If you were expecting a hoard of product announcements and a couple of new flagships, then you will be disappointed by this years Build, where Microsoft focused entirely on software and development in this years conference. Sure, this is Build, but still would’ve been nice to see something else, however since the keynote, quite a few leaked specs and names have leaked of possible new devices set for a launch soon. The expected reason for the lack of hardware announcements is of course due to the fact that Windows 10 is not completed just yet, so we’d expect announcements shortly, as Microsoft themselves hinted upon.
One of the first major things that happened at Build 2015 was actually a very big deal as Microsoft are to bring their Visual Studio development platform to both Mac OS X and Linux. This is a massive deal for developers, more so for the Mac as many developers have Macs so they can develop for iOS, so this will be helpful in much more ways than most have given them credit for.
But, it wasn’t just bringing Visual Studio across to the other Desktop platforms Microsoft have done, Microsoft have added 4 major development advantages to the Visual Studio platform, all of which are going to be massive for Windows 10 development going forward, especially so with Windows 10 Phones, and here they are in the order Microsoft announced them in.
2. .NET and Win32
On Windows 8, there’s two types of applications you can run, unless you’re stuck on Windows RT of course, applications from the Windows Store and traditional Win32 applications (.exe). Through Windows 10, applications coded using Win32 and .NET will be able to be added to the Windows Store and once they’re in the Windows Store, they’ll gain all the advantages of being Windows Store applications including a secure sandbox so applications can’t damage your PC like traditional applications can. Applications can also be easily installed and uninstalled without the bloat. There’s expectedly a lot more advantages of doing this moving forward, but these alone will be big steps forward for Windows development.
3. Java and C++ Android Code
One of the first massive steps forward for the new Visual Studio has to be the ability to use and re-use native Java and C++ Code from your existing Android applications and games. Applications created using this technology can also use a built in Android emulator through Visual Studio, and once created can take advantage of Windows exclusive technologies natively such as Inking and Cortana integration.
Microsoft demoed the technology, be it by a rather poor keynote speaker, working through a Hotels application. The application was natively running on a Windows 10 phone, which worked using the built in Windows keyboard, had access to location and data with touch elements, and basically just worked. Of course if you want to make your application more Windows like, you can make minute changes to make that possible.
4. Objective C iOS Code
Microsoft didn’t stop with Android code for Windows development, they’ve also chosen one of the most vibrant and popular development communities, iOS. Alongside Microsoft bringing Visual Studio actually to the Mac, which is required for iOS development, they’ve now boosted that process by allowing native iOS code (not yet Swift, but they’re working on it) to the Visual Studio code base. Infact Microsoft have gone as far as actually importing Xcode project files directly in Visual Studio and with the same minute changes, you will be able to execute and debut natively in Windows code.
Microsoft demoed the technology running on a mathematics application from the iPad, but the technology is also expected to run on the Phones as well, which let’s be honest is where it’s more important to get more applications to the Store using. In fact, Microsoft shared that KING’s Candy Crush Saga, which has been in the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store for some time now, actually was created using that same technology and KING will be releasing more applications using the technology running Windows 10, and of course a ton more applications can now be easily and almost effortlessly brought to Windows 10 using this ground-breaking technology.
The headline feature of the keynote for us was the integration of Universal applications with Microsoft’s Continuum feature which now is so much more on Phones. Microsoft previously showed off their Continuum feature for Windows 2-in-1 devices, for example a Surface would automatically adapt when a Keyboard was attached or detached. But now, with Continuum for Phones, the feature takes everything to the next level.
Imaging if you have a Phone, but only a Phone on the go, and you need to get something done. Whilst a Phone is great to get things done, even phablets are at best too small to actually get stuff done, but imaging if you plugged in a monitor as well as a Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse and all of your applications launched as if you were on a PC, well now that’s possible. Watch Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore explain how below;
The technology does require two things, a Windows 10 application created as a Universal app to work on both Windows and Windows Phone, as well as unfortunately new hardware yet unreleased. Whilst the first is available in a ton of applications, new devices by Microsoft are still not available, but we’re expecting them to be released really soon and we can’t wait for that, and to try this in the real world.
They always say don’t judge a book by it’s cover, and that may be the biggest problem with Project Spartan, which is now known as Microsoft Edge. Whilst the previous logo for the then known “Project Spartan” was rather fair, the new logo for Edge looks identical to Internet Explorer, which is ironic as that’s the one thing we think even Microsoft are trying to make people think this is not.
Microsoft Edge does however offer some very good changes moving forward, it’s fast, offers Extensions from Chrome / Firefox code, and continues the vision taken from the Modern IE, which is actually a really good browser … no seriously, we’re using it now from a Surface to right this post. Seriously, stop using Desktop IE, of course Edge will be a thing in Windows 10, and we’ll see how that compares.
- Hololens – Microsoft shared the ever growing prospects of Hololens which is beginning to look incredible, and gave all attendees the opportunity to check out Hololens for themselves which is awesome. Of course Hololens will show it’s true innovation once it’s been released later this year.
- Windows 10 – Some notable improvements were also shown off for Windows 10. The UI looks a lot more polished, and some returning features arrive including Aero-esc transparency, jump lists in Start, as well as a new Lockscreen which can suggest you to take full advantage of your PC or the Windows 10 operating system. No matter how you look at it, Windows 10 looks to be a great OS moving forward.
- DirectX 12 – We’re no gamers we’ll admit, but the new technology in Windows 10 coming to both Windows PCs and Xbox is looking absolutely incredible. DirecX 12 completely bends the boundaries between realistic and digital, with 8K graphics libraries across the board and further enhancements in performance per byte, gaming as you know it is just going to continue to move forward.
So, that’s Build 2015. Whilst we didn’t have any of the hardware we were expecting like a Surface Pro 4, or some new Windows 10 Flagships, we did get a taste of what these flagships will have running on them and the much more you will be able to do with the Windows 10 platform which is now beginning to take shape.
We expect that upon Windows 10 actual release date is when we’ll finally see some awesome flagship devices taking full advantage of Continuum and so much more, bring on the holiday season for that.