Here at Build 2013 – Day One

Today is day one of Build 2013. There is big news being announced here. The excitement is palpable. Developers around the world are gathering in San Francisco to hear about Microsoft plans for the next year. The big interest is in Windows 8.1, with the anticipation of the first public preview.

Here are highlights from the Day one Keynote:

Steve Ballmer is in the house with “Lots to show”.

  • Rapid release: Microsoft is adopting a raid release cycle across their whole line of products. So you can probably expect another release next year.
  • Win 8.1 and VS2013 preview are available now for download.
  • Windows device transformation, people say that the PC is dead. Microsoft says that it has been transformed.
    • 8″ Windows tablets are coming but no appearance of an 8″ Surface, but there is always tomorrow.
    • Touch Touch Touch. When Win was released there were not that many good touch enabled devices, which is changing. These devices are inexpensive, in the $400 range for a laptop.
    • Workhorse 2 in 1: Lenovo Helix was highlighted. It is all about tablets that can convert in laptops. There were some cool concepts whit extra batteries to extend the life of the device.
  • Apps Rising: ~100,000 store apps by the end of the month but how many are useful.
  • 2-3 million desktop applications that run Windows, so the desktop is alive and well.
  • Redefine Blend Desktop/Modern Experience. After Windows 8 was released the masses revolted. The change was too radical. Microsoft listened and incorporated the changes in to the next version of Windows
    • Start button is coming back but not the classic start menu.
    • You’ll be able to boot to the desktop
    • The start screen has been modified to better take advantage of mice and keyboard one of things I noticed was that they were calling the App screen the All Program screen they took the old terminology to describe the Apps screen. They have modified it to make it more usable.
    • Multiple store applications running at once which can span monitors.
  • Bing is built inside Win 8.1. The search charm launches a new rich experience that you’ll be able to take advantage of within your applications.
    • Search is “Not just list of links its thing you can do”

Julie Larson-Green talked about Windows 8.1 Responsive Redesign

  • She showed off some pretty cool gestures for the onscreen keyboard.
  • The Email has been redesigned (this is not Outlook RT)
    • The main new feature is the Power Pane. It has some cool feature like social update aggregations and favorite people aggregation.
  • She also showed off the Xbox music redesign. The coolest new feature was the ability to “Share” (think charms) a web page that contained a list of musicians for a music festival. Xbox music scraped the screen and created a playlist for the artist on the page
  • She highlighted how Win 8.1 sings with SkyDrive so no matter what device you are using, your content will and settings will follow you.
  • There is now the ability to use hand gesture to control apps she called it “hands free mode”. The question is will this be available in an API?
  • Xbox One did makes an appearance demonstrating “play to” functionality. No mention of what devs will be able to do.
  • Multi-tasking and Windowing
    • In Windows 8.1 user will be able to snap apps side by side, any size they want. But also more than two apps at once across multiple monitor.
  • PowerPoint RT Alpha also made an appearance but no word on when it will be available.

Antoine Leblond show off Developer stuff, since this is a developer conference.

  • Performance enhancements for Windows 8.1 out of the box. By upgrading to 8.1, users will get better experience with your apps.
  • Visual Studio 2013 is now available for developing new 8.1 applications.
    • One of the coolest new features is a powerful performance tools built in. He showed an energy profiler that shows you how much energy your apps consume. It even breaks it down by screen, networking and CPU consumption allowing you to troubleshoot your mobile applications.
    • There is also new async debugging capabilities that retain your call stack upon completion of the async call.
  • Store Redesigned
    • Your apps will now update automatically, no more badge icon on store tile. The guilt of not updated your apps is over.
    • There is a better layout coming making it easier to find apps with “Pick for you” apps that powered by Bing. Bing it is not just for Siri anymore. With the layout changes come better navigation al to make finding your apps better.

Gurdeep Singh Pall came up next to introduce Bing as a platform. You will now be able to integrate a plethora of Bing services into your applications. Here are some of the services you’ll have access to:

  • Web index
  • Entities & knowledge
  • NUI
  • Real world
  • 3d Map app win8.1
  • OCR
  • Translator

Ballmer came back up to introduce Project Spark a game, a development platform, any device .. I don’t know how else to explain it.

Overall the keynote was ok. A lot of the features had been announced earlier. It was nice to see the features better explained and in a context that make sense. I can’t wait to get my hands on the APIs and see the deep dive sessions. This has been a brain dump of the keynotes. I hope to further deep dive into these new features later.

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