What I Expect (and Hope) to See at Build 2014

What I Expect (and Hope) to See at Build 2014

It's going to be a busy week

Tomorrow morning, I'll step onto a plane for the first time in a while and head off to San Francisco for a busy week of mind-melding with Microsoft at its Build 2014 conference. Here's a recap of what I expect to see at the show, plus a probably pointless list of things I'd like to see as well. Be sure to read this one carefully, as there is some new information.

You may recall that I previously and exclusively revealed that Microsoft planned to reveal Windows 9 at Build 2014. If not, check out "Threshold" to be Called Windows 9, Ship in April 2015. But let's just say that those items can and should top the list. So let's start there.

Windows "vision". Microsoft will relay its vision for the future of Windows at the show, and not just discuss its current or pending release as it has done in the past.

Windows 9. That vision includes a number of things, among them a year-off release codenamed "Threshold" that will most likely be called Windows 9 when it ships in April 2015.

Windows 8.1 Update. The first major update to Windows 8.1—which, yes, is actually called "Windows 8.1 Update"—will be detailed and potentially handed out to show-goers. I mentioned previously that Microsoft plans to ship this release broadly via Windows Update on April 8, which you'll note is a Patch Tuesday. (And I will continue to call this Update 1, since I expect further updates.)

Windows Phone 8.1. Though we will naturally focus very much on the Windows 9 stuff, Build will focus on two other technologies almost exclusively once you get past the keynote. And Windows Phone 8.1 is one of them. Sadly and stupidly, and despite an 18-month gestation, Windows Phone 8.1 is late, as is its related Software Development Kit (SDK). So I'm curious to see how Microsoft will handle that at the show. But there's a lot to say: WP 8.1 is a major update, with many new features.

Xbox One. This is the other focus of Build 2014. So I'm expecting a lot of information around the developer story. Best case scenario (and this falls under "hope" not "expect"): A free Visual Studio Express for Xbox One product that will let anyone write apps and games for the console. Cross your fingers.

Office "Touch" for Windows. With Microsoft enthusiasts grumbling after last week's triumphant launch of Office for iPad, it's almost inconceivable that the firm won't announce Office "Touch" for Windows this week. That should include a public demo, a possible beta/alpha release, and its expected schedule for delivering the final product. As I wrote in Some Thoughts About Office "Touch" for Windows, I'd be shocked if this product wasn't "better"/more full featured than Office for iPad.

New Nokia devices. Leaks suggest that Nokia will announce at least one handset at the show, the Lumia 630 (replacement for the Lumia 625, which was never sold in the US). This is a low-end but big-screen phone. Which leads me to...

Hardware giveaways. I've been told that Microsoft will give attendees a "European version" of the Nokia Icon handset and a new Windows Phone 8.1-based device that includes virtual buttons (Back, Start, and Search) in place of the hardware buttons that were always made available previously. Could it be the Lumia 630? I've not heard about a PC-type giveaway, though some are wondering about Surface mini making an appearance.

Cross-platform. There are rumors that Microsoft will buy or enter into a closer relationship with Xamarin. Either way, I expect/hope the firm to talk up cross-platform (Windows, web, Android, iOS) development in Visual Studio.


If you'll be in the San Francisco area and would like to hang out this week, there are a few possibilities:

Moscone. I'll be running around Moscone all day Wednesday and Thursday, but I'll be spending time in the press room as well. Ask show staff for directions.

DVLUP meet-up. On Tuesday night (the night before Build opens), I'll be at the DVLUP meet-up at Jillian's Billiards Club, right around the corner from Moscone.

Build Blogger Bash. Our Build Blogger Bash starts at 7pm on Thursday at the Southside Spirit House, but it's already sold out, sorry.

Xamarin party. There's a Xamarin party at 8:30pm that night as well, however, and also the Build attendee party, and we'll be trying to make a showing at each.

Windows Weekly live in Petaluma, plus... On Friday, April 4, Mary Jo Foley and I will be joining Leo Laporte at the TWiT Brick House in Petaluma (about 45 minutes north of San Francisco) for a live recording of "Windows Weekly" sometime in the early afternoon (1pm to 2pm start time most likely). Everyone is invited, and we'll be heading to a local watering hole to hang out with everyone afterwards as well. If you think you will be coming for the recording, please RSVP with TWiT.

I may be forgetting something—I know there's at least one Wednesday evening event for example—but I'll add to this list if I figure out what that is. :)

See you in San Francisco!

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