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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

My thoughts on Build 2017

I have a few thoughts on Build 2017.

First, how did Build 2017 measure up against my very short wishlist?

  • Windows Phone. Although a few presenters over the few days managed to get an applause from the crowd when referring to Windows Phone, we saw zero announcements from MSFT in this area. The complete opposite of what I was hoping for. For now, it seems they are embracing iOS and Android.
  • HoloLens. MSFT seems to be leaning away from a 1-brand approach and more towards providing all of the tools needed to do Mixed Reality. This approach, for a company like Microsoft, is likely better but I still wanted to see HoloLens (a standalone MR system) be invested in heavily. Maybe they’ll have announcements in the future.
  • Windows or Office being open source. This was a long shot. But, I’ll keep it on my list in perpetuity. Esp. Windows.
  • Band. I don’t think Microsoft mentioned wearables at all (besides the amazing Emma). Did they?

So I completely struck out. So it goes.

I’m not unhappy though. Microsoft had some amazing announcements and, overall, had an impressive amount of work accomplished since the last Build.

Sayta Nadella started the conference off by reaffirming their commitment to build hardware, software, and services responsibly and inclusively. It is obvious that Nadella’s Microsoft wants to build solutions for everyone (including even the smallest groups of individuals). I really enjoy seeing this from them and I hope it continues to be the driving force behind their decisions.

What Microsoft has been able to do with Azure (and its related services like Azure Stack), OneDrive, and other cloud-based services is really incredible. Between what Amazon and Microsoft currently offer developers – there is almost no excuse a start-up can make that they cannot bring software to the market at scale in an affordable way. And, even if you’re not worried about scale, the ease of development, testing, iteration, and deployment is much more simple. All developers know that these “one click demos” are never that in reality. But it is still very, very impressive to see what Microsoft has been able to create and is able to sell and support.

It was telling, too, that Microsoft swapped their Keynotes from last year. Day 1 was all Azure and day 2 was all Windows.

One more note about Azure; it seems to be a runaway hit in a similar way to Amazon’s S3. A few years ago S3 took over the entire cloud storage market backing so many services we use every day. When it has gone down (only a few times in recent memory) everything we use went down. I think the same could be said for Azure. Azure is the platform upon which an incredible amount of large scale services are built. I don’t know if this is still the case but Apple’s services were once built on top of Azure. If Azure goes down expect a similar blackout to S3 going down.

Windows 10 being on a twice-a-year release cycle is very refreshing. It makes Apple’s already aggressive once-per-year updates to macOS look snail-like. The pace of software updates for an OS are critical since software needs to be nimble to react to the market. Things like mobility, connectivity, speed, memory, device size and screen size, and wireless technologies seem to change weekly. The OSes need to keep up. Longer development cycles can no longer keep pace.

Microsoft also announced their own design framework called Fluent. I’m sure Windows developers will welcome this coherence across all of their devices but I do not think it will have the wide-reaching affects of both Apple’s flat iOS 7 design language (which is nameless?) and Google’s Material Design. I see iOS-inspired and Material-inspired design in every piece of software I use.

Overall, I continue to be super impressed with Microsoft under Satya Nadella. Seems I’m not alone.

I recommend watching the videos from Build 2017. There is a ton to glean and I’m sure we’ll start seeing some amazing things come of the announcements made. Well done yet again MSFT.

Build day 1 was great. I’m looking forward to day 2 as there are promises of Windows 10 and MR/AR news. Which, as you know, I’m interested in.

I’m looking forward to today’s Build Keynote. Here is my short list of wishes.

Windows Central on Build

Speaking of Build, Zac Bowden at Windows Central has a list of things to expect on Wednesday. Including this Windows Phone long shot:

I have in fact been hearing that internally Microsoft continues to develop CShell for Windows 10 Mobile in Redstone 3 builds. Whether that means we’ll see it at Build, or at all, is another question. But we’ll keep you posted.

I haven’t researched this too much but my basic understanding of CShell is that it is the shell that is run on each device to give basic interface elements access to the core OS. Like the Finder process on macOS that gives you the Dock, menubar, etc. CShell is developed in silos for each device so specifically continuing to support Windows 10 Mobile wouldn’t make sense if Microsoft didn’t plan to continue to have Windows 10 devices (third-party or otherwise).

Again, as I said in my wishlist, I’d like to see Microsoft make a large commitment to Windows Phone so I’ll join Zac in calling for this long shot.

 

I find it interesting that Microsoft, who just had an education event last week and is holding Build this week, has called another event in Shanghai on the 23rd. Firing on all cylinders it seems.

My Build wishlist

Microsoft’s Build conference starts on Wednesday. I’ve been watching this conference closely for the last three years.* Each year Microsoft has shown that they are a completely different company since Satya Nadella has become CEO. They actually make the things they show.

Over these same years they’ve improved upon Windows so-much-so that I have a hard time defending my choice to use Mac. They’ve made Surface hardware that is so good that people are switching from the Mac. And their developer apps and cloud services are incredibly good.

So I thought just prior to this year’s Keynote that I’d jot down my wishlist for this year. It is very short because I don’t use a ton of Microsoft services day-to-day.

  • Windows Phone. I’d like Microsoft to make a large commitment to bringing Windows Phone back. They’ve already made investments in the developer toolchain to allow app developers to use their own languages and frameworks and create iOS and Android applications. Windows Phone was so good it could easily be the third horse in the mobile OS race. (Also, a Surface Phone would be cool to see)
  • HoloLens. I’d like to see HoloLens be available to consumers at an affordable cost (say $500.00). HoloLens is one of the only AR packages out there that I think has the platform, services, and is a standalone unit that could be valuable to anyone from games to the enterprise.
  • Windows and/or Office Open Source. This is a big one and is a much, much longer term goal I think. However, I don’t think it is impossible. Microsoft has been embracing open source more and more. Windows being open could actually eliminate some of their woes rather than compound them. Running Windows as an open project would take a huge team but I think would be worth it in the long run and actually allow Windows to mature even quicker than it is now (which is two releases per year).
  • Band. I’d like to see Band make a comeback. I thought it was a great wearable platform that had a future but they’ve killed it. So in some way, perhaps under a new name (Surface Band?), I’d like to see it come back.

I have no idea if I’ll ever be a full time Windows user or not. My lock-in on Mac may last another decade or two and by then who knows if I’ll even own a computer as we think of them today. But I always want to see honest competition between two giants because that inevitably leads to better products for everyone involved.

Let’s see what happens on Wednesday.

* And I’d like to attend some year.

 

Update: Here is what actually happened.

Digital Transformations

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, on LinkedIn:

Each of us are part of our economies and our societies. Long-term growth is directly related to our ability to make our climate more sustainable, our economies more viable and our societies more equitable. Those changes can only happen if we ask ourselves two questions: What difference is our business making? And what difference are we making?

Satya’s Build keynote introduction made it clear that he believes technology can change society for good. We can all agree that it is changing society, but it is arguable whether or not all of it is for good. His position is that he’s both optimistic — that in the long run the changes will be good — and driven — that he and Microsoft will try to make good decisions about how technology fits into our lives.

He’s only been in the CEO chair for a little while but I believe he has a vision for the future of the world and of Microsoft that is based on his core beliefs far more than his predecessor. I welcome it. And I like him.

I’m looking forward to Microsoft’s Build conference today…

I’m looking forward to Microsoft’s Build conference today. Last year’s presentation left me with a completely different attitude toward the company. Let’s hope they keep up the momentum this year.

Microsoft’s Build Keynote

I just finished watching Microsoft’s Build Keynote from yesterday. If you haven’t seen it, and understand developer jargon, I recommend you watch it.

My takeaways:

  • Windows is about to get a lot more applications
  • Office is now as big a platform for MSFT as Windows is
  • Visual Studio Code is very good (I’ve been using it all day)
  • Azure is a beast

That first one is pretty important. Me, in August 2013 regarding Windows Phone:

Windows Phone is a much better competitor to iOS than Android currently is. It is clean, simple to use, vastly different than iOS (which is good since Android and iOS just bite off each other with each release), and really fun to play with. The problem? Official apps.

Yesterday Microsoft announced a slew of things that could change the only gripe I had with Windows Phone.