Microsoft forms team to help third parties enter "geek heaven"

As Microsoft gets ready for the launch its "Blue" update initiative later this year, the company is also trying to get more third party developers to make applications across all of Microsoft's platforms. Today, it was revealed that Microsoft has assembled a team charged with getting those apps in place.

ZDNet.com reports that Microsoft's new "deep-tech" team is part of its Developer and Platform Evangelism division. It's headed up by 20 year Microsoft veteran John Shewchuk who is currently the Chief Technology Officer for the Microsoft Developer Platform.

The new team's mission is to work not just with each other but with other outside developers to make new products for Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Xbox, Kinect, Windows Azure, the Surface tablets, the large touch screen monitors from Perceptive Pixel and more. Shewchuk is quoted as saying, "This is a playground. We get to work with stuff from all the different Microsoft business groups. It's like geek heaven."

The team will help to create ways to tie in several different Microsoft products and offer code to outside groups via locations like GitHub or CodePlex. Other members of the team include Patrick Chanezon, who just joined Microsoft after working in developer relations at VMware, and James Whittaker, who rejoined Microsoft in 2012 after a three year gig at Google. He generated a lot of media buzz at the time for his blog post explaining how he felt that Google has lost his way and had turned mostly into an ad company.

Source: ZDNet.com

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Not sure if it's related but Microsoft just started sponsoring free classes in their New York office. The next few Saturdays they'll be doing an API mashup class that gets you started creating Windows 8 apps using publicly available web APIs. For me it was a great way to dive into Visual Studio Express (haven't used VS since early 2000s!) and developing Win 8 apps. They're also doing some kind of gaming dev class also.

The cool thing is they said the office will be open for office hours where you can come in and ask questions, get help, etc. And during the weekends, you can bring a few people, set up shop in a conference room and have access to Microsoft evangelists/developers and free pizza. Basically a mini hackathon session every weekend for the next few weeks.

Oh, on github, they're making what they're calling Starter Kits. Some info here: http://apimash.github.io/StarterKits/

This is really exciting! This is great news for both Devs and for users. Can't wait for a complete unified experience for both business apps and consumers apps.