Last month, I was brought forth to the City by the Bay to attend a conference conceived in a mutual interest in furthering technology–dedicated to the proposition that all Window’s devices should be able to run on a universal Operating System. To be fair, that wasn’t the sole dedication of the conference, but it was certainly one of the many highlights of the fifth annual Microsoft Build Conference.
It was my first time attending a developer’s conference, let alone one of this magnitude. Not really knowing what to expect, I filed into one of the overflow rooms in the Mascone Center and awaited the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, to begin the Keynote. When he walked out, it was a surreal moment–being able to listen and watch one of the most prominent and powerful people in the world of technology talk about the future of Microsoft and really technology as a whole. Here are just a few of the many highlights.
I’ll begin with Windows 10. It became clear that Microsoft agreed with most everyone that Windows 8 was, simply put, a hot mess. So, in an effort to perhaps distance themselves further from 8, they skipped 9 and moved on to Windows 10. It’s being released as a free upgrade for anyone currently using Windows 7 or 8 and looks and feels much more like the aforementioned OS. And not only did this Operating System, look and feel better then Windows 8 ever did, it is also being a truly universal (at least for Microsoft products) OS. Extending from phones, tablets, and Raspberry Pi 2’s, to laptops, Xbox, and Windows Holographic, as a developer it was exciting to see an app easily go from any of these platforms and with only having to add slightly more code. Truly incredible.
Keeping with the theme of Microsoft realizing the error in their ways, we also got the official name of Microsoft’s newest internet browser: Microsoft Edge. Yes, they are finally replacing Internet Explorer, a browser that brings fear into some developers with its idiosyncratic ways, with a new browser. A browser that looks to be comparable to Google Chrome, though I don’t really know all the technical specs for internet browsers, playing around with the browser felt like a very solid internet experience. Time will tell if it can compete with Chrome and Firefox.
Finally, I’ll mention the Hololens. This was probably the thing I was most excited to hear about. The future to me isn’t Flying Cars or Hover Boards. It’s Holograms. There were numerous demos that showcased what this exciting technology is capable of. My favorite demonstration was with a construction company’s app. They showed how you could seamless move from a phone, for pictures, to a laptop, to add new design components, then to a Xbox or TV just because you can; after that, you could move to Hololens to be able to actually walk around what you created on the other devices. It was a great demo that showed not only the power of the Hololens and just one of its innumerable uses, but also showed how easy it is to move from device to device with Windows 10. My only thing I was disappointed with it was the fact that we didn’t see more of it. So while we are still fairly far off from a holographic distress call intended for an old Jedi Knight, attached to an astromech droid, the Hololens definitely feel like a huge step in that direction, which the Star Wars nerd in me finds very exciting.
It was a magnificent trip, and while I could continue on about the plethora of information I obtained during the wonderful sessions throughout the week. I will stop here for now. And we should remember Windows 8 and Internet Explorer, and that we here highly resolve that this operating system and browser did not die in vain, and that a conference of developers, by developers, and for developers will continue to amaze and excite.