Microsoft announces Windows 10 mobile integration and changes to the Store for developers

Microsoft is hosting the annual Build conference in Seattle, Washington this week, and the company will use the event to discuss their future projects as well as the future of Windows in their product offerings. The organisation underwent a pretty dramatic change internally to align several projects with key departments, and this meant that Windows is now treated as a component of Microsoft’s Azure and Microsoft 365 offerings rather than the headlining product from the company. The first day of Build had a few notable announcements for Windows 10, which you can read about after the jump.

700 million users globally (almost)

According to Microsoft, the company has inched closer to their goal of a billion users on Windows 10 by 2018, almost reaching the 700 million users milestone as of May 2018. 700 million is still a massive achievement for the company, especially considering that it took longer than that for Windows 7 to reach the same milestone. It might not reach one billion devices this year, but it will certainly be at that level by the time 2020 arrives. Compared to a year ago, the company has managed to add another 200 million devices running Windows 10 to its roster.

Microsoft’s ambitions are also a bit let down because they exited the mobile phone business several years ago, leaving Windows 10 Mobile on its own with some end-of-life upgrades being added at a very slow pace. No doubt, if Microsoft was putting more effort into selling their mobile operating system they’d be at 1 billion devices easily, but they’d need the power of an Infinity Stone to change their fortunes in the phone market.

Your Phone on your PC

A new feature that Microsoft revealed yesterday is Your Phone, a built-in application for Windows 10 in the Insiders Preview Fast Ring that allows users to link up their Android or iOS smartphone to their PC, giving them direct access to notifications, messages, and media on the phone like photos.

The feature is in a very alpha-like state and it has a lot of limitations currently, like not being able to interface with other applications on the phone itself like Whatsapp, and it doesn’t feature browser history to allow you to search through your history to find a site you may have wanted to visit later on. That functionality is available in Microsoft’s Edge browser through Microsoft Timeline, and if you use Chrome or Firefox on the desktop and your mobile phone you can similarly get a history list from there.

In time, Microsoft says, the feature will see more functionality added, but noted that there’d be less integration with iOS due to the closed-off nature of Apple’s ecosystem. Oddly, Microsoft won’t be doing the same for Windows 10 Mobile. More information will be coming out of Build about the Your Phone feature soon. In related news, the Timeline functionality will also be coming to Android and iOS platforms very soon.

The Store is now more lucrative for developers

Microsoft’s Windows Store will soon become a more lucrative marketplace for developers in the coming weeks as Microsoft changes the pay structure for developers. Previously the Store had a very similar allocation compared to other stores, offering developers up to 70% of the share of the revenue from application sales, while Microsoft took the other 30%. This is higher than Apple’s 60-40 split for the iTunes store, higher than Google’s Play Store, and Valve allegedly also follows the 60-40 split for sales on Steam.

Now Microsoft is prepping developers and publishers on the store for a pay hike, moving to 95% of the profits going to the developer/publisher, and Microsoft taking a measly 5%. This is for all applications that are sold through the Store and related devices, with the exception of games, which will stick to the old 70-30 split. For applications that are purchased from third parties but available in the Store through a code redemption, the ratio changes to an 85-15 split. The new fee structures will be coming in a future update to the Store, but detailing them now gives developers and publishers the chance to figure things out before the switch.