Microsoft Build 2016: the most exciting at the annual conference of developers
Although mainly focused on software developers, Microsoft Build conference is an exciting event for the large army of Windows users. Build 2016 no exception and noted a number of very interesting announcements that outlined the future of Windows and the company’s plans for the coming months. Here is a summary of the topics discussed.
The Success Of Windows 10
Of course, in the beginning of the conference, Microsoft took the opportunity to boast growth in the popularity of the new operating system. According to the company, comes just four months after the market launch of Windows 10 was installed on more than 200 million PCs, smartphones and game consoles, but now their number has already exceeded 270 million units. This success is partly due to the traditional growth of PC sales in the season of Christmas and new year holidays, as well as a bit crude tactics of imposing of the new operating system users of Windows 7 and 8.1. However, the figures are impressive and put Windows 10 in the enviable position of the fastest growing operating system in the history of the company.
The biggest news from Build 2016 related to Windows 10 for the next major operating system upgrade. Still we knew him as Redstone, but the official name proved to be a bit trivial: Windows 10 Anniversary Update – a hint that the update will be released on 29 July, i.e. after one year since the launch of the «tens».
During the plenary presentations Microsoft did not go into details regarding all the changes, which will include an Anniversary Update, but still showed some of them.
The bulk of the time was devoted to demonstrating new features Windows Ink, thanks to which the operating system will be more capable of recognizing handwritten text.
The proportion of attention was paid to Windows Hello function, which allows you to use biometric identification to the Windows Store and Microsoft Edge. In other words, soon Windows will have built-in password Manager on the basis of Hello, through which to identify on various sites and store apps will not require manual input of plain text passwords is just a quick scan of face or fingerprint.
Another innovation in the Anniversary Update will be the introduction of the universal app platform in Windows 10 for Xbox One.
The big surprise was the news that with the update of the operating system will receive the support of the famous command interface, Unix/Linux Bash – in this case in the form of native support, not emulation or support in a virtual machine environment. This innovation comes thanks to the close cooperation between Microsoft and Canonical is the company that develops and supports one of the most popular Linux distros is Ubuntu. This functionality implies more serious interaction between the two popular operating systems for PC and true multi-platform support in the future – something unthinkable until recently because of competition impenetrable wall between Linux and Windows.
Windows Store vs Steam
Some time ago Microsoft launched a new initiative on the digital distribution of video games, which is partly related to intention to provide cross-platform compatibility between Windows and Xbox One. In the future, the software giant intends to further expand the capabilities of its app store.
Currently purchased in this game have some drawbacks and limitations in comparison to competing services, such as mega Steam. For example, games from Windows Store can’t run in full window mode (Full Screen mode) and work only in window without border (Borderless Window). Separately they do not offer any option to disable vertical sync (V-Sync), no tech support adaptive sync G-Sync and FreeSync.
The company is already making every effort to solve these problems. In addition, soon Microsoft will support applications to measure the number of frames per second in real-time and recording video of the gameplay. Expected and the emergence of the ability to purchase packages of games, downloading additional content and pre-order games. In other words, the Windows Store has ambitions to become a worthy competitor to Steam, Origin, Uplay and GOG.
Microsoft also plans to release a new set of tools for developers, allowing you to easily convert any Win32 applications (including games) to Universal apps Windows Platform with support for live tiles.
HoloLens is ready to conquer the world
During the conference, the company announced that the HoloLens holographic computer came out of the prototype stage and is now available in version for developers. Along with this, Microsoft released the emulator HoloLens for Windows 10, allowing to assess the potential of the device.
Of course, the price of the first sets of HoloLens is not really democratic – they are sold for $ 3000, it is only in North America and only at the invitation of the company.
The shift of focus from Windows Mobile (Phone) on other products
Many people have noticed a curious lack of Windows Mobile (Phone) to Build 2016 – the company carefully avoided the subject at every opportunity. This mystery has found its explanation in the comments Terry Myerson (Executive Vice-President of Windows division), who in an interview with The Verge said that they are planning something interesting for phones, but this year, they will remain outside of the list of priorities, though, and will be an important part of a large product family of the company.
Such a fuzzy statement can be understood in different ways, but combined with the suspicious lack of news related to mobile operating system, Myerson’s words probably mean that this year the company will focus all its efforts on more promising brands and ideas: Xbox, Surface, HoloLens, and, of course, Windows 10.
Unfortunately, this decision is a disappointment to the few loyal fans of the Lumia family, who had expected to receive more attention now, after a successful start gaining momentum with Windows 10.
Obviously, the idea of voice commands is not an exotic fad, Microsoft, and the long-term plan. During the presentation, CEO Satya Nadella has talked about «conversations as a platform» and shared ambitions of Microsoft in this regard. In particular, allow for a more free conversation with all the Windows devices that will be able to understand even very complex context of the team, and in the foreseeable future. Voice assistant Cortana will play a Central role in this process.
For example, during the demonstration, Marcus ash, a grocery Department Manager responsible for the development of Cortana turned to the voice assistant to send his colleague a PowerPoint presentation, on which he worked last night. This seemingly simple is actually very complex: Cortana must correctly identify the recipient of the file, determine the specific PowerPoint presentation and find the latest saved version, that is, with whom Marcus worked the last time (last night). Another equally deceptively simple: «What is the toy store I visited during last year’s Build conference» demands that Cortana correctly handle tags and geolocation data from the GPS module of the device to accurately determine the position of its owner within a specified period.
Speaking about the idea of natural voice interaction with Windows devices, the company also announced its intention to integrate the chat-bots with different functions (ordering pizza or booking rooms in hotels, for example) in future versions of Skype. Also Microsoft announced a so-called cognitive services. It is different packages that allow bots to understand it or analyze images. The company will offer developers free 22 API. Created with the chat-bots can be integrated not only in Skype but also in Slack and various web platforms.