Microsoft today announced that it will hold a small developer conference under the Connect() monicker in New York next month. Unlike the company’s usual developer events, which tend to center around major point releases or new products, this event is about giving developers more insight into what the company is working on and to start a conversation about those new features with developers.
Earlier this week, I had a chance to chat with S. “Soma” Somasegar, Microsoft’s VP of its Developer Division, who noted that Microsoft’s developer ecosystem quickly took to Visual Studio 2013, which has now been downloaded over 7 million times. In addition, more than 1.7 million developers have now registered for Visual Studio Online accounts. Over the last few years, Microsoft committed to a fast release cadence for Visual Studio to, as Somasegar noted, “give value more frequently to our customers than we did in the past.”
Somasegar wasn’t quite ready to talk about what the company plans to announce at the upcoming event. With the next version of Visual Studio on the immediate horizon, chances are we’ll hear quite a bit more about that at the event, though.
What Somasegar did do, however, was outline the three areas that the company is focusing on with regard to its developer tools, which will likely be the areas the company will focus on at Connect(). Unsurprisingly, those areas of focus echo Microsoft’s recent mantra of being “mobile first, cloud first.”
As Somasegar noted in our conversation, the company has launched a number of tools for developers that allow them to write applications for a wide variety of devices. With the explosion of form factors and device platforms that developers can now target, writing a different native app for every platform would be overkill.
Somasegar believes that, thanks to Microsoft’s support for Cordova, its cooperation with Xamarin and the recent focus on universal Windows app for targeting all of Microsoft’s own native platforms, the company’s developer tools now offer users the best way to write cross-platform applications. Still, Microsoft’s customers are asking for more tools to navigate this multi-platform world, so at the event, the company will probably announce new tools to make developers’ lives easier.
As for Microsoft’s cloud services, Somasegar specifically stressed Azure’s recently launched API Management service. “In the world of cloud, APIs are the new currency,” he said. “We want to help developers figure out how to easily create APIs for their services.”
He also noted Microsoft’s recent work in devops as a third area the company has recently focused on and plans to invest more in going forward. With Visual Studio Online, Microsoft now offers developers a comprehensive service for team collaboration, planning, release management and app monitoring — but developers also have the ability to integrate other tools through Microsoft’s APIs. “Developers don’t wan an all-or-nothing service,” Somasegar said.
Connect() is a different event for the company. It’ll be relatively small, Somasegar told me, with maybe 300 or 400 people in attendance (it will also be streamed live). Somasegar will be in attendance along with Scott Guthrie, Brian Harry and Scott Hanselman.
With this, the developer group is clearly trying to make good on its promise to become more transparent. There used to be a time when Microsoft would launch a new version of Visual Studio and that was it. Somasegar admitted as such, but also stressed that “we don’t just want to lock ourselves in a room for two years anymore.”
It remains to be seen what this in-person conversation will look like, but Somasegar promises that the event will be very interactive and that this won’t be the last of these kinds of events.
Connect() isn’t Microsoft’s only conference announcement today. The company also today said that it will hold a new enterprise event, Microsoft Ignite, in Chicago next May. In addition, Microsoft Build will return to San Francisco next April.