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Here's what happened at Build 2015: Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Welcome to the daily wrap-up of all the Build 2015 news that you'll want and use. Here are the big deals from this morning's keynote, which featured a cast of thousands (or so it felt like) and even more product announcements. Let's begin ...


We! Are! Spartan! ... no more. Microsoft's browser project -- formerly codenamed Project Spartan -- is now dubbed Microsoft Edge. The browser's named after the all-new rendering engine that powers it, and there are two new features users should know about: the New Tab page, which displays information (such as frequently-visited websites and apps associated with those websites) and web extensions. Folks running Firefox or Chrome are already well-versed in using extensions to optimize their Web-based work and play; Microsoft's Joe Belfiore is confident that Spartan users will be doing so too, as extensions can be ported between browsers with comparatively few modifications.

Got 80 seconds? Here's the introductory video for Microsoft Edge.


The Azure-themed announcements had a vaguely aquatic feel: Microsoft announced Azure Data Lake, a service meant to provide developers with a single place to store all their data without worrying about storage limitations. Azure Data Lake is compatible with the Hadoop File System, so it should play nicely with big data tools like Spark and Storm, or big data services like Cloudera or Azure HDInsight. The company then followed that up by explaining the new databases, explaining that elastic database pools work like this:

"Instead of overprovisioning to accommodate peak demand, cloud ISVs and developers can use an elastic database pool to share resources across hundreds – or thousands – of databases within a budget that they control."

There's a YouTube demonstration of how the new elastic database tools all work here.


This bears paying attention to for the rest of the week: David Treadwell's keynote on the Universal Windows Platform isn't until Thursday, April 30, at 8:30 a.m. PDT -- but his blog post today outlines Microsoft's "one OS, multiple devices" approach and the key message he delivers is this: "It’s not just about building apps that run on every device, it’s about creating an experience that crosses them."

PCWorld's Brad Chacos outlines why this is a big deal, especially for Microsoft's mobile users:

Microsoft's existing Windows Store and Windows Phone store have been plagued by “abandoned” apps—software that, once created, are left untouched and un-updated. This new technology certainly makes it easier for developers to bring their existing work to Windows.

And bringing existing apps to a Windows-using mobile audience is definitely something Microsoft is pushing. BusinessInsider's Matt Weinberger points out:

Android and iOS developers will be able to offer their apps on Windows 10 devices, including future Windows Mobile phones … There's a catch, though. Users won't just be able to download an existing iOS or Android app and run it on Windows. The developer has to take their code, run it through a Microsoft tool, and offer it themselves.


While the glib headline about the Office Graph API is that you'll be able to order Uber from your Outlook, the real news is that Microsoft's going to allow third-party developers to tap into user data and push their own services while users are working within different Office apps. The ostensible goal is to keep users working within one seamless Office environment all day, instead of alt-tabbing between three to six different apps.


And finally: Microsoft's Continuum allows you to turn your Windows Phone into a full-fledged PC when the phone is hooked up to a larger screen. Apps resize for the screen and users can switch between mobile and desktop views depending on what peripherals are available. This is a big deal because it's a solid implementation of the universal platform strategy -- users can access and manipulate their data across a wide variety of devices and in a wide variety of ways.

(Speaking of: Microsoft's augmented-reality device, HoloLens, will also be running Windows 10 apps.)


Here's a final chance to watch a re-broadcast of the keynote.


That's it for day one! We'll be back tomorrow afternoon with a wrap-up of all the news coming out of Build 2015 on Thursday, April 30.

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