This week, Microsoft held their annual Build conference for developers. There was a lot of nervous ideas on what they would announce. Would they finally launch the Surface Pro 4? Or was it going to be HoloLens as a commercial product? Well, they announced their ambitious goal of one billion Windows 10 users by mid-2018. But PC software wasn’t all they talked about, they talked about their wearable glasses, the HoloLens as well as their developer tools and strategies.
They started off the conference by talking about the developing side to the software. Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, kicked it off by pushing that Microsoft needs to empower everybody on this planet and that the only way to do that is by, “empowering every developer.” Satya Nadella also stressed that Microsoft would be making it easier and easier for developers to build on the Windows platform: “We want you to be able to bring your skills, your technology choices, your languages to our platforms and then build form there new and great things.” And they did create the toolkit for it, they made it easier for developers by building one feature on Visual Studio to build any app for Windows 10. Developers can use Visual Studio and/or their existing code from their websites, .NET and Win32 applications, Android Java or C++ applications, or even code for applications from iOS’s Objective C. The Visual Studio tool converts your existing code to the code that Windows 10 uses very accurately even, “including highlighting all the weirdness of Objective C,” as Terry Myerson had said.
The company from Redmond next talked about Azure, Microsoft’s cloud. Azure has 19 regions covered which is more than the Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services combined. Scott Guthrie focused on the point that Azure helps your company be more agile, use fully integrated and engineered solutions, and support productive tools. He also announced Visual Studio Code a code-using editor that when combined with the rest of Visual Studio’s products gets state-of-the-art tools for all developers. Finally, Scott Guthrie talked about using data and analyzing the data to improve your apps.
Next up, was Office. Satya Nadella and Rob Lefferts talked about Office integrations with partners. They first talked about how DocuSign built an in-house feature for Word that allows you to sign directly in Word documents. Another example they used was in Excel, they showed a in-house feature that allows you to access data straight from SAP. They followed this up by showing an example of Sway where you can easily access pictures from PicHit without opening a new tab. Later, they talked about their API Graph tool. In this you can easily get data from a data source.
Finally, Microsoft turned to focus on Windows 10. They started off with the new Windows store. They quickly touched upon the fact that the Windows store is now universal, this gives developers more buck for their bang :). They then announced a better way to buy apps, carrier billing. Carrier billing is where the user, instead of paying for bought apps separately, pays for it in their phone bill. Carrier billing is huge, it causes a 8x increase in purchases of apps. Microsoft also announced Windows Store for Business, a store in which companies and schools can determine what their employees/students can buy/download. They continued by talking about Windows Spotlight. Windows Spotlight is a lockscreen feature that after a few weeks gets to know you and shows you pictures that you like on the lockscreen. But every few weeks, Windows Spotlight will show you an app on the lockscreen. You can easily download the app or just switch back to the daily, breath-taking pictures on your lockscreen.
Then the group from the Pacific Northwest moved on to their personal assistant, Cortana. They talked about how she can now, on the PC, fulfill full tasks for you at just the sound of your voice. Joe Belfiore showed this off by having Cortana message Terry Myerson on Viber. It worked perfectly. Then, came Project Spartan. But, Project Spartan finally got it’s official name, Microsoft Edge. After a quick video, Joe Belfiore went on to talk about a great new feature on the Microsoft Edge, the new tab screen. Microsoft has improved the new tab screen by putting headlines, your favorite news, and your top sites in an easily-accessible way. Then they went back to Windows 10 itself. Joe Belfiore started talking about the neat Continuum feature on Windows 10. He announced that phones would be getting the feature but, you would need a hardware update. He explained that when a phone connects to keyboard and mouse it will turn into mini-desktop.
Last but not least comes HoloLens. Alex Kipman explained to developers how Windows Holographic will make it easier for developers to build for devices with no screens. He emphasized that, “Humans live in the real world and we should not be confined to the virtual or just the digital.” He continued by welcoming, “one of the creative minds,” behind the HoloLens to show us how the HoloLens works. A special camera allowed us, even without the HoloLens to see what he was seeing. Alex Kipman went through common day to day uses then welcomed members from the Cleveland Clinic on stage. They showed how much easier it is for a student to learn with a HoloLens rather than without. It was a great performance that outlined the HoloLens educational uses.
Over the next 2 days of Build, Microsoft showed off and explained their announcements. One of the big announcements, that occurred after Day 1 of Build was the ability to Mod for Minecraft on Visual Studio. Modding is basically adding a new item or feature to the Minecraft world by editing or adding to it’s Java code. Aidan Brady, a high school junior, and Brianna Roberts showed this off by creating a special TNT block.
The Build Conference was very exciting and was filled with amazing announcements. Windows 10 and the HoloLens had some of the more unexpected announcements but, the rest of Build 2015 was also a blast. Hope you enjoyed this blog on the Build Conference and I will be writing more in the near future.