Yesterday, the 1st of June I had probably one of the best days of my life. One of my dreams came thru, I had the opportunity to meet some of the big names of Microsoft from Redmond. Here is the schedule of my beautiful, but quite tiring day. I say tiring not because it was boring, certainly not! But because it was a day of 22 hours being awake. Quite hard! But most of all, it was worth it!
I woke up at 3.30 am, making myself ready, and most of all: coffee! My dad wanted to drive me to Ostend, where I could take the train to Brussels at 4.40 am. Thanks to him, for that! No busses so early in the morning. At 6.13 am I stepped upon the Thalys to Paris. I had a nice seat. The person at the right of me wanted to talk, I liked that! He had also connections in the IT sector for his professional life. I was excited to talk him about what the day would bring to me. He didn’t mind, we went to the bar wagon to get some coffee and when our coffee was ready, we went back to our seat a little time later we were in Paris!
When arriving in Paris Nord my Thalys-friend noticed me the commercial of Microsoft at the Billboard, for me it was the moment to really start the day! I walked my way thru Le Grand Rex, I was impressed!
The keynote started at 9 a.m. (a little bit later). Amanda Silver, a big person from Redmond. (don’t mind I focus on ‘big persons from Microsoft in Redmond’) She is one of the inventors of Visual Basic, by now I develop in C# but my first steps 12 year ago as teenager were in VB, and I was excited to meet her.
One of the first things she said was about the intake at Microsoft of Satya Nadella: “When Satya came at Microsoft everything becomes open”. And if I listened to her, she really liked it. The talk was described that Windows 10 will be the only platform that runs apps made for all three major platforms. (Windows, Android and iOS). She talks about Windows Hello, and the other major additions to Windows 10 like interactive notification center, the benefit for developers of the app spotlight on the lockscreen and so on.
I was really excited about the introduction of the ability to print from your Windows 10 Phone!!! I heard much online when I followed the Build conference but I didn’t hear about that feature. There was also a nice demo of continuum, and the people who know me do know that I like that feature! She told that for all these new features we have to implement a responsive design and showed us how to implement that. I also like the easy Bing maps control. There are many new features for apps. I cannot talk about each item but Drag and Drop from other apps inspires me a lot. She talked about how to implement feature detection. Feature detection is the principle to ask your device from within you code if it has a capability. In windows 10 it is important not to look at what kind of device it is (Phone, IoT, PC,…) but ask if the feature is accessible! Here’s why: each device can go to another ‘state of device’: if you connect you phone with continuum functions to a screen it will become a pc.
Jeff Burtoft came on stage to talk about the new key functions on the web. One of the most important things is the ability to run asp.net web apps as universal apps. It doesn’t have to be Asp.net but each web page can be hosted as an app, and posted in the store.
He did an amazing demo of Flight Arcade, a local project from Microsoft, a game to fly a plane. He controlled it with keyboard, mouse and touch! But then… He came to the front of the stage, and ‘flew’ with his arms, and the plane in the apps flew with his movements! They say it was because the ability to connect a Microsoft Band, that he was wearing!
After that, my hero came on stage: Pete Brown! He did a demo about IoT, he ran a Windows 10 app on a Raspberry PI that controlled a big LED. That was a real show moment!
Amanda came back and talked about the new Azure functions. (App services, API apps, Azure vision API) and the for me biggest improvement: Azure app insights for mobile apps! She showed an expanded demo of that feature. I’m sure, I shall use it.
After 2 hours of Keynote there was more coffee. I was so happy to keep the tiredness at bay! After the pause we heard really big news: Windows 10 release date is 29th of July, and I know, everyone knew that news also on the same day. But for us it was very special to hear that news in a Microsoft setting! Then it was time for the full session of Pete Brown his subject was about developing Windows 10 apps with XAML and C#. His entry note: Windows 10 apps finally have windows!
He said so many interesting things and I don’t want to make this blog post too long and shall only talk about features I didn’t know about from the online streaming.
In Windows 10 apps you will be able to modify the chrome: you can modify the UI of the window of your app itself.
He talks about Adaptive Tile template and inline actions in toast messages. Also one of the big improvements is the ability to compile your C# code using the C++ compiler. With C++ compiling your app will become much faster. But to implement that feature it will be lots of effort: you have to check only one checkbox! I like that kind of humor!
A feature I did know but, I want to focus on that is the new UI debugger for XAML apps. Like everyone knows F12 tools to debug the layout for your website, you can now do that with your apps and XAML!!
In the afternoon, it was Jeff Buftoft’s time to talk about the web. I highlighted the most important features of web in my section about the keynote. It was a deep dive.
The most important thing to note is that we do have the opportunity to ask features and vote for them within the insiders program. You can do that in the Insiders app for Windows 10 and also for Microsoft Edge. They really want to know what we like!
One of the most important Lightening talks was about the Windows 10 great UI guidelines. They explained that they don’t want to force us to use a predefined design like in Windows 8. They want that we use our own colors as background of our apps. They suggest us to use our brand colors. But they don’t want us to be boring.
Pete Brown did also a Lightening talk about audio features in Windows 10. That are features like: Midi API, Audio Graph.. Microsoft wants that Windows 10 become more on the music scene!
The last part of the conference day was Q & A with the experts. I did dare to stand up and go to the microphone in the room. I asked features that are important for my business. (My business is making apps for people with handicap (disability). Most of the time I work for people with a mental disability. I do that on a voluntary basis.)
My questions: When will Text-To-Speech be available in Dutch: the answer is pity enough that they don’t know. They are working to add as many languages as possible.
I did also dare to fire the question: “Will Microsoft buy Xamarin?” Answer: We have a good relationship with the guys of Xamarin. We don’t know where it will bring us..
The end of the conference. I went to Hardrock Café Paris. As metalhead I wanted really to make time to be there. One pity fact: the music was Rock and surely not Hardrock. It was happy hour and a cocktail was cheaper than a pint. I drank a “Blue Devil”. I did like it a lot!
I had a hamburger in a local hamburger restaurant and then went to the train station. I had my Thalys at 8.50 PM. I also met a guy who went to the Build on Tour in Paris. At 00.30 am. (the day after..) I was back home. So 22 hours of being awake. But I’m really happy that I had the chance!
I also want to thank the Belgium crew. We were one family!
Dennie Declercq www.ddsoft.be