Windows Phone and Windows PCs.
Today the company confirmed that it’s addressing the situation with a “universal app” approach that includes new tools for developers to simultaneously build apps for phones, tablets and PCs.
Early word of the approach surfaced in February but the company waited until its big developer conference to reveal the new approach.
Benefits for consumers include the ability to buy apps that run on both their phones and their PCs, instead of having to buy a version for each platform.
As an example, Microsoft showed how it has built “touch first” versions of Office apps that scale from small to large screens. A variant was released for iPad last month but the company is still finalizing the Windows versions.
Microsoft’s also hoping that developers will build their new apps with the Cortana virtual assistant and voice recognition system.
“It’s like a natural command line for the future,” said David Treadwell, vice president of the operating systems group.
But the future is a work in progress. Treadwell attempted to craft a tweet by speaking to Cortana and she jumbled a few words, drawing chuckles from the 5,000 developers in the audience.
Although people spend far more time using apps than the browser on mobile devices, Treadwell talked up the potential of Internet Explorer 11 for running HTML apps on both phones and PCs.