Build 2016 is in the record books. So, what came out of the conference that has brought us in the past new hardware announcement, easier ways to develop and hosts of new methodologies. This year is themed with “Cloud first, windows next”. With the IoT (Internet of Things) being the way to go for … well just about everything. Microsoft does not let us down with the number of sessions they focused on ways we can make the most of this trend.
For the developers there was lots to be interested in:
- How to build Android, iOS, Linux, Mac and Windows applications with .NET in open source
- Building apps that make use of intelligent services (Project Oxford, among them, I’m sure)
- The Application Platform in Windows Server 2016 (with info on the Windows Server 2016 Software Development Kit, and maybe even Technical Preview 5, some of my sources say)
- Maybe some new VS/Xamrin bundles/offers? (A mystery session with Xamarin’s Nat Friedman and Miguel de Icaza, along with Director of Visual Studio Program Management Amanda Silver)
- Some new Bing-as-a-development-platform news?
- Azure’s evolving microservices development platform, which the company has dubbed Azure Service Fabric
- Developing for the Universal Windows Platform, with particular emphasis on the notification platform, Action Center and interactive Live Tiles.
- Ubuntu will run as a native interface on Windows 10, developers will not have to recompile code to run on Ubuntu-on-Windows.
- It’s integrating Xamarin into all versions of Visual Studio: Enterprise, Professional, and Community.
- Broadening the capabilities of the Microsoft Graph, improving the responsiveness of apps that use Office data by providing notifications via Graph, and bringing add-ins to Office for Mac
There was much hoopla about “bots” as replacement for apps. Microsoft’s biggest announcements at the event were not even something you’ll pay attention to unless you’re a developer: bots. Microsoft new focus is on AI, and boy are they serious about it. Yes, they did bring up the failed experiment that was Tay.ai, although that’s only on hold for now, not completely out of the picture. CEO Satya Nadella talked about how they “want to build technology so it gets the best of humanity, not the worst.” And they want to build that technology into EVERYTHING.
To start the “bot” evolution, Cortana is coming to Skype. You can use her to moderate a conversation with another app bot, like when you want to book tickets, or have a package delivered. Microsoft also talked about bringing bots into real-time video chats in the future. And to facilitate all of this Microsoft has released a Cortana Intelligence Suite, and Bot Builder framework. Both are open source, and let developers take advantage of Cortana and machine learning experience which they can integrate into their own apps.
Non development announcements that were notable
- Office 365 is gaining enterprise users along with messaging service Slack, and that Microsoft’s massive Surface Hub communication tool started shipping March 29.
- Windows 10 has had 270 million active users in eight months, and announced that a Windows 10 Anniversary Update will arrive this summer.
- A more deeply integrated and helpful Cortana, and the option to use biometric authentication for logging in to apps and websites in Microsoft Edge.
- Inking capabilities to help replace traditional pen and paper, Microsoft is adding Windows Ink, a digital hub for access to inking tools and to recently used apps that prioritize the pen. Cortana will also recognize handwritten words like “tomorrow” on sticky notes and prompt users to create appointments.
- Collaboration tools added to enhance Word and PowerPoint
Look for these and other updates to happen from Microsoft. They will make their way through and land on our laptops in short order.