Microsoft’s Build conference is one of their most important shows of the year, with a developer focused discussion that provides some guidance on the direction of Microsoft and its platforms. Over the last couple of years, the platforms have been some of the bigger talking points as well, with Microsoft diversifying across new technologies and markets to try and stay ahead of the curve. Microsoft has predominantly been a platform company over the years, and it’s a rare product they release that doesn’t end up as a platform of some kind. Over the years, the focus on some platforms has had to adjust in order to keep up with the times, and that’s not always an easy goal to accomplish when your original platform, Windows, has been so successful since its inception.

Microsoft had quite a bit of forward leaning news to announce at Build, which we will go over to shed some light on where the company is heading. The company has changed course with their mobile platform never gaining the traction they hoped, and although they have been very successful building out their cloud platforms, for many it’s the consumer facing products that are the most interesting.

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

Possibly some of the biggest news about Windows actually got announced on April 20, when Microsoft committed to biannual updates for their operating system. This was a welcome announcement, and while some people would argue that it is still too often, when such a large portion of their install base is business, the almost random update interval that came with Windows 10 was unsustainable. IT needs a chance to schedule testing and deployment, and when you have randomly scheduled semi-major updates to the OS, that can be a burden. Having it set in stone for spring and fall should be a much more manageable process, especially since Windows Update for Business will allow them to defer if necessary.

The first big news was a name for the next update to Windows 10, which Microsoft is calling the Fall Creators Update. Perhaps that means the Creators Update should be prefixed with Spring, but the release date and announcement was not unexpected. After the Creators Update arrived with less major changes, and more smaller updates, perhaps there was an expectation that Windows 10 would move to more smaller updates, but the Fall Creators Update looks to be packed with new features.

With the Fall update, Microsoft is looking to refresh the experience again. They are introducing a new experience called Fluent Design, and it appears to be a solid overhaul of the design language for Windows.

Microsoft is also looking to branch out beyond their platform in new ways, with a big push for Cortana and the Microsoft Graph to enable portable experiences across platforms. It’s a smart play when you consider what happened with mobile, and all powered by the cloud.

The Windows Store got a lot of attention, and arguably it’s the part of Windows 10 that needs the most work, especially with the announcement of Windows 10 S where only Store apps will be able to be installed. The Desktop Bridge for Windows has some interesting new customers, and UWP got a lot more API support.

The big surprise at last year’s Build conference was arguable the introduction of the Windows Subsystem for Linux, and that got some more discussion at this conference as well. That, coupled with the new development tools, makes Windows a powerful development platform for much more than just Windows.

As always, it was a busy conference, with plenty of announcements. It’s always exciting to see where the different tech companies try to move the industry, and in what they prioritize in any given year, so let’s dig into the Build conference.

Fluent Design
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  • name99 - Saturday, May 20, 2017 - link

    "Fluent Design is not going to be just a Fall Creators Update feature either. This is just the first wave of an overhaul which will be ongoing for some time."
    So that's code for "Don't expect Fall Creators (or any subsequent) release to have a fully consistent UI before we change it yet again"?
  • Meteor2 - Saturday, May 20, 2017 - link

    Lol :-)
  • Gigaplex - Tuesday, May 23, 2017 - link

    Pretty much. I don't think I've ever used a version of Windows that had a fully consistent UI, and it only gets worse with each new release.
  • mkozakewich - Tuesday, May 23, 2017 - link

    You can still find parts here and there with Windows 3.1 dialog boxes.
  • Bullwinkle J Moose - Saturday, May 20, 2017 - link

    "Can't tell if you're being sarcastic here...

    If end user control of security is such a big concern for you, why stick with Windows XP and not just run a Linux distro which seems to be exactly what you want. Sticking to an old OS because you want to stay in control doesn't make sense when there are plenty of modern alternatives where you're still in control, they're just not Windows."
    Because End User Control of security is a Big Concern for me and I CAN control the security on XP but not on Spyware Platform 7 / 8 or 10

    I use Linux Live when it's needed but I also need Windows for running whatever Windows Software "I CHOOSE", not what Microsoft chooses for me
  • Bullwinkle J Moose - Saturday, May 20, 2017 - link

    "Do you still live in 1997?"

    Do you still live in 1984?
  • Eiffel - Saturday, May 20, 2017 - link

    The half hearted support for HDR and wide gamut is really disappointing, and a reason for people to use OSX. I just don't understand why the desktop and the most Microsoft application have not already been made ICC profile aware, when the company is selling some wide gamut displays which highlight this shortcoming.
  • III-V - Saturday, May 20, 2017 - link

    "What To Expect When You're Expecting Windows"

  • drajitshnew - Saturday, May 20, 2017 - link

    Are you aware of any laptop lcd panels that are adobeRGB and 10 bit.
    I've search for 15" and above but could not find any. I believe for a large gamut display to display sRGB without posterisation it should be either true 10 bit or pseudo 10 bit (8 bit with with frc).
    In any case, is there any consumer GPU with true 10 bit output.
  • Brett Howse - Saturday, May 20, 2017 - link

    Not aware of any and AMD and Nvidia force you to use workstation class GPUs to enable 10-bit

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