Microsoft is planning to add the ability to develop Windows Live applications to its Visual Studio toolkit as a way to build more of a developer base for its online services platform.
The company is adding controls to Visual Studio 2008 that will allow developers to connect Windows Live services to new applications they're building, said Adam Sohn, a director in the Online Services Group at Microsoft. The company is currently testing the technology internally and may also include it in the current 2005 version of Visual Studio, but that is yet to be determined, he said.
A public beta of the technology is expected in October or November, Sohn said.
Details of the Windows Live toolkit first appeared online a public interview posted on the LiveSide blog with Angus Logan, a Microsoft technical program manager.
Microsoft yesterday confirmed that the interview was done at the Mix UK '07 conference last week. In the interview, Logan indicated that Microsoft would discuss the technology at the DevConnections conference in Las Vegas in early November.
Windows Live is the brand name for set of web-based services – such as search, instant-messaging, email, blogging and photo-sharing – Microsoft offers, but the company also considers Windows Live a development platform in the same way its Windows OS and Office applications are a platform, Sohn said. Microsoft has made APIs for those services available on its Windows Live developer site.
Microsoft has been savvy over the years in leveraging its large developer base to bolster new technologies and help the company compete in areas where it does not have first-mover advantage, and the area of online services is no different.
Microsoft is chasing Google for online advertising dollars, and hopes to use Windows Live services to compete. Microsoft also charges US$.025 per user per year for developers that use Windows Live services in applications that have more than 1 million unique users per month, Sohn said.
Sohn said that while the business case for growing the developer base for the Windows Live platform is obviously important, Microsoft also hopes to encourage the development of cutting-edge web applications to help the industry as a whole promote more interesting user experiences on the web.
"Over time if they industry is doing better, we're going to do better as well," he said.