Microsoft announced its Windows Azure Toolkits for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, which it said means “developers can use the cloud to accelerate the creation of applications on the major mobile platforms.” By using a common back-end, developers can use cloud services to share common requirements such as device notifications, authentication, storage and “even higher-level services like leaderboards.” At the same time, they can maximise the performance of each mobile device by writing native client code that exploits each platform.

Last week, Microsoft announced tools intended to enable iPhone (and subsequently Android) developers to more easily port their apps to Windows Phone. By now providing tools to enable Azure cloud-based services to be supported across platforms, it is clearly looking to drive developer support for its back-end systems, while making it easier to deliver apps which support multiple operating systems. In a blog post, Jamin Spitzer, senior director of Platform Strategy at Microsoft, said: “Opportunity creates complexity for developers; they need to prioritise their investments to quickly reach the biggest and most profitable user bases. Today, it’s not just about how quickly a developer can create an experience, but how quickly that developer can build apps that work with unique devices across a dozen platforms.”

Interestingly, Microsoft has again not stated any planned support for Symbian OS with its Azure Toolkits, as a way to build its links with the developer ecosystem for this platform ahead of Nokia’s planned transition to Windows Phone. Microsoft could have encouraged Symbian OS developers to migrate their back-end deployments to Azure now, so that it would then be easier to switch native client support to Windows Phone (or Android, or iOS) from Symbian OS in the future.

The Azure Toolkit for iPhone (v1.0) will enable developers to write iPhone apps on the Windows Azure platform, without having to have “intimate knowledge” of Microsoft tools such as Visual Studio. Compiled iPhone code libraries to interact with Windows Azure, a sample iOS application, documentation, and a “cloud ready” Windows Azure deployment package are also included.

Windows Azure Toolkit for Android (Prototype Preview) will be released “this summer,” with Microsoft stating that “with the forthcoming release, developers will be able to extend the functionality now available for iOS and Windows Phone to the Android platform.”

Microsoft launched the Azure Toolkit for Windows Phone (v1.2) last month, and will add additional features in the coming weeks.

According to a recent survey from Appcelerator, developers are already embracing the cloud, with 84 percent of respondents stating that they are already using at least one cloud-based service. It was then noted that fragmentation among cloud service providers was a significant stumbling block, and that “the pervasiveness of the cloud needs to be aligned to the ubiquity and proliferation of multiple devices and operating systems” – the issue that Microsoft is now looking to address.