The first day of Build 2016 jumped off yesterday and now after a few hours we had time to digest what was shown at this year’s conference. Satya Nadella started the conference with a smorgasbord of #BuildBingo words such as ‘Cloud First and Mobile First’ and ‘Azure’. It’s pretty clear that Microsoft have moved away from forcing Windows, to making Windows a viable platform for creators and business people.
Microsoft is moving towards a ‘conversations as a platform’ model, where people can communicate with their computing devices, be it iOS, Windows, Android or just a Twitter bot. Microsoft’s failed @TayandYou Twitter experiment did get a mention yesterday, just showing developers what they’re aiming for.
Skype Bots and Cortana and ‘Bots are the new Apps’
From today on all Skype apps, you will get Cortana integration. What this means is that you can without jumping through hoops, stay within your current conversations in app, and switch to a Cortana powered ‘friend’, and start planning a holiday, book a plane ticket or even order Domino’s Pizza. Microsoft is putting this out there so that any developer can start creating interesting conversational ‘bots’ which will be integrated into Skype. As for other platform support, you can expect to see the same integration into Slack, GroupMe, Telegram, Outlook, SMS, and Line.
Windows 10 on a Billion Devices….eventually
Microsoft announced to much fanfare that the Windows 10 OS was installed on 270 Million PC’s, Xbox One’s and Windows 10 Mobile Devices. Microsoft even made a retaliatory stab back at Apple who earlier said that there are over 600 Million PC’s out in the world that is older than 5 years and that this was ‘sad’.
According to Microsoft the Windows Store have had over 5 Billion visits, and a majority was ‘returning customers’. This bodes well for the Universal App Platform and how Microsoft aims to make the Windows Platform the defacto standard for development.
Microsoft showed off some awesome features that will be coming to the next Windows 10 Redstone ‘Anniversary Update’ which will come in the summer, to all devices. Microsoft showed off some nifty inking capabilities on supported devices, and that pretty soon you’ll be able to log in to standard websites using Windows Hello features.
Xbox One and Gaming
Well, you’ve been watering at the mouth for this moment. Phil Spencer for the first time ever talked on stage at Build, talking about how much they’re investing into gaming on Windows 10. Phil Spencer also announced that from today you can activated any Xbox One device as a developer unit, and start sideloading apps you’re building.
One awesome thing I saw was the ‘Desktop Converter App’. The app takes standard Win32 apps and converts them on the fly to Universal Windows Apps. This means it packages them into the easy to remove Windows Apps. Microsoft is seriously making the case to developers that Win32 is not the way to go when building apps and games and I applaud them for their persistence with this idea, even when it draws misguided criticism.
Dan Greenwalt from Turn10 also stated that from today, all games developed by the studio will be released on all Windows 10 platforms (except Mobile and IOT). This plays into the narrative that Microsoft will aim to release games as Windows Platform Exclusives. Phil also announced that with the new Windows 10 Summer update, Background Music and Cortana will be coming to Xbox One. Phil stated that more details will be revealed at this year’s E3 conference.
Microsoft announced that for the first time the Hololens Development Kit will be shipped to developers. The device will be full production hardware and is a definitive look at what the final product may look like.
Microsoft showed cool ‘Augmented Presence’ demos where users in other rooms/countries/planets could still join you in the classroom and teach students the intricacies of the brain and human anatomy. Chase Western University will be one of the first Universities to implement the Hololens technology in their new campus. NASA also announced awesome demo’s where you can ‘walk on Mars’ using the Hololens app.
The Hololens is currently available to order by Dev teams, but will run a hefty $3000 price tag. We hope that Microsoft will improve upon this unit so that we can have truly immersive experiences when it finally launches later this decade.
Windows 10 Mobile
The white elephant in the room was finally absorbed into the Windows 10 blob. Microsoft made no excuses as to why they didn’t specifically mention Windows 10 Mobile and Continuum. Microsoft was later asked about this and they stated that ‘Windows 10 Mobile isn’t a priority this year’ meaning that we might only see new hardware after the Windows 10 Redstone release.
Windows 10 Mobile have been the ugly step child of the mobile revolution, but Microsoft have far from given up on the platform. All developments from Cortana to Gaming is aimed squarely at Windows 10 on phones and will benefit the platform as well.
With Build 2016 continuing today and tomorrow, we hope to see more awesome details on the above and more. Watch all keynotes including yesterday’s conference at build.microsoft.com