Last week I attended Microsoft’s Build conference at San-Francisco along with my colleagues. Build is Microsoft’s prime developer conference, and as such it is packed with technical content relating to software development on top of Microsoft’s various platforms – from Band, to Xbox, to PC to Azure. In this post I’ll try to summarize my key observations and feelings following my attendance.
The New Microsoft
This started already at the previous Build last year. Following Steven Sinofsky’s departure and the appointment of Satya Nadella as CEO, Microsoft has started being a more open company oriented towards its consumers and developers. One of the key changes brought by Mr. Nadella is the transition to an “open” company which hides very little and shares a lot of its intentions and announcements ahead of time – new announcements are being made all year round, and with a faster release cadence. Especially around Microsoft Azure, it has become quite hard to keep track with all that is going around. In contrast, the old Microsoft would have developed something for 3 years without any public hint, and only share the result in the end causing a big surprise but also probably a product which does not 100% match the developer needs.
As a result of this new openness, the amount of new ground breaking announcements at Build has decreased substantially, causing some people to be very disappointed by the lack of “news”. In my opinion, this is a small price to pay as the consequence of sharing early is early feedback which improves the overall quality of the result, and that is what matters in the end.
.NET Core 5 & Cross-Platform
Open Source & Cross-Platform are Microsoft’s new religion. .NET Core 5 is basically an open source, cross-platform re-implementation of the .NET server stack and is basically the next version of .NET. With .NET 4.6 arriving in parallel I am sure this going to cause some confusion (and head-aches) in the short run, but I believe that the ability to run the exact same code base on Linux & OS X machines and have a truly open source implementation which we can build by ourselves will be worth it in the long run.
.NET Core is currently a work in progress. If you haven’t already, check out .NET Core on GitHub. In addition, I encourage you to view the video on “Taking .NET Cross-Platform: Building .NET Applications on Linux and Mac” to understand more.
As the leading growth engine for Microsoft, Azure received a lot of attention during Build with some quite interesting announcements and sessions. As CodeValue’s Cloud Division Leader these sessions were at the heart of my interests, and I intend to write a separate post on these soon.
The Return of Win32 & .NET
With the release of Windows 8 and the appearance of the Windows Store, one of the key issues developers had with it was that only “Modern” applications utilizing the WinRT API could be added to the store. Existing Win32 & .NET (a.k.a. “Desktop” apps) could not be uploaded to the store, and along with other issues with Windows 8 the Windows Store was left quite out of developer focus.
Now, along with Windows 10 and the Universal Application Platform, Microsoft offers a way to run existing Win32 and .NET applications in a sand-boxed manner consistent with Windows Store Apps, thus allowing developers to utilize the store as a channel to distribute their current apps. I still have to play with the bits but this sure does sound promising. You can hear more here.
Android & iOS Apps in the Windows Store
As you can see in the slide above, Microsoft will now allow publishing Android & iOS applications to the windows store, and these applications will run on top of Windows just like standard Windows applications.
While this is a huge and bold move for Microsoft trying to break the vicious “No Users” -> “No Apps” -> “No Users” circle, the devil is in the details. It still remains to be seen how easily can existing apps be migrated to the Windows Store and how fluently will these run on the device. Another question that remains to be seen is just how well will Microsoft play catch-up with APIs it does not own or control with Google and Apple dictating the pace… Only time will tell.
Visual Studio Code
During the Day 1 keynote, Microsoft announced a new cross-platform code-optimized text editor named “Visual Studio Code”. While Visual Studio will remain the IDE of choice for Windows and .NET Developers, “Visual Studio Code” is intended as a free alternative to those who simply require a text editor and who usually work with tools such as Sublime, vi, Notepad++ etc. Visual Studio Code features syntax highlighting and IntelliSense for various languages, and you can download Visual Studio Code from here.
HoloLens is cool. HoloLens is very cool. The demo was SO cool (here, jump to 02:29:00). Unfortunately, only a few could try it out for themselves and there is more left hidden away than what is known…
CodeValue & OzCode FTW!!
CodeValue has some major firepower. Awesome firepower. Fifteen (15!!) of us attended Build this year and we had a blast together, because at CodeValue we’re not only good developers but good friends as well. This alone truly upgraded the entire Build experience for me.
And last but not least, at CodeValue we have our very own product which we are very proud of – OzCode, which is a debugging extension (and life saver) for Visual Studio. OzCode had its own booth at the Build showcase at the Visual Studio Partner showcase, and as we showed it of we got an amazing feedback from the audience. Feature after feature, people were amazed at just how OzCode makes debugging that much easier. If you still haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it. Go ahead and try Beta 2.0. Enjoyment guaranteed!