Day 1 Keynote
Steve Ballmer kicked things off. He talked about the rapid release cycle of Windows; the Windows 8.1 preview is available today! The Windows 8.1 preview is available now at http://preview.windows.com.
Next, he demonstrated some beautiful new phones. Good news for Sprint users: two Windows Phones (HTC Windows Phone 8xt and Samsung ATIV S Neo) will be available on Sprint. There were many sexy devices demonstrated – and everyone at //build will get an Acer machine and a Surface Pro with Type cover!
It has been 7 months since we launched Windows 8. In that time, we’ve grown to ~100,000 apps in the Windows Store, to join with the millions of desktop apps that work on Windows today. There were some new apps announced too: Flipboard, Facebook, and NFL Fantasy Football are all building Windows 8 apps.
Most of the keynote focused on Windows 8.1. We incorporated a lot of customer feedback: bringing back the Start button to the desktop, you can boot to the desktop, more apps can run on the screen at once outside of the “snap” constraints, etc. There were over 800 updates and over 5000 new APIs in Windows 8.1.
Julie Larson-Green, Antoine Leblond, and Gurdeep Singh Pall then took the stage one by one and showed off some great demos:
- Gestures to select word suggestions on on-screen keyboard so you don’t have to move your hands from keyboard to touch the word
- Mail app improvements: section for newsletters which makes them easier to manage – can delete everything from a sender
- Smart search searches everywhere – provides news, maps, music, articles, or whatever is relevant to your search
- XBOX music app – can search from random website to music app, and it will comb the site for artists/music and create playlist!
- Ability to receive incoming Skype calls from lock screen without unlocking
- On Start Menu, scroll up to see “All Apps”. All Apps have great filters too.
- Picture editing built into Windows 8.1 – can adjust temperature, tint, saturation, etc.
- Bing Food & Drink app has recipes, shopping list, meal planner. New awesome hands-free mode that uses webcam to see your gestures to navigate (in a Kinect-like fashion).
- When clicking a link/launching an app from another app, the app will launch next to your initial app as opposed to completely switching to that app
- No "snap" constraints anymore – you can have many apps up at once and great multi-monitor support in Windows 8.1
- New in Visual Studio: Debug–>Performance & Diagnostics: profiles energy consumption of app in mW
- Visual Studio async debugging feature – preserves async call stack during debugging
- New Visual Studio support for Windows Azure Mobile Services: "Add Push Notification" wizard and Server Explorer which lets you see server-side code
- Support for MPEG DASH and WEB GL – easy to take web content and put it in a native Windows 8 app
- Windows 8.1 lets each monitor have its own DPI scaling factor – great for multi-monitor users!
- Model of Mars demonstrates using tiled resources to dynamically swap in high-res images
- 3D printing support in Windows 8.1 – connect using the Devices charm. 3D printers will be available at MS Store and Staples.
- Windows Store app running on cute Surface robot using Lego’s latest tech
- Bing as a Platform: demonstrated the gorgeous Road Trip Companion sample app to show the power of the Bing platform:
- Used voice to add an idea for a road trip
- Made recommendations on what to see – Windows 8.1 maps app will come with 3D capabilities
- Asked questions using voice to the 3D map view – "who is the architect?" on a building and info came up!
- Scanned a card in Spanish and translated it to English
- Bing as a platform is now available for devs – web index & relevance, entities & knowledge, NUI, and Real World capabilities
- Closed with Project Spark demo – built an amazing 3D graphics game in minutes – available on Windows 8, XBOX One, and XBOX 360. The game’s world was beautiful. There are amazing effects available on Project Spark, and the community can also add to the collection. Beta registration for Project Spark open now: http://joinprojectspark.com
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Day 2 keynote, which will focus on Windows Azure – cloud for business, rich Office 365 extensibility, enterprise grade SaaS integration, and tools.
What’s New in Windows Runtime for Windows 8.1 – John Lam and Neena Kamath
This was a great overview session of some of the new features in Windows 8.1, and it points to other sessions for more depth in each area. John and Neena had a “lemonade stand” theme going, and built app functionality to support this business. Nine separate features were demoed. The demos were all in C#/XAML.
Here is a quick overview of the Windows 8.1 APIs:
- Green – Windows 8 APIs
- Yellow – Windows 8.1 updated APIs
- Blue – Windows 8.1 new APIs
The 9 features demoed were:
- Hub Control
- Multiple Views – you can project a different view of your app for customers (like a kiosk mode) on a second monitor
- WebView – generate HTML from receipt, it does z-order correctly, now available for both XAML and HTML developers
- Credit Card Reader
- Lights and HTTP
- Sphero and Bluetooth
- Contact Cards and Actions
- Azure Mobile Services Integration
- PlayTo Xbox
Windows Store Overview for Windows 8.1: New Design, New Promotion and Monetization Opportunities
Here are some of the Windows Store enhancements:
- Apps get updated automatically rather than users having to manually update
- You can see a lot more apps in default view – UI is more text and less tiles
- "Picks for you" uses Bing recommendation engine
- App listing page now contains "other apps by this publisher" – yay!!!
- No more 5 device limit for a user to install an app
- Support for consumables
- Ali Pay support
- Developer dashboard analytics can be downloaded