Microsoft returns to its roots

Anthony Caruana
4 May, 2015
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Last week, Microsoft’s most significant event for the year, the Build conference, took place.

While Microsoft, under the leadership of Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates was tied to the two-headed beast of Windows and Office, Satya Nadella has embarked on a rapid change process that is transforming Microsoft from a clumsy old 20th century dinosaur into a nimble 21st web and cloud ready company.

This year’s Build event was significant – not because lots of new products were announced but because of the nature of those products. Unlike the old days, Microsoft is embracing a multi-platform, cloud future. If you’ve been around the IT business you’d remember Microsoft as a software company that made programs for many platforms.

This year’s Build event signals a return to those roots.

Here’s a wrap up of the main announcements and news from the event.

Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday announced new features in Windows 10 and unveiled a set of software development kits (SDKs) to help developers bring their code for the Web, .NET, Win32, Android and iOS to Windows 10. At the company’s annual Build developer conference, Microsoft also announced new Microsoft Azure data services for intelligent applications; Visual Studio and .NET tools and runtimes for Windows, Mac and Linux; and APIs that enable developers to build rich apps with Office 365.

“Microsoft has bold ambitions for platforms that empower developers across Windows, Azure and Office,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “Together, we will create more personal and more intelligent experiences that empower billions of people to achieve more.”

Windows 10

Microsoft showed off several new Windows 10features including new capabilities to scale applications across devices to new ways for developers to build code for Windows 10. The Universal Windows Platform allows developers to tailor their apps to the unique capabilities of each device, integrate Cortana and Xbox Live into their apps, offer trusted commerce, create holograms, and publish their apps into the Windows Store. Also as part of the Universal Windows Platform, the company shared how apps can scale using Continuum for phones, enabling people to use their phones like PCs for productivity or entertainment.

Microsoft announced four new software development toolkits that will make it easy to bring their code for the Web, .NET, Win32, iOS and Android to the Windows Store with minimal code modifications. This will enable developers to start with an existing code base such as Android or iOS, integrate with the Universal Windows Platform capabilities, and then distribute their new application through the Windows Store.

New features for Microsoft’s new web browser and successor to Internet Explorer, Edge, were also unveiled.

Office gives developers opportunities to reach more users and build intelligent solutions

Microsoft introduced more ways for developers to reach 1.2 billion Office users, including the new Office Graph API, expanded add-in capabilities for the iPad and Outlook, and unified APIs. The Office Graph API allows customers and developers to access, add to and build with the Office Graph, an intelligent store of Office 365 user, service and relationship data.

Microsoft announced several integrations with GitHub, a aftware development management tool, to help extend the value of Microsoft’s developer tools and services to more developers. This includes GitHub Enterprise on Azure, Visual Studio Tools for GitHub, and GitHub integration with Bing Developer Assistant

Microsoft will also release two new open source tools, ManifoldJS and VorlonJS. ManifoldJS helps developers package their web experiences into native apps for Android, iOS and Windows stores. VorlonJS.com is a new, open source, extensible, browser-agnostic tool for remotely debugging JavaScript.

Microsoft also released the Microsoft Band SDK so developers can third party tiles using icons, text, buttons, barcodes and more for Microsoft’s entry into the very busy smartwatch/fitness band market.

Tapping into the Internet of Things trend, they also announced the availability of Windows 10 for IoT Core Insider Preview with support for Raspberry Pi 2 and a new partnership with Arduino on the Building Apps for Windows blog. This will allow Windows 10 to run on very low cost, highly customizable hardware.

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