Microsoft’s Build conference is Christmas for Windows fans: it’s when the firm shows off its latest tech and its plans for the future.
This year’s Build is particularly important, because the tech world doesn’t belong to Microsoft any more. It’s getting clobbered on mobile, Apple’s making all the money and Google’s growing ever bigger.
Where does Microsoft fit in all of that? We’ll find out today. Here’s what we’re waiting for and what we’re hoping to get excited about.
Everybody’s been blown away by Microsoft’s video for the Hololens augmented reality system, and it’s time for Microsoft to put some meat on those virtual bones. There’s already been a development kit, so we’re hoping to see more details of how apps can work in a Hololens environment and at least one jaw-dropping augmented reality moment. News of a consumer headset, and maybe even a release date, would be nice too.
Things for the internet of things
We’ve already been told about a free version of Windows 10 for the Raspberry Pi, and we’d expect Microsoft to show that off today. But we think there’ll be more stuff about smart devices than that. Windows’ future is tied tightly with the incoming Internet of Things, and Build’s developer focus means Microsoft is likely to outline its plans for the scary/amazing world that lies just beyond the horizon.
We’ve seen the previews, of course, but we haven’t seen everything Windows 10 is going to deliver. Microsoft should tell us when Windows 10 will ship, how we’ll pay for it - Windows is becoming a service with regular updates, not a traditional annual or biannual software release - and what it’s going to call Project Spartan, its replacement for the not-entirely-loved Internet Explorer. Remember too that Windows 10 is supposed to be One Operating System To Rule Them All, working not just on PCs and tablets but phones and even Xboxes, so we want an idea of launch dates for those things too.
Android apps on Windows Phone
Could they? Should they? Will they? The smart money says yes, yes, yes: Android apps will be coming to Windows 10 phones. It’s a smart move from Microsoft, whose Windows Phone and Windows RT suffered from a lack of big-name apps for the platform. We’re expecting beefed-up developer tools for creating universal Windows apps too.
iOS and Android apps
Microsoft is becoming a service company, and part of that means it’s been embracing iOS and Android devices in ways that’d have Bill Gates spinning in his grave if he wasn’t still alive and supporting the move. We’re expecting news of an app or apps to make iOS and Android devices play more nicely with Windows 10 PCs, and rumours suggest we might even see the rather great Cortana virtual assistant appear on rival platforms to go up against Google Now and scrap with Siri. That could be fun.
APIs - Application Programming Interfaces - are hooks that apps can use to take advantage of other people’s tech, so for example apps that use Google’s Maps use an API to do that. Microsoft keeps talking about making Office a platform rather than just a bunch of programs, and we’re expecting details of Office APIs that enable app developers to take advantage of Microsoft’s efforts and to extend Microsoft’s own products.
Something that’s supposed to be funny, but that isn’t funny. In fact, it’s kinda awkward
When nobody was looking, the world governments passed secret laws that mean every tech firm has to try their hand at humour, fail dismally and leave everybody on Twitter going OMGWTFLOL during big product launches. God knows what terror Microsoft has up its sleeve today.