Being a software developer is much more than writing phone and tablet apps. Below is a list of different development areas taken from the Microsoft Careers site and expanded a bit. By no means is the list exhaustive, but it should give you some ideas of the enormous opportunities that exist for developers, whether you want to develop as a hobby or you want to make it a career.
- Business Software
Consumer software is what you hear about most in the media, things like operating systems, phone apps, etc., but business software is a far larger market. Things like hosted IT solutions, information systems, supply chain management systems, inventory management systems, customer relationship management systems, financial management systems, etc. If there is a company, it needs software to manage every aspect of its operations.
Skype and Lync are the two examples given on the Microsoft Careers website. I’m sure you’ve heard of Skype. Lync is a business-focused communications platform, including VoIP and video conferencing, messaging, and meeting management. But these are just two products from Microsoft. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of companies that have other solutions that are built to either compete with or enhance Microsoft’s own technologies. And that means development opportunities for you.
- Developer Tools
Developers use tools like Visual Studio and Blend to design and build software. But developers had to design and build the developer tools. Every programming language has developer tools, even if it is just a simple text editor. Software needs software.
- Educational Software
eReaders, math applications, art applications, biology applications, the list of possibilities with educational software are endless. And not only are the topics endless, but applications can be built for a variety of audiences (teacher or student) and platforms (PCs, tablets, and phones).
- Entertainment Products
Xbox and PC gaming are the two big areas here. Options include game development and other media solutions, like apps for the Xbox (SmartGlass, Netflix, HBO Go, etc.). And of course you could work on the Xbox development team. The Xbox needs software to run.
- Health Solutions
This bridges both the business market and the consumer market. Hospitals have major information management needs. That means software. And consumers are becoming more and more connected with their health, that means products like the Microsoft Band, software like Health and HealthVault.
If you haven’t yet heard of HoloLens, you have to check it out. Virtual reality? How about augmented reality! If you want to develop the future, learn to develop for HoloLens.
- Internet of Things
With Windows 10, Microsoft is moving full-force into internet of things (IoT) development. This is going to change the technology world and offers you tremendous opportunity as a developer.
Kinect isn’t just for gaming. Kinect for Windows is being used in a wide range of applications. Check this out to get inspired.
- Mobile Software
Mobile software development is unique in that it brings together a wide range of technologies into a single device. With our phones we can make calls, email, text, instant message, listen to music and watch videos, take pictures, and use GPS to navigate. Windows Phone is Microsoft’s current mobile solution, but this is transitioning to Windows 10 with universal apps. This is my development focus and I think it offers tremendous opportunity.
Office is by far the most widely used office productivity suites in the world. As a developer, not only could you work on the Microsoft Office development team, but you could also work for a company that develops office add-ins to bring additional functionality to Office. Or you could focus on automating workflows by tying information systems to Office. There are lots of possibilities here.
- Web Development
From building websites to backend server technologies, there is no shortage of development opportunities in web development.
- Windows Operating System
Virtualization, networking, security, file systems, kernel services, storage, and device technologies: These core components come together to deliver the Windows experience, whether it’s on a mobile phone, a PC, or the web; at home, at the office, in a car, or anywhere in between.