Even though it’s been a month since BUILD ended, the announcements made and their importance still resonates today.
First takeaway comes from the first moments of the keynote. It’s defining Microsoft’s strategy with a somewhat cliché motto, but what makes it interesting is the explanation that Satya Nadella gave when talking about it.
In Microsoft’s view, mobile does not represent what we all think it does, it’s not referring to a device or even a category of devices. What it represents is the mobility of the users. It represents the freedom of being anywhere, using device at any time and have all your knowledge, context and information with you. And to make all of this possible you need the cloud which has everything you need and it’s accessible from anywhere you need it. In this light I believe that Microsoft is really close to achieving this vision.
If until now Microsoft’s declared goal was to reach developers no matter their platform (think Visual Studio Code – cross platform open source IDE), this year Microsoft is bringing it back home. They are trying their best to make sure your Windows PC is the best dev box possible. And from making Xamarin freely available, to bringing bash to windows and even releasing SQL on Linux I think they are well on their way. I can confidently say now that Window is home to all developers from Windows and Linux to mobile to gaming and even holograms - you can develop anything for anything on Windows.
With Windows 10 seeing amazing growth, setting record rates of adoption in both consumer and enterprise, it’s really been a year of stabilization and refinements rather than aggressive change for Microsoft. We’re seeing how a number of projects presented last year have matured and become closer to general availability or even already in production - Centennial materialized into Desktop app converter, Project Oxford transformed into Cognitive Services and Cortana is now on all platforms not only on Windows.
Last but not least, do you remember this “famous” slide from last year’s BUILD conference ?
Took Microsoft almost a year, but they now have delivered on that promise. With the release of Surface Hub the developer edition of HoloLens, there was one missing piece to complete the picture - the Xbox. By introducing the Xbox Developer mode, you can now deploy your apps on the Xbox as well.
But all this hasn’t stopped Microsoft to continue innovating and introducing some new concepts that have the potential to bring some disruptive paradigm shifts such as Conversation as a Platform or HoloLens to the market.
HoloLens is not necessarily a new announcement, Microsoft announced last year as the first fully untethered holographic device. But it was officially released to developers this year, at BUILD. First devices have shipped, first experiences were created and a new platform was born. With HoloLens we are closer than ever to the machine, the interactions are the most natural they’ve ever been - gaze, voice, gestures, and the user interface is the world around you.
If that was not enough, Satya presented yet another player in the way we will interact with computers in the future - Conversations Platform - and positioned it as a worthy successor of GUI, Web, and Touch.
In this new world, the UI gets replaced by natural language like text and speech, apps as we know them are replaced by bots that answer our questions in the same fashion, creating a feeling of a true conversation and everything is tied together by the personal digital assistant - Cortana.
It’s about taking the power of human language and apply it to all of our computing. And enhance that computing with intelligence made available via Microsoft’s Cognitive Services which provide everything from computer vision, to text analysis speech recognition and the entire power of Bing. And once you have all that, you can deploy and integrate it in the most natural and easily accessible way possible - in Facebook Messenger, in Skype, in Slack, on a web page or even as SMS. This is the power of the Conversations platform and it can be a game changer.
I encourage all of you to spend some time and review the keynotes for the information that might interest you. You can find the recordings here: keynote 1 and keynote 2 - annotated and with time markers for each of the sections of the presentation for easy navigation.