Microsoft is introducing new tools for Windows 10 that will make it easier for developers to reuse code for software they have already created for mobile and desktop applications, and build software for Windows 10.
The company announced the plans at its Build conference in San Francisco, which is taking place this week. It also demonstrated more of its holographic computer system, Hololens, showed new integration for its Office productivity software, and revealed the official name of its new browser, previously known as Project Spartan, as Microsoft Edge.
The move is part of Microsoft's push into the mobile sector, where it has lagged behind rivals Apple and Google.
Windows chief Terry Myerson said developers who have written code for web apps, .Net and Win32 desktop applications, iOS and Android will be able to bring the code to Windows 10 and extend it further to take advantage of the new system's abilities.
Microsoft is hoping the move will entice developers to create software for the new platform. The company launched Windows Phone 7 in 2010, with Windows Phone 8 following in 2012, but it still trails iOS and Android in terms of shipments. It also has fewer apps available for its platform, which may have discouraged some consumers from moving to Windows smartphones. Making it easier for developers to move existing apps on to Windows 10 could increase the number of available applications for consumers.
The company also pledged that Windows Store applications would be easy to discover, fast to install and will never “junk up your system”.
Windows 10 is set to hit devices later this year. Microsoft is aiming big with the new OS, which will be a universal operating system that will have no need for a separate desktop and mobile version. Mr Myerson revealed Microsoft was targeting a goal of 1 billion devices running the devices within two to three years of its launch.
Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella said Windows 10 was built for an era of more personal computing, with the mobility of experience across devices more important than the mobility of the device. There also had to be a foundation of trust, he said.
“It becomes even more important to know the data you are giving system is being used for benefit of the user,” he said.
The company also said carrier billing would come to all Windows 10 devices, not just mobile phones and tablets. That opens up a wider market for Windows app developers, with carrier billing resulting in a significant increase in purchases, according to Microsoft.
Despite failing to announce new hardware, Microsoft grabbed attention with another look at the Hololens. The company showed off its potential applications for medical students in studying anatomy in a more lifelike environment, and bringing personal entertainment and communications into the real world.
"Humans live in the real world," said Microsoft's Alex Kipman. "[Hololens] embraces this notion of experiencing life in three dimensions. People, not devices, are mobile. We're ready for technology to move beyond devices, beyond screens and pixels."
Microsoft also announced new additions to Office that would make the software more intuitive, such as an Uber plugin that links with Outlook to arrange travel plans.
On the cloud side of things, Microsoft also announced additions to its Azure services, including Azure SQL Database elastic database, which allow developers to pool capacity across thousands of databases, and unveiled free code focused editor Visual Studio Code, which works on Windows, Mac and Linux.