Microsoft’s Build conference began yesterday with a series of fast-paced announcements and presentations by several key personnel demonstrating the company’s shift to open Windows to the entire platform.
What follows is a summary of major announcements made on Day 1 and Day2.
Day 1 Keynote
Joe Belfiore, CVP Operating Systems Group, started the keynote by talking about Windows Phone 8.1. This update brings several usability enhancements to the phone’s OS, including more personalization and customization for the lock and start screens. The biggest addition is the arrival of Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to a device personal assistant.
Brief overview of the new features of Windows Phone 8.1:
• Action center (pull down from the top)
• Battery life
• Can use dual SIM cards
• Quick settings – wifi / Bluetooth / airplane mode / etc
• Internet Sharing
Personalize lock & Start screens
•New APIs to customize lock screen
•Customize number /size amount of icons
•Customize wallpaper that the tiles display on
•Presence as a Live tile
•Cortana can be extended with 3rd party apps
•Supports creating speech enabled 3rd party apps
•Cortana’s stores user personalization information in the notebook, which allows users to customize what items Cortana knows about.
◦Can provided name/email/ phone number when required, also can be edited
•Can automatically share Wi-fi passwords with approved contacts ( Outlook.com / Skype contacts / Facebook friends). Shared transparently between machines, but the user never actually sees the password.
Enhancements for the enterprise
The enhancements to Windows Phone 8.1 are not limited to the end user. Nick Hedderman, Senior Product Manager demonstrated several new phone management features for corporate phone administrators:
Windows Phone 8.1 for Business
•Enroll device into a corporate role (even if the one previously was setup for personal-use only)
•Support Enterprise VPN
•S/MIME◦Signed and encrypt emails
•Can disable local downloading of files.
•Can deny apps from running on a phone, even existing installed apps already on the phone
•When a user leaves the corporation or switches devices, the corporate management is completely removed. App permissions are restored, VPN removed, etc
Windows 8.1 Updates
Moving beyond the updates for Windows Phone 8.1, the keynote then moved to the forthcoming Update for Windows 8.1. This Update will be made available for free to all Windows 8.X users on April 8.
Windows 8.1 Update 1
•Cortana on the phone and Bing on desktop share user details (when you are logged in to Bing).
•Windows Task bar can have apps pinned to it
•This includes displaying their live tiles on the Start menu
•Switch between apps whether they are Modern of Win32 desktop apps
•Doesn’t affect the changes / operation for touch based operations
•New PC Settings Tile◦Provides natural/familiar home for PC settings
•Power button and search button display on Start screen by default
•Right-click context menu to resize / pin to taskbar
•Control click to select multiple tiles and move them around en masse
•Improving Windows Store update to mouse & keyboard friendly
•New apps are highlighted in the All Apps list when they are added so they are not as easy to overlook when added
Moving into OpenSource
WinJS is now open source (under the Apache license) and going cross-platform. Joining this announcement is the availability of Windows 8.1 Update on MSDN and DreamSpark. VS2013 Update 2 RC is publicly available for all versions (paid and express) of Visual Studio. Windows Phone 8.1 will be available for developers later this month.
Nokia and devices
Stephen Elop, EVP of Nokia presented several new phone types, including the new flagship device, the Nokia Lumia 930. This will be made available in June. The Lumia 630 and Lumia 635 will target the lower end of the market, but still include a 1.2GHz quadcore SnapDragon processor. The 630 will be available in a dual-SIM card model. Prices range from $159 to approximately $189.
What’s did the new CEO say
New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella concluded the keynote by addressing some prerecorded user questions. The main theme of his comments was that he wants Microsoft to operate as a challenger to the current market.
The day 2 keynote opened with Microsoft’s Scott Guthre
•Currently Azure is hosting 250K active websites and over a million SQL databases.
What impact is the cloud having – Cloud Gaming a new era
•Titanfall used a pool of 100,000 virtual machines on day 1. In order to ensure a consistent experience they are literally allocating a VM from the pool for each game. Project Azure Thunderhead
•Visual Studio Integration: you can now create, destroy, and manage VMs from within Visual Studio. You can even enable remote debugging in a virtual machine directly from the IDE.
•VM images can now capture storage devices, reducing the amount of effort needed to setup a cloned instanced.
Remote Server Management
•Management tool Puppet now is deeply integrated into Azure.
•Growing and shrinking services on demand
•Auto-scaling virtual machines has also reached general availability.
•Auto-scaling works with Azure Websites as well, allowing web servers to be dynamically added or removed as the load changes.
Azure Website Service
•Build with the skills you have Azure now supports NET, PHP, Python, Node.js and Java support for the Azure Website Service.
Security of Azure Web Sites
•Every Azure Website instance will now include a free SSL certificate.
Managing queues and workloads
•WebJobs can be run in the context of the Azure Website. In the past background tasks had to be run on a separate VM, which can significantly increase costs if the tasks are usually idle.
A new opportunity DevOps
•PowerShell for Visual Studio and Azure
•When new ASP.NET projects are created you can provision Azure VMs at the same time. If you do so, PowerShell based deployment scripts are created at the same time.
•PowerShell editing is now supported by Visual Studio.
New Azure Portal
•A new portal for Azure has been created. The primary selling point is easier to understand billing metrics. Directly from the home page you can see how much Azure is costing you on a service by service basis.
•AppInsights is being integrated into the Azure portal. This product is used to collect data about how an application is being used in terms of features, duration, etc. It also includes performance and error metrics.
•Live Editing HTML and CSS using Browser Link
•Most browsers allow you to edit CSS and HTML directly in the browser.
Visual Studio 2013 enhancement
•Ability to hook your browser (IE, Chrome, etc.) to the IDE using Browser Link.
•Make HTML or CSS in the browser and have those changes automatically reflected in the source code. Essentially the browser becomes your code editor.
•JSHint is now integrated into Visual Studio.
Azure for Mobile
•Azure’s Mobile Services now support Active Directory using OAuth tokens.
•These tokens can then be used to access Office 365 APIs in addition to the application’s custom backend. So Azure Mobile Services now supports the enterprise.
Cross Platform support
•Xamarin and Visual Studio illustrate iOS and Android support using .net and C# for building cross platform
Databases – Azure SQL
•Azure Databases can now grow to 500GB with a 99.95% a SLA. This is enterprise support!
Backup and Restore
•The ability of now having self-service backups are available for up to 31 days on all accounts. Administrators can choose to rollback to any point in time within that window.
•Active Geo Replication keeps replicated servers hot so that you can fail over in the event of an outage.
BigData- Data Scientist the NEW ROCK & ROLL
•YARN and Hive Query are now supported in HDInsight.
•Roslyn – The .NET Compile Platform
•The new language services will be available in the next version of Visual Studio.
•The entire Roslyn project is being open sourced, including the VB and C# compilers.
•C# 6.0 – Static using statements are supported so you no longer have to prefix static functions such as Max with the class name. This is feature already seen in Visual Basic and Java.
•Xamarin -Xamarin has started supporting Roslyn with the option to choose alternate compilers in their IDE. Currently Roslyn is only active during compilation but they intend to add syntax highlighting and other features.
•.NET Foundation -The .NET Foundation is a new organization for governing the various open source offerings for .NET from Microsoft, Xamarin, and others.
•Visual studio online – Visual Studio Online has reached general availability.
Source code and team working
•Team Foundation Server enhancements for source control including 3rd IDE and source control including GIT.
Migrating VB 6 and .NET Applications Forward to modern apps
•Announcement of WebMap2. This product takes legacy WinForms applications and converts it into an HTML based application. It does this by splitting the .NET code into views and controllers. It then converts the views into HTML while the bulk of the code lives in server-side controllers.
•Mobilize.NET also has a product for converting legacy VB 6 applications into WinForms application. This can be used as-is or as a stepping stone into web-based technologies.
Internet of things
•.NET Micro Framework -The .NET Micro Framework is now being updated to support generics and modern versions of Visual Studio.
App building tools
•AppStudio: Concert Websites into Mobile Applications
•The new AppStudio tool can convert websites into mobile applications. By default this is just a wrapper around the website using the Web Application Template. Wat.codeplex.com but you can enable caching for off-line use by modifying a configuration file. This is available for “both windows and non-windows” devices including Android.
Universal Apps and Xamarin
•Windows Universal app recompiled with Xamarin which supports Android and iOS.
Overall a really exciting keynote which firmly places Microsoft as a supporter of developers now matter what your platform of choice.
You can watch the keynotes a conference sessions at https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Build/2014