Microsoft Build: Windows 10, Cross-Platform Development, Universal Apps Are Front, Center

The company packed quite a bit into a three-hour keynote that spanned the spectrum of Microsoft technologies and hardware. For developers, the emphasis was on cross-platform app building, with new tools built right into the next Visual Studio 2015.

A mix of the known and unknown spanning the breadth of tools and technologies was packed into a three-hour keynote fronted by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and his executive team at the company's Build conference. The focus wasn't fully on developers, but there was enough here to keep developers busy thinking, creating and coding well past the next Build confab, if there is one, in a year's time.

Nadella broke the three-hour session into segments that focused on Microsoft Azure, Office and Windows 10. Within those segments, the team filled in the gaps with a number of developer-specific announcements:

Visual Studio Code: New cross-platform editing capabilities are available for free via this new lightweight code editor, which can be used to edit and debug apps across Linux, Mac and Windows devices. Editing features, such as syntax highlighting and IntelliSense, snippets, and Git integration work in all environments. The preview is available here.

Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Azure Data Lake: A worthy upgrade from its on-premises sibling, it's a drastic revamp as a secure, enterprise-grade elastic cloud data warehouse. The emphasis was on the Elastic Database Pool and some features that allow for simple querying (via Elastic Database Query) and change management (Elastic Database Job) that's automated. Azure Data Lake is a a hyper-scale data repository that's aimed at Big Data analytic workloads. (For details, see David Ramel's blog post, "Azure SQL Data Warehouse Leads New Microsoft Data Products.")

Office Graph: The company calls it an "intelligent fabric to Office 365 data" on its Office Graph Dev Center site. It's a melding of a number of Office data and machine learning capabilities that can hook up with third-party solutions via APIs.

Universal Windows Platform Bridge SDKs, Windows 10 Developer Tools: Available to Windows Insider members (more participation info here), Microsoft is offering developers previews of a number of toolkits for giving apps more "universal" appeal. Get details on Windows 10 developer and general interest features on

Not a part of the keynote, but integral to the developer announcements made today are the availability of release candidates (RCs) for the Microsoft .NET Framework 4.6 and Visual Studio 2015. The RCs pack in lots of the features mentioned in detail in today's keynote, including the cross-platform tools for working with Xamarin, Apache Cordova, and Unity, an Android emulator and tools for developing natively within the Android and iOS environments, and the most recent Team Foundation Server 2015 RC. Release notes and details for those RCs are here.

Also, not part of the keynote, but integral to many of the developer toolings, is Project Oxford. It's a cobbling of a number of SDK and REST APIs for facial, visual, speech, and language understanding that can be deployed in smart apps. More info is here.

Some of the general-interest highlights worth noting:

  • Continuum: It's a technology that allows phones mainly to be used as a computer. A demonstration showed a Windows Phone hooked up to a desktop, running PowerPoint for Windows Phone. The interface resembled a full version of PowerPoint, but interaction was enabled from both the phone and the keyboard without a hiccup.
  • Microsoft Edge: Basically, it's the name for the next-generation of the Internet Explorer browser, but the emphasis was on rejiggering the browser to be useful for accomplishing tasks from within the browser environment, such as.
  • HoloLens: A good chunk of valuable keynote time was devoted to the wearable device and the Windows Holographic developer platform. The company set up a lab with a few hundred of the devices at the conference for developers who want to gain some experience with them.

Nadella's keynote is available on demand, as are a number of sessions, via the MSDN Channel9 site.

Attend a Build Near You
Microsoft intends to minify the event and take it on the road, starting May 18 in London. With each stop only a day in duration, it's definitely not Build in miniature, and will likely offer a superficial run through some of the news coming out of San Francisco. Still, you can get up close and personal with the Microsoft engineers who will be flung to each of the locations, and it's free if you can register. Registration is already open for a number of locations. Go here to find the nearest location to you.

About the Author

You Tell 'Em, Readers: If you've read this far, know that Michael Domingo, Visual Studio Magazine Editor in Chief, is here to serve you, dear readers, and wants to get you the information you so richly deserve. What news, content, topics, issues do you want to see covered in Visual Studio Magazine? He's listening at [email protected].

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