Microsoft’s annual developer event kicks off today and we’re live from the Build event to see what’s new from Redmond. Perhaps the biggest change is one of leadership as new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella takes the company’s helm.
Although Build is really for developers, the world will be watching to hear how Windows continues to adopt from a desktop platform to one that’s more mobile. Windows Phone is sure to be in the spotlight as well so join our live blog for all of the news when the keynote starts at 8:30am PT.
Nadella is ending with some funny reminders to Cortana. He’s going to be Master Chief Executive Office in 500 years. And that’s a wrap!
I’ll have some more thoughts later today after I digest what I heard and saw today; thanks for joining me at Microsoft Build 2014!
A: We want to thrive in this mobile first, cloud first world. With intelligence everywhere there will be new form factors and interactions between people and machines. Our goal is to build platforms with best experiences and developer opportunity in this world.
Q: What’s the vision for Microsoft going forward?
A: We have the Biz Spark program; over 75,000 start ups have taken advantage of it. We also have accelerators in Silicon Valley, Seattle, Berlin and other places. We’ll continue to push this.
Q: How can Microsoft better support start ups?
A: There’s room for improvement there but we’re bringing commonality to the APIs for different devices and more consistency. It’s a big focus for us.
Q: What is Microsoft doing to eliminate having to re-learn everything with new API releases?
A: We’ll talk more about the cloud tomorrow, but the cloud is first-class to us. Really understanding the platform capabilities is very important to us and we’ve put a lot of focus on tools and patterns.
Q: How can vendors design for the cloud, not simply migrate there. How will Microsoft help with that?
A: We’ve come a long way with design and user experience. We’re now an inspiration for other platforms when it comes to design. The natural interface is the new frontier: gestures, speech, Cortana. Context should define the type of interface. Speech is great when in a car, for example. We have the broadest range of input modes.
Q: How do you see the approach of UX design at Microsoft now and in five years.
A: It starts with great devices which have to have great software and great apps at the right price points. The 8.1 update is a big milestone and you’ll see tablets at a broad range of prices. We’ll continue to innovate in driving the most productive tablet in the market place with Surface. We look at the role of a tablet in a user’s device family. We want our users to think about the family of Windows devices and a consistent user experience.
Q: I have a Surface Pro but most people use iPads or Android tablets. What is Microsoft doing to compete in tablets?
A: We want developers to leverage their core assets in a broad way. It’s crazy to abandon what you’ve build and not leverage it across a number of platforms. We’re working with partners so you can take your code across platforms.
Q: What are your plans for Microsoft apps to support other platforms?
“We have large volumes still. We have a significant opportunity on many devices.”
A: Because we’re going to innovate with the challenge of mind set. We’ll innovate in every dimension so you see us make progress with rapid pace. We have unique sense bringing developers and end users together.
Q: I work on the Android platform, why should I build for Windows?
Microsoft previously took developer questions that Nadella will now answer. (No pressure!)
Nadella went to the same clothing store as Belfiore: very casual jeans, t-shirt and sneaks.
Elop is wrapping up; introducing Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s newest (and only the third) CEO.
This is “the beginning of a new portfolio,” says Elop. I suspect we’ll see 7xx and 8xx models later this year.
Elop says two new SDKs are available for Lumias: One for imaging and one for Sensorcore.
These phones will have a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SOC inside. Sales start next month in Asia. The U.S. will see them in July. Cost? $159 for the single SIM 630; $10 more for dual SIM. $189 for the Lumia 635 which puts pressure on the Moto G.
Elop is discussing Sensorcore, which sounds like Nokia’s version of the Apple M8 co-processor. The phone can track movement, steps and other quantified self datapoints.
In case you were wondering, even these low-cost phones will support Cortana.
Windows Phone 8.1 handles the dual SIMs well; tiles for each SIM showing calls, messages and more. You can also assign contacts to SIMs.
“An uncompromised Lumia and Microsoft experience for more people.” 4-inch display, five colors with shells; the 630 comes with 3G dual SIM capabilities while the 635 has LTE.
Lumia 630 and 635 are now on tap; two new phones.
Lumia 930 sales start in June overseas for around $599 before taxes/subsidies.
By the way: Elop’s orange sneakers match the Lumia 930 in his hand. Somebody’s been spending time with a personal shopper me thinks.
Lumia 930 has four different microphones used for audio capture in video.
It actually combines photos and video clips along with background music. These can also be shared on social networks.
Creative Studio is updated for image editing; more filters and features. Pics can be shared to Facebook, Instagram, etc…. Living Images weaves a story of pictures using the Nokia StoryTeller app. We’re getting a demo now.
Has a 5-inch full HD display that’s viewable outdoors. Wireless charging integrated. A 20 MP PureView sensor with Optical Image Stabilization and Zeiss optics.
“This is absolutely a flagship device,” says Elop
Elop just announced the Nokia Lumia 930.
First thing: All Lumias will gets Windows Phone 8.1 over the summer. Even my lowly Lumia 520? Yes! They’re showing one on stage right now.
Elop: “In just days or weeks, we’ll be part of the Microsoft family.”
Myerson is done and hey look: It’s Stephen Elop from Nokia!
And Myerson just announced that all the developers here get an Xbox One and a $500 gift card to puchase a device in the Microsoft Store.
I like this move. Software licensing is legacy thinking in today’s world. Microsoft can make more on the services.
Windows for IoT will cost $0. Wow…. that’s not Microsoft-like. Definitely good and admission that’s its behind in this space. Even better: Windows will be free for phones and tablets with screens < 9-inches too!
Back to traditional Windows now with Myerson and the desktop experience. Universal Windows Apps will run in their own Window on the Desktop, new for Modern apps. No more jarring experience between Desktop and Metro/Modern.
We’ll have to make due with Belfiore to jump around and play the piano.
Myerson is showing off a large floor piano that runs Windows on Intel’s Galileo small form factor PC. Myerson tapped out a few notes with his foot. Having Tom Hanks from his BIG movie appearance here would have been handy.
Uh oh. Here comes Windows on the Internet of Things! Think cars, cameras, and…. wait for it…… wearables!
Here comes a graphics demo; looks like Forza 5 on the PC. 60 frames per second; looks great.
DirectX 12 will be the shared platform for Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox. More “merging” of technologies here.
More Xbox One talk about the hardware and graphics capabilities. I didn’t expect this, but if developers are going to create universal apps, this is a new hardware platform for them, certainly not just for games.
We’re watching a video for Kinect for Windows and gesture interaction. Have to say, I’m impressed with the new Kinect; use it all the time, mainly for navigation in games and television controls.
Myerson is using Kinect gestures to interact with the Khan Academy Xbox app.
Myerson is showing off Khan Academy on the Xbox; looks just like the Windows and Windows Phone version. (I sense a theme…..)
Aside: I’m not quite an average Xbox user. Maybe an hour of gaming a day and 2-3 hours of video consumption. Yes, I’m a slacker.
Wow: Average Xbox user engagement is 5 hours a day. And Universal Windows Apps are coming to the Xbox!
Xbox and the television is up. 80M Xboxes in use today.
Looks like some roadmap bits ahead. These are all things Microsoft is working on for the rest of the year.
Terry Myerson is back on stage: “We’ve been at this two hours. You guys ready for the good stuff now?”
They’re wrapping up the Windows 8.1 bits now. I had thought (or hoped) we’d hear about Windows in wearables. Cortana on the wrist anyone?
We’re getting a look at inline video playback using YouTube on WP 8.1. Sorta ironic since there’s no YouTube app for Windows Phone, due to some hoo-ha between Microsoft and Google. ;)
We’re getting a Web GL demo on Windows Phone 8.1 now. A 3D graphics benchmark.
IE 11 has some improvements for devs to make web apps across PC, phone and tablet Web GL, better video playback and more.
So they didn’t show the process here but the venerable Northwind Traders app is “modern” and touch-friendly. Plus it’s faster because the old synchronous data calls are asynchronous.
Ah, the good old Northwind Traders demo app; I think that’s about 20+ years old. How do we make a touch-friendly version of this for tablets so we don’t throw away all that code?
Now we’re back to Windows in the enterprise and legacy apps on tablets.
Silverlight Phone 8.0 apps will still run on Windows Phone but can be updated easily to Silverlight Phone 8.1 or migrated to a Universal Windows App. Devs have plenty of choices here although I suspect Microsoft would prefer the universal route.
Lots of other new Windows Phone 8.1 features added (wait, we’re back to phones?) Bluetooth LE support, Geo-fencing, Video editing, VPN, and more.
And thanks to the new Universal Windows Apps, this will work the same way on Windows Phone as well. Again: consistent experience is the theme here.
This preliminary version of Power Point also supports inking either from a pen or by finger. Nice!
From what I’m seeing so far, this is what Microsoft should have delivered the first time around for Surface and other touch PCs. It looks good but it is late. Still, users will be happy when this goes live.
The ribbon looks similar to what Microsoft delivered on Office for iPad. Easy to tap with big touchpoints.
We’re getting a preview of PowerPoint now, which looks much better for touch, just like a Modern app.
Sounds like we’re transitioning to Office; perhaps a more touch friendly version?
“We’ve made submitting your app to the Windows Store fifty times faster.” Not sure how though as no details were shared.
The Windows Store now tags these universal apps so folks can buy one app for PC and Phone, i.e. “Made for Windows Phones and Windows PCs”
Developers can now run debug diagnostics in parallel in Visual Studio instead one at a time; another feature that will speed up development.
Impressive, although it was a relatively simple demo app, it’s now migrated from Windows 8.1 to WP 8.1 in just a few steps. It generally looks good and consistent minus one small font tweak that needed to be made. And that only took a few seconds to fix.
Developers can easily share all app assets from Windows to Windows Phone 8.1 to greatly reduce development time.
They’re starting with a Windows app and turning it into a Windows Phone app.
Now we’re getting a demo of how this works in Visual Studio 2013 (which has a software update for this functionality)
This different from “the other guys” which want developers to build different apps for various devices and form factors. With Universal Windows Apps, the user experience will maintain consistency.
Universal Windows Apps unveiled to fix this problem. Windows runtime is now available for phones for common code. This is the “merger” of platforms we’ve written about before. http://gigaom.com/2013/09/20/windows-rt-looking-more-likely-to-merge-with-windows-phone/
Treadmill is touting how Windows will help developers across multiple devices and services. “In a given day, I’ll use two or three different laptops, ” he says. “We all want the same app experience across all form factors”
Belfiore is done; David Treadmill, Corporate VP of the Operating Systems Group just took the stage. Some computers are getting wheeled out on a table now, so more demos are likely coming.
Windows 8.1 update will be available starting April 8.
It’s definitely easier to find apps. Do a search from the Start screen and it will surface apps that match, then offer to install them.
And the Windows Store will be pre-pinned to the Taskbar. Good for developers, of course, but for Windows users as well.
This looks MUCH better for mouse and keyboard users.
The Start screen is easier to use on a non-touch screen. New settings, power and search buttons at the top right. And you can right click on a tile for more actions, just as the Windows 8.1 leaks suggested.
The Windows Taskbar is getting some improvements so that legacy and Windows Store (think Metro or Modern) apps are both shown. Makes it easier to switch between the two. This got some applause. And it should because its a seamless experience.
IE 11 has a new Enterprise Mode which changes the user agent string, plug ins and such so legacy sites look much better.
We’re getting a look at IE now. Some info from Cortana and Bing is showing on the bottom: more useful information being surfaced to the user.
Just an aside: very little applause on the WP 8.1 feature presentation. That suggests to me that others see it as more “catch up” as well; less about disruption (yet).
Windows 8.1 is up next.
WP 8.1 is rolling out to consumers in the next few months. Hardware makers are working on it now. Brand new phones will have it as soon as late April, early May.
Wi-Fi Sense for example works with both Windows and Windows Phone 8.1. IE 11 also adds some new features between the two (including a new Reading Mode – yay!)
So, how does Windows Phone 8.1 work with Windows, Belfiore asks? I’m betting it works well but that’s just a guess.
Now we’re getting a video of Microsoft going for a world record for speed typing; the Samsung Galaxy holds the current record.
And now Belfiore’s favorite new WP 8.1 feature. Improvements to the flow keyboard: Shape Writing! It’s very similar to Swype and quite quick to bang out text.
Belfiore’s sister just happened to call. (Shocking, I know!) and Cortana is reminding him to ask about her new puppy. There’s a new Skype button in the phone app to switch from a voice cellular call to a Skype video call. Slick!
You can share your home Wi-Fi passwords with friends coming to your home with Wi-Fi Sense; they can easily connect and you control what they can/can’t do. Impressive.
There’s a new WiFi Sense app that learns about networks; sounds like a database or directory service that WiFi Sense will take advantage of while out and about. You can configure the sign in pages for a more seamless connection. Similar to Hotspot 2.0.
Calendar improvements based on user feedback. Swipe to the right for the next day. More views as well, such as the Week view, which is good for folks with few events.
Store improvements to start with. More app promotion for developers and the For You menu with recommended apps based on a user’s interests. Some new categories as well to group apps by “new and popular” apps.
Next up: more WP 8.1 features from Belfiore.
Phones can be un-enrolled and reverted back to a prior state, meaning this is helpful for BYOD environments.
MDM capabilities: If you have policies that don’t allow downloads of mail or attachments, this can be locked down in WP 8.1. Apps can be disabled by company policy as well.
Encrypted email is supported through S/MIME. Business mantra: What’s MIME is yours what’s yours is MIME?
A consistent experience and centralized management are the selling points for business, says Hedderman. “Once we enroll a device, it gets all of the enterprise settings. Enterprise VPN is now supported.
Windows Phone 8.1 for businesses is next. Nick Hedderman, Senior Product Manage for Windows is on stage.
And that’s Cortana. Now to shift gears….
This is definitely a faster way to get more done with apps. He just added “Deadbeat” to his Hulu Plus queue. Now he’s asking “Facebook, what’s up with Terry Myerson?” and Cortana opened the app right to Myerson’s stream.
Now Belfiore is showing the third-party app integration. He asked Cortana to call someone on Skype; she fired up the app and made the call. Nice!
Cortana also helps with relationships. (No, it’s not a dating service!) “Next time I speak with my sister, remind me to ask her about her new puppy.”
You don’t have to speak to Cortana, of course. Belfiore is typing out queries and commands now.
Cortana is very conversational so you can ask a stream of related questions; super helpful. While it’s impressive so far, it is a bit of “catch up” compared to Google Now. We’ll have to see which service is actually more helpful and accurate in the near future…
Just asked “How did the Seattle Mariners do yesterday?” and Cortana spoke the results. Again, VERY similar to Google Now.
Small glitch in the demo as Belfiore said to “call the second place” after searching for food. Cortana said, “Who do you want to call?” Belfiore then said Cortana is a beta. ;)
This is complete integration with Bing, which in turn, integrates other services, such as Yelp.
So far, no mistakes for the voice recognition commands in Cortana. She also just told him he has a meeting conflict after he tried to make a new meeting.
Time for a Cortana demo with Belfiore speaking to her. He just set an alarm for tomorrow morning. Now asking what’s on his calendar for Saturday. Response time is impressive; near real time!
Contextual information and news important to you will also be surfaced by Cortana. Belfiore gave Cortana permission to scan his email (on the phone) so the software is offering to track his flight home. Interesting approach as Google Now reads your email on the server side.
Cortana can keep track of your “inner circle” contacts. These folks are like favorites and are exempt from your Windows Phone 8.1 quiet hours so you don’t miss important communications. She also keeps track of your places: work, home, favorite hangouts, etc….
Cortana has a notebook that you can view to see what she knows about you; this is about transparency and giving users control over what information Cortana has. Clever.
Cortana can make calls, reminders, take notes, add events, play music, set an alarm, get directions and more. Certain apps can work with Cortana. Out of the gate: Facebook, Hulu Plus, Flixter. More on that later, Belfiore says.
Cortana is a Live Tile on the Start screen and replaces the Search function on Windows Phone.
Cortana’s voice sounds very realistic in the demo. Belfiore is asking questions to show that she has a personality as well. She’s powered by Bing, of course, but learns from you, similar to Google Now.
Hi! I’m Cortana! Yup, it’s the truly personal digital assistant named after the AI in Halo.
Here comes Microsoft’s personal assistant software. “Watch as she comes to life.” Cortana?
In Windows Phone 8.1, you can set the background of the Start screen; all of the tiles take on the appearance of the image while the tile information pops out. You’ll definitely want to be careful; a cluttered background could make for a mess.
Now on to the Start screen.
There are some new lock screen experiences that offer themes; these are different unlock patterns along with specific user information such as calendar events and such. Looks nice!
You can pull down the Action Center from any screen. Looks similar to Android’s notification shade.
The new Action Center is being shown. Pull down from the top to see a few key wireless settings.
Belfiore is showing off handsets from the new partners now. I suspect these are for overseas/emerging markets. Now time for a software demo.
New hardware partners to announce: Micromax and Prestigio working with Qualcomm and Microsoft’s phone reference design. Looks like there’s now a dozen hardware partners.
Windows Phone 8.1 debuts today! He’s talking about what’s next to expect in the update. “We believe Windows Phone is the world’s most personal phone.”
Time for Joe Belfiore to take the stage! He’s the CVP of Microsoft’s Operating Systems Group.
Myerson is expecting Build viewers from over 170 countries to watch the event with real-time translation for the online audience. That’s pretty slick.
Myerson says what motivates him and the Microsofties is making your creativity come to live. A plea to developers, which makes sense since this *is* a developer event.
Lights are going down, so it looks like we’re starting on time! Terry Myerson, EVP of the Operating Systems Group is on stage.
For those keeping “score”, there’s a fair number of Macs on display in the press/media area. I do see a few Microsoft Surface devices too. Apparently, I’m the only Chromebook user here. ;)
The DJ is rocking it center stage here at Build. Keynote is set to start in a few but there seems to be a fair number of empty seats yet. Perhaps we’ll have a slightly late start?
Who’s ready for a 3 hour keynote? Microsoft hopes everyone is because that’s the plan for this morning. I’m here at Moscone West in the front row to hear what the company has to say about the future of Windows for desktops, mobiles and who knows what else!