Build 2015 Wrap-Up

The last two weeks has been chock full of Microsoft developer and product news that I am only now getting to write down my thoughts.

This week Microsoft held both Microsoft Ignite and Microsoft Edge Web Summit. Last week it held it’s annual developer conference Build as well as a small gathering for analysts and investors. They even managed to squeeze in the release of their newest member of the Surface family.

Busy week

So I was planning on doing a guide for understanding the Windows Universal Platform; going in depth but forgot I am not a developer. But I still want to discuss this from a non-developer, layman’s view. I will be talking about a few of these topics in detail but a bit later.

Build

Like I said last week was the Build conference which is Microsoft’s big developer show. And the focus there was on it’s platforms. So the focus was on Azure and Windows 10. Build 2015 was an interesting event. Not just because it began with Azure or HoloLens, but how it illustrated where both Microsoft and Windows is going.

For the last two years I think many enthusiasts looking on from the outside have really questioned if Windows is relevant to Microsoft. Windows 8 and Windows Phone’s reception and the embrace of a cross platform strategy has led many, including at time myself, to think Microsoft is divesting itself from Windows. We wanted clarity and I think Build brought that.

The more I learn about Windows 10 the more I buy what CEO Satya Nadella says; this is Windows being retooled and rethought for the next stage. While I still think Windows 10 is mostly about regaining the desktop it is also not abandoning the mobile aspiration of Windows 8. In some ways 10 is a clearing of the deck. This is a version of Windows that is moving back toward the desktop and also cleaning it up to move forward. I mean for all the talk about pulling back from Windows 8, Windows 10 is also refining what 8 brought. Microsoft is expanding the Windows store in terms of what it offers and where it runs.

There will be one store across devices and it will even have programs built running traditional desktop code. The new Windows Universal Platform (WUP) is an expansion of the Windows Runtime. Windows 10 is about making it easier to use on a desktop laptop, but it is not a return to Windows 7.

Build being a developer conference was all about developers and code; which made some reporters supposedly upset cause they wanted this to be WWDC. The interesting thing for me was how much the developer part of the show was about them going to where developers are. They released a number of products to Mac and Linux developers; specifically Visual Studio Code.

They also opened up Windows development to developers on iOS and Android by making it easier to just port code. Yes this is a Hail Mary pass but it also makes sense. And to me anyway it didn’t feel like a death knell the way Android porting to Blackberry did or the way it was rumored for Windows Phone. The news about porting iOS apps was a surprise because no one was expecting it. The more interesting in my opinion part was the plan to bring traditional desktop programs into the new Universal Platform. The reasons this port is interesting is in order to do so developers essentially are having to get rid of the a lot of things that needed to go.

Beyond the developer news the other big thing was design. Or more to the fact the design team is finally talking publicly. One of the things that has been frustrating for me has been this silence on the design front. Around Windows the majority of discussions are around development and tooling but little about design. I think part of the issue with Windows Phone and especially Windows 8 development was this lack of designer input. This Build we actually had a high level talk and hell even a blog post. Progress!

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