Build is Microsoft’s annual Developers Conference, and this year they went all out on Windows 10 and UWP. On the Day 2 keynote, Microsoft demonstrates how they’re moving the platform forward. Whilst we won’t be covering Day 1, we’ll brief you on information that will impact the general user, which Day 2 is all about, which we’ll be thoroughly running through.
DAY ONE – CLOUD COMPUTING
This year Microsoft switched the pegs around the norm, mainly by having the Server, Coding and Enterprise part of Build on Day 1 rather than Day 2, the bad thing about that is likely those that turned up to the wrong keynote, but I imagine they were re-briefed.
Despite this Microsoft still announced a few things of note for us regular folk;
- Visual Studio is now available for Mac
- 500M Windows 10 Devices are in use today
Microsoft also demonstrated the power of the Cloud etc as they normally do in Day 2 keynotes. Interestingly the 500M number is much lower than that of the previous estimate by Microsoft’s Terry Myerson, who’d predicted 1 billion Windows 10 devices by this point, so it’s clear Windows 10 growth hasn’t been anywhere near what they’d expected, but regardless it’s growing decently.
DAY TWO – THE FUTURE OF WINDOWS AND DEV
Joe Belfiore is back at Microsoft, and presented a great deal of the Windows presentation, but of course many others did too, focusing on the future of Windows for developers and the everyday. Joe Belfiore is joined by many others including Terry Myerson, who hosted the event, and guests to talk about the major future of Windows
Windows 10 Fall Creators Update
The first major item at the Keynote was the major one which surrounding everything, as always, the next version of Windows, in this case the upcoming Windows 10 Update, known as the Fall Creators Update. Using the phrasing Fall, leads us to believe it should become available between September – November timescale.
The update focuses on a new user interface, and pairing your Windows 10 devices together with even non-Windows 10 devices, more seamless than ever before.
Windows Story Remix
Introducing Story Remix in Windows 10
Video provided by Windows on YouTube.
Windows Story Remix is a new App coming to Windows, allowing editing and creation of Images and Videos. Windows Story Remix is a pretty insane application coming to Windows 10, allowing you to create Videos using Mixed Reality, 3D imagery and more. Just look at what you can do in the Video trailer showing above, and you’ll see very quickly just how incredible creations can be!
Windows Story Remix is also incredibly simple to use, with a typical Timeline view, with simple Trimming, Filters, Text, Motion and Special Effects. Thanks to the integration with Microsoft Groove, you can also add free-to-use Music to your Videos with intensity levels, which causes an automatic change to the Video itself with reactions to the Music in transition effects!
What’s even better is that Story Remix will also be coming to both iOS and Android, meaning you can enjoy and interact with Projects cross-platform.
Microsoft ‘Fluent Design’ System (formerly Project Neon)
Microsoft Fluent Design System
Video provided by Windows on YouTube.
The first thing Joe Belfiore spoke about what the new Microsoft Fluent Design System, great name, which was formerly known as Project Neon. The Fluent Design System incorporates a more clouded transparent UI throughout the traditional areas of Windows 10, and in our opinion looks pretty decent. Being mostly transparent, as you’d expect you can see depth in the windows on your system at any given time. The new Design Language also incorporates a lot more colour in to the system, which previously was mainly Black or White with colour accents.
To incorporate a new Design structure, naturally their has to be layers of how the design is incorporated, which have been separated in to 5 sections.
Light is similar to how Windows animations have typically, where tapping icons and visually interacting with items, the progression of the UI follows suit. This is very similar to how Google’s Material Design offers a fluid jump between items, as well as depth and bounce from animations creating an illusive smoother experience.
Depth as you’d expect, focuses on the translucency of the UI by also incorporating a solid view of depth throughout all interfaces. Items pop more as they appear to not just be there, but also be part of the structure of the interface, which honestly looks great. It’s clear this isn’t just transparent for no reason like it was in Windows Vista / 7’s Aero Interface.
Motion focuses on transitions and depth, making the UI have an almost alive feel. As we mentioned on Light, this is very similar to Material Design, in that anything you focus on or tap on, interacts in such a nice fluid smooth way.
Material focuses on the translucency as depth, where tapping or clicking an item, isn’t just felt as an item, it’s felt like your interacting with a soft material, round material etc. Items and objects react with motion, despite how basic the action could be.
Scale brings the UI of Windows to a 3D world. Scale is the idea of taking the User Interface of the Windows operating system, to a 360-3D world, likely enhanced and delivered initially thanks to Hololens, but will also be incorporated in the UI structure as well.
All 5 of these UI layers make up what we knew as Project Neon, now Microsoft Fluent Design System, and we think it’s a massive step up from what we’ve previously seen from the Windows 10 operating system. If you couldn’t tell, we’re a big fan of this.
One of the ways Microsoft showed off Fluent, was with Ink. With Fluent, Ink now works much more realistically, so you can actually scroll with a Pen, but also select, delete and annotate simply.
Microsoft will be updating the full Windows 10 operating system with Fluent design progressively very soon, and naturally encourages developers to too.
You can find out more about Fluent design at http://fluent.microsoft.com
Microsoft Graph is an interesting idea of making your PC interact with more or less any device you own in a seemless way, as long as naturally one of those is a Windows 10 one. Microsoft showed off this functionality in a number of ways, naturally making the idea of having at least one Windows 10 device more appealing, despite those you have already.
OneDrive Files on Demand
OneDrive Files on Demand allows users to interact with Cloud files easily and simply, and others can contribute to Folders such as your own Documents folder, with permissions and controls. This is nothing majorly new, as OneDrive is available today for Windows and Mac, doing a very similar thing, however the major difference with this, is that you can use Folders with far more storage than your machine, and still interact with work with them, whereas before you needed them locally.
You can also access any File saved “locally” on any of your devices. The way the operating system does this, is by saving more or less everything to the Cloud, which can be useful to share files on more or less any device with access on OneDrive.
Windows Timeline is pretty powerful stuff, essentially allowing you to work on your PC, then if you wish to return to where you were before, the experience can be right within your Task Switcher, as shown above. This will need developers to update to support the Microsoft Graph, but this has some potentially incredibly valuable cases.
Should you actually change machines, Microsoft Timeline can even suggest to you using Cortana what you may wish to continue on your next device, similar to Apple’s Continuity. Should you select all, or just select one, the App will open in the previously used state, regardless of a save been done.
The resume where you left off functionality can also work on any device, whether it Windows or even iOS / Android as the functionality uses Cortana as a back end. Should an Application not be installed on the next device, it will prompt the user to install the App then they can resume. Interestingly the service can also work the other way too, which is pretty incredible.
For a lot of theses functions, you will need to pair your Smartphone to your PC, which will be able to be done via a Settings command on Windows 10.
This functionality will sound very familiar to Apple users, but it’s great to see it on Windows. The Cloud-powered Clipboard allows you to Copy and Paste items between multiple devices simply and easily. This functionality will be natively available across Windows 10 devices, as you’d expect, BUT on iOS and Android AS WELL using Microsoft’s SwiftKey keyboard!
This is expected to improve over time closer to the release of the Fall Creators Update.
As is always the case recently, Microsoft are wanting to do away with the .EXE files you download to install programs on your Windows machines, and to do this recently the solution has been UWP, or Universal Windows Platform.
Problem is, aside from developer interest, the UWP platform is very limited in its functionality, meaning that most of the Apps users use on a regular basis, whether Microsoft like it or not which are iTunes and Chrome, could never be a UWP app in the Windows Store. So, to address this, Microsoft needs to act, and the first step is incorporating the .NET Standard 2.0 for UWP.
.NET Standard 2.0 for UWP
By incorporating the full .NET Standard for UWP, a developer can now target the full UWP Windows platform, but also target iOS and Android, making Visual Studio look far more of an attractive developer tool, but also key, making UWP an attractive developer option. XAML Standard was also teased, which helps developers to share UIs across any of those target platforms, which previously was either impossible, or very difficult.
Windows Store + Dev Box Apps
Modernising the Codebase of your operating system naturally has one destination, the Windows Store. However, now with Windows 10 S, the incredible opportunity of delivering the majority of Apps people use on Windows to those customers on the safe Windows 10 S is better than ever, and a number of new apps were announced to be coming to the Windows Store.
High profile Apps coming to the Windows Store
The biggest surprise was that iTunes will be coming to the Windows Store. As we briefly mentioned earlier, the most popular Apps on Windows devices today are Google Chrome and Apple iTunes, and by checking off one of those already is a great step for the future of the Windows Store.
This comes just a week after the Spotify desktop experience is coming to the Windows Store, and for the Enterprise and Business, the full SAP Digital Boardroom is coming to the Windows Store as well!
AutoDesk came on to Stage to talk about their idea of UWP, after recently bringing the full desktop experience of Sketchbook to the Windows Store. Autodesk saw a vast increase in sales and greater market growth than any other platform, including naturally mobile.
AutoDesk announced that they will be planning support for the Windows Mixed Reality in a future update of a new app.
Linux on the Windows Store
Last year Microsoft added BASH Support in Windows 10, allowing a collective of BASH commands and functionality to be baked right in to Windows 10, this year, Microsoft are going even further, bringing Ubuntu to the Windows Store. But, they haven’t stopped their, both SUSE Linux and Fadora Linux will be coming soon as well.
Xamarin Live Dev Platform for iOS
Microsoft also announced Xamarin Live for iOS, which allows the use of Visual Studio to code an App for iOS, the App can pair with the iPhone and even debug Applications in real-time right from your Windows device, previously not possible! This is massive, as naturally you needed a Mac to code an iOS application with full debugging functionally.
Windows Mixed Reality
Microsoft also demonstrated a ton of improvements coming to Windows Mixed Reality alongside Hololens devices as well as the Acer and HP Developer Kits. Consumer versions of theses will be coming this holiday season.
And there you have it, that’s Build 2017, which I think it’s fair to be say was a pretty big effort by Microsoft to push their ecosystem and more forward, more than we bet most thought they would this year.
Re-watch Build 2017
Microsoft Build 2017 – Day 2 Keynotes
Video provided by Microsoft Visual Studio on YouTube.