Microsoft’s Build developer conference Day 2 keynote begins at 8:30 a.m. Pacific this morning, with top Windows executives slated to take the stage.
It’s a new opportunity for Microsoft to make the case for the relevance of its flagship operating system at a time when developers’ attention is increasingly split among different devices and platforms, most notably Android and iOS.
Watch the live stream above and follow our live commentary below. Check out all of our Build coverage here.
Special note: All Build conference attendees and followers receive a special 15% discount to the inaugural GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit, taking place in Bellevue, Wash. on June 7th, and featuring speakers such as Microsoft Azure chief Scott Guthrie; Docker COO Scott Johnston; Cloud Foundry executive director Abby Kearns, Kubernetes co-creator Joe Beda and many others. Use the code Build15 when registering on the event site here.
Hi everybody! We’re back at the Washington State Convention Center for Day Two of Microsoft Build. Yesterday was the data center geek day, but today is shaping up to be a little more fun.
I personally think enterprise technology is fascinating and the linchpin of everything in tech, but I also root for the New York Mets, so my judgement is questionable.
Todd is fighting his way through Seattle’s less-than-accommodating traffic, and will join us shortly.
Todd made it! Lights are going down, and we’re about to get going right on time.
Terry Myerson takes the stage. Our posts from this morning just went live, if you want a preview of today’s news.
Myerson is talking about how software development is a creative outlet. “Windows, from its very inception, has been a vehicle for creativity.”
“Today we’re going to share three big investments we’re making in our Windows community.” We’re going to talk about the next major version of Windows 10, which he says brings “love and engagement across devices.” Love?
That’s the first update. The second will involve the Windows Store, and app distribution paths. And the third update will be about developer tools.
First off: the next major update of Windows. Windows 10 Fall Creators Update will be previewed over the next several minutes. Here’s Todd’s story on Windows 10: https://www.geekwire.com/2017/new-era-windows-microsoft-will-link-windows-10-android-ios-fall-creators-update/
We’re watching a video demo of “Story Remix,” which links devices and Windows PCs to edit photos and videos and share them across different social sites.
Here’s our story on what Myerson is announcing right now: A new era for Windows: Microsoft will link Windows 10 to Android and iOS with Fall Creators Update
Microsoft continues to position itself as the creative’s PC, which used to be Apple’s mission. The video even declares “creativity is the new productivity.”
Linda (I think her name was Linda, come on, Microsoft, put people’s names up on the big screen) comes on stage as the video ends to explain Story Remix and Remix 3D, a video editing app.
Story Remix lets you search across your PC and find people, objects, and places where photos or videos were taken. It assembles “stories” together by linking photos and videos with common themes or people.
She’s showing an example where parents at a kid’s soccer game can share photos and videos of the game together, and Story Remix can put those together and share them with Android and iOS devices through Microsoft’s Xamarin technology.
First glimpse of Story Remix app.
You can add notes with a pen that are attached to people in the video, and the note will follow the person as the video unfolds, which got some applause from the developers.
Story Remix uses AI to “pick just the best clips, with smiles and action.” Everybody’s always happy in these videos!
If you don’t like the way Story Remix put the video together, you can hit the “remix” button, and you’ll get different angles and different music. You can also edit the video manually.
The app has several different pre-recorded musical accompaniments you can attach to your video. The app can actually match the beats of the music to the cuts in the video, which is cool.
Microsoft will be releasing this tech through APIs so Windows developer can incorporate some of these techniques, and several major industry standards for video content will be supported.
You can take objects from a library and attach them to objects in your video. She attaches a fireball to the soccer ball her daughter is about to kick for the winning goal, and the effect is pretty cool.
Joe Belfiore is out to start the next portion of the keynote. Joe is well known in the Windows community for his, um, aggressive hairstyles, and he’s rocking some sort of shade of blond today.
Joe is talking about how apps can take advantage of a new design system within Microsoft’s world, and how apps can plug into “the Microsoft graph,” which is how Microsoft describes its array of Web services.
The new design system is being shown off: it’s called “Fluent Design.” A video shows off some of the characteristics of the new design language, which appears to be an update to the Metro look Microsoft has used for a few years now as opposed to something brand new.
Five elements govern Fluent Design. We’re going to talk about “Light” first.
“Light” is basically how developers use shading to highlight certain aspects of your app. “Depth” is the second element, which governs layering in an app. “Motion” is what you’d think: how parts of your app move across the screen, like transition between different app states. “Material” attempts to bring real-world experiences like a bouncing object to a 2D screen. “Scale” addresses that 2D problem by updating how 3D animations work.
Usage of Windows Ink devices has doubled over the last year, Joe says. Pens will interact differently with Windows Devices in Fluent Design, allowing you to do much more with a pen than currently possible.
Joe is demoing Windows Edge’s use of Windows Ink. Windows can recognize your handwriting and transform it into text, such as when searching on Bing.
The pen can also be used to scroll, or click to new links. Different degrees of pressure can also bring up “context menus” that provide different options.
This is similar to what Linda was doing with a pen in the video editing demo, attaching handwritten notes to photos that can be viewed outside Windows on other devices when shared.
We’re shifting now, talking about new ways that Windows will work with the Microsoft Graph.
We’re running through one of those “typical users,” who always seem to be impossibly cool designers with busy calendars and impeccable taste.
Windows PCs will be able to sit at the center of your digital inventory and let you share files across different devices, even iPhones and Androids, Joe says. Windows now will let you share OneDrive files in new ways, for example.
This is the first feature that gets to the core of Microsoft’s new Windows strategy — making the OS work much more hand-in-hand with “competing” operating systems, iOS and Android.
It’s called “OneDrive Files On Demand.” You can set permissions for different files to stay on a single device’s hard drive or be uploaded to your OneDrive account and accessible from other devices.
Joe is demoing how this works with Notepad, which doesn’t seem to have changed at all in like 20 years.
This tech will work for all kinds of files, of course.
He’s actually demoing this syncing files between a Windows desktop and a Windows Phone, a rare sighting of that device in the wild. One lone attendee lets out a whoop at the sight of a Windows Phone.
OneDrive is available on Android and iOS, Joe says, so 99 percent of smartphone users can also use this feature.
Now we’re getting a demo of “Timeline,” which lets you find files across your PC in a chronological view.
It’s a different way to attack the problem of our cluttered desktops, and the interesting thing about Timeline is that you can also search across devices connected to your Microsoft accounts.
Timeline lets you pick up activity where you left off on different devices, like if you were reading a story on your Windows PC but want to resume reading it on your iPhone through the Cortana app.
Cortana is able to prompt users to download cross-platform apps to make this happen if the user doesn’t have the right app installed, Joe says.
Here’s Timeline in the Cortana app on the iPhone.
If you think this is a little complicated, having users understand how this works across devices, Joe’s got a solution. Microsoft is adding a settings feature in a future version of Windows that will make this clearer to users upon initial setup.
Joe announces “the Cloud-powered Clipboard,” which “will let you do a paste from one device to another.
Say you’re working in Powerpoint on a Windows PC. If you do a copy in Powerpoint, you can switch over to an Android phone using the Swiftkey keyboard, and Swiftkey knows that you had just copied something on your Windows PC because of its connection to Microsoft.
Now we’re going to talk about “love and engagement” in app development, which I guess is the new “surprise and delight.”
Of course, the notion of making your users actually want to use your product is a pretty good strategy.
Abolade Gbadegesin, the architect of Microsoft’s Project Rome, is out on stage to demonstrate how some of this cross-platform activity actually works. Project Rome was released earlier this year for Android phones, and it lets Windows and Android devices share information across apps.
Microsoft’s Project Rome architect Abolade Gbadegesin.
Abolade is talking about how developers can “modernize” their apps to take advantage of some of these capabilities without having to throw everything out and start over from scratch.
He’s demoing the coding of an app in .Net, adding a Azure mobile services backend for devices. UWP is now supported in .Net Standard 2.0.
Here is the official Microsoft site for more info on the Fluent Design System: http://fluent.microsoft.com
.Net Standard 2.0 makes a lot of this capability available in libraries that are accessible from the development environment. But this is especially tricky when sharing user interface code across devices, because different operating systems have different approaches to visual representation. To address this, XAML Standard 1.0 will be released later this year.
XAML gives “a native look and feel” on Windows, Android, and iOS, Abolade says. The developers particularly liked that announcement.
These capabilities allow apps to scale across desktop and mobile sizes, adding or reducing functionality as needed, and even supporting pen input.
Abolade is showing off some of the new elements of Fluent Design, with connected animations between transition in apps and how apps can use shading against the desktop to create a layered effect.
He’s also showing off how the code works to enable those elements. Microsoft is making a lot of this stuff easily available to developers inside the next update of Windows, some of it as simple as drag and drop.
Apparently Windows was not connected to the Microsoft Graph, but now it will be. That seems like a good idea!
New: the Project Rome SDK will support iOS, which is a big step forward. Seems smart to let Windows developers stay within the Microsoft world but also address other mobile devices.
We’re diving into the code that makes Project Rome work, blending visual elements across different devices and allowing apps to take advantage of things like Timeline to sync activity between Windows PCs and Android or iOS devices.
Abolade gives a good real-world example of meeting someone for the first time, entering some bare-bones contact information on the phone, and then filling out the rest of the information once you get back to your Windows PC.
Terry is back on stage. “This is a big opportunity,” he says, referring to how Windows Update can keep Windows users happy with the basic Windows experience while recognizing that they’re going to use other devices, and they’ll appreciate the syncing.
Now up: Windows Store, and “Continuous Delivery.” Microsoft is announcing that UWP capabilities are coming to the Visual Studio Mobile Center. That means you can build, test (even on other non-Microsoft devices), and publish the app into the Windows Store.
We’re now talking about Windows 10 S, a new version of Windows announced last week that locks devices into apps from the Windows Store. That improves security but is a new concept for Windows.
New: iTunes is coming to the Windows Store.
Two other more-boring applications are also coming to the Windows Store: SAP’s Digital Boardroom, and Autodesk’s design software.
Autodesk is showing off how their apps work, and how they are connected to the Windows Store.
Terry’s now talking about some other tools for developers in the next version of Windows 10. Ubuntu is now available in the Windows Store, which is a sentence that would have made people fall down laughing 10 years ago.
SuSE Linux and Fedora are also coming to the Windows Store, giving developers the opportunity to run Windows and Linux apps on their Windows PCs.
Xamarin Live Player will also let you develop iOS applications within Visual Studio in the next version.
Terry is running through some of the iOS development capabilities, which the developers seem to like. We’re seated in the center of the keynote hall, surrounded by other media members and Microsoft employees, and you can hear the difference in the applause as developers sitting farther away respond to announcements.
A new feature in Windows allows developers to turn on a feature called Narrator, which lets developers experience their apps as people who use screen readers do. Screen readers and similar tech greatly improve the computing experience for blind people or people with other disabilities, and it’s great to see Microsoft emphasize that.
Now we’re on to the good stuff: Mixed Reality.
Terry is telling the story of the first time Joe Belfiore demonstrated Mixed Reality for him seven years ago. “Mixed Reality’s path is still being written, but I think it’s going to change everything.”
Terry is demonstrating how some companies use Microsoft’s virtual reality tech. Japan Airlines uses the Hololens and Mixed Reality to learn how to repair jet engines, for example.
“This incredible opportunity is in front of us today,” Terry says. Alex Kipman is now coming out on stage, and I think we’re about to get some new demos.
Last year at Build, Microsoft started shipping Hololens devices. And we’re about to check in on the progress of developers in creating new virtual reality apps. Over 20,000 developers created over 70,000 “concepts” for Hololens, Alex says.
A video rolls with some of those examples, showing off virtual reality hackathons. Some of these concepts are very basic, but the point is to get developers up to speed on what they can accomplish, allowing them to build off those experiences.
“I don’t know how many times I’ve watched this video, and I still get goosebumps every time I watch it,” Alex says.
Microsoft will add China to the list of countries in which Hololens and Mixed Reality are available, Alex says.
It seems like Microsoft wants to lump augmented reality and virtual reality into a single platform called Microsoft Mixed Reality, and new capabilities will be baked into the next version of Windows 10.
Alex is talking about new features for mixed reality controllers. “Being present isn’t just about what you see, but it’s about having the freedom to move and explore your world.”
Alex announces Motion Controllers for Windows Mixed Reality, which Todd wrote about earlier today.
Microsoft is showing a video of how the controllers will work in a virtual reality environment, which is difficult to describe in text.
First glimpse of the new motion controllers.
The motion controllers were designed to work with the headsets, and they don’t require you to set up additional sensors in your home or office, Alex says. This holiday, Acer will release a headset/motion controller bundle at $399 for the set, he says.
“I’m proud to share a transformative project with you today.” it’s a collaboration with Microsoft and Cirque du’ Soleil to create mixed reality tools that can be used for the design of show of their shows, Alex says. Three designers from Cirque shows are about to show off some of their work.
This scripted presentation from the Cirque folks is a little awkward, but it’s definitely interesting. The technology will allow stage designers to create new stages without having to actually build the things, giving everyone involved with a show a better idea of how everything will work.
Virtual reality is definitely cool, but people still look ridiculous wearing the headsets.
Spacing on a Cirque stage is crucial to the performance, given the complexity and danger involved. Virtual reality can let designers play around with different concepts while understanding exactly how much space they’ll need for a given feature. The designers are showing how the headsets allow them to move objects around a virtual stage; the video from their headsets is being shown to attendees.
They conference in (we’ll need a new term for that) a Cirque director from Europe, who appears as a virtual avatar and contributes to the mock stage design.
The designers are adding layers to the design, once they settled on a basic shape. They can also add in virtual performers to see how they move around the stage design.
Alex thanks the Cirque designers. “What a difference a year makes: the blueprint is now in front of us,” he says. He compares the Cirque demonstration to work Microsoft did with NASA to simulate walking on Mars.
“Mixed reality is a growth opportunity for all of us, and it’s here today.” Starting today, you can pre-order the Acer virtual reality kits, he says, the same ones that will go on sale this holiday season.
Alex hints that Microsoft will show off a lot more about its mixed reality plans at E3, the big gaming show.
That’s it for Day Two! Thanks for following along, everybody, and we’ll have more coverage from Build coming soon.