I’m in San Francisco this week attending Microsoft Build 2015. This is the conference for Microsoft developers and the company is going all out. I have been coming to this conference for several years now and over the past years Microsoft fell in to a funk. First they missed the mobile boat and then made a fiasco out of Windows 8. The good news is that I see changes on the horizon and they are positive. This year I am impressed by how clear Microsoft’s message is and how connected the announcements are to the overall company messaging.
The new Microsoft message is focused on empowering a new personal computing era by offering developers the tools and services for all platforms. This is not only a new version of Windows, a new generation of the platform but a new way of being for Microsoft in that they are making a break from past predatory behavior. The new Microsoft is four major components:
- Azure – the platform of choice for developers and their cloud applications. The pace of innovation on Azure is unheard of in terms of offering over 500 new services in the last 12 months alone. Some of that is about catching up on AWS, and doing more than catching up – doing it better.
- Making Office a platform with a consistent experience on all platforms: Windows, Android, iOS. Microsoft has created a way for developers to access and enhance the office experience. Office Delve is more or less about to become the console of all office users, it’s where I believe we will see most of the vendors integrating their solutions, in addition to building add-ins. Office is about to become a lot more context sensitive, which is a great promise of increased productivity and compelling user experience.
- Windows 10 – leaving no code and applications behind by leveraging past investments, be it web apps or win32. Windows 10 is acknowledge the present too, and making itself relevant in the reality that apps are Android and iOS first, Microsoft is putting forward powerful tools to get Android and iOS apps running in windows 10 with minimal effort. Then the most exciting thing about windows 10 is the future with Hololens. This is a mixed reality experience that allows one to overlay holograms on the real world, and interact with the holograms. I went to the demo, and got the opportunity to experience Hololens first hand – it’s very impressive period. Hologens are the way the world is going. Like Hologens the keynote was well put together.
- Natural experiences & interactions. Microsoft is hard at work at making things seamless. Cortana as an assistant is powerful and it’s still early days. I use it every day to track my flight, set up alarms, and to proactively prompt me to take action based on patterns like places I go often. Another seamless is experience is Continuum – as the name calls it – it’s the continuity of the experience between interactions no matter the device, I just can pick up where I left off on a different device, and this is all done as part of the universal app framework.
I am very impressed with what I saw today, Microsoft is breaking away from the past, confronting the hard reality and making the difficult decisions. This is not a complacent Microsoft that was showing its’ stuff today, it’s about to get very interesting…again!