Microsoft’s Build conference is where it shows off its best new toys, and Build 2015 has been a hoot so far.
While many of the most important bits were for people who make apps (sitting through the at times rather dull keynote made _that_ clear), there was still plenty for PC, tablet and phone users to get excited about too.
These are our favourites so far.
For us, this was hands down the most exciting thing Microsoft had to offer: a way to turn your Windows 10 phone into a fully fledged computer. Simply plug in an HDMI cable, connect a mouse and a keyboard and your phone is suddenly a PC.
The magic is in Windows’ universal apps, which spot that you’re now in PC mode and change interfaces accordingly. This will either be utterly brilliant or absolutely awful. Either way, trying it out promises to be nothing if not interesting.
2. Windows on your face
We loved the Hololens demo, and now Microsoft has a plan: Windows Holographic, which brings Windows to the world of funny looking headsets.
We hope this delivers on its promises more fully than Project Natal, which ultimately became Kinect, did: augmented reality gaming promises to be wonderful fun, and floating apps feel very futuristic.
3 Office as a platform
Microsoft keeps talking about making Office a platform rather than just a bunch of programs, and it took big steps this week: for example, the new Outlook API (application programming interface) enables other services, such as cab firm Uber, to hook into Outlook and automatically book a driver when you schedule an appointment.
iOS users of Office won’t be left out either – Microsoft demoed third-party plugins working from within Office for iPad onstage at Build.
4 Android and iOS apps
We’ve looked into this in more detail elsewhere on Stuff today, but the potential here is really interesting: Microsoft has made it easy for Android and iOS developers to port their apps to Windows 10.
It isn’t going to be emulation, where you kid an app into thinking your Windows system is really a smartphone, but Windows will include special hooks that make developers’ lives easier. That’ll be particularly handy for Windows tablets and phones, which have fallen behind somewhat in the apps arms race.
5 Windows 10, again
We got to see another preview of Windows, and while the interface is clearly still in development it’s really starting to come together. The interface has been revamped, Cortana’s been tweaked and it’s starting to look a bit more like Windows 7 too.
Interestingly only some preview users will get the new look, because Microsoft’s trying to identify which interface people like best.
Not the gaming magazine or the guitarist from U2: it’s the replacement for Internet Explorer, which to many people was about as welcome as Boris Johnson in a nunnery.
Edge is the new name for Project Spartan, and there’s more app-related tomfoolery here: Microsoft wants developers to port their extensions from Google’s Chrome browser to Edge.
One of the cute bits of the HoloLens/Windows Holographic demo was B15, a cheery little robot you can control via HoloLens and make it do your bidding.
We’ve seen the films. This isn’t going to end well.