Big Changes Are Coming! Are You Ready For This?


If you haven’t had the chance to catch up on the recent announcements from Microsoft’s two major conferences, Build and Ignite, I highly recommend that you carve out some time on your calendar to head on over to Channel 9 to watch the keynotes, and any deep dive sessions that are relevant to your role, whether it be mobile, cloud, web, or desktop. Big changes are coming our way, and you need to be ready. Your career depends on it.

In fact, it is so vital that Microsoft is planning a worldwide Build Tour to bring these announcements directly to you.

If you’re not convinced that you will walk away from the event learning anything new, here are some teasers that will give you some insight into some of the latest, greatest technologies that may have an impact in how we develop applications in the very near future.

It’s Not a Hallucination, It’s a Hologram

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Microsoft provided a teaser to HoloLens the day before registration opened to this year’s Build conference. HoloLens is a holographic computer, in the form of a headset with lenses, which enables mixed reality experiences by integrating holographic images into the physical space around you. Not only is the device an exciting announcement for consumers, but for developers as well, because it opens up a new development opportunity. Microsoft demonstrated a few potential uses for the device during the Build keynote, which had everyone on the edge of their seats. From interacting with a robot hologram to pinning virtual items on a wall, not to mention the capabilities to use HoloLens for virtual conferencing, there’s no denying that this device will change the way people learn, work, and communicate.

If you are skeptical that the HoloLens is real, and will be available to all of us in the near future, then read the post, Magic Moments – Recap of the Holographic Academy, from Microsoft MVP, René Schulte, about his experience at the half day HoloLens developer academy which was held during the Build conference.

Azure All The Things!!!

Azure has been around for quite some time now, but the number of available cloud service offerings it provides continue to grow. These new services provide a benefit to any application development effort, but many developers aren’t aware of them yet. In the Cloud Camps I have hosted in recent years, there are quite a few in attendance who are surprised at the wide array of services that Azure has to offer. And each year, that list continues to grow.

Azure is not just about hosting web sites or spinning up virtual machines. There is so much more to it than that. You will be hard pressed to come up with a reason why you can live without it. There are so many great services that will significantly enhance your application, with very little effort on your end. Azure makes it easier for you to focus on developing your application, rather than building up the backend services to support it, including mobile services, machine learning, big data, Active Directory, media streaming, API management, and so much more.

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Office 365 Platform

In the past, any kind of development surrounding Office seemed more of a chore. I’ve been guilty of groaning and grunting at the mere thought of developing an Outlook add-in or using VSTO to manipulate Excel spreadsheets from a custom application. With Office 365, this has changed. Not only can you continue to develop Office add-ins to extend functionality within the Office 365 product suite, but the Office 365 APIs enable you to seamlessly integrate Office data into your applications. You can even publish add-ins you’ve developed to the Office Store. Considering the amount of users that are on the Office product suite in education, enterprise, and consumer markets, this presents a huge developer opportunity that is worth exploring.

No Developer Left Behind

Microsoft has opened its doors to the Windows platform, and invited iOS and Android developers to bring their apps to the Windows ecosystem. With Windows 10 will come the Universal Windows Platform Bridges toolkits, enabling iOS and Android developers to package their existing apps as Windows applications and publish to the Windows Store without a full scale redevelopment effort. No C# needed.

In addition, there is a toolkit to enable .NET developers to convert and package their existing Win32 applications and .NET applications for publication in the Store as well.

Last but not least, web developers will be able to leverage a toolkit to package and publish their websites as Windows applications as well.

XAML Is Your Friend

With Windows 10 also comes the unified API, enabling you to develop a single application which will run on any Windows device. For C# developers, the easiest way to develop Windows 10 applications will be to use XAML and C#. XAML is a fundamental skill in this space which many .NET developers seem to be overlooking.

I recently went onstage for ObjectSharp’s At the Movies event in downtown Toronto (stay tuned for the on-demand links) to talk about the Windows 10 announcements at Build. I asked all of the .NET developers in the room to raise their hands which included about 90% of the group. When I then asked them to keep their hands up if they have used XAML, only 10% of the hands remained in the air. As the adoption rate for Windows 10 increases, so too will the demand for Universal Windows Platform application development. Don’t get left behind in the dust.

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Where do you go from here?

  1. Register for the Toronto stop of the Build Tour. (I hear there’s a live stream option coming for this. Stay tuned to @cdndevs or Microsoft Developer on Facebook for more info when it becomes available.)
  2. Catch up on the Build announcements
  3. Watch the sessions from Microsoft Ignite
  4. Register and attend the upcoming online MVA course, The Developer’s Guide to Windows 10, presented by Andy Wigley and Jerry Nixon.

Shameless Plug

In addition to that, if you happen to live in, or are visiting, the Southwestern Ontario region, be sure to come check out the Build Highlights sessions that both I and fellow Microsoft MVP, Tom Walker, will be running for our local area .NET User Groups: London Developers .NET Meetup Group and Canada’s Technology Triangle .NET User Group (Kitchener).

If you want to read up on how I geeked out in San Francisco over Build, and a variety of other things, check out my blog post, Attending Build 2015 – What It Meant To Me. While you’re at it, feel free to follow me on Twitter, @loriblalonde.

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