Perpetual release cycles. Windows 8.1. The unified Windows ecosystem. If there are any key takeaways to remember from Microsoft's cornerstone keynote at the Build 2013 conference, these three items would sum it up quite well. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer reminded thousands of developers on stage last week that the company isn't getting left in the dust and it has a solid plan going forward.
While most of the tech world was keenly focused solely on Build 2013 as the gateway to the first official peek at Windows 8.1, Ballmer's keynote had a few other important messages to deliver. The Windows update, formerly known as "Blue", may have stole the show but Microsoft had a grander agenda to piggyback at the developer conference.
On Wednesday, right after the start of the Build 2013 developer conference, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that the Windows 8.1 preview is now available to download.
Early adopters can install the test build only by upgrading from Windows 8. Similar to Modern UI apps, the preview, which comes in at 2.44 GB, is installed though the Store. The software giant revealed that ISO files will also be offered, tomorrow, for those who wish to perform a clean install. Here's what you can expect from Windows 8.1.
That's the word late today from Microsoft. The next version of Windows will be available, as a preview, during Microsoft's BUILD developer conference June 27-29 in San Francisco.
To ship this year, as the company plans, the preview would need to be brief, with release to manufacturing ideally coming by end of August latest. PC makers generally need four to six weeks of testing before qualifying final images. That makes the timetable tight to get Windows Blue on holiday 2013 PCs.
You probably already know that Microsoft is bringing its BUILD conference to San Francisco this June. It's not cheap, the tickets and airfare could set you back considerably depending on where you are coming from, but it may be worth the expense to make the trip. Microsoft has promised to unveil Windows Blue there -- though you're likely to have seen the early leaked version already.
Today is the time to get your credit card ready because registration goes live at 9 AM PT and while it will not be easy on your wallet, those who register early, as in within the first 500, will get a discounted rate and only have their bank accounts lightened by $1,595. If you do not make that "early bird" special then you can expect to pay $2,095 for the privilege of travelling to the Moscone Center in San Francisco.
Suddenly San Francisco is the hot developer ticket of the year. Say, can I just rent a room in your house for May and June? Today, Microsoft announced that BUILD 2013 will take place from June 26-28 at the Moscone Center in the city on the bay. Google will be there, same city and venue, with I/O from May 15-17. Apple usually holds its developer conference there in early June but hasn't announced. Big Three trio would be a helluva travel schedule for anyone flying in from anywhere else, particularly outside North America. Choose your event(s) wisely.
I just have to ask: Did Microsoft bump Google? Last year, I/O moved from its more typical May schedule to late June -- 27th-29th. Did Steve Ballmer and Company book early and lock in the dates? I don't really care, and it's not news, but speculation is delicious given the rivalry between these two companies.
Microsoft's BUILD 2012 conference began October 30th and ran through yesterday, November 2nd. While the event is mainly for developers and IT professionals, there is always some exciting news trickling out that matters to the end-user. This year we saw a lot of news surrounding the company's Azure cloud platform, as well as Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Microsoft even held a "Hackathon" with prizes for developers present at the show.
In all, this was one of the more exciting and busier developer conferences that Microsoft has held in years. Perhaps that was due to the newly designed operating system that breaks the mold set way back with Windows 95 and the new ethos that everything should be capable of moving to the cloud. So, what did we learn?
Today, Microsoft kicked off its second BUILD. Last year's event replaced the Professional Developers Conference. This year marks a change in venue, from Los Angeles to Redmond, Wash. and comes amid, rather than before, a flurry of new Microsoft products. Windows 8 launched October 26, Windows Phone 8 yesterday and Office 2013 is released to manufacturing and available to developers and corporate customers. There's Windows Server 2012 and more either out the pipeline or coming down it.
Microsoft is determined to woo developers to its new stuff and accompanying platform changes. During today's Day 1 keynote, attendees learned about the schwag: Surface RT 32GB and Nokia Lumia 920 smartphone. Consider them tools of the trade, for creating and testing new applications. Microsoft also slashed developers' fee for Windows Phone to $8 from $99. That is for just eight days.
Mary-Jo Foley's article about a slide shown at last year's Microsoft BUILD conference raises uncertainties that bug me as a developer. It's the graphic that attempts to lay out the architecture of Windows 8, particularly in relation to Metro versus the Desktop. As a long-time Windows API programmer, I regard this graphic as the most important yet about Windows 8. Something doesn't seem right!
Somehow all the different interpretations of this chart don't make sense to me. Something's not right, especially the position the Win32 API is given. So I decided to do some digging to see if I could uncover what is really going on under the hood.
"We still have a long ways to go with Windows 8", Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told BUILD developer conference attendees today. "We've got a lot of work to do". But the work is off to a good start, as he announced 500,000 downloads of the developer preview released last night at 11 p.m. ET.
Yesterday, Steven Sinofsky, Windows & Windows Live president, described the "re-imaging" of Windows. Today, Ballmer went further, calling the strategy bigger -- the re-imaging of Microsoft. "We're all in. We're retooling all that we do" around all Microsoft's platforms.
Today, Microsoft dropped the other ball during the second big BUILD developer conference keynote. The company is releasing Visual Studio 11 Developer Preview and Windows Server 8 Developer Preview. The software will be available for MSDN subscribers.
Yesterday, Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows & Windows Live division, formally unveiled Windows 8, which is available in a developer preview you can download now. Today, Jason Zander, vice president for the Visual Studio team, connected the dots to developing apps supporting Azure services also connected to Windows Phone 7.5. He created the Windows 8 Metro-style game pictured above.
Don't laugh. I'm quite serious.
Yesterday during the Day 1 BUILD developer conference keynote, Steven Sinofsky delivered one of the most inspiring new Windows introductions ever. He was energetic and engaging. He honed in on key product benefits -- and that's tough to do with Windows because of the breadth of supporting third-party products and connection to Microsoft stuff like Windows Phone 7.5 or Live services. He spoke aspirationally and convincingly about Windows 8's benefits to developers and their customers. Apple Chairman Steve Jobs couldn't have done better. Whereas, Jobs casts the so-called "reality distortion field", Sinofsky brought reality into focus.
Microsoft is handing out 5,000 Samsung-manufactured tablets running Windows 8 Developer Preview here at BUILD, the company's developer conference. I spent some quality time with one this afternoon. While my overall impressions are good, I must say that Windows 8 demos better than using it. Perhaps I'd feel differently having used the Windows 8 slate for a longer time.
Earlier today, Steven Sinofsky, Windows & Windows Live president, and several top lieutenants gave one of the best operating system demos ever. Not even Apple CEO Steve Jobs, in younger and healthier days, could have evoked such energy and enthusiasm as Sinofsky did today. It was infectious and aspirational in all the right ways.
Beginning at 8:00pm Pacific Time (3am GMT), Microsoft is making the first Developer Preview of Windows 8 available for download at the new Windows Developer Center (http://dev.windows.com) for anybody with a Windows Live ID to download.
This preview won't yet support ARM machines, but will be available in both 32-bit and 64-bit variants for x86 machines. It will also be available with the new Visual Studio and Expression tools on it, or just as the bare .iso that has only the sample applications on it.
The 5,000 Samsung tablets that Microsoft is giving out to developers today at the BUILD conference will be the first items to include the third platform preview of Internet Explorer 10.
Steven Sinofsky, President of the Windows Division at Microsoft, showed off the fact that this preview will include both the traditional desktop IE10 view and a Metro UI interface. This included a demonstration on a Touch-based IE test drive site, which unfortunately was running from the demo tablet's C: drive rather than from the live Web, so we don't yet have the ability to preview the test site Sinofsky was showing during his keynote.
In his Keynote opening the Build developers conference, President of Microsoft's Windows Division Steven Sinofsky touched on some updated facts on the still-relatively-young Windows 7 before diving into the demonstration of the next-generation Windows 8.
-Sales of Windows 7 is approaching 450 million copies.
-Windows 7 consumer usage is now greater than Windows XP.
-1,502 non-security product code changes have been delivered.
-Internet Explorer 9 is "the fastest-growing Windows 7 browser."
-542 million people using Windows Live services every month.