Microsoft is at the Moscone Centre in San Fransisco this week for the Build 2016 Conference.  The annual event has the company lay out its goals and plans for its software for the rest of the year.  Heres what to expect from the developer focused event.

READ MORE //  Watch Live: Microsoft’s Build Conference 2016

The Future of Windows at Build 2016

Windows 10

Windows 10 has been steadily getting better with fixes, patches and tweaks since it came out in July, but Microsoft has a lot more planned.  While the current version of Windows 10 haven’t really included many new features, we’re hoping – sorry, expecting – to see some nice additions at Build.

Windows 10 Start Menu
Microsoft is teasing that Windows 10 users will finally get “two highly requested surprises” in their live tiles.  Many hope this means interactive Live Tiles, making it easier to interact and respond to notifications.

Beyond the simple UI changes, Microsoft has been focusing heavily on Cortana, so we expect to hear a lot about changes to Cortana in Windows 10 and how we might see her get some more power across Windows, iOS and Android.

Microsoft has already revealed its new Skype App for W10, but it has yet to really debut.  Build 2016 seems like the ideal place to get at least an update on Skype and other apps.  Instagram and Facebook should be coming soon – it’s already been too long – and rumours have several more high-profile additions coming to the OS.  Microsoft has tweaked its Windows Apps for their work across PCs, Tablets and Phones – and even XBox, but we’re still waiting for the developers to come in.

If Apple taught the world anything, it’s that letting developers take the reins really make a platform what it is.

Windows Phone.

Ok, Windows Phone is having a tough time.  Microsoft launched the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL late in 2015.  As a result, sales of all Lumias dropped 57 percent.  Microsoft doesn’t have plans to produce large numbers of handsets in the future, so those numbers will only get worse.

Its pretty unclear what Microsoft is planning for its mobile arm, but if your going to layout your mobile goals for the future, Build conference is the place to do it.  Microsoft appears to be laser focused on cross-platforming across iOS and Android, but the ability to run the same, connect app on a PC and Phone is a huge selling point.  Again, ask Apple.

windows phone

NOT having a strong mobile arm leads to questions over the entire idea of Windows 10 Universality.  Developers will no doubt be waiting to hear more.

Xbox Apps:

We’ve been hoping, praying, dying for Windows 10 apps in our living room and Microsoft has been teasing them for over a year.  Its (hopefully) finally time that Microsoft will talk about new apps and an app store for Xbox.  If they talk about Apps on Xbox, expect there to be talk about being able to develop apps that work across PCs and Xbox One.  Its been a cornerstone of Microsoft’s strategy, and the company has been slowly carving out a process for developing, handling and approving apps for an App Store.

XBOx apps

Microsoft is/was planning to bring Windows 10 apps to Xbox One in the summer, so we should get some idea of what apps and games will be available in the next few months.  Microsoft is also rumours to be opening up Xbox Live to let Xbox One users play against PC and PS4 players.  The company COULD wait until E3 to provide more details, but we’re holding out hope the two might hear some more about additional titles that will be out in Summer and some that will get support for new cross-network play.

HoloLens.

Hololens is heading out to developers this week, so expect BUILD to focus on Hololens kits.  Build 2 016is Microsoft’s annals developer conference, so it’s always a good opportunity to show off impressive demos.  As we’re get closer to shipping actual product, its likely we’ll see some real live HoloLens Apps and games.

Minecraft on HoloLens
Minecraft on HoloLens
Microsoft Studio’s Sax Persson looks over his virtual Minecraft world at Xbox’s E3 event.

Microsoft let developers have a hands-on experience last year, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if they do something similar this year.  We’ve seen what the AR headset can do, but its time to see what developers can do with it.  This could be its greatest strength.

Microsoft Office and Cloud

Microsoft Azure Portal

The Build 2016 keynote is likely to be full of the word ‘Cloud’.  Expect lots of talk about Azure and how developers can use Microsoft’s clpou8d platform.  Developers will likely be looking to get details on tools and services being offered/improved and its a good bet Microsoft will devote a lot of keynote time to how great Azure is.

Wunderlist Microsoft Announcement

Over the past 365 days, Microsoft has acquired Sunrise and Wunderlist, saying their will integrated Sunrise with the calendar interface in Outlook mobile.  Theres no word on what the plan is for Wunderlist however, and Microsoft has also recently acquired both SwiftKey and Talko, the messaging app.  These acquisitions are interesting from a cross-platform point of view, but we’re still waiting to hear how or if Microsoft plans to make then interact with each other or its office apps in a big way.  Most of these apps could land on the office side of the company, so perhaps the Office team will have something interesting to show us:

One Last Thing.

Everyone loves a big surprise finale.  Last year, Hololens caught everyone by big surprise.  This year is expected to be quieter – how do you top Hololens?? – but we could see some surprises before the end of the keynote.  Microsoft’s Senior PM on Windows tweeted, and then quickly deleted, that new windows 10 features are going to make people “freak out ” Scott Hanselman tweeted, and then quickly deleted, that new features would “change everything”.

live_tiles_microsoft_1

We’ll have to wait and see if these features even make it to Build Keynote, and if they are as ‘game changing’ as bringing back the start menu was.

</Sarcasm>

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