This week was a busy one for Microsoft, which shared a wealth of information on its upcoming Windows 10 operating system at its annual Build conference in San Francisco. The event also was the staging area for additional news about Azure and HoloLens.
The tech giant kept quiet for most of this week until the start of Build on April 29. Then, Microsoft executives, including Satya Nadella, Terry Myerson, and Joe Belfiore, shared key points concerning Microsoft’s strategy and its progress going forward.
Microsoft predicts that Windows 10, which is rolling out to customers this summer, has the potential to reach one billion customers in the three years following its launch. After announcing the development of its new OS in January, Microsoft developers have been continually releasing preview builds to Windows Insiders so they can try it out and provide feedback.
Windows 10 was the center of attention at Build. The conference was the site of OS announcements including a new Insider Preview (an updated name from "technical preview"), which became available to Windows Insiders in the Fast and Slow rings.
Build 10074 addresses some of the key concerns in predecessor Build 10061 and comes equipped with a range of new features. User experience improvements include new Live Tile animation, better support for high DPI displays, enhanced Continuum, and visual and technical changes to Cortana.
While Windows Insiders can now launch desktop apps from the Start menu and download music in the Xbox Music and Music Preview apps, there are known issues with Build 10074. Developers cannot enable Developer Mode in the Settings app for installing and testing apps, and there is a problem that prevents playing some games in full-screen mode. The People app is also buggy, and it continues to crash, an issue that Microsoft will address in an updated app available in Windows Store.
The formerly codenamed Project Spartan browser, which will replace Internet Explorer in Windows 10, received the permanent title of Microsoft Edge. When the OS launches in full, Microsoft Edge will deliver a range of new capabilities like enhanced Reading View and Web Note.
Developers also learned this week that Microsoft is simplifying the move to Windows 10 with four new SDKs that will help bring existing apps to Windows without extensive effort. The opportunity to bring iOS and Android apps to Windows 10 is welcome news. It reflects Microsoft's ongoing efforts not only to promote its new OS but also to demonstrate support for competitor platforms.
The new Continuum feature coming to Windows 10, which allows for a seamless transition between tablet and desktop mode, has also been updated. Users will be able to run their smartphone apps on desktop devices, since Continuum will allow for devices to connect to wireless keyboards and displays.
Microsoft has also announced its new Azure Data Lake, a hyper-scale repository for cloud-based big data analytic workloads. The goal for the Hadoop-compatible offering is to enable users to run advanced analytics on data to discover new conclusions on information. There is no limit to how much data can be stored in a single account.
We also got a minor update on HoloLens, which was demonstrated during the Build conference. Reports have surfaced indicating that Microsoft recently obtained a patent for glasses that evaluate wearers' emotional response, and that show promise for the future of Microsoft's VR headset.
Next week, we'll be keeping a close eye on the announcements coming from Microsoft Ignite. Hopefully we'll learn more about Windows 10 for phones there and potentially see an update on how Office will work for mobile devices.