IDC, Appcelerator: Mobile app makers doubt Microsoft Windows 8

According to a new survey by market research businesses IDC and Appcelerator, the Microsoft Windows 8 operating system has garnered a lukewarm reaction from mobile application programmers who doubt that it can establish itself in the market despite its promise of “single development environment” for users.

Microsoft Research Redmond vowed that Windows 8 code will work across desktops, tablets, and smartphones. However, software developers still had “significant doubt” about Microsoft accomplishing such a difficult task. They also worry that Windows 8 will not secure enough of a market share to establish its relevance as a platform.

5,000 mobile software engineers participated in IDC and Appcelerator’s study. The two companies develop cross-platform tools for desktop and mobile devices. They released their findings right before Microsoft launched Windows 8.

Microsoft 8 will possess “shared development capabilities” and “single development environment” comparable to the fragmentation in Google’s Android world. These qualities will aid in developing apps for slabs and desktops, and received positive reactions from programmers.

However, Microsoft and its rivals need a strong market share for their operating systems to draw the attention of app makers. According to the study by IDC and Appcelerator, a large install base is the primary criterion for 53 per cent of app makers when they select a platform to write programs for.

The IDC-Appcelerator study further reported that the top dog is still Apple’s iOS. 85% of the participants picked the iPhone while 83% picked the iPad. Android phones and tablets took third and fourth place, with 76 and 66 per cent, respectively.

“This indicates that Windows 8 will take time to catch up, given its low penetration in the installed base of devices,” IDC and Appcelerator stated in their report. “Thus, the first task for Microsoft will be to garner significant device sales so as to support a vibrant ecosystem like those Apple and Google have engendered.”

The second and third most important considerations on the minds of app makers were the low cost of devices and, oddly, “revenue potential.” Interestingly, a third of the participants expressed their interest in building programs for for Windows 8 tablets. Windows Phone 7, in contrasted, garnered only 21 per cent.

The poll reported that programmers are interested in building for Windows 8 devices because Microsoft had promised to aid cross-platform software development.

According to the survey by IDC and Appcelerator, application developers confront plenty of issues on numerous platforms, interaction mediums, and all the different ways that end users will consume an application. Mobile app makers understandably became “cautiously optimistic” about Microsoft’s promise of a “single development environment.”

An article by Tim Anderson of Reg pointed out, however, that Redmond was not clear what “single development environment” meant. “It could be about code sharing between desktop applications and Windows Runtime (WinRT) apps,” Anderson posed. “It could be about the ability to run WinRT apps on the desktop as well as the tablet. It could be about Visual Studio and its ability to target multiple Windows platforms.”

The report by IDC and Appcelerator warned that Microsoft’s market share position has been reduced and interest in the Windows phone platform has waned. They believed that Windows 8 must make a big impact to attract as many software application builders as soon as possible.

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