SAN FRANCISCO–Microsoft has taken over the Moscone West convention center in San Francisco today for its annual Build developer conference. At the Office for iPad launch last week, Satya Nadella said that the conference will focus on developments with Windows.
I’ll be live blogging the event along with GeekWire’s Todd Bishop.
To watch the event, check out Microsoft’s live stream here.
And we’re live! Kicking things off is Terry Myerson from Microsoft’s Operating Systems team.
They’re looking forward to 160 countries tuning in, with the event translated live over the internet using Microsoft’s translation APIs.
And now, a video.
Now on stage: Joe Belfiore from the Operating Systems group.
We’re going to be talking about major updates for Windows: Windows Phone 8.1, and a Windows 8 update.
Micromax and Prestigio will be building new phones for Windows Phone 8.1.
First off, here’s how Windows Phone 8.1 gets more personal:
The action center allows users to pull down a drawer from the top of the screen to see all kinds of information.
It’s similar to Notification Center on iOS: Action Center is a clearinghouse for people to take a look at their notifications at a glance.
Next up: Interactive lock screen APIs.
Users will be able to choose different lock screen themes to change the way information is displayed, and they also animate based on the layout.
“We think when a phone knows you, you have a better experience with it.”
Also, users can set a new background for the live tiles on their Start screen.
Now, a video for a new feature…
…it’s Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant tech for Windows Phone.
Big cheers from the Halo fans in the audience.
She’s powered by Bing, and also gets to know the phone’s user.
While she’s available as a live tile, she also replaces the search function for Windows Phone.
Much like how Action Center feels like Notification Center for iOS, Cortana definitely feels like Siri. There’s support for setting alarms, creating notes, etc.
She also supports apps like Facebook, Twitter and Flixter.
To get to know a user better, they’ve created a Notebook.
Users can go to the notebook to see what Cortana can learn about them, like their daily routine and news interests.
I love this idea of using a Halo character for this feature, leveraging the popularity of the game.
Users can also set quiet hours to block calls and notifications for people they don’t know, and let through people in their inner circle.
The notebook is all about giving users control over what Cortana can and can’t see.
Users can give Cortana on their phone access to email, and then she’ll ask them if they want her to track a flight for them.
One of the major differences between Cortana and Siri or Google Now is that there’s a barrier between the assistant on the phone and the cloud service.
When scheduling events on a calendar, she’ll notify users if they’re double-booked.
She’ll be launched as a beta, beause they’re working on building the service up by collecting new voice data from users.
Is it me, or does that actually not sound like Halo’s Cortana?
Users can also search for food calorie content using Cortana, and then log it to the Bing Health and Fitness app.
She’ll also take typed queries, for times when users don’t want to talk to their phone.
And with Windows Phone 8.1, they can search data on the phone as well as on the Internet.
One of the cool new things Cortana can do: people reminders.
Users can ask her to remind them of something the next time they talk to a contact, whether that’s through text message, email, or phone call.
Cortana can also interact with apps, so it’s possible to say “Facebook, what’s up with Terry Myerson,” and then Facebook will open Terry Myerson’s profile.
“From our point of view, Cortana is the first truly personal digital assistant.”
Here’s Nick Hedderman to talk about what Windows Phone 8.1 does for businesses.
One of the advantages for enterprises is the ability to enroll devices purchased at retail by end users into an enterprise system.
New in Windows Phone 8.1: S/MIME. Users can send and receive encrypted and signed emails.
New mobile device management tools allow companies to prevent users from running unauthorized apps, as well as saving files without permission.
Now, Joe’s back to talk about enhancements they’ve made to make users smile.
First up, big changes to the store.
New layout designed to feature new apps, as well as collections of apps that users might be interested in.
Next: new layouts in Calendar, including a week view.
They’re also launching a new application called “Wi-Fi Sense” that makes it easier for users to connect to public wi-fi networks.
Users can automatically accept terms for use, and enter information like a name, email and phone number.
Users can also share their home Wi-Fi network password with contacts and friends through Wi-Fi Sense without having to tell them the password.
Now for one of Joe’s favorite features: changes to the Word Flow keyboard.
They’ve integrated shape writing into word flow so it’s possible to swipe to create words.
That keyboard is now the world record holder for fastest typing on a smartphone, for whatever that’s worth.
IE 11 is also on Windows Phone 8.1, drawing a few cheers from the crowd.
Windows Phone 8.1 will get rolled out to consumers “in the next few months.”
Now, it’s time for the Windows 8.1 Update.
One of the big things they’re focusing on is making it better for users with a keyboard and mouse.
First up, IE 11.
First up, there’s an Enterprise Mode that will cause the browser to emulate old features to help it work with intranet sites designed to work with older versions of IE.
Users can now pin Windows Store apps to the task bar on the desktop.
A bar with a minimize and close button will also pop up at the top, so mouse and keyboard users who are accustomed to closing and minimizing apps that way can do so.
The start screen also has PC settings, search and shut down buttons for people who are used to having those available to them.
Users can also right-click on a tile to get a context menu. Lots of applause for that.
The Windows Store is going to be pre-pinned to the task bar, along with an update to become more friendly for mouse and keyboard users.
Search from the start screen also pulls in results from the Windows Store.
It’s clearly designed to encourage users to start buying software from the Windows Store, and to get developers to build apps for it.
Windows 8.1 Update will be free, and available to consumers April 8.
Here’s the new Start screen:
And here’s David Treadwell to talk about what Microsoft is doing for developers.
Three major areas he’s going to be talking about today: Reaching customers across different devices, innovations that support existing development investments, as well as cross-platform support.
“All of us want the same app experiences across all of our devices.”
So they’re now announcing universal Windows apps.
Windows Phone 8.1 includes the Windows runtime, so devs can use common code to reach phones, tablets and PCs.
The tools include the ability to adapt one design across all devices, no matter the screen size.
It’s also possible to create different views for different form factors, but leave the same backend in place.
Visual Studio has been updated to make it easier to build one codebase and then create a variety of views.
Now, it’s time for a code demo.
If you start with a Windows 8.1 project and add a Windows Phone 8.1 target, Visual Studio will create a shared node inside the project, so it’s possible to move all of the common code for a single project into a shared codebase.
While this is obviously a demo, the process seems pretty smooth.
If the switch from a Windows or Windows Phone app is as easy as this seems, it could be a major boon for both Windows and Windows Phone: developers can build one app and target multiple platforms, which could be huge for app selection.
The Windows Store and Windows Phone store has been updated with shared app identities: users can buy one app, and have it work for Windows Phone and Windows.
The same thing goes for in-app purchases.
And here’s Kirk Koenigsbauer to talk about touch versions of Office.
Much like Office for iPad, it’s designed to feel intuitive for users coming from Win32 Office.
There’s unlimited undo, and unlimited redo, because the docs save automatically to OneDrive.
Users can expect that their files will open the same way in the touch app across a number of platforms.
And David’s back, to talk about a bunch of new innovations.
Windows Phone 8.1 will support Bluetooth Low Energy, new video APIs and hundreds of other changes.
Using Cortana, developers will be able to rely on the system’s natural language processing, and can simplify voice command code. “It’s like a natural command line for the future.”
Here’s Harry Pierson to talk about what the Windows 8.1 Update does for enterprises.
Enterprises often have old applications that they don’t want to give up, because they work, but they don’t provide great user experiences on a tablet.
Using a new feature with Windows 8.1 Update, developers only have to re-write the user interface code to get it working on a x86 tablet.
And David’s back to talk about what Windows can do for cross-platform development.
First off, Windows Phone 8.1 brings IE 11 to the phone, which means web developers can use Web GL, in-line video playback, and other features on the phone.
Now, it’s time for a Web GL demo on Windows Phone.
David just showed a 3D graphics Web GL demo running at 60 frames per second on a Windows Phone.
It’ll be available on GitHub under the Apache 2.0 license.
The Windows 8.1 Update is available for developers today.
Visual Studio 2013 update 2 RC, which provides tools for building universal apps, is also available today.
Terry’s back to talk about the “good stuff.”
This is going to be a glimpse at Microsoft’s technical roadmap going forward.
“There’s no better TV experience out there than Xbox.”
The average Xbox One user is using it 5 hours per day.
And developers will be able to build universal Windows apps that target the Xbox One.
Microsoft is working with Khan Academy to develop their app for the Xbox.
Terry just added a feature to one project, hit build, and had it show up across Xbox, Windows and Windows Phone.
Now, we’re talking about Kinect for Windows.
They’re launching Kinect v2 for Windows, built on the new Kinect for Xbox One.
Terry thinks Kinect for Windows is going to be a big way for users to control their PC in the future.
Speaking of the Xbox, Microsoft will be unifying Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox’s graphics platform in DirectX 12.
And now, there’s a demo of a PC running Forza 5 at 60 FPS.
Now, on to the Internet of Things.
Using Intel’s Galileo chip, Microsoft built an electric piano that runs Windows.
This is the first time I’ve heard “so I’m going to attach the debugger to the piano.”
“What’s so great about the internet of things is that it’s not just about the thing, it’s a device that’s connected to the Internet.”
Now, it’s time to talk about the Windows desktop.
Terry isn’t here to announce the next version of Windows. Cue the collective “aww.”
But Microsoft will enable users to run metro-style apps in a window.
And the Start Menu will be coming back! With live tiles!
Also, when Windows for the Internet of Things, like that piano, becomes available, it will be available for free.
For phones and tablets with screens smaller than 9 inches, Windows will be available for free, right now.
And Microsoft is giving a free Xbox One to everyone in the audience.
Attendees are also getting a $500 gift card to the Microsoft Store to buy a new device.
Here’s the new Start menu, which will be coming later.
And now, here’s Stephen Elop from Nokia.
Windows Phone 8.1 will be coming to a wide swath of Nokia’s devices.
Including the Lumia 525 at the low end.
And here’s the Nokia Lumia 930, a new flagship device.
Features a 5 inch, full HD display.
Has wireless charging built in.
It features a 20 megapixel camera, with optical image stabilization.
Nokia’s Creative Studio app will be updated for Windows Phone 8.1, with high-resolution filter and a bunch of other goodies.
For video fiends, the phone includes four microphones for high-quality audio recording.
It’s possible to record surround sound, or use directional recording to use a particular mic.
The 930 will be available in June internationally for about $599.
In the U.S., Nokia will focus on the Icon, which is very similar.
Now for the budget phones: The Nokia Lumia 630 and 635.
They have 4.5 inch screens.
The Lumia 630 comes in 2 variants: 3G single SIM, and 3G dual SIM.
The 635 is a 4G, single SIM device.
With dual-SIM devices, it’s possible to keep the two SIMs separate, for one personal number and one work number, or unify them.
It’s also possible for users to specify which SIM to use with what contacts so users can call their family members with one SIM, and business contacts with another SIM.
The new Lumia devices will have a Sensor Core to track their movements, and use their device like a fitness tracker.
The 630 and 635 will be available in May, and will be the first devices to ship with Windows Phone 8.1.
The single-SIM 630 will sell for $159 without subsidies, while the dual-SIM version will sell for $169. The 635 will sell for $189, again, without subsidies.
Elop thanking developers for launching 500 apps in the Windows Phone store every day.
I wonder how that stacks up against iOS and Android?
Elop now talking about how much he’s looking forward to being a part of Microsoft.
And here’s Satya Nadella!
He’s talking about how he hasn’t missed a developer conference.
He’s going to be taking pre-recorded questions from developers.
First up: an Android developer asks why build for Windows.
“You want to build for Windows because we’re going to innovate with a challenger mindset.”
There are a couple unique things about Windows:
Bringing together end users, developers and IT professionals, and building a broad opportunity for developers.
Microsoft is betting on its platform itself, as well: they’re using the same tools they’re giving developers to develop their applications, like Office.
Hackathon organizer asks: will Microsoft make it easy for developers to make their apps available for all platforms?
Nadella emphasizes that it’s possible to build libraries for Windows, and then take them cross-platform.
They’re also working with partners like Unity to take developer code across platforms.
Stanford CS major asks: What is Microsoft doing to compete against Google and Apple in the tablet space?
Nadella: It starts with great software, great apps, great hardware and great pricing.
Microsoft will continue to innovate on Surface, which Nadella thinks is the most productive tablet on the market.
Nadella sees tablets as a part of a Windows family of devices, not as a standalone device.
UX designer asks: what do you see as the future of user interfaces?
Nadella says there’s a broad agenda when it comes to user interface design. Touch, keyboard and mouse, voice, and gestures are all going to be a part of the future.
But it’s about finding the right context for each paradigm.
Developer from GE: How will Microsoft support people developing for the cloud?
More to come tomorrow.
But Microsoft is heavily investing in the cloud. See Titanfall, which is running on Azure.
Developer: What’s Microsoft doing to simplify APIs?
As of right now, 90% of APIs are consistent across Windows and Windows Phone.
Microsoft is working to make things more consistent across platforms as well.
Developer: How do we deal with cloud latency?
Microsoft is putting in significant capital investments to minimize latency, including 18 data center regions for Azure.
Microsoft is focused on ensuring that applications work well when geo-distributed over worldwide data centers.
Q: How can Microsoft better support startups?
BizSpark has reached 75,000 startups, with its package of benefits for startups.
Microsoft Ventures is also working to provide funding, support, outreach and accelerators.
Q: What’s your vision for Microsoft?
Our vision, simply put is to thrive in this world of mobile-first, cloud-first going forward.
More new form factors.
More interactions are going to be digitized.
Goal is to build great platforms for consumer experiences, developer opportunity, and IT experiences.
And Cortana sends us off with a reminder to watch Scott Guthrie’s keynote tomorrow.
That’s all for now, folks! Stay tuned to GeekWire for more news and analysis from today’s event, including first looks at Cortana and Nokia’s new hardware.