I think it's fair to say it's been a pretty busy 24 hours for our colleagues over in the US! Whilst we were making our way home from what could have been any other Wednesday, our American counterparts and several thousand guests were settling in for a keynote session full of exciting announcements at the annual BUILD Windows conference. So many announcements in fact, we'll forgive you if you're having trouble digesting them all along with your morning coffee. That's where this article comes in; we've searched far and wide to gather together all the latest information coming out of San Francisco and compile it in one easy to read blog.
So, without further ado, use the links below to jump to a section and find out about the new app development options, free cross-platform tools and cloud services soon to be at your disposal. Oh, and one last thing. For those of you who like to burn the midnight oil, selected sessions will be streamed live on Channel 9 throughout the conference. Dive down to the Resources section for the link.
Update 30/04/15 - Who wants calm after the storm, when you could just continue the storm? Storm of announcements, that is! The news has continued to flow thick and fast throughout the event, so we've added a smattering of additional Day 1 goodness throughout the post and in the 'And Another Thing...' section.
Update 01/05/15 - As the great Freddie Mercury once sang, 'the show must go on'. And indeed it did, bringing lots more news and tech with it, all of which you can now find by following the anchor links down through the rest of this summary. Enjoy!
- Day 1 Summary
- Day 2 Summary
- What do you think? Windows 10 book to be won!
The April 29 keynote was opened by Satya Nadella, who began by setting the scene with a little reminder of where Microsoft has come from. Talking about how the company was founded by two developers, with a bold ambition to empower other developers, Satya referenced a tweet from Paul Allen shared on Microsoft's 40th Birthday, and reiterated our mission; to empower you to achieve more.
— Byron, game designer (@xiotex) April 29, 2015
Incidentally, if you have ~3 hours to spare the keynote recording is now available to re-watch here! Be sure to stick it out from beginning to end for a couple of great demos of the StaffPad Windows App, which enables musicians to handwrite notation and convert it to a typeset score using Windows touch devices.
— ▶ Jerry Nixon ◀ (@jerrynixon) April 29, 2015
.NET Core is a new version of .NET for modern device and cloud workloads. It provides a single set of APIs for you to use for your apps, supporting Windows, OS X and Linux. You can write Universal apps on Windows 10 and ASP.NET 5 and Console apps on all of the three OSes. Best of all, it is open source on GitHub, so you can look at the code and even make contributions!
The .NET Blog has the full low-down on all the .NET announcements, including .NET Framework 4.6, ASP.NET updates and the inclusion of Xamarin Starter in Visual Studio.
— Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) April 29, 2015
The big announcement of the day is a new member of the Visual Studio family! Visual Studio Code is a free, lightweight, cross-platform code editor for Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows. It includes many of the core Visual Studio features such as IntelliSense, peek, code navigation, and debugging, but it centres on being a keyboard-centric editor. You can get started right away; find out about the announcement from Scott Hanselman, download the Visual Studio Code preview and dig into this great getting started guide courtesy of John Papa.
As well as Visual Studio Code, Visual Studio 2015 and Team Foundation Server 2015 have both reached the Release Candidate (RC) stage of their life cycle. There's a range of updates in both, including an even better Android Emulator, Tools for Docker Preview and an improved VS SDK. You can find out all the details on these updates and Visual Studio Code in this post on the VS blog.
Update: We are excited to announce that Visual Studio 2015 RC will include the Tools for Apache Cordova. Starting today, you can build production quality mobile apps for iOS, Android and Windows using web technologies and nearly 100% shared code across platforms. Find out more.
Here we go.. Azure Service Fabric SDK for Windows and Linux pic.twitter.com/24pNJFcMGA
— James Akrigg (MSFT) (@jakrigg) April 29, 2015
Azure Service Fabric was actually announced by Mark Russinovich last week, but received a public outing during the keynote session. It's a platform that enables developers and ISVs to build cloud services with a high degree of scalability and customization, born out of our years of experience delivering mission-critical cloud services, and battle-tested powering services like Skype for Business, InTune, Bing and Cortana. You can now download the SDK and view 'Get Started' documentation here.
— Microsoft Developer (@msdevUK) April 29, 2015
A number of new services to help you continue to gather insights from your data, and create more intelligent apps that easily leverage massive amounts of data, were also announced. In summary:
- Azure SQL Database Updates - New Elastic Databases allow you to build SaaS applications to manage large numbers of databases that have unpredictable resource demands. In addition, new security capabilities and full text search are now also available in preview.
- Azure SQL Data Warehouse - A new, first-of-its-kind elastic data warehouse in the cloud. It’s the first enterprise-class cloud data warehouse that can dynamically grow, shrink and pause compute in seconds, independent of storage.
- Azure Data Lake - For customers looking to maximize value on unstructured, semi-structured and structured data, we announced Azure Data Lake, a hyper-scale data store for big data analytic workloads. Update: There is now a Data Lake-specific post live on the Azure Blog.
To find out more about all these new features, including links to check out the previews, head over to the SQL Server Blog.
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) April 29, 2015
Developers can extend Office apps using add-ins to expose their custom capabilities to users and connect to Office 365 through open APIs, and on day one of BUILD 2015 we announced the next wave of new capabilities, including:
- A sneak peek of the new Office Graph API
- Unified APIs for enterprise and consumers
- New Skype Developer Platform
- Office 365 Developer Program
Whether you've previously considered Office as a Development Platform or not, be sure to click through and find out more about some of the new opportunities that these announcements present.
— Nigel Parker (@nzigel) April 29, 2015
Last but by no means least, a number of presenters from the Windows team demonstrated lots of new features coming soon to Windows 10, as well as detailing a number of exciting new ways to develop for the platform. These included, but weren't limited to:
- The Windows Store for Consumers, Businesses and Developers - Developers will be able to write an application once and distribute it to the entire Windows 10 device family, whilst Businesses will be able to highlight apps for their employees, distribute select apps from the Windows Store and private line-of-business apps to their employees, and use business payment methods like purchase orders.
- Universal Windows Platform Innovation - From new Continuum modes to practical applications of HoloLens. Update: Take a closer look at the Microsoft HoloLens hardware.
- Windows 10 Welcomes All Developers and Their Code - Today, we announced four new SDKs, enabling developers to start with an existing code base, integrate with the Universal Windows Platform capabilities, and then distribute their new application through the Windows Store to the one billion Windows 10 devices.
- Project Spartan Microsoft Edge - Microsoft Edge is the name of our new browser, chosen as it reflects our commitment to developers to deliver a browser that lives at the edge of modern web standards and security.
Our Redmond counterparts do like to keep us on our toes! While we were catching forty winks, the updates kept rolling out. Notably, there was a fair bit of Microsoft Azure news, which we have collated for you in handy bullet-point format below.
- Build 2015: Azure Storage Announcements
- Application Insights Public Preview
- Introducing App Service Environment
- Microsoft Azure Marketplace: new features and enhancements
- IaaS Just Got Easier. Again (Template-based deployments of Compute, Networking and Storage, using the Azure Resource Manager)
Breathe. Count to three. Begin. The madness that is BUILD 2015 resumed bright and early (or grey and late afternoon, for us in the UK) on Thursday 30th April, and what better way to round out the month than with another shed-load of Dev news? The Day 2 keynote was co-hosted by Steve Guggenheimer, who just so happens to be our boss (hey Guggs!). He brought with him a few friends with some great app stories, colleagues with some cool code demos and a ninja cat riding a fire-breathing unicorn across a rugby shirt. Awesome.
— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) April 30, 2015
You can see the shirt in action, plus watch demos ranging from drumming, to facial recognition, to rocket science, in the 2 hour session recording on Channel9. Guggs has also shared a great write-up of the keynote session on his blog, which talks to a number of the announcements made. Not wanting to reinvent the wheel, we'll just focus on some of the key points here and point to resources where you can learn more and get hands-on.
— Chippy (@chippy) April 30, 2015
In many respects, the Day 2 keynote picked up where Day 1 left off, reaching the next level of depth on how you'll be able to develop for the Universal Windows Platform (UWP). Kevin Gallo showed off a number of great porting examples, and has published a must-read article containing more details on the Windows 10 platform enhancements. Once you've checked that out, head over to the Windows Dev Center to find out more about the four UWP Bridge toolkits that will allow you to bring your Android Runtime, iOS, Classic Windows and Web apps to Windows 10. While you're there, be sure to also sign up for the invite-only previews to get ahead of the curve!
Tooling also got another nod - you can find out about the latest updates for Visual Studio Tools, including device-targeting, app testing, debugging and more over here.
Finally, we shared exciting news about what’s next for Makers on Windows 10 with Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel’s Minnowboard Max, and Hackster.IO. Starting today you can download Windows 10 IoT Core Insider Preview with support for Raspberry Pi 2 and Intel’s Minnowboard Max. Find out more about this release and get started here.
— Frank Cicalese (@FrankCicalese) April 30, 2015
We announced a partnership with Autodesk to incorporate the Spark platform into Windows 10, accelerating the future of digital and physical 3D creation, with a view to making 3D printing a more useful and reliable experience. Find out more over at spark.autodesk.com.
— Tommy Lewis (@TommyLee) April 30, 2015
There was plenty of great information around Web, including:
- ManifoldJS - a new open source framework that that can take a website and create an application for Windows, iOS, Android, Chrome, and Firefox. More details on John Shewchuk's blog, and check out this getting started guide on This Here Web.
- Finally, we also shared a fun new Web app to showcase some of the new rendering improvements in Microsoft Edge. Play Flight Arcade for yourself and follow the links to find out more about how it was built.
— Brendan Forster (@shiftkey) April 30, 2015
Three new extensions/integrations with GitHub made their début, with a view to helping developers who work with the Microsoft stack seamlessly utilise GitHub as part of their existing workflow.
- GitHub Enterprise for Azure - deploy on Azure, work natively on Windows and integrate with Visual Studio 2015. Find out more.
- GitHub Extension for Visual Studio - lets you clone your existing GitHub repositories, create new repositories, and navigate to important GitHub features like Pull Requests, Issues, and Reports from inside VS. Read more on the Visual Studio blog and download the extension from the Gallery.
- GitHub Integration in Developer Assistant - GitHub is now plays nice with the Developer Assistant productivity plugin that combines Bing Code Search capabilities and contextual help to solve day-to-day developer problems. All the details on the VS blog.
— Pete Pachal (@petepachal) April 30, 2015
A large portion of the keynote was dedicated to the subject of 'Big Data' and 'Machine Learning', the buzzwords that relate to how you collect, store, consume, interpret and glean insight from the information being generated by apps and devices. The primary announcement was 'Project Oxford', a portfolio of REST APIs and SDKs which enable developers to easily add machine learning powered services into their solutions to interpret and understand multimedia like audio, text, image, and video.
Wondering where the zombie in Pete's tweet above comes into things? Getting there. Joseph Sirosh did a great job of really bringing some of the APIs in Project Oxford to life, through a fun app called How Old Do I Look?, which analyses user-submitted pictures to establish the individual's age and gender. It is by no means an understatement to say that since the keynote, #HowOldRobot has taken over the Twittersphere. Thousands of people, some more flattered than others, have shared their estimated age (I'll leave it to you to decide if this writer's result of 31 is kind or offensive). Be sure to check it out for yourself, and once you've played with the app you can read up on how it works, and how it spread across the internet on the Machine Learning blog.
— Karissa Bell (@karissabe) April 30, 2015
Finally, Guggs invited on stage Aidan Brady, a high school student and creator of the 'Mekanism' Minecraft Mod, to demonstrate a new open source project enabling Minecraft Modding in Java from within Visual Studio. Find out how the experience was created on the VS Blog and download the Visual Studio add-in here.
If you've been following Microsoft for the past year or so, you'll have noticed a lot of change. In particular, with initiatives like the Windows Insider Program, we are more keen than ever to receive feedback from the Developer and IT Pro communities on announcements, pre-release software builds and the exciting new direction in which Microsoft is heading. With this in mind, we'd love to find out what you're most looking forward to from the plethora of new tech announced at BUILD. Just tweet us your thoughts to @TechNetUK using #Build2015, and you'll also be in with a chance of winning a signed copy of Mike Halsey's Windows 10 Primer! T&Cs can be found here.
— Microsoft TechNet UK (@TechNetUK) April 29, 2015
Any other thoughts, feedback, or just like a chat? Come and say 'Hi' on Twitter - you can find us @TechNetUK.
If all the links and information in this post have only served to whet your appetite, then give a few of the resources below a click for further BUILD content, learning materials and more.
- Join the waiting list for the BUILD Tour in London, May 18
- Watch selected BUILD sessions live on Channel 9
- Download the Visual Studio Code preview
- A Developer's Guide to Windows 10 - MVA JumpStart, May 19-21
- Get a free Microsoft Azure trial and £125 credit