All the Important Stuff Microsoft Announced at Build 2015 Today
Today, Microsoft held its (mostly boring!) developer keynote at Build 2015. If you're not a developer, your eyes might gloss over during the presentation, but there are still some cool features normal users might find interesting. Here's the best of what they announced.
Cortana Will Bring Powerful Voice Commands to Your Desktop
We've talked about how Cortana will come to Windows 10, but the demos keep getting better. Today, Microsoft showed off how to launch applications or perform actions with natural language commands. For example: Cortana can not only open the Viber app, but send a message directly, without opening the app at all. Microsoft aims to make Cortana a key way to interact with apps without having to launch them.
Microsoft Edge Is an Awesome Browser (That Replaces Internet Explorer)
We've seen bits and pieces of Microsoft's new browser (previously called Project Spartan), but now the browser is starting to take shape. Microsoft Edge will be the default browser with Windows 10. It includes support for extensions, which developers can easily port from their Chrome counterparts, meaning it'll likely have a much better extension library out of the gate. It also has deep Cortana integration, so you can conduct searches and add info to your Cortana profile more seamlessly. It also includes a built-in note-taking mode, so you can save and annotate web pages, plus a reading mode that strips away all of the extraneous crap so you can read just the text
Microsoft Office Will Have Third-Party Plugins That Work Across Platforms
Microsoft Office has had plugins for a while. Today, though, Microsoft showed off plugins for the Office suite that work across all of their platforms. For example, the company demonstrated how you could request an Uber from Outlook and pick it up on your phone (even an iPhone) to see when your car would arrive, or check LinkedIn profiles from Outlook (a la Rapportive) without leaving the app. The plugins work across platforms, so when you open up Outlook on the web, or even your tablet, the same plugins you used on the desktop will work there as well.
Developers Can Easily Port Android or iOS Apps to Windows
Microsoft's Windows Store has had problems gaining apps because developers don't want to rewrite their apps several times. The company announced developer tools that will make it easy to re-use code from Android or iOS apps to make Windows applications. That may sound boring, but that means you can expect to see more Windows versions of existing iOS and Android apps, meaning the Windows Store won't seem so sparse.
Continuum Will Bridge the Gaps Between All Your Windows Devices
Microsoft has been pushing Universal Apps pretty heavily. Developers will be able to write apps for Windows on the desktop, and the same software will work on Windows phones or tablets. Continuum will allow those apps to adapt to different screens on the fly and content can be synced or pushed between devices. This means that, if you're using multiple Windows devices, you can maintain a consistent experience, much like Continuity does in OS X. They even demonstrated a phone being plugged into a monitor, keyboard, and mouse which functions much like a desktop. No new apps were needed. The phone apps inherently scaled to the roomier interface.
Desktop Apps from the Windows Store Will Be Sandboxed to Keep Your System Clean
One of the biggest problems with Windows programs is that .NET and Win32 apps have always been allowed to change a lot of stuff on your machine, which they can leave without cleaning up. They're also some of the most prone to security issues and vulnerabilities, which can wreak havoc on your machine when exploited. With the new Windows Store being used across all Windows devices, those apps will be downloaded in a sandbox that will prevent it from polluting your system.
The Windows Store Will Support Carrier Billing On All Platforms
Carrier billing allows you to charge your cell carrier for purchases you make on your phone. This allows you to circumvent the need for a debit/credit card, which is particularly handy in developing markets or for people without credit. Microsoft will support this in the Windows Store, but notably, this will include the desktop as well as phones.
Visual Studio Will Come to OS X and Linux For the First Time, for Free
Microsoft's Visual Studio suite has been a mainstay of Windows app development for a long time. Today, though, the company announced that they would bring Visual Studio Code—a smaller, but still robust version of Visual Studio—to OS X and Linux users for the first time. The app will be available for free across all platforms its available on.
Don't forget that Windows 10 is still in Technical Preview right now. If you want to try it out on your machine, you can follow our guide here to enter the Microsoft Insider Program and download the newest version of Windows.
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