Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella took the stage at Build 2015 today and with a little help from his Microsoft colleagues made the strongest pitch yet for why all developers should build apps for Windows 10.
Build 2015 kicked off with a bang today as the three hour long keynote showcased Microsoft’s continued emphasis on empowering developers to build apps for any OS or device as well as how Windows 10 will fulfill the promise of a unified experience across devices.
Satya Nadella started the keynote with a description of his vision for Microsoft and the three areas of focus for the Build 2015 keynote which were Azure, Office, and Windows.
First up was Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform. Scott Guthrie provided some updated statistic for the adoption of Azure including the fact that Microsoft has Azure data centers in 19 regions around the globe, more than AWS and Google combined. Azure has 90 thousand new subscribers each month and hosts 50 Trillion objects in their cloud storage, and have passed 425 million tenants in their Azure Active Directory service. They’re also up to 3 million developers using the Visual Studio Online service to host their code and manage their development projects.
Docker Support in Visual Studio 2015
Docker containers are an important feature for Azure and the CEO of Docker Ben Golub came on stage with Azure CTO Mark Russinovich to show how Visual Studio 2015 will include the ability to publish an app directly to a container running on Windows or Linux servers. This support will also include remote debugging support.
Visual Studio Code
Crowd favorite Scott Hanselman took the stage to show off Visual Studio Code, a lightweight code editor with Intellisense, Peek, and Git support that runs in Windows, Linux, or OSX. The tool supports multiple languages and is available today.
New Azure SQL Features
Azure SQL announced new features including Transparent Data Encryption and Full Text Search. Microsoft is also improving the efficiency of large scale DB implementations by creating what they are calling Elastic Database Pools. These pools allow developers to group SQL databases together to share resources. The user can specify minimum and maximum performance metrics to keep the DBs from monopolizing resources in the pool. This service should be available later this week. They also announced that they will be releasing new features on top of Elastic DB Pools including Elastic DB Queries and Elastic DB Jobs which perform actions on all DBs in the pool.
SQL Data Warehouse
In a direct effort to compete with Amazon’s Redshift cloud service, Microsoft showed off their new SQL Data Warehouse service that allows data import from any data source with visualization features provided by Power BI and data analytics provided by the Azure Machine Learning services. They also highlighted several key features that differentiate SQL Data Warehouse from Redshift including support for pause/resume, dynamically scale including automatic scale up, and hybrid deployment of on-premise and cloud based instances.
Data Lake Service
Microsoft also announced a new data service called Data Lake which is meant to be a holding place for large scale IoT data. It can store infinite amounts of data, is secured via standard enterprise security, and uses the Hadoop HDFS API to provide application level access to the data.
Office Universal Graph
The next of the three pillars didn’t get all that much air time but has the potential to be a powerful tool for developers. Microsoft announced a preview of Universal Graph API for Office 365. Using this API your apps can get access to all of the data contained in an organizations Office 365 service. The REST based APIs are easy to use and are the backbone for building apps using the new Office extension model that supports building apps for client and online versions of the Office tools.
Microsoft announced opening Skype to developers to reach the 1.5 billion Skype users via SDK.
The last of the focus points for the keynote was Windows 10. After reiterating that they would be releasing Windows 10 upgrades for free for the first year they further emphasized their desire to make the Windows ecosystem the most valuable environment for developers to sell their products with their intent to reach 1 billion Windows 10 devices. To reach this number, they are emphasizing moving existing apps from other platforms to Windows 10 as well as how Universal apps can address any device. They showed off a few of the new UI features intended to make apps more discoverable including Windows Spotlight features for the Lock Screen, Cortana enhancements, and start menu changes.
Windows Store for Business
Microsoft is pushing to win over enterprise developers by creating an extensible Windows Store for Business. This will allow organizations to publish their own apps to Windows 10 users as well as including publicly available apps from the app store.
Project Spartan browser got its official product name today as Microsoft Edge. Intended to blue the line between content consumption and creation, the browser is now front and center in the Windows 10 UI.
Windows 10 Web App Extensions
Microsoft showed how server based web apps could add extensions to provide Windows 10 features to their site, in effect turning them into Universal Apps. These features include notifications, live tiles, and in-app purchases via the Windows Store.
Windows Store for .NET and Win32 Apps
Microsoft announced that .NET and Win32 apps will be able to be sold through the Windows Store. One key difference is that when installed form the Windows Store they’ll actually run in isolated process using App-V technology. This is done to ensure that users can trust apps that they get from the Windows Store. For the demo, Microsoft showed how even Adobe Photoshop Elements can run seamlessly as a Windows Store app.
Android app execution on Windows 10
Windows 10 will include an Android subsystem that will allow Android C++/Java apps to run with “minor modifications” as Windows 10 apps. The extent of those modifications weren’t covered in this keynote, but I suspect we might see more on that tomorrow.
Visual Studio support for Objective-C
Perhaps the most amazing announcement of the day is that Visual Studio 2015 will support converting XCode based projects using Objective-C into Visual Studio projects and will compile the Objective-C into a Windows Universal app. They showed this working on a math tutor app but also highlighted that this was how King moved their Candy Crush project to Windows Phone.
Wow, that’s a lot of stuff. Tomorrow’s keynote will surely include other announcements as well so we’ll have more for you then! Check back soon!