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On stage at its biggest event of the year, Microsoft executives unveiled the future of Windows 10, Xbox, and HoloLens, as well as dozens of updates and teasers for developers.
Here’s a list of everything the company announced at the event, Build 2016, so far. We’ll update this story all week.
The future of Windows 10
At Build 2016, Microsoft unveiled its next major update to Windows 10: The Anniversary Update. The company detailed a number of new features coming to its latest operating system, for free. In fact, the Anniversary Update is also coming to the Xbox One, bringing Windows 10 apps to Microsoft’s gaming console.
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HoloLens is shipping
Microsoft said today it has begun shipping hardware development kits for its HoloLens augmented reality glasses today. Kudo Tsunoda and Alex Kidman, two of the leaders who spearheaded the project, came out on stage to announce the shipments at the Microsoft Build 2016 conference in San Francisco this morning.
Windows 10 is spreading fast
Windows 10 is now installed on over 270 million active devices, Microsoft said. It took the latest operating system from Microsoft about eight months to hit the new milestone.
Your Xbox One will turn into a devkit this summer
Microsoft’s gaming console will finally work as a development kit this summer following the major upgrade for the company’s operating system that powers all of its devices. The company revealed this improvement will hit Windows 10 for free. Microsoft is working to capture a bigger piece of the $99.3 billion gaming industry by approaching it from console, PC, mobile, and future devices like HoloLens.
Xbox One gets universal Windows apps
Developers can start bringing their Windows apps to the Xbox One. Last year at Build 2015, the company promised app makers would be able to bring their apps to the console, and now it is finally delivering. The functionality will come as part of the Anniversary Update that will let you turn your Xbox One into a devkit.
Facebook is launching universal Windows apps
Facebook will soon launch new universal apps for not only its core service, but also Instagram and Messenger. In addition, the social networking company is extending its Facebook Audience Network and App Install SDK to developers on the Windows platform.
Build your own chatbot
Microsoft is introducing the Bot Framework, a new tool in preview to help developers build their own chatbots for their applications. There is also a new bot directory full of sample bots — like the BuildBot — that Microsoft is showing off today at the company’s Build developer conference in San Francisco.
Bots → Skype
Microsoft says Skype chats are getting chatbots to interact with users. The bots are coming today to Skype for desktop, iOS, and Android — and eventually Skype for the HoloLens augmented reality headset.
New Edge extensions: Pinterest, Adblock Plus, and more
Microsoft announced a slew of incoming Edge extensions. Partners announced include Pinterest, Ad Block, Adblock Plus, LastPass, Amazon Assistant, Evernote, and Page Analyzer powered by Vorlon.js.
More machine learning: Cognitive Services
Microsoft announced updates to its portfolio of machine learning tools. Until now they have fallen under the Project Oxford name, but now they are being rebranded to Microsoft Cognitive Services. In total there are 22 APIs available in Cognitive Services now, said Microsoft senior program manager lead Cornelia Carapcea.
Bash → Windows
Microsoft is bringing the Bash shell to Windows. Bash is a common Unix command-line tool for working with source code. It ships with Macs. And for Microsoft to do this is big because Bash runs on Linux. “This is not a VM. This is not cross-compiled,” Kevin Gallo, corporate vice president for Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group, said onstage today.
Xamarin → Visual Studio
Microsoft announced that Xamarin is now available for free for every Visual Studio user. This includes all editions of Visual Studio, including the free Visual Studio Community, Visual Studio Professional, and Visual Studio Enterprise.
A HoloLens emulator
Microsoft is releasing a HoloLens emulator, which lets developers test holographic apps on their PC without the need for a physical HoloLens. You can download the emulator now directly from here.
Azure IoT Starter Kits ($50 – $160)
“These kits allow anyone with Windows or Linux experience to quickly build IoT prototypes that leverage all Azure’s IoT offerings,” Microsoft said in a statement. Each kit comes with a development board that’s compliant with the Azure Certified for IoT program, along with sensors, actuators, and tutorials.
3 Microsoft Office improvements for devs
At its developer conference in San Francisco, Microsoft announced three improvements that help developers leverage Microsoft Office. Qi Lu, executive vice president at Microsoft, took the stage to show off what’s new with Microsoft Graph, Office for Mac 2016, Skype, and Office 365.
Teens, space experiments, and Windows 10 IoT
Developing for Windows 10 might sound complicated. But 14-year-old Mihir Kasmalkar figured it out. Now he and his classmates at the Valley Christian Schools in San Jose, California — with a little help from Microsoft — are preparing to send a MinnowBoard Max running the Windows 10 IoT Core operating system up to the International Space Station.
Win32 apps → Windows Store
Microsoft today unveiled the Desktop App Converter, which lets developers bring existing Windows applications to the Windows Universal Platform (UWP). The company is hoping to bring the 16 million existing Win32/.Net applications to the Windows Store.
The Cortana Collection
Microsoft launched a Cortana Collection in the Windows Store today to highlight the “nearly 1,000 Cortana-enabled apps already available” for Windows 10 users. Microsoft’s Marcus Ash also shared some new features coming to Cortana as part of the Anniversary Update. Cortana will be able to proactively make suggestions for you throughout your day.
AWS Lambda competitor: Azure Functions
Microsoft announced that it’s launching the Azure Functions event-driven computing service in preview. This marks the Microsoft cloud’s predictable entrance into a market that has gotten many developers excited, one that makes it easy to set up rules associated with their applications and then let the computers take action on their own.
Azure Service Fabric: Out of preview
Microsoft’s Azure Service Fabric cloud service for building and running applications in small building blocks — known as microservices — is now generally available.
Power BI Embedded: Public preview
Microsoft announced a free public preview of Power BI Embedded, a version of the Power BI business intelligence service that can be tucked inside of other applications. “You can do this without requiring your users to buy or even be aware of what Power BI is,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president for Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group.
Analysis: What to make of Build 2016
How many apps are in the Windows Store?
Windows 10 is now running on over 270 million devices. That’s arguably the most impressive number that Microsoft shared today at its Build 2016 developer conference, especially as it means the company saw 70 million devices added since January. But neither then nor now did Microsoft share any updates about the number of apps and games in the Windows Store.
Satya Nadella dances around controversies
There were plenty of issues for Nadella to address. But he was either too polite to tackle them in an in-your-face kind of way, or he just decided to leave the details of conversations to other speakers or the technical sessions that will take place during the rest of the Build conference, which goes on for three days.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney’s fears
Terry Myerson, executive vice president for Windows and Devices, said during the opening keynote that the platform has been open for 30 years and will continue to be so. The future of Windows — and Microsoft’s stewardship of it — was called into question a few weeks ago by Tim Sweeney, CEO of Gears of War creator Epic Games and one of the best-known technical experts in the game industry. Sweeney said that he worries that Microsoft is making it hard for developers to create games and programs that do not use its Windows app store — and that the move could close off what to date has been an open platform.
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