What to expect from Microsoft’s Build 2017 conference

Microsoft’s annual developer conference starts today. The software giant’s developer conference usually goes down in San Fransisco, but this time it’s happening near its HQ in Seattle. Build 2017 is one of the biggest events for Microsoft this year and this month (there are three Microsoft events this month). Build is where Microsoft usually reveals what’s next for Windows 10, Azure, Office, and some of its other products. In fact, Microsoft will have two keynotes as per usual: one of which will focus on Windows and some of the other consumer-focused products, while the other will focus on Azure and other enterprise and developer-focused products. But what exactly is Microsoft going to announce at Build 2017? Here’s what we’re expecting:

Windows 10

Windows 10 will be the main big thing to look forward to at Build 2017 if you aren’t too interested in the Azure world. Microsoft is going to talk about what’s next for Windows 10 at the day 2 keynote, where the company is expected to reveal what’s coming to Windows 10 with the next major update later this year — codenamed “Redstone 3”.

Project NEON

Windows 10 Redstone 3 will, of course, introduce Project NEON. We gave you an exclusive first look at Project NEON back in January, and we already know a lot about Microsoft’s plans for NEON in Windows 10. In fact, the company has recently started testing elements of NEON in some of the Windows 10 apps with Windows Insiders. For those unfamiliar with NEON, it’s the next iteration for the Microsoft Design Language (MDL). Project NEON consists of blur (known as “Acrylic”) throughout the operating system, animations, and a lot of motion effects.

Project NEON will make Windows 10 look a lot prettier, but don’t expect it to show up across the whole operating system as Microsoft probably won’t bother bringing it to the classic desktop apps like the File Explorer or the Task Manager. With the Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft has already added some of the APIs for Project NEON that can be used by developers to integrate the new UI into their apps. Of course, none of the design guidelines are available yet, so it’s going to be difficult for developers and designers to start integrating NEON into their apps right now. But once Microsoft officially announces Project NEON at Build 2017 this week, these resources will likely start to be available.


Adaptive Cards

Apart from Project NEON, the Windows 10 Redstone 3 update is expected to include a lot of other things. Microsoft is rumored to be working on a new Tabbed Shell for Windows 10 that will add tabs to apps like the File Explorer, and allow third-party developers to integrate tabbed windows into their apps but it’s unlikely Microsoft will talk about it at this year’s Build.

More importantly, Microsoft is working on something new for Windows 10 called Adaptive Cards. There’s very little known about Adaptive Cards, but it could be a major new feature for Cortana in Windows 10 and some of Microsoft’s other platforms. We don’t know for sure what Adaptive Cards will be, but we’re assuming it will allow developers to build universal cards that look and work the same across all of its different services. Microsoft has an entire session dedicated to Adaptive Cards at Build 2017, and we’ll make sure to get more details on it from the session later this week.


Home Hub

Microsoft also has another major feature coming with Windows 10 Redstone 3 — and that’s Home Hub. Screenshots of Home Hub leaked just yesterday, and it’s going to change the way we use family PCs. Home Hub will essentially allow family members control their family calendar, to-do lists, and notes from one central hub. They will also be able to control their smart home devices like Hue bulbs, Nest’s thermostat or other smart home devices. Microsoft is working with its OEM partners to build new devices running Windows 10 Home Hub. It is likely we will get to know more about Home Hub at Build 2017, but Microsoft also has an event later this month and the company may reveal Home Hub at that event instead.


There are a lot of other stuff Microsoft will likely show off, but these are likely some of the biggest new features. For instance, the company may have some updates on the Universal Windows Platform or share its progress on bringing Windows 10 to ARM processors. We will have more details on everything that’s coming to Windows 10 later this week, so stay tuned for more on that front.


Mixed Reality

Mixed Reality is definitely one of Microsoft’s biggest projects right now. The company introduced brought Mixed Reality to Windows 10 PCs with the recent Windows 10 Creators Update, and at Build 2017, we expect the comapny to provide some updates on its future plans for Mixed Reality. It isn’t yet known what exactly Microsoft will talk about at Build 2017 when it comes to Mixed Reality — but our guess is that Microsoft will show off some new software-related capabilites of the HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality at the conference.


Windows Phone?

It is also possible we will get some updates on Windows Phone but don’t keep your hopes up just yet. Microsoft has been working on a new shell for Windows 10 called “CShell” for a while now and the company might detail it at Build 2017. CShell, for those unfamiliar, is a new adaptive shell for Windows 10 that’s meant to work across all devices — including Windows Phones, HoloLens, and PCs. As for Windows Phones, CShell will bring the full desktop-like experience to Continuum for phones, some of which Microsoft actually demoed at its enterprise-focused Ignite conferenced last year. By bringing the full desktop-like experience to Continuum for phones, Microsoft is going to make Continuum feel, look, and work exactly like how Windows 10 does on full-fledged PCs.


Bots, Bing, and Skype

Microsoft first detailed their plans for bots and the Bot Framework back at Build 2016, and it’s set to take things a step further this year. As we recently reported, Microsoft is working on bringing bots to Bing.com — the company will be using Skype to power the new bots in Bing. Bots on Bing.com will allow users to get intelligent answers from bots without needing to go to click on a search result.

Microsoft may also announce some major updates coming to its Bot Framework, so that might be a bit interesting too.


Apart from all the Windows 10 and consumer-focused things, Microsoft will obviously have a lot of announcements regarding Azure and Visual Studio/Xamarin. The company might also have some new A.I tech to show off at the conference, which is always very fascinating.

We will be covering Build 2017 live from Seattle — make sure to bookmark our dedicated event page for Build 2017 here and follow us on Twitter for all the latest updates.

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