In a major strategy shift, Microsoft said it will release new tools to help software developers adapt the apps they have build for Apple or Android gadgets, so that they will also work on Windows devices.
Microsoft opened its annual software conference with a three-hour keynote presentation highlighting how its upcoming Windows 10 operating system will let software developers create apps for a full spectrum of smart devices.
Developers will now be able to reuse code written for apps they have made for Apple or Android devices. The move promised to save developers time and money making versions of apps for Windows phones or tablets.
The company is using its three-day conference, called Build, to demonstrate more features and app-building tools, with an emphasis on mobile devices as well as PCs.
On the first day of the event, the company unveiled the official name of its new web browser, called "Edge," and said that it will be faster and more useful than the Internet Explorer browser.
But the bulk of the presentation was aimed at winning over developers whose applications can make smartphones, tablets or other devices hits with consumers.
Windows phones and tablets have lagged behind those powered by Apple or Google Android software and part of the reason is a lack of must-have applications for anything from games to exercise routines.
Nadella: 'Windows 10 represents a new generation of Windows, built for an era of more personal computing'
Currently, there are more than 1.4 million apps for Android phones and about the same for Apple devices, while there are only a few hundred thousand apps that work on Windows phones and tablets.
But Microsoft wants to capture lost ground by making Windows 10 the universal software for PCs, phones and other Internet-connected devices.
"Windows 10 represents a new generation of Windows, built for an era of more personal computing," CEO Satya Nadella said during a keynote speech, adding that today's consumers and corporate workers want to have the same experience when they are using a variety of devices.
"Our goal is to make Windows 10 the most attractive development platform ever," Vice President Terry Myerson said.
Myerson predicted there would be a billion devices using Windows 10 within the next two to three years, and that apps for all those devices would be distributed through a single Windows app store. Microsoft, however, has not said exactly when Windows 10 is set to be released.
Since he became CEO last year, Nadella has been presiding over a major overhaul at Microsoft. He has redesigned some of Microsoft's most popular programs for mobile users and invested in new cloud-computing services, in which businesses pay to use software that's housed in Microsoft's data centers.
sri/uhe (AP, AFP, dpa)