Earlier today Microsoft started their annual BUILD developer conference with their day 1 keynote that immediately jumped in and focused on Microsoft’s cloud technologies and their key role in development of apps and services.
Microsoft Azure took the lead spot in the keynote, Office as a platform followed, we then got a taste of new features coming in a future build of Windows 10 and then Microsoft closed it out by wowing the audience with Hololens and its futuristic looking tech that actually works in the here and now.
Although many wanted to see the new features in Window 10 right away the sequence of the keynote subjects showed that Build is still a developer conference and without the developers there is no reason to even have Windows 10. It made sense despite the initial disappointment most experienced on social media.
With a promise to have Windows 10 installed on 1 billion devices within 2-3 years after the release of the new OS, Microsoft laid out some of the building blocks for developers to make the way forward to benefit from that huge user base. The buzz was palpable in the keynote room as everyone filed out.
Here is a summary of the consumer related announcements but be sure to check in at our sister site DevProConnections later as I will post summaries of those key announcements as well.
Continuum: An updated version of the Windows 10 Continuum feature was demoed that showed a much cleaner tablet/full screen experience that appeared to be a much better experience than the current tablet mode implementation on Windows Insider builds. The taskbar now has a back button added to it next to Task View and Cortana shortcuts. I love the addition of the back button because I am always looking for that when I am using my HP Stream 7. This was also demoed on a phone running Windows 10 Mobile that was paired with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse while the screen was wirelessly broadcast to a larger monitor. The resulting image on the large monitor took on the same look and Start Menu experience that we see on Windows 10. Windows 10 Mobile apps run to that larger screen looked just like their desktop/tablet counterparts. It really made a lot of sense and showed that in a pinch your phone could be a productivity platform beyond what we know right now.
Cortana: The new interface to Cortana that we saw in the Windows 10 build 10074 video from earlier this week was demoed. I am further convinced this new morphing of Cortana from her location on the taskbar where she popped straight up in earlier builds to her new spot from the bottom left corner, same spot as the Start Menu originates from, is much improved overall. She has also had more hooks into info that is important to you laid out in the UI for easy access.
Windows Store: We already know about the unified Windows Store that will bring together apps and programs for all Windows 10 devices but today access to purchasing those programs was made more readily accessible by the addition of 90 connections for carrier billing in 52 markets. In addition developers had the opportunity to re-utilize work they have already done on other platforms to add their work to the Windows Store. The four paths announced today include website code; .NET and Win32 programs; JAVA and C++ code from Android apps and Objective-C code from iOS apps. The demo of the Android code running in a Windows Security Container that provides security for the host OS showed that the app could also access and use Windows 10 Mobile elements as well such as the location sensor, onscreen keyboard, etc. The Objective-C demo showed how quickly a simple iOS games code could be brought into Visual Studio, compiled and run. Terry Myerson told everyone that King, the creators of Candy Crush Saga, used this technology months ago to bring their game to Windows phone. They are on track to bring other titles to Windows in the near future.
Microsoft Edge: Project Spartan gets an official name and we saw demos of a new Tab page and the upcoming extension model. The Chrome extension that was demoed needed only a small amount of work to function in the Edge browser.
Hololens: The demo of this was terrific and I am excited about trying it myself tomorrow so expect to see my first hand experience after that.
You can watch the entire keynote yourself on–demand at the BUILD 2015 News website.