Microsoft Build Keynote 2016 – many improvements, few headlines

Build 2016 had far less of a buzz going into it than most of the big developer conferences. There was no big hardware or controversy expected and perhaps this downplaying of expectations was for the best.

I’m on holiday – booked on school term dates rather than Build dates but managed to get a slightly grainy stream on my phone. Was it worth it? Possibly but it would not have been for most people

Microsoft had one overarching message. Platforms. Mobile first platforms, cloud first platforms – Azure, Office 365 as a platform, Windows 10 as a platform and finally conversations – a chat and interconnection system as a platform.

Windows 10 was as you would expect loudly trumpeted.  A new version of Windows insider was released and Windows was given new abilities to handle pen input and biometric input. Inking was demonstrated in Edge, Office, maps, Adobe CC Photoshop and an API that can be built to.

Microsoft has been pushing their universal Windows apps platform that should in theory let you write one app for Windows, Xbox and Windows phone and showed off the new pen support using it. They also pleased the tinkers and announced Bash being added to Windows. Microsoft wants to position themselves as the place where all developers start and export to other platforms.

Hololens made another showing but didn’t really show off anything new – impressive stage shows but little sign of it moving into a usable buyable product for anyone other than Devs. Gamers got better promised support for multigpu systems and a new ability to easily package older win32 games as A. modern store Windows app.

The Xbox One gets a number of little updates perhaps most significantly Cortana and the ability to play music in the background. Devs will be happy to hear that any Xbox will be changeable to a Dev model via a simple free app update.

Skype actually got some attention – bots to interact with in Skype chat. They demonstrated ordering and sending a donut to a contact, manipulating a calendar and transcription.

All in all the Build Developer keynote was an old style presentation and aimed squarely at developers already in the Microsoft ecosystem. Many incremental improvements but very little the general public will find inspiring.

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