Every year, Windows developers and Microsoft enthusiasts get together at the Moscone Center in San Francisco to get a sneak peak of Microsoft’s upcoming announcements at Build. This week, Microsoft announced a ton of things at Build 2016. In case you didn’t get a chance to keep an eye on all the news, here is a recap of everything Microsoft announced at Build 2016.
Windows 10 Anniversary Update
At Build 2016, Microsoft announced the next major update for Windows 10: the Anniversary Update. With the upcoming update, Microsoft will be introducing a lot of new features, and some new UI improvements. At the Build 2016 keynote, Microsoft went over a few things that are coming with the Anniversary Update, which is expected to arrive this Summer as a free upgrade to existing Windows 10 users.
With the Anniversary Update, Microsoft is introducing a new inking experience which the company is calling the Windows Ink experience. Windows Ink will change how users take notes and designers sketch in their PC. In the Anniversary Update, there will be an Ink Workspace which will allow you to open up Sticky Notes, Screen Sketch and there is also a Sketchpad. The update also improves the Sticky Notes with Cortana integration — for example, when you take notes like “Ask Terry about Interactive Tiles on Friday,” Cortana will pop up and allow you to save that reminder to Cortana so that you don’t miss the reminder even if you are on your phone.
The Windows Ink experience will also be integrated into Windows Maps with the Anniversary Update. You will be able to get travel information about a journey just by drawing the start and end point with a stylus via the Windows Ink experience in the Anniversary Update. Moreover, Microsoft is also including a digital ruler which could radically change how designers use their Surface or Windows 10 PC to design new ideas.
Microsoft is also bringing Windows Hello integration to Windows 10 Universal Apps and Microsoft Edge with the Anniversary Update. With the new features, Windows app developers will be able to integrate the authentication systems in their apps into Windows Hello, allowing users to login very easily with their face or fingerprint. In addition to this, Windows Hello will also be coming to websites in Microsoft Edge with the Anniversary Update. Of course, websites will need to add support for Windows Hello so that users can login with their face or fingerprint inside Edge — however, this is, indeed, a very nice feature which I am definitely looking forward to using in the Anniversary Update.
With the Anniversary Update, Microsoft is also delivering some updates to Cortana. In the Anniversary Update, users will be able to use Cortana on their lock screen. Additionally, Cortana will also pick-up some new UI improvements and the ability to make proactive suggestions. Of course, Cortana will also integrate with the Windows Ink experience which is also quite nice. The personal assistant should also pick up some other improvements which Microsoft will reveal later on. The Anniversary Update will also introduce a tonne of new features for Windows 10 Mobile, including the ability to remotely run Win32 apps on Continuum for phones (via Azure), notification syncing between PC and Mobile (Windows Phone and Android), as well as some other improvements.
As we stated, Windows 10 Anniversary Update will come to users as a free upgrade this Summer. Microsoft will allow Insiders to test out the upcoming features via the Windows Insider program before the update is released to the public, as per usual.
Bash is coming to Windows
Microsoft also announced a huge new feature for Windows 10 at Build 2015: native Bash support. At the keynote, Microsoft showed a live demo of native Bash running on Windows 10. As this is a native integration, Microsoft isn’t virtualization anything here — the company actually created a subsystem into the Windows kernel, which the company is calling the “Windows Subsystem for Linux”. To put it simply, Windows 10 will now come with Ubuntu UserMode which will allow developers to use things like Bash natively on Windows 10. Bash on Windows 10 includes all the features you would expect it to include, from things like SSH to the simpler stuff like apt-get will work simply in the Windows Command Line when you are using Bash. Bash is expected to come to Windows 10 with the Anniversary Update — which, again, is expected to arrive this Summer as a free update.
Xamarin goes free
Microsoft recently acquired Xamarin, a company that provides tools which allow developers to build cross-platform applications for Windows, Android, and iOS using C#. At Build 2016, Microsoft officially announced that the company is making Xamarin free for Visual Studio users. Xamarin will be available for free to Visual Studio Enterprise, Visual Studio Professional, and even the Visual Studio Community Edition users.
At Build 2016, Xamarin also announced that the company is bringing an iOS emulator in Windows which means developers will no longer have to buy a Mac to test their iOS apps, which is quite huge. In addition to this, Xamarin announced that the company is making its core runtime open source, and launching Xamarin Studio for OS X.
Bots, Bots, and Bots
Microsoft introduced several new artificial intelligence bots at Build 2016. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella showed off the power of AI bots in the keynote, calling it the next big thing. The software giant revealed several bots at the keynote, and all of these bots have different tasks. Some of these bots allow users to discuss and chat about different things like they can do with Tay. In addition to this, Microsoft also revealed a few bots which will tap into Skype, and help users to schedule deliveries, book hotels, or perform similar tasks. Moreover, the company also showed off an AI bot which uses your smartphone’s camera to see and sense what is around a visually impaired user — for example, it is able to describe facial expressions.
Microsoft launched a new service called the Bot Framework at Build 2016, which will allow developers to build their own bots using the APIs provided by Microsoft. With the Bot Framework, developers can apparently bring new dimensions to Skype chat and experiences.
Xbox One to get Cortana, Windows 10 apps
Microsoft also talked quite a lot about the Xbox One at Build 2016. At the keynote, Microsoft announced that the Xbox One will also be getting the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which will introduce a few new features. The Anniversary Update will bring Cortana to the Xbox One — the personal assistant will notify you about new challenges and games on your Xbox One. You should also be able to do things like setting a reminder, get the latest news and similar tasks on Cortana for the Xbox One.
Additionally, Microsoft revealed that the company is launching a unified Windows and Xbox Store with the Anniversary Update for the Xbox One. In the Anniversary Update, the Xbox One will be able to run Universal Windows Apps from the Store. In the unified Store, users will be able to buy the Xbox games, and also be able to get Universal Windows Apps. In addition to this, the Anniversary Update of Windows 10 for the Xbox One will also bring a new DevKit mode, and Microsoft will probably share more info about this at E3.
HoloLens, Azure, and more
Microsoft had two keynotes at Build 2016 and the company announced a tonne of things for its other products such as the HoloLens, Azure, and Office. So, here are some of the other notable announcements Build 2016:
- Windows 10 now powering 270 million active installations
- Notification syncing and Universal Dismiss between Windows 10 PCs and Windows 10 Mobile and Android devices coming soon
- HoloLens now shipping to developers
- Desktop App Converter coming soon
- Office apps coming to the HoloLens
- Azure Functions Preview announced
- Xbox One Controller support for Continuum for phones
- Updates for Microsoft Edge
- Skype gets 300 million active users
- Universal Windows Platform to get G-Sync and FreeSync support
As I stated, Build 2016 had a lot of announcements, and if you want to catch-up on all the news, check out our Build 2016 news page here.
What do you think of the announcements from Build 2016? Discuss in the comment section below.