Microsoft has announced the details of this year’s Build developer conference. It’ll run from May 7th to 9th in Seattle, Washington. The conference is now in its 7th year and continues to attract more than 15,000 attendees from across the globe.
As Microsoft’s focus changes to set and follow industry trends, each year developers wonder what direction Microsoft will push at Build. The lineup of sessions, keynotes and training sessions released prior to the event typically gives a good insight into the major themes for the company. While we wait for those details, what we do have is a video from Microsoft to announce the date and location. In that video (below) we can derive a number of key trends that we’ll see at Build 2018.
Voiced by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, in the video he says,
AI is everywhere
Microsoft is pushing hard in this space, powered by their Azure cloud infrastructure, Microsoft want those developing AI solutions to think about Microsoft services first. Given the opportunity to make a real change to almost every facet of business and society it’ll be interesting to learn what’s new from Microsoft to keep developers engaged on their platform, compared to Google, Amazon, IBM and Apple.
Having been through a number of marketing slogans, the latest one is Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge, which essentially boils down to the edge being connected devices (which thanks to IoT is growing rapidly), while the cloud (Azure) is the network on which they talk to each other.
As we march towards the launch of 5G networks around the globe, these connected device opportunities grow dramatically. The number of live updating data points possible on high-speed mobile infrastructure like 5G means companies can drive real efficiencies in their business, enabled by developers creating solutions to combine, analyse and present this data in a meaningful way.
Naturally, the video features Microsoft’s on Augmented Reality solution HoloLens, but if Microsoft really wants to get developers excited about their Mixed Reality play in Windows 10, they’ll need something new, HoloLens 2 perhaps? The race is on here with Oculus, HTC, Sony, Magic Leap all creating competing platforms. The first HoloLens was announced in 2015, 3 years on from that, the device hasn’t changed and in the technology industry, that’s a lifetime. They need to refresh this product, fix the field of view issues and get to a price point for mass-market adoption.
Microsoft’s other Mixed Reality play is the 3rd party headsets which really seem dead in the water. I don’t see evidence these are being adopted in any meaningful numbers. If this is to survive as a platform Microsoft continues to invest in, Build needs to be the event where serious iterations and product announcements with partners occur. Right now it’s unclear why anyone would build for Windows Mixed Reality, there are just more users, more dollars to be made by building for the big 2, Oculus and Vive. Anything AR seems to be landing on mobile experiences and Microsoft phone market exit really means its a space owned by Google and Apple.
Expect plenty of information about Office and Exchange 2019, SharePoint 2019 and definitely further details on the Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams transition. It’d be great to see Microsoft expand the functionality of services like Forms and Flow to power new business experiences, still lacking compared to the features available in the now discontinued InfoPath.
There may be pockets of Xbox here and there, but with Cortana no longer having a play there (thanks to the death of Kinect) the Xbox team seem to be much more interested in building out the gaming experience than further investments in the awkward UWP apps, despite getting past the switch to run on Windows 10 infrastructure.
Overall Microsoft is a massive company with a lot of focus areas, make no mistake about it, the company makes its money in Azure and wants as many developers to build on their cloud as possible. Unlike Google who takes their money from their primary business and deploys that capital in other weird and wacky areas, Microsoft is increasingly investing in areas that create business groups that drive more users to the cloud.
Registrations for Build 2018 open this week at 9:00 AM PST February 15, 2018, of Friday 16th Feb at 4am AEDT(UTC+11).
For more information, head to www.microsoft.com/en-us/build