Nash DavidMar 29, 2016 20:10:18 IST
We’re already down through the first quarter of the calendar year 2016. This month, we’ve seen Google announce Android N, Apple launch a new, smaller smartphone. But what about Microsoft? Well, Build 2016 is here. The annual conference of the world’s largest software maker happens around this time every year. And there’s lots to expect.
Windows 10 to take shape
Remember when Windows 8 was launched and many complained it was half-baked? In a way, we all knew Windows 10 was the biggest software launch for Microsoft. It was supposed to change the way Windows users interfaced with their operating system. Features such as Continuum seemed future ready.
The difference between Windows 8 and Windows 10 could be summed up with the return of the Start button. Microsoft certainly listened to its customer base. It worked with the large developer and fan community, taking feedback and incorporating as much as possible. If Windows 10 was indeed supposed to be its most important release, then it certainly needs to gather some ‘steam.’ Here's a video that sheds light on the direction of tile notifications in Windows 10.
The tiled menu that we first saw in Windows 8, and has continued to Windows 10, was expected to be interactive. What it ended up becoming was a refreshing UI. Beauty surpassed the potential of the refreshing UI. According to the schedule for the upcoming Build 2016 that is set to occur the coming week, Live tiles are ‘evolving with two highly requested surprises.’
Developer, developer, developer!
There’s been a remarkable shift in the approach that Microsoft has taken towards the open source community. Among the areas to be highlighted at Build are open source applications on the Azure cloud service, and key APIs and platforms such as .NET being available for the open source developer community.
So what if Windows isn’t a dominating mobile operating system? Windows still rules among computing devices. Windows is still the dominating part of the audience that matters. In effect, the vast developer community that works on Microsoft technologies could soon use their existing skills to effortlessly target additional operating systems and platforms via tools such as Xamarin and Windows bridge for iOS and probably even Android.
This is probably the most important area around which we expect Microsoft to make some significant announcements. For one, in line with the core philosophy of uniformity across platforms and form factors, there’s been a lot of active interest around the Universal Windows Platform (UWP).
UWP was introduced in Windows 8. However, with Windows 10, Microsoft made it easier for developers to build cross-device applications and games, with a single API. Up until now, gaming was either on Windows OS for PC, or on Windows Phone, or on the Xbox gaming console.
The idea of UWP was to offer a common platform, letting developers develop device agnostic apps that would work on any platform, be it phone, PC or Xbox. In addition, tools such as Monogame, and others that Microsoft has inherited via the Tamarin acquisition, makes it easier for developers to create rich and engaging cross platform games for touch devices and deliver them across platforms including iOS, Android, PlayStation Mobile and Linux.
When Satya Nadella took over as the chief of Microsoft, he laid out the vision for an all-new Microsoft. In doing so, Nadella highlighted one unifying platform, and one unifying experience.
The idea of a unifying experience stresses on a mobile-ready, cloud-ready infrastructure. And given the emphasis on mobile devices, there could very well be a series of announcements around tools to create more engaging applications and games for mobile devices. Emphasis is bound to lie on content, entertainment and productivity on mobility devices.
Internet of Things
This one's a no-brainer. It’s the buzzword of our times. If yesterday belonged to cloud and mobile, today belongs to IoT. Every wearable, every gadget, every consumer electronic device is moving towards the IP topology and getting connected to the web. Microsoft is also very closely looking at IoT to further its reach. Currently Azure is a very important component of Microsoft's business.
Enabling applications and connectivity across multiple devices or, simply put, dedicated networks, is probably the best thing to happen to Azure. And we expect Microsoft to jump at the opportunity with both hands wide open. Not only is it competing with Amazon and Google, in the infrastructure and platform space, it is also reshaping and realigning itself in a changing time when the industry is taking the leap of faith to move from traditional IT setups to adapt the cloud and mobile delivery of critical data for consumers, and the enterprise.
This one is certainly eye candy! HoloLens has mesmerized Microsoft fans and the tech community as a whole. Over the past couple of years, Facebook has gained significant traction and attention around virtual reality with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.
Similarly, smartphone companies including Samsung and HTC have significant interests with virtual reality. Hololens by Microsoft is targeted as a mixed reality platform that aims to involve a mix of virtual and augmented reality to deliver richer experiences. Recently, Alex Kipman, Technical Fellow at the Operating Systems Group at Microsoft demonstrated the HoloLens in all its glory.
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