(Microsoft) Build-ing a Recap

Apr 26, 2016

Phew. Another Build come and gone. One of the biggest events for geeks from all over to come together and hear Microsoft people discuss Microsoft things. As I learned last year, it’s a whirlwind. The days blur together, especially when attendees are going from about 8:00am until 6:30pm, and then attending the Microsoft parties afterwards if you so choose to. But all in all, it’s great place for Developers to learn hands on about all of the new features, more about certain areas, or even check out something you knew nothing about.


One of the most exciting and biggest announcements was about Microsoft’s recent acquisition Xamarin. Most anyone who has designed a Cross Platform mobile app has heard of Xamarin (and if you haven’t you should go look them up here), for the .Net Developers it means coding iOS devices with C#. Microsoft announced that now, Xamarin comes FREE with Visual Studio! And not just the enterprise edition, Visual Studio Communities too, which you can download for free! Very exciting for mobile developers. And did I mention… FREE!

And then there was the HoloLens. Something that I personally was very excited to finally see. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s Microsoft’s attempt at “Virtual” Reality, though in actuality, its Augmented Reality, which means it has the ability to use your environment and human gestures. Last year at Build, they teased with keynote demos, but this year they had numerous actual demos, called Destination Mars (with help from NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratories) for attendees who were lucky enough to get tickets to try it out.


I was fortunate enough to receive such a ticket, so now, sit back, and let me take youon a journey to Mars. Me and seven others, were each fitted with a HoloLens: imagine a visor with big clear googles. We were then directed to adjust the visor until this 3 dimensional red plant was in the center of our vision, and once that was all set, we stepped into a small room. Everywhere you looked was as if you were on the surface of the red planet. We saw and listened to holographic Buzz Aldrin and the Curiosity Rover. And then, after our exploration, we came back to Earth (meaning we walked through a door and removed the HoloLens).


While this was very cool, the demo itself didn’t feel like a great fit for the HoloLens. For this demo, I wanted to be fully immersed in the Martian environment. Plus, what really sets the HoloLens apart from other VR sets, is that fact that it’s augmented and contorts or uses the Environment around you. At the very least, you could make hand gestures and get stuff to move or change and this demo lacked those features. So while it was still very cool, I left wanting more.


And there you have my brief, maybe not so brief, recap of Microsoft Build. Thanks San Francisco.

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