Microsoft to devs: Come with us to the cloud

Microsoft Build 2013 Windows Azure
Windows Azure colored the Microsoft Build crowd blue

Microsoft opened the second day of Build 2013 with a deep dive into development, taking a turn from Day 1, which focused primarily on the company's Windows 8 update, Windows 8.1.

The message was clear: Microsoft is trying to make life a whole lot easier for developers creating apps for Windows, Windows Phone and other platforms using Windows Azure.

To hammer home the message, Box co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie lent his take on the direction Microsoft hopes to take devs during the proceedings.

"It's really exciting to see sort of an all new Microsoft," Levie said. "I think the amount of support for openness and heterogeneity is incredibly amazing."


Levie let his excitment show

Windows Azure: Open Now

Microsoft Server and Tools Business President Satya Nadella led the tour through the Azure backend and introduced various Microsoft team members to show off new features and capabilities that Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud services bring to developers.

He also dropped some stats, like the fact that there are now more than 130,000 Windows Azure web sites and more than 20,000 active Windows Azure Mobile Services apps. Nadella also announced that Windows Azure Web Sites and Azure Mobile Services go from preview to general availability today, meaning those numbers should only increase.

Nadella Sanjay

Sanjay takes Build attendees to the cloud

Azure Mobile Services works across Windows, Windows Phone, iOS and Android to store data and user authentication in the cloud, send push notifications to devices in addition to other functions more. Similarly, Azure Web Sites provides developers tools to create web apps and sites on the cloud via the Azure Management Portal.

Both services have been in preview since summer 2012.

Showing off

To demo how developers can add Azure Mobile Services across platforms, Senior Program Manager Josh Twist added Azure cloud services to an iOS app using a Mac computer onstage.

Microsoft Developer Division Corporate Vice President Scott Guthrie also took the stage to tout the benefits of Azure's Active Directory, which provides access and identity capabilities between Azure and Office 365.

Levie touched on Active Director as well, saying, "We're really excited to be supporting Windows Azure Active Directory. It helps reduce the friction for customers to be able to deploy cloud solutions and we think it's going to great for developers, we think it's going to be great for start-ups and the ecosystem broadly."

The keynote changed to a more casual tone when Microsoft Chief Evangelist Steve "Guggs" Guggenheimer and Microsoft Technical Fellow John "Schew" Schewchuk entered the spotlight to talk about the "common core" of Windows that spans Windows 8 computers and tablets, Windows Phone 8 handsets, and other devices like the Xbox One.

That core makes it easy for developers to create apps across platforms, Guggs and Schew said. In fact, Guggs suggested that if developers want to create apps for the Xbox One that they start with Windows 8 since they'll require similar development tools.

It wasn't made 100 percent clear how those apps will transfer over to the Xbox, but according to the Softies devs will have a head start by practicing with Windows 8.

The keynote continued with Schew showing off with multiple app demos, including Foursquare, ABC News, various video games, and more on a variety of platforms.

Michael Rougeau

Michael Rougeau is a former freelance news writer for TechRadar. Studying at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Northeastern University, Michael has bylines at Kotaku, 1UP, G4, Complex Magazine, Digital Trends, GamesRadar, GameSpot, IFC, Animal New York, @Gamer, Inside the Magic, Comic Book Resources, Zap2It, TabTimes, GameZone, Cheat Code Central, Gameshark, Gameranx, The Industry, Debonair Mag, Kombo, and others.

Micheal also spent time as the Games Editor for, and was the managing editor at GameSpot before becoming an Animal Care Manager for Wags and Walks.