MOSCONE CENTER, San Francisco — Microsoft’s big Build developers conference started today, and while big news was absent, it showed Microsoft plowing ahead with more features for Windows, Bing, and other services.
The biggest announcement was the launch of Windows 8.1 Preview, which is available to any Windows 8 user who wants it. It includes a Start button on the desktop and more ways to window and display “modern” apps, make the Start screen more customizable, and make search better.
We were on hand to see what Microsoft and its executive team had in store. We live-blogged the event, but it’s over now. Check out our recap of the day one keynote in the posts below.
More Build news:
- Microsoft launches Windows 8.1 in preview; here’s what’s new
- Windows 8.1 will feature native support for 3D printing
- Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 app store evolves with new design, app recommendations, and more
- Windows 8 finally has its own Facebook app
- Microsoft reveals how it’s improving visual detail on Xbox One and Windows 8.1
- More than search: Microsoft turns Bing into a platform for devs
Ballmer here making a “Windows? mmhmmm.” sassy pose. That’s it folks!
Thanks for joining us folks.
And just like that, Ballmer is gone. Guess we’re not getting a smart hat this year, folks!
And that wraps up today’s keynote. Be sure to check out VB for more coverage from Build and Microsoft.
Ballmer: “The future of Windows is very, very bright.”
A few more examples of games developed with Project Spark:
“We will sell literally hundreds of millions of Windows devices this year. … Windows, Windows, Windows.” — Ballmer
Again, we’re talking about the one-platform-for-everything theme.
Now, Ballmer is back for a last hurrah.
Here’s a library of effects you can choose from within Project Spark.
The Spark team is gone with 15 minutes left in the keynote. Are we in for “one more thing?” PLEASE LET IT BE A SMART HAT.
Think about it: the fascinator base could hold the CPU, and the birdcage veil could double as a display.
And just like that, Rusty’s turned an Xbox RPG into a Whack-a-Mole tablet game, showing how Spark is intended for all platforms.
Spark looks fun to play and develop with:
Some shots of Project Spark in action.
Now Rusty’s using the Xbox and a keyboard to change the game’s villian behavior and camera angle to make a touchscreen game out of a console game.
Hold up, now! Rusty’s headed into the living room! Watch out!
Added drama brought to you by VentureBeat editorial staff.
McLellan and McCarthy demoing Spark:
Rusty McLellan and Dave McCarthy onstage now to talk game development and Project Spark. Rusty’s building a game on a touchscreen PC.
Now demoing Project Spark, an app and dev environment that uses devices, Azure, graphics capabilities, etc.
Ballmer: One more demonstration!
Tomorrow’s keynote will cover Azure, cloud for business, Office 365, SaaS integration, and “tools, tools, tools.”
Ballmer hopes the new Microsoft apps and updates fly. (Womp womp)
There’s a big white sofa and a huge TV onstage. And a scattering of Xbox controllers. GEE I WONDER WHAT’S NEXT.
Ballmer’s back with more to show.
The Bing platform and developer portal are available today, Pall says — and he’s out! Mic drop!
The 3D imagery is impressively detailed. But I wonder how many cities and countries it supports.
An example of Maps in 8.1 with 3D imagery:
The Windows 8.1 maps app will come with 3D imagery, Pall says.
In the demo app (a travel application), Pall shows speech features, Expedia integration, image integration, etc. Using the newer controls, he shows off a virtual tour with voice guides, street-side views, and recommendations of things to do.
Bing for developers:
Bing for developers. It’s a platform, ladies & gentlemen!
With features like web index, entities and knowledge, and APIs, Pall says devs should be excited to build on it.
Pall still talking Bing, which is heavily integrated in the Windows and Xbox experiences.
VP Gurdeep Singh Pall is now onstage to talk about Bing s’more.
And those pics of Leblond — that’s the face of a man who will not think twice about throwing a vase at you, then giving you new toys just to seal in the Stockholm syndrome.
Leblond and Larson-Green asking the audience if they want a free Surface Pro. Well duh…
Now showing off the Surface Pro. We’re having another Oprah Moment… Each attendee is getting one, thanks to Intel.
Here’s a shot of a new Acer tablet/laptop.
Leblond showing unique form factors for Windows 8 devices, including this Acer tablet.
As you can see here, you can now recreate that episode of Big Bang Theory when Sheldon tries to live his life as a remote robot.
Here’s the Lego Mindstorm Windows 8 tablet robot.
MSFT worked with the Lego Mindstorm team to make a Windows 8 tablet robot. There’s a Windows app to control it, and it’s controlled by another tablet via Wi-Fi. It uses the new realtime streaming APIs to do streaming video.
3D printing from Windows 8.
Dude, Leblonde just threw a vase at the audience.
Leblond now talking about 3D printing. Says Windows 8.1 is the first platform to natively support 3D printing.
Here’s some shots of the updated Store.
Looks like you can download the Windows 8.1 preview right now here. (Only works on Windows 8 machines at the moment.)
Also new in the Windows Store: Larger preview screenshots, ratings/reviews, related apps, and other apps by you, “to make it easier to sell your apps and make more money.”
Auto-updating apps is a big change. You might recall that Apple also announced auto-updating apps for iOS 7.
Antoine Leblonde is giving us some good news for the Windows Store: automatic app updates, for starters.
Leblond: “The Windows Store (app store) continues to offer the best economics out there period.”
We’re now talking about MSFT’s support for open web standards like MPEG Dash and Web GL in Internet Explorer.
A screenshot of VS2013′s 10-step Wizard.
Here’s some screenshots of the VS2013 features Jolie just mentioned.
VS2013 now has a 10-step wizard for setting up live tiles and push notifications.
Antoine Leblond, VP of the Windows Web Services team, is the one giving us the lowdown on Visual Studio 2013. It’s getting geeky in here.
VS2013 can build reports on performance issues like an app’s power consumption.
Visual Studio 2013 is especially geared toward mobile apps. The developer preview is available today.
Larson-Green shows a new “modern” Office app: It’s PowerPoint. Very alpha at this point. Expect it to be released for real in 2014.
Here’s an example of that flexible window snapping Devindra just mentioned. The projection screen is showing eight windows across two monitors.
The more flexible window snapping functionality in Windows 8.1 could be huge. Basically, it’s a refined way to manage Windows programs like we always have, it’s just evolved for touchscreens.
Here’s an example of the Windows 8.1 Start screen. (It looks a lot like the Windows 8 Start screen.)
Cooks, take note: The Windows 8.1 / Bing food app has a hands-free mode with gesture recognition. Good for the double-battered fried chicken, good for the moisture-sensitive, glass-screened tablet.
Sorting and searching for apps in Windows 8 is now easier, Larson-Green says.
Photo editing is built into Windows 8.1, including effects/filters. You know, to make all your pics pretty enough for that live lock screen.
Larson-Green showing off the latest customization features of the Start screen. One of the best things is that the “All Apps” screen is just a single swipe downward from the Start screen. (Much easier to see all the apps on your PC.)
Larson-Green demoing the automatic playlist feature for Xbox Music.
Demo of Windows 8.1 lock screen featuring your personal photo collection. Like Facebook Home, this stuff looks best when your children and friends are all really good looking and your cameras are all super high-end.
Larson-Green now talking about new Xbox Music features. The app has a new design and can pull info from a web page to automatically create playlists.
Demoing new Outlook and desktop-based search, a.k.a. “Bing Inside.” Predictably, the terms she’s searching for yield beautiful, useful results. Would be cool to see Bing Inside in the wild.
Here’s a screenshot of one of those smaller tablets.
She’s talking talking about some keyboard gestures — swiping up for numbers, holding and swiping for punctuation. A lot of these virtual keyboard features are standard issue on Android devices and have been for years. Just sayin’.
Larson-Green now demoing some of the behavior of Windows 8.1 on smaller tablets.
Julie Larson-Green, who leads the Windows division, says the 8-month turnaround between Windows 8 and 8.1 is evidence of the company’s commitment to more responsive, rapid release cycles.
Ballmer: Bing is very important to the next version of Windows as well. It’s become a better service and powers other things inside Windows, such as the app store and some searches inside Windows.
The crowd here is really enthusiastic about the old-school desktop. Not a fan of Live Tiles?
Ballmer: Windows 8.1 re-adds the Start button and lets you boot directly to the desktop.
Facebook, Flipboard, and NFL apps all being made to support Windows 8. (The Facebook app is a huge deal for the platform.)
This month, Windows Store will pass the 100,000 apps mark.
Powerful machines, held by a powerful man… or something.
Windows 8.1 is finally getting a Facebook app. W00t goes the crowd.
“It really reaches out and touches a need that all of us feel.” — Ballmer on 2-fer tablets with charging keyboards and long battery life, both for work and play.
One more look at one of Nokia’s Windows Phone 8 devices.
Ballmer says that PCs are rapidly getting touch screens. He says customers are expecting it and are happier when their PCs have touch.
Another shot of the Nokia phone…
Ballmer: “I wouldn’t call them PCs, but they are Windows small tablets. We’ll see the proliferation of these tablets over the next few months.”
Free Acer Iconia Windows 8.1 tablets for devs. Woo?
Ballmer stresses that a lot of time will be spent talking about smaller Windows 8 tablets. (These will compete with the iPad mini.)
The new HTC 8XT and Samsung Ativ S Neo, coming to Sprint this summer.
Oprah moment: Ballmer says attendees are getting an Acer 8.1 small tablet.
“The Windows device of today doesn’t look like …the PC of five years ago.”
Sprint will offer the HTC Windows Phone 8X and Samsung ATIV S Neo.
The Lumia 521 is aimed at emerging markets at $150 unsubsidized.
Ballmer stressing the availability of the latest Nokia Windows Phones — the Lumia 928, Lumia 925, and Lumia 521.
Steve Ballmer helping kick things off by talking about the latest Windows Phone models.
CEO Ballmer’s onstage, teasing new devices and services. He says there’s lots to show, aside from Office 365 and Xbox. As shown in the photo below, he kicked off by getting the crowd on their feet with a rousing chorus of “Heeeey, Macarena!”*