Microsoft BUILD2015 conference schedule: Web apps, ‘Smart’ and Passport among topics.

Posted on 29 April 2015 by

Microsoft’s BUILD conference starts in a few hours and it’s going to be a biggie. Windows 10 and the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) is the end-game for Microsoft in their push to make Windows 10 a multi-device operating system with apps that work across all screen sizes.  Microsoft will modernize the app model, the security model and most importantly, improve the economics of Windows applications for developers.

Microsoft Build 2015 starts 29th April

I just spent a few hours going through the BUILD schedule to see if I could find any clues about what will be announced. There are a few. I also picked-out some sessions that could directly affect people in the mobile computing world.

The new Windows Store and Windows 10 app model is likely to get a lot of focus at the keynote. We already know that Universal Apps will run across multiple devices (they’re already available for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8.1 Store users) and there are rumors that Microsoft will make it easier to port apps from Android. Quite how far this goes is another question. It could be a set of developer tools or it could combine some AOS runtime elements.

The session list reveals that there’s going to be  a new Web rendering engine that will allow web apps to be placed in the Store. The app model will also expand to support a “broader set of developer scenarios,” whatever that means. Maybe it’s the Android support, maybe it’s the Web rendering engine or maybe they’re referring to new APIs and developer tools.

New and improved APIs to be announced include advertising, gesture, pen and ‘smart’ capabilities (information on ‘smart’ is being held back at this stage,) new background app capabilities, visual layer APIs and other features can be found in the session catalog.

The underlying message here is obviously developer-friendly but will it be enough? Will Microsoft finally reach tipping-point and offer a truly compelling platform for developers with a low barrier to entry and better economics. A free Microsoft Surface 3 for attendees might help sweeten the message!

Expect to hear about Microsoft Passport and Windows Hello. Two-stage authentication and in-cloud key management is a hot and important topic. Microsoft says that the new authentication services are “so inexpensive that there is almost no excuse to not take advantage of it.” In-cloud credential management is likely to be addressed. Do you trust Microsoft to look after all your biometric data? Listen carefully to what Microsoft has to say on this.

Finally we’ll get more information on Project Spartan – the new browser that runs as a Universal app across the new Windows 10 app model. Expect it to have new Javascript features that allow near-native-speed applications. The security model, plugin model, client-side re-rendering (reader mode,) performance and background capabilities (InstantGo) will be interesting to hear about.

I don’t expect to see a new Surface Pro 4 but there’s scope for a big Core M-based ‘surface’ all-in-one in my opinion. 15-inch, sub 2KG? I’m just speculating. Here are some more detailed thoughts on up-coming Surface tablets.

The Microsoft BUILD 2015 schedule is here. I’ve picked out some interesting sessions and listed them below.  I’ll be writing about important and relevant topics in detail over the rest of the week and commenting on Twitter. (@chippy) Don’t forget to join the BUILD2015 keynote livestream and of course, your comments and thoughts are welcome below.

  • DirectInk New APIs in Windows 10 for XAML apps (cross-platform.) (link)
  • Win2D DirectX-powered drawing for XAML apps. Open source! (link)
  • APIs for Input like Pointer, GestureRecognizer, and CoreInput. (link)
  • Adding Smart to Your Applications (No further details revealed.) (link) Update:”Project Oxford.” new information.
  • Windows 10 app model (link) expanding to support a ‘broader set of developer scenarios.’
  • Keynote announcement deep dive. Related to app model. (title withheld.) link. Update: Project Centennial.
  • New background app resource policies. New modes for Universal Apps. (link)
  • Security: Windows Passport and Windows Hello. (link.)
  • “Microsoft Passport in Windows 10 delivers the end game solution, one that is easy to deploy, always multi-factor, theft- and phish-proof, interoperable on premise and on the web, and so inexpensive that there is almost no excuse to not take advantage of it. With Windows Hello (biometric authentication which can provide instant access to your Microsoft Passport), Windows 10 will offer a truly seamless experience that is more secure than today’s world of complicated passwords.” (link)
  • “Project Spartan”: Introducing the New Browser and Web App Platform for Windows 10. April 29, 5pm. (link)
  • the New Windows Store and Dev Center. (link)
  • New Visual Layer APIs for UI experiences. (link)
  • Web apps in the Store using the new web rendering engine. (link)
  • Casting to multiple screens. APIs for the Universal Windows Platform. (Bluetooth, Miracast, DIAL etc.) Q. I s DIAL being integrated into Windows 10? (link)
  • Bluetooth triggering. Proximity and broadcast. Windows 10 has a unified Bluetooth API.  (link.)
  • Porting Windows Store apps from Windows Phone Silverlight or 8.1 XAML to the Universal Windows Platform. (link.)
  • Near-native JavaScript apps. (link)
  • A ‘Web of apps.’ App-to-app-via-internet communication tools and services. (link.)

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