Former Windows head Steven Sinofsky on making apps for multiple platforms

Ever since he launched his Learning by Shipping blog in January, Microsoft's former Windows leader Steven Sinofsky has mostly avoided talking about topics that reference his old employer directly. However, his newest blog entry, posted earlier today, does take on an issue that deals with working with many different operating systems, including Windows.

The blog post, titled "Juggling multiple platforms and the bumpy road ahead" has Sinofsky stating, in terms of mobile app development (which he says include apps made for iOS, Android, Windows RT, Windows Phone, and Blackberry), "the ingredients for a repeat of cross-platform woes currently exist." He adds:

Today app developers generally write apps targeting several of the mobile platforms.  If you look at number of “sockets” over the past couple of years there was an early dominance of iOS followed by a large growth of Android.  Several other platforms currently compete for the next round of attention.  Based on apps in respective app stores these are two leaders for the new platforms. App developers today seeking the most number of client sockets target at least iOS and Android, often simultaneously. It is too early to pick a winner.

Sinofsky even offers a mini-chart that attempts to show the cycle of app development for a new kind of platform. Sinofsky states that having multiple platforms to choose from typically means that they slowly diverge in terms of their APIs and experiences. That means that developers who want to release apps on multiple platforms have a number of challenges, according to Sinofsky, including different tools, different ways to integrate with each platform and more.

What does all this mean? Sinofsky states that the closed nature of mobile operating systems will actually make it harder for developers to make their own unique apps and then port those creations to more than one platform. He was not willing to predict if iOS, Android or even Windows Phone will be the victor, adding, "The only thing we know for sure is that the APIs, tools, and approaches of different platforms will continue to evolve and diverge.  Working across platforms will only get more difficult, not easier."

Source: Learning by Shipping | Image via Microsoft

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10 Comments

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i hates multiplatform Mobile OS interface called Metro on my desktop.
The same as i hate multiplatform games, as they sucks compared to specific platform games.

Torolol said,
i hates multiplatform Mobile OS interface called Metro on my desktop.
The same as i hate multiplatform games, as they sucks compared to specific platform games.

Odd but Metro (Modern UI) is not multiplatform.

Brony said,
Odd but Metro (Modern UI) is not multiplatform.

It is multi-platform from the point of view that it runs on phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, workstation and server which is the point the OP was trying to get at. Taking something that is ideal for one form factor then assuming that it is a smart idea to spread it across all devices no matter now impractical the idea is. Btw, to focus on that being the 'big' problem of Windows ignores the multiple releases where it seems that Microsoft doesn't give a crap about fit and finish as seen by the lack of consistent updating of icons, the ensuring that resolution scalability is consistent across all the built in applications etc. When you have a company whose culture encourages a 'I couldn't care less' attitude to the small details then Windows 8 is merely a culmination of that attitude.

Edited by Mr Nom Nom's, Jul 9 2013, 3:57pm :

No surprises for him spruiking one platform across all devices. Same failed philosophy that got him kicked out of Microsoft.

People (e.g. USERS) don't want a dumbed down OS that is limited by the lowest common denominator.

dvb2000 said,
No surprises for him spruiking one platform across all devices. Same failed philosophy that got him kicked out of Microsoft.

People (e.g. USERS) don't want a dumbed down OS that is limited by the lowest common denominator.


oh my god ENOUGH OF THIS ALREADY.

Windows isn't dumbed down now, Windows has always been far too complex for too many people causing far too many conflicting modules, Windows 8 is a breath of fresh air in comparison...and yes feel free to flame my comment, I don't care. Computers have needed a change for a very long time now and it's taking a simpler form today, and that is nothing but a good thing.

dvb2000 said,

W8 annoys me to no end (a little less so with W8.1), and that's an opinion that I'll happily debate and defend.

However, I admire Steven Sinofsky, especially his leadership, philosophies and engineering methodologies that led to Windows 7.

As someone once said (can't remember the source):

It's hard to fathom how one person is responsible for both the best(*) (W7) and worst(*) (W8) versions of Windows.

(*) Personal opinion

FalseAgent said,
Windows isn't dumbed down now, Windows has always been far too complex for too many people causing far too many conflicting modules.

^This.
This extends beyond basic users all the way to programmers who can choose between java, .net, C, C++, etc with each having subtle nuances that lead to endless discontinuity on the desktop, which again hurts the end user. Try to teach someone computers today. The amount of prerequisite knowledge merely for comprehension is staggering.