It's that time of the year when developers gather in San Francisco for Microsoft's annual Build conference, which serves to outlay the company's plans for the coming year.
There's a lot of rumors and speculation heading into a Build event, but now that Microsoft has detailed its session plans, we are on a much clearer footing about what to expect.
As predicted, the company will put the emphasis on the cloud, with Microsoft due to give its clearest confirmation yet that cloud is the company's focus.
The session list shows that aside from the cloud, Microsoft's attention will move from Windows, to Xbox, to HoloLens, and back to Windows, with focus on the Universal Windows Platform.
We have been following the run up to Build very closely and decided to trawl through stories from the last few months to give you a complete detailed look at what to expect at Build 2016.
As mentioned, the cloud is set to be the focus of Microsoft's Build 2016 conference this year, with a true indication that the company is now becoming a cloud first provider. As we reported last week, Microsoft is willing to put Windows and mobile strategies as a secondary company-wide strategy and focus on its cloud services such as Azure.
Indeed, the Build 2016 keynote will focus on the cloud and Azure will be the driving force and how the platform can be used for developers' apps. Of course, the cloud is more about enterprise for Microsoft, which means a big part of the company's strategy will be Office.
While Microsoft sees its future in the cloud (especially from a monetary point of view), the company is certainly not turning its back on Windows 10. In fact, the platform is the glue that will hold Microsoft together in the coming years, tying all products and services together. So, expect the company to dish details on myriad Windows enhancements and changes coming in the future.
Of course the Windows 10 Redstone update will dominate all talks of the platform. The update will roll out in two phases, with the first to be sent out in June and the second in 2017. Microsoft will probably not discuss too much about the phase two of Redstone, but the company will certainly use Build as the platform to detail phase one (rs1) Redstone.
Developers (and by proxy us) will get to know everything about new Redstone features, including:
Hopefully the company will also discuss some major applications that are coming to the Windows 10 Store, and will detail updates to existing apps. That includes Skype, which is once again be unified as a single experience on the platform.
Windows 10 Mobile
In many way, where Windows 10 goes, Windows 10 Mobile follows, even if a little later. While the continued poor performance of the platform means Microsoft will never put all its eggs into the mobile basket, the company is still supporting the mobile space and aiming high. In essence it is unclear what Microsoft's long term plans are, so there is no better place for a clearer roadmap than from the Build conference.
One thing that the company probably can't ignore is the fact that Windows 10 Mobile users are not pleased with the company upgrade program for older devices. We will see if the company can ease those worries.
Windows 10 in all its guises will create a meeting point with the Universal Windows Platform, and it is the Xbox platform that will make the most of the unified platform. UWP has already started with the first cross platform titles landing, but we expect Build to be the place where Microsoft really fleshes out the concept and kicks it into high gear.
The unification of Windows 10 as a single system will mean that the Xbox One console will be able to get Windows applications from the official Store. Microsoft is hoping that this cross platform appeal, and porting tools like Project Islandwood, will entice developers onto Windows. Build will give us a hint if the strategy is working, when the company details which apps and games are coming on the horizon.
The augmented reality headset HoloLens is still something of a side project for Microsoft, but it is a project that is gathering a head of steam. Indeed, the device may launch to end users this year and is already making its way to developers. Build will see the company demonstrate more of what HoloLens can do and we expect to hear plenty about content considering the company said a consumer version will not land until content is fleshed out.
Not a guarantee, but what would a major company developer conference be without a major surprise dropping on our laps. At Build 2015 it was the unexpected introduction of the HoloLens, and just how fleshed out that nascent product was. What could it be this year? A Surface Phone would be the guess in terms of hardware, but still an unlikely possibility.
In terms of software, some of Microsoft's Windows team have been promising some massive features for Redstone that will “blow people away”. The features we already know about are solid, but hardly mind blowing, so we expect some Windows 10 surprises at Build.
SOURCE: Build Sessions