Why Build 2016 Matters, And Not Just for Microsoft Fans

Courtesy of The Verge

A lot took place at this year’s Microsoft Build conference, so we chose the Top 5 features we thought were most relevant to the enterprise, especially developers, Microsoft fans, and Apple users alike. 

1. Microsoft is Now Multi-Platform and Developer Friendly

With Microsoft’s latest acquisition of Xamarin, Microsoft is taking a serious approach at becoming both multi-platform and developer friendly. Using Xamarin, developers now have the ability to build native apps on modern operating systems like iOS, Android, and Windows, all from a shared C# codebase. It was announced at the conference that Xamarin will now be included free with all versions of Visual Studio, as well as in the community version of OS X. Get it here.

Moreover, Windows is crazy about Linux! With the Windows 10 anniversary release, the Windows console will add new support for the native Bash Linux binary running on Windows itself, running an Ubuntu image on top of Windows and without the use of virtual machines. While Bash is a welcome feature for Windows developers, Azure is continuing to add support for Linux distributions with Redhat leading the charge.

2. Universal Windows Platform

The headliner of Day 1 was the Universal Windows Platform. It was clear during Build 2016 that Microsoft is investing heavily in migrating W32-based applications to the modern storefront of Windows. By migrating to a universal application, developers can now create feature rich applications without DLL hell or registry bloat. It will also promote automatic/silent updates and application code will run as user rights instead of administrative rights. For those contemplating to switch to Universal Windows apps, Microsoft has created a desktop converter that will turn most existing Win32 applications into a modern APPX application to publish to the public Windows storefront or your own line of business portal.

3. Microsoft Productivity Applications

Microsoft is providing developers new capabilities with the Graph API to build smarter enterprise apps, using data and insights from Office 365. Using Microsoft Graph, IT admins can now customize “relevant documents,” suggestions for meeting times, and more based on a user’s real-time calendar availability. Moreover, customized add-ins are now available to Office such as a Starbucks add-in that will allow people to schedule business appointments at the nearest Starbucks via Outlook. These add-ins are primarily based off of web applications, meaning this will be available across all of the platforms that Office supports i.e. OSX, Windows, iOS, and Android.

For many IT admins, patching applications and updates are a serious concern. With Office 365, Microsoft has provided administrators the ability to add their own enterprise add-ins to the productivity suite, without the hassle of having to manually deploy these new add-ins to thousands of their devices. Enterprise add-ins can now be pushed from the Office 365 administration console rather than going through the arduous task of redeploying your applications.

4. Conversations are the New Applications

Cortana, Microsoft’s personal assistant who is also platform-friendly, made many appearances throughout Build 2016, demonstrating her ability to book you a night at the Westin or buy you lunch. Cortana, powered by both Azure and an ecosystem of AI bots, is Microsoft’s suggestive alternative to traditional applications. Microsoft is encouraging developers to turn to Cortana as a new platform to create bots for different services and as a new platform for communication. An example of this would be using Cortana to access and interact with all your travel arrangements instead of having multiple airlines’ applications on your device. 

Microsoft believes that applications are not the most efficient way to use a small form factor device. Through the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence, Microsoft is investing in conversations as the future, not applications. With the large computing platform of Azure for machine learning and Bing data, Microsoft is leading the charge for conversations as a platform.

5. Microsoft's Cloud Approach to IoT

The Windows 10 IoT Core had a large footprint at build 2016 with many hands on labs and coding presentations. Windows 10 IoT Core is compatible with many of the leading chipsets such as Raspberry Pi, Intel, and Qualcomm. On top of expanding support, Microsoft provided developers with Azure IoT Starter Kits to help developers build IoT prototypes and get started with azure certified devices to connect the Azure IoT hub.

Scale and extensibility of the Azure cloud was a recurring message at build. Millions of things will need a management platform that scales with their business need. Microsoft’s Azure IoT Suite provides enterprises the ability to connect, collect, and control millions of things to the cloud. Microsoft wants businesses to use Azure to collect data to further analyze large data sets and integrate with other Azure services.

With Build 2016 at a close, it is clear that Microsoft is laser focused on meeting the needs of developers, Apple users, and of course its own fans in the coming future.

Rich Festante

Technical Marketing Engineer at MobileIron