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Microsoft’s new ‘deep tech’ team hopes to lure developers

Courtesy Mary Jo Foley, CNET

Microsoft's Surface tablet.

Microsoft wants devs to build next-generation applications on top of the Microsoft platform.

(Credit: Microsoft)

Just because a company builds a bunch of new frameworks and services doesn’t guarantee developers will immediately flock to them. The current-day Microsoft — in the midst of trying to win over brand-new non-Microsoft developers while keeping loyal ones in the fold — knows this well.

Rather than simply sit back and wait for devs to (hopefully) embrace its growing set of new technologies, the Redmondians have decided to go proactive. On May 13 — just over a month ahead of Microsoft’s Build 2013 developer conference — Microsoft is launching a new "deep tech" team inside its Developer and Platform Evangelism (DPE) unit. The new team is charged with working with top developers outside the company to build next-generation applications on top of the Microsoft platform.

When Microsoft initially launched DPE in 2001, the team was charged with coordinating and evangelizing the "Microsoft platform." At that time, the platform meant, primarily, Windows, the .Net Framework and associated tools.

These days, as Microsoft works to morph from a software vendor to a devices and services one, what constitutes the "Microsoft platform" is something much broader.

"’The platform’ is now a collection of capabilities across all of our products," said John Shewchuk, the head of the recently formed technical evangelism and dev team. Our job is "helping devs stitch together solutions with these technologies."

"Devs" also is a much broader target audience for Microsoft than it once was. Back in the early DPE days, devs meant professional, full-time programmers. The target audience for Microsoft’s new deep-tech team includes anyone who writes a consumer, business or hybrid application. That means startups, enterprise customers and top consumer and business independent software vendors (ISVs).

The Microsoft toolbox from which devs can choose to mix and match includes many technologies that didn’t exist a decade, or even just a few years, ago. They include everything from Windows Azure technologies, to Bing programming interfaces and datasets, to the WinRT framework underlying Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. Microsoft’s next Xbox, Kinect, Windows Phones, Surfaces, Perceptive Pixel multitouch displays are among the targets for these technologies.

"This is a playground. We get to work with stuff from all the different Microsoft business groups," said Shewchuk. "It’s like geek heaven."

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