With Surface Dial how can MS get developer buy-in?


It’s no secret that in the last decade Microsoft has lost a lot of sway with developers – MS platforms grow and wither away without much attention from developers.

Now with Surface Dial Microsoft will be expecting developers (of all kinds of apps preferably) to create applications that consider this new input device. The market penetration of this device will be approximately 0.00001% of all PCs so how on Earth can MS expect developers to bat an eyelid? I love the idea of Surface Dial but it looks like another Kinect without developer support.

In my opinion there has to be a killer app to entice not only software developers but also OEMs to consider this new technology worth their own investment. The only applications that I believe could have any chance of this would be Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite but alas Microsoft can only do so much to persuade Adobe to work with them (hey MS: it’s time to reconsider purchasing Adobe, surely Ballmer looked into the idea once or twice!).

To get OEMs to develop their own dials and to get developers to build applications with Dial compatibility what do you believe MS could/should do?

Comments (10)

10 responses to “With Surface Dial how can MS get developer buy-in?”

  1. 180

    Well, given there's already Photoshop support for the Dial, it appears we don't need to worry too much about Microsoft strongarming Adobe into supporting it.

    I think the Dial will inevitably be a specialized piece of equipment initially, and those who're going to consider spending $3000 on a Surface Studio or have a Wacom Cintiq will demand that Adobe support it. Vendors of specialized software also expect to have to support hardware only used by a minority of the population. The question is really whether Dial support is something that will ever come to the mainstream, or even if that's desirable?

  2. 4103

    As someone who has done CAD drawings with Solid Surface and AutoCAD I think the Surface Studio and Dial will be a big hit with most engineers out there. And believe me $ 3000 is not a big deal for them.


  3. 1080

    Correct me if I'm wrong but the Dial compatibility has to with hardware and that why it currently only works with the latest Surface devices. 

    Again I could have misunderstood the device but I thought it worked like a mouse and as such simple functions such as scrolling with the Dial would mimic the scroll wheel of the mouse. This is what I thought was the main reason behind it. Most people write with the same hand has they would use the mouse with so you can't use the mouse and stylus at the same time. The Dial gives you mouse like functionality without have to learn to use the mouse with your off hand.

    I also don't remember them mentioning anything about APIs for it so maybe they are not expecting all or any developers to program for it. They would reach out to the big players such as Adobe to add specific support for the Dial. Only releasing the APIs if it catches on.

    • 5767

      In reply to Finley:

      Read this:


      There are new APIs for radial controls that Surface Dial talks to. No 'Surface Dial' API as that is not needed.

      • 1080

        In reply to MutualCore:

        I see but there is also hardware compatibility needed as well correct? This is why it only works with the latest Surface devices.

        • 180

          In reply to Finley:

          So as a dial, it works with any Anniversary Update PC over Bluetooth, but only on the Studio on screen. I read somewhere today they're intending to add the on screen compatibility to the Surface Book though, so my guess is the underside has a capacitive pattern that a good, multi-point touchscreen could pick up on. That's speculative, though.

  4. 1377

    Can Dial only be used with UWP apps?

    • 5611

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      No, it can be used with classic desktop applications too. Since a lot of existing high-end CAD / Art applications are classic desktop, it makes sense for them to enable Dial support because then it's worth buying the Surface Studio to make the most of it.

  5. 5767

    Perhaps Microsoft can bribe them like the good old days of 2012? Joe B is back, so bribery is in effect!