Build 2016: Day 1 Highlights

buildBuild Conference 2016 is now in day 2. I’m at lunch and finally have a chance to write-up my thoughts about day 1.
Lots of cool new stuff coming down the pipe for developers – biometric identity, pen integration, Hololens, Cortana improvements, Xbox dev kit, and much more.
Windows Hello
This is Microsoft’s biometric identity framework. In Windows 10, you have the option to set up a fingerprint or iris scan identity. When you log on to your Surface, you’ll get access without providing a password. Pretty cool technology, something I feel like has been around for a while, but it’s still not widely used. During the keynote, they showed a demo of an application that has extended with Hello, bringing the same biometric login experience to the app. To me, this is the next evolutionary step of security. I dream of a world with no passwords.
The Surface has been a huge hit (since the Surface Pro 3 at least). I love mine and it’s what I’m using to write this blog. During the conference, I use the pen to take notes in OneNote and it’s amazing. I really like the pen experience. Microsoft has extended those capabilities now to developers. You can build your Universal Windows Apps (UWA) to include a pen taskbar with 2 simple lines of code. The pen experience enables mouse over events, dynamic highlighting, and includes a virtual rule so you can draw straight lines. Big reaction from the crowd on that demo. Microsoft also announced a partnership with Adobe to integrate pen functionality into Adobe Illustrator. Very cool for you graphic designers out there.
Microsoft’s vision for Virtual Reality is better described as Augmented Reality. Current Samsung enable devices for VR require a phone that plugs into the headset and the headset is fully immersive – meaning you have no idea what’s happening in the real world around you. The Hololens projects its 3D imagery onto the world around you. The headset is self-contained and does not require a phone. The glasses look like dark shaded sunglasses. The demos have all been really cool. NASA has a booth here that I plan on checking out for their Mars Exploration experience, which will debut this summer at the Kennedy Center. Microsoft needs developers to get behind this technology and partners to start building product around it. While the dev kits started delivery this week, I’m guessing we are 2-3 years minimum before consumers will be able to use this technology.
Microsoft demoed some new features for Cortana. You can now build bots that will interact with Cortana. The demo was a voice activated Domino’s order that interacted with a bot. I can see some real world uses for this technology, but I’m not the biggest fan of a Personal Digital Assistant. Call me old-fashioned, but this tech is a little too tech for me. I prefer to order my pizza using and app, not my voice.
I still have an Xbox One, I love it, but I’ve never done any game development. Microsoft announced a new software dev kit that will turn any commercial unit into a dev machine. The demo was really cool, it enables real-time debugging and attaching your Visual Studio to your Xbox. So I’m sure that’s huge for game devs out there.
Lots more to come, stay tuned to this blog for more product announcements and wrap-ups.

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Joe Crabtree

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