Imagine What’s Possible – Build 2016 – Day 1

“Imagine what’s possible”, a statement by Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, during the Day 1 Keynote, set the tone for this year’s Build 2016 taking place this week at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California.

This is my first Build event and let me say, this is not like a SharePoint conference. There are plenty of developers in the SharePoint space, but a conference of just developers? That’s a change for me. Also, with all of the content readily available on Channel 9, much of the value of attending an event such as Build comes from personally interacting and developing connections with many of the brightest professionals in the industry.

That being said, Microsoft made numerous announcements this morning and unleashed many other exciting details throughout the day during sessions, labs, conversations, interviews and more. While the keynote was over two hours long, it felt like it only lasted a few minutes. It was one of the shortest two-hour keynotes I have ever attended. Not only was the content overwhelmingly interesting, the presentation in its entirety was very well-produced. I highly recommend you listen to the full keynote as I cannot possibly sum up everything in a few paragraphs, but I will share with you some of the major highlights.

Key Takeaways

Through powerful words, Nadella made it clear that Microsoft will continue to deliver sophisticated platforms and toolsets that not only push technology boundaries but also push developers to think in more innovative ways. Today was about personal computing and figuring out what can be done with Windows 10 in many forms. Tomorrow, I look forward to in-depth insight into Azure development, Office 365 opportunities and more.

1. Windows 10 is the fastest growing Windows platform yet

With improvements and exponential growth in Windows 10, Universal Windows Platform (building one app, using one set of API’s and producing one package for all Windows 10 devices) and Azure, Microsoft has been true to their commitment of a Mobile-First, Cloud-First approach. There are already over 270 million users on Windows 10 and while it does help that a free upgrade is available to most Windows users, the numbers are still impressive. Also announced today is the scheduled summer 2016 release of the Anniversary update for Windows 10 and it should include many additional goodies that encourage more personal computing.

2. Conversation as a Platform

As technology advances, so does communication. Nadella proposed a new platform, one that combines Microsoft’s three other ambitions, personal computing, an Azure-based cloud with re-imagined strategies for business processes, and user opportunity to have conversations and encourage teamwork across programs. He sees that as possibly being as disruptive as previous shifts such as the GUI, the web, or touch on mobile. This requires adding intelligence directly into our computers and our computing, including context. However, Microsoft has committed to continue to build and deliver the connectors necessary to make this new platform a reality.

Additionally, what can be done to remove the keyboard and mouse from the equation of interacting with digital information? Add interface controls such as voice, touch, ink, image recognition and more as first-class methods to interact with our devices. Ultimately, we could have the ability to have end-to-end conversations.

3. Windows 10 looks to be THE ultimate developer box.

Ok, this is a big one, why though? A few examples. Visual Studio continues to improve with the release of Visual Studio 2015 Update 2. But get this, Microsoft has released native Bash for Windows. This one is cool. While we have had Bash shell emulators on Windows before, now we will have true native integration of Bash within Windows 10 itself. This will allow all open source tools found in the Linux world to work directly within Windows, as well as integrate with Windows native API’s.

I will admit when I first heard this and then saw how Microsoft is also embarrassing Node.js, I thought, “Does this make us more susceptible to the next Left-Pad “bug”/”dispute”?” I doubt it but it did make me pause.

4. Are you a Game developer? If yes, listen up…

If you are a Xbox developer, Microsoft announced the new ability to take your Xbox and run it in developer mode. What does this mean? Game developers will be able to connect their Windows 10 development workstation with their Xbox. No emulation- bits built on the dev workstation can be run directly on the Xbox with VS debugging tools.

5. HoloLens officially ships

Once again, Microsoft has generated an amazing, futuristic tool that allows us to see things in a new perspective. HoloLens officially started shipping to developers and enterprise customers today. If you have not checked out the available information on HoloLens, I highly recommend you take a peek. HoloLens enables us to interact in new and diverse ways with a world of content. While there are proposed methods in which HoloLens and similar developments can be applied, Microsoft is looking to their audience to fully understand how to utilize its capabilities.

From Space to Medicine, to eCommerce there are a variety of industry verticals that can employ the power of Microsoft’s HoloLens. What about creating an interactive tour of Mars guided by Buzz Alderin? How cool is that? Or, using it as a medical training application that enables medical students to interact with 3D anatomy models, even in remote situations? There were even sessions and examples of how Lowes is looking to use HoloLens to enhance the buying experience of custom products. HoloLens is a multi-purpose application that can open up new windows for Microsoft.

6. Make apps smarter- allow hooking into Cortana to build bots with Cortana Intelligence Suite

Cortana continues to change how we interact with information, data and people. Microsoft provides the Microsoft Bot framework that allows developers to hook into Cortana to empower applications that provide conversations.

7. Windows Ink

The Windows 10 Anniversary update is going to bring Windows Ink to the forefront. It is a cool concept, but I have to say its introduction was one of most memorable moments of the keynote for no other reason than Bryan Roper, Product Manager, Windows and Devices Group. As he gave a preview of the Windows 10 Anniversary update, he showcased the improved Windows Ink. Windows Ink provides digital ink and paper, with Cortona, and it is impressive. But Bryan’s salesmanship and enthusiasm? Dang, that guy can sell ice in Alaska. Very funny.

8. Empowering developers to change the world

Microsoft continually inspires and empowers developers to build applications that can change the world. This vision is summed up so well in the last few minutes of the keynote. Skip to the end of the day 1 keynote and check out what one of Microsoft’s Software Engineer’s, Saqib Shaikh has dreamed up. Very inspiring.

I look forward to tomorrow’s keynote, stay tuned. And don’t forget, you can watch all of Build 2016 streamed live on Channel 9.

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