During Tuesday's keynote at Microsoft's Build 2013 developer conference in San Francisco, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer kicked things off by announcing that the Windows 8.1 Preview is now available for download. Along with this announcement, the keynote focused on what Ballmer coined as a "refined blend" – a hybrid of the traditional desktop and modern environment that's coupled together to create a seamless and efficient experience for the end user.
With this notion in mind, Microsoft highlighted several different items around Windows 8.1, suggesting that there are endless opportunities for modern development with Windows 8. Here's a rundown of the announcements around Windows 8.1 that were made during today's keynote.
Windows apps on the rise. Microsoft noted that it has seen steady momentum for Windows 8 app development within the development community. Microsoft elaborated on this point by stating that several popular apps such as Facebook and Flipboard are making their way to Windows.
Start Button. After receiving a slew of backlash from the development community, Microsoft is listening to its productivity developers by bringing the Start button with Windows 8.1. Dev Pro contributing editor Michael K. Campbell, has covered this issue extensively in his commentary, "Windows 8 Start Button Shenanigans." Also, developers will be happy to know that they can set their computer to boot to the desktop instead of the modern UI interface.
Windows Store Improvements. In Windows 8.1, the Windows Store has been redesigned with improved navigation, which means that there's better opportunities for developers to design, build, and market their apps through the Windows Store. As Brandon LeBlanc, Communications Manager at Microsoft mentioned in his blog post on the Microsoft Windows blog, the Windows ecosystem lets developers keep 80 percent of their revenue for the lifetime of their app once it crosses the $25,000 revenue threshold, where the industry standard is typically 70 percent. Furthermore, developers can build apps that work with other apps to share data, along with delivering rich experiences to users across an array of devices.
Internet Explorer 11. The Windows 8.1 Preview also includes a preview of Internet Explorer (IE) 11, which is designed with touch in mind. IE 11 also includes rebuilt F12 developer tools, different options for favorites and tabs, increased page performance and faster load times, and much more. Stay tuned for an exclusive article from Dev Pro on the latest announcements from Microsoft on IE 11.
Native 3D Printing with Windows 8. Another really cool feature is that Windows 8.1 supports native 3D printing. At the expo hall here at Build 2013, there were a ton of different stations that had 3D printers setup making several different objects, including small vases and robots.
With that said, Windows 8.1 provides developers with an array of different opportunities to think creatively about how they deliver rich and compelling experiences to their users. Stayed tuned for more development news on Visual Studio 2013, development with the Bing platform, the latest on IE 11, and more. We'll also be covering the Day 2 keynote live on our Twitter feed, so feel free to reach out to me personally at @blair_greenwood or at @DevProConnect!