(This story is running in the print edition of The Seattle Times today, Sept. 14, 2011. Stay tuned at this blog for more coverage of Day 2 of Build today. – Janet I. Tu)
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Sure, the unveiling of Windows 8 — the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship product — drew occasional applause at Build, the company’s conference for independent developers that began Tuesday.
But the biggest applause of a morning highlighted by Windows President Steven Sinofsky’s keynote presentation?
That came when Microsoft bigwigs announced that each attendee would receive a Samsung tablet preloaded with the developers’ preview version of Windows 8.
Shiny, free toys never hurt when trying to persuade developers to write applications for your operating system.
The tablets are part of Microsoft’s attempt to get developers excited and on board with Windows 8, billed as a complete “re-imagining” of Windows and its most complete overhaul since Windows 95. It’s the first Windows version designed from the beginning to work on both tablets and PCs.
A lot is riding on Windows 8 for Microsoft, which has to prove it can still dominate computing in a world where competitors have zoomed ahead on tablets and mobile devices while Microsoft lags. Persuading developers to write for Windows 8 will play an integral part in whether it succeeds.
So just as important as the tablet giveaway was the announcement Tuesday that the preview Windows 8 code was made public and downloadable Tuesday evening.
What all that represented was, finally, some answers after months of secrecy and bits of information. Even the agenda of who would speak on what topics at Build was kept secret.
That’s led to rumors and speculation on everything from what would be the giveaway at the conference to worries about whether the skills developers spent years learning in order to write for Windows still would be applicable.
As Microsoft divulged more details Tuesday — that many programming languages still could be used for developing Windows 8 applications, for instance — some worries were assuaged, some rumors confirmed, and more questions arose.
(Continue reading the story here.)