I’ve read quite a bit about Microsoft’s Build developer conference and listened to others talking about it. I’ve also been watching Microsoft’s moves very closely. All I am seeing is positive signs.
The release of Office for iPad and its immediate success is a very good thing. 12 million downloads in the first few days is absolutely amazing for any product, and while I’m sure a lot of people are only kicking tires, there are also a lot of people who rely on Word, Excel and PowerPoint for their every day activities.
Even more subtle moves are a good sign. Changing the name from Windows Azure to Microsoft Azure is fantastic news. It is clear that if Microsoft wants to remain relevant then minimizing the impact of Windows is a good thing. What Microsoft should be asking is what’s the operating systems  for the next generation of devices, not the last ones? The last ones all ran Windows. The next ones all run browsers and apps. Yes, browsers and apps run in an OS but the OS they run in is less and less important as time moves on.
It seems Microsoft gets this. From what I heard there were plenty of Windows 8 tablets on stage during the Build presentations, but there were also tons of iPads, iPhones and other devices too. Azure is a very interesting service to power the next generation of software and software services. Moving toward cloud-based developer tools and more services provided around Bing are exceptionally interesting moves. I’d like to see web-supported systems as easy to develop as desktop software used to be. That would be a huge step forward for us developers.
But this isn’t the only reason why Microsoft’s success is important for us. The reality is that Microsoft’s interests are the only ones who align with us developers, at least those of us who want to charge customers for the products they use. None of the other major platform players do that. Amazon charges for media. The apps — all free and on as many platforms as possible — are only how that media is delivered. Google and Facebook give away their software to get more eyeballs. Those ads are worth billions to them. Apple makes their money from hardware. Only Microsoft sells software, previously one-off but now as a subscription. And that’s how most software developers make money, too.
Remember, the key to success is to make money from your revenue stream and commoditize all the supporting elements. Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple all aim to commoditize software.
The latest moves are a positive sign for Microsoft. I believe a resurgent Microsoft is also a positive sign for us.
 Yes, plural.