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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

April 2, 2014 at 10:47 AM

BUILD: Microsoft shares roadmap, announces free Windows

SAN FRANCISCO _ Developers weren’t keen on the secrecy Microsoft wrapped around its roadmap in recent years as it tried to become more Apple-like in its product development. So it’s trying to share more.

Operating systems boss Terry Myerson started this new approach by demonstrating a few upcoming platform capabilities, including the ability to run Windows apps on the Xbox and the new version of Kinect for Windows.

Major tech companies are all making moves to increase their presence in the living room, the latest being Amazon.com with the Fire TV device announced today, but Microsoft hasĀ a strong beachhead.

Myerson said the Xbox platform is connected to 80 million TVs around the world and the Xbox One is being used, on average, five hours a day by those who bought the new console.

Microsoft plans to open this platform up to Windows app developers. Myerson demonstrated this with a Khan Academy app built for Windows Phone running on an Xbox One.

On the emerging “Internet of things” opportunity, Myerson didn’t share a roadmap but demonstrated how Microsoft used a tiny Intel processor to build a Windows-based piano similar to the one Tom Hanks played in the movie “Big.” Vice President Joe Belfiore came on stage to “test” the creation and play music by hopping across keys on the stage.

Myerson didn’t reveal Windows 9 but showed the direction Microsoft is heading – back to the future, with a traditional start menu that adds tiles to a Windows 7-style menu.

winmenu

The company also plans to release a free version of Windows for “Internet of things” development.

It’s also taking the fight to Google’s free Android operating system by making Windows free on devices with screens nine inches or smaller. Myerson said the idea is to expand opportunities for Windows application developers.

That drew gasps, followed by a huge applause when Myerson said everyone in the audience would receive a free Xbox One and a $500 gift card to buy a new Windows device of their choosing.

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