Microsoft held their annual developers conference this week. While this was Build and the focus is on developers, there was still quite a bit of Windows 10 details revealed for IT and general consumers. It started Wednesday with a keynote address and ran through Friday with a variety of technical sessions. While the keynote usually holds the largest revelations of new products and innovations, there were other important bits of information released throughout the conference. Microsoft has a lot on their plate, so I have broken the news up by category. Alternatively, you can watch the keynote at Channel 9 and find other session recordings there.
Microsoft announced Windows 10 Anniversary Edition will be coming this Summer. You can see this work through the Windows Insider program and it is being developed under the name Redstone. We have already had one major release to Windows 10 in November where the naming convention was explained as ‘Windows 10 v1511’. Anniversary Edition also resurfaces memories of the negative-reputation Windows Millenium Edition.
Updates coming to Windows 10 include extension support in Microsoft Edge, Cortana from the lock screen, biometric support for signing in to sites on Edge, better inking support with Cortana and a hub in the Store to highlight apps that support Inking. Another big one was a ruler that could be used with the pen to create straight lines. Cortana will also have a bot to complete tasks for you. This is kind of an API to work with other bots using the Microsoft Bot Framework.
Ubuntu Bash on Windows was a big feature announcement. Developers will be able to make Windows their development environment and drop into Bash in order to use Ubuntu userspace and GNU/Linux utilities like apt-get package manager. This will make setting up additional tools from Canonical’s repositories quick and familiar. Don’t worry. PowerShell is not going away and this move is said to complement the plans for native Win32 OpenSSH and is still going strong in its feature set.
Microsoft is toying with an improved Start Menu. They want to carry over the All Apps list from Windows 8.1 to improve Windows 10 Tablet Mode. The normal Start Menu would also combine the ‘Frequently Used’ section and the ‘All Apps’ list to reduce clicking. This would mean moving the Settings and Power button, which cannot seem to find a home with Microsoft’s last few OS versions. The information was posted to a new Quest in the Feedback Hub.
The Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition is now shipping.
Microsoft also shipped Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition for the first time, extending the Windows experience to holograms and allowing developers to begin helping build the future of holographic computing. Microsoft highlighted commercial customers in several industries that are using HoloLens today, including Case Western Reserve University and NASA. Developers can use the Universal Windows Platform to create new mixed reality with holograms.
.NET and Developer News
Xamarin was announced as being made open source and the .NET and Xamarin ecosystems are being merged together to allow the development of cross-platform mobile apps for iOS , Android, and Windows. Xamarin’s capabilities are being brought into Visual Studio Community and Xamarin Studio for OS X is being made free as a community edition.
A new Microsoft Garage project app was released. Connections, an app for Android, prepares your next incoming call with related information.
Xbox and Gaming
Microsoft brought out Phil Spencer, head of the Xbox team, to announce the Universal Windows Platform for game developers. Security and usability should be easy and consistent for users and developers. In May, UWP will be updated to allow disabling V-Sync and supporting G-SYNC and FreeSync.
Xbox One will get access to the Windows Store with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which means it will be able to run the UWP apps and Windows 10 will be able to share Xbox One apps, reducing the number of platforms that developers have to consider.
A retail Xbox One can be turned into a dev kit and Microsoft demoed this on stage. You download an app and register the Xbox as a dev kit. You can then target the Xbox One on your own network in Visual Studio to run test code.
Xbox will also be gaining features with the update including Cortana for voice recognition, jumping straight to an action instead of going step by step. The Xbox One controller will also work natively as an input device for UWP apps as well as working in those apps on Windows 10 if you have a controller connected.
Microsoft promised more to come at E3.
Office and Office 365
Office as a platform that can reach over a billion users on a variety of devices was discussed from a developer perspective. Starbucks demoed an app for Outlook that allowed you to schedule meetings at Starbucks and purchase gift certificates. Other demonstrations showed developer apps placed directly in the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint ribbons and Office for Mac add-ins.
Power BI Embedded was previewed to allow developers to include interactive reports and visualizations.
Developers can also take advantage of Microsoft Graph, which was released last fall, and six new APIs were demonstrated at Build.
Developers were encouraged to develop apps utilizing the new Skype for Business App SDK and Skype Web SDK.
Office 365 Connectors were also demonstrated to show developers how to write their own connectors.
Azure and Server 2016
Azure AD and Identity got a detailed discussion at a break-out session. This post to the Active Directory Team Blog provides a thorough explanation of some of the areas that they are working on, including a new Microsoft Authentication Library and AD Authentication Library 3.0 reaching general availability.
Azure Service Fabric is a microservices application plat form that developers can use to design apps that are available 24/7.
Azure Functions extends Azure’s platform for serverless computing solutions.
Azure IoT Starter Kits are now available for purchase. The kits allow one to quickly build IoT prototypes for between $50 and $160.
Jeffrey Snover discussed DevOps at Build and Windows Nano Server with WSA, Windows Server Applications, which moves away from MSI files.