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Microsoft BUILD 2014 Putting The Win Back In Windows

Microsoft BUILD 2014 Putting The Win Back In Windows

Microsoft BUILD Kicked Off Yesterday

… and the opening keynote was huge in terms of content and impact.

Joe Belfiore, Satya Nadella and a cast of others delivered an engaging, high octane presentation with a grab-bag of goodies about the Windows ecosystem.

Where To Begin?

I managed to catch most of the colossal keynote and sat scribbling notes as I went in my Moleskine notebook (I’m old school that way, don’t judge me).

I decided after reading some of my earlier posts and conversing via Twitter with the awesome @LiorYe to keep things in the context of the Windows ecosystem.

BUILD 2014 - Windows 8 Ecosystem

Outline of major feature updates announced in the Windows Ecosystem.


The major points of interest and impact are: –

  • Universal Apps: can I finally say well done Microsoft? One app works on any device and will display responsively.
  • Windows Phone 8.1: each of the features here deserve a post in their own right but the highlights are: –
    • Cortana:
      as expected we had Cortana introduce herself (albeit not at MWC). The electronic Personal Assistant can speak, recognize speech, scan your email and proactively respond to events e.g. tracking a flight whose itinerary is in a mail. Joe Belfiore displayed a slew of features and tasks ranging from Live Tiled App, replacing Bing behind the search button, access to 3rd party data feeds (e.g. Yelp) interaction and activation of Apps, and more. Everything that adds incredible value to the Windows Phone by having an intelligent, learning “AI” aboard.
    • Windows Phone Enterprise we were presented with a narrow selection of power features taking Windows Phone into the Enterprise with VPN, S-Mime encrypted email options and MDM control for BYOD where enrolled device policies/apps/settings are defined by a group policy until the phone owner opts out.
    • Start screen customization  both the width of Live Tiles and the Start Screen background will allow for greater personalization.
    • Action Center slide down to access the new Action Center.
    • Shape Writing: akin to Swype on Android this is a faster, more efficient way to interact with the phone.
    • New Devices: Steven Elop announced 3 new phones the Lumia 930 (a beautifully designed, flagship Windows Phone 8.1 handset with a large HD display), the Lumia 630 / 635 (respectively 3G & 4G/LTE Dual SIM phones at a budget price-point). In addition these new phones will support 2 new SDKs: Imaging SDK v2.0 and Sensorcore, a feature to measure motion.

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  • Windows 8.1.x: the update for Windows 8.1 is touted as bringing enhancements for mouse and keyboard users: –
    • In fact the thrust of the update indicates a convergence of Modern Windows UI (Desktop and Apps) with Classic Desktop. By allowing Modern UI Apps to interact with the Windows taskbar and giving these apps the familiar close X button much of the trolling against Windows 8 has been made redundant.
    • Device Responsive Boot: preset defaults for boot based on device type e.g. Desktop PC boots to Classic Desktop and Tablet to Modern Windows Desktop.
    • Combine these with the return of the Windows Start Menu and Windows 8.1.x is upping its usability game once again in response to consumer issues with the OS.

The Warptest POV

Obviously we can expect new development tools to support these features but if everyone at BUILD went home today there would still be a gargantuan amount of information to digest.

As I have stated in several past posts the Windows 8 ecosystem is a revolution and it’s time for the trolls and h8ters to step aside and let the consumers decide if this delivers. IMHO many of the improvements to Windows 8.1.x are winners and Windows Phone has a glorious year ahead with 9 new OEMs, Cortana, Enterprise and new Lumia devices too.

For my money, the biggest news was Universal Apps that will run cross-device from one store purchase. This may well be the holy grail of the Windows Ecosystem.

I’m excited to get these updates and try them for myself and I’m looking forward to lengthy interaction with Cortana.

Well played Microsoft for putting the WIN back in Windows.


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