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Microsoft Build 2018: the biggest news from the conference

Microsoft’s 2018 Build conference takes place on May 7th and 8th. The company will use the two-day event to share its plans around artificial intelligence (AI), cloud services, its Cortana voice assistant, Office, and of course Windows. You can expect to see new Windows 10 features and other software updates announced at Build as Microsoft outlines what the rest of 2018 will bring for every key pillar of its business.

  • Tom Warren

    May 9, 2018

    Tom Warren

    Microsoft reveals the future of its Fluent Design for Windows 10

    Microsoft first unveiled its Fluent Design changes for Windows 10 at Build last year, adding subtle animations to many apps and core parts of Windows. We’ve seen a number of changes to the design of apps in the Fall Creators Update and the recent April 2018 Update, and now Microsoft is unveiling some future Fluent Design plans today at Build 2018.

    During a session on Fluent Design at Build today, Microsoft unveiled a number of new subtle changes that will appear in Windows 10 apps this year. Microsoft is using shadow effects across Fluent Design, alongside modernizing context menus and implementing consistent back button controls in apps.

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  • The six biggest announcements from Microsoft Build 2018

    After two days of Microsoft Build keynotes, we’ve seen a lot. There were cloud APIs. Live coding demonstrations. One time Microsoft pulled away a wall to reveal a demo meeting room. It was truly a thrilling event.

    But mixed within all of that were some exciting announcements: new Windows features, improvements for voice assistants, and helpful new cloud services. Much of it won’t be widely available until later this year, but here’s the most exciting stuff that Microsoft had to share.

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  • Tom Warren

    May 8, 2018

    Tom Warren

    Microsoft is changing how Alt-Tab works on Windows 10

    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Microsoft’s next major Windows 10 update, codenamed “Redstone 5,” has been in testing for a few weeks now, and the company is now ready to unveil some new features that it's experimenting with. Alongside the new Sets feature for all Windows 10 apps, Microsoft is also changing the way the Alt-Tab feature works. Instead of tabbing between apps, Microsoft is experimenting with allowing Windows 10 users to also switch between the tabs within the Sets feature inside the Alt-Tab interface.

    Microsoft hasn’t overhauled its Alt-Tab task switcher for years, and this feels like a major addition. Essentially, it means Alt-Tab will now work for apps and browser tabs or app tabs. Microsoft is also working on bringing groups of tabbed apps to Timeline, its new Windows 10 feature that keeps a history of activities and webpages.

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  • Chaim Gartenberg

    May 8, 2018

    Chaim Gartenberg

    Windows 10 Sets will use tabs to bridge the gap between apps and websites

    Microsoft is officially bringing tabs to everything with a new feature called “Sets” in the next version of Windows 10 that was announced at the company’s annual Build conference. Sets — which has been previously featured in early Windows 10 Insider preview builds — aims to use tabs to bridge the gap between apps and websites, letting you group projects together in a single window by specific tasks.

    Sets isn’t just adding tabbed windows to each individual app, like Apple added on many of its apps with macOS Sierra. It’s a universal tab system that spans all the apps on your computer as well as the internet. While you could have a single window with all your Edge websites as a tab, and another with all your Word documents, the real power of Sets is how it will let you mix and match programs and websites together in a single window. For example, you could have one window with a travel itinerary open in Word with all your tabs for hotels and flights alongside it, while another could hold a presentation with a mix of documents and photos that you’re using for background research.

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  • Ashley Carman

    May 8, 2018

    Ashley Carman

    Microsoft Build 2018: start time, live stream, and schedule

    Microsoft’s annual build developer conference starts this week with a keynote from CEO Satya Nadella, executive VP Scott Guthrie, and CTO of Microsoft Azure Mark Russinovich, among others. Unlike other big company developer conferences, Build’s keynotes take place over two days. On its opening day, Nadella’s keynote will focus on the company’s cloud and AI offerings. Day two will be all about Windows. There’s also, of course, two full days of programming sessions, some of which will likely show up online in the following days.

    On day one, we got an exclusive look into the future of Microsoft with Satya Nadella, saw some design applications with the new Microsoft Layout tool on the HoloLens, and stepped into the company’s vision for making meetings smarter with live transcription, translation, and identification. Today, we’ll get a closer look on the software side of things to learn all the latest in Windows 10, Cortana, Office, and more. Day two’s keynote will be led by Windows Vice President Joe Belfiore, who always brings tons of energy to the stage.

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  • Tom Warren

    May 7, 2018

    Tom Warren

    Microsoft’s meeting room of the future is wild

    Microsoft just demonstrated a meeting room of the future at the company’s Build developer conference. Meeting rooms, conference calls, and meetings in general are usually the stuff of nightmares, but Microsoft is working on prototype hardware that will make meetings a lot easier. Microsoft’s meeting room demonstration is seriously impressive, and provides a glimpse of what’s possible in the future.

    It all starts with a 360-degree camera and microphone array that can detect anyone in a meeting room, greet them, and even transcribe exactly what they say in a meeting regardless of language. Microsoft has been working on translation features for Skype for years, and the meeting room of the future includes this technology.

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  • Shannon Liao

    May 7, 2018

    Shannon Liao

    Microsoft is moving Kinect to the cloud

    Microsoft is moving Kinect to the cloud, the company’s CEO Satya Nadella announced today during the annual Build keynote. “Kinect, when we first launched it in 2010, was a speech-first, gaze-first, vision-first device. It was used in gaming, and then, later on, it came to the PC, and it was used in many applications: medical, industrial, robotics, education,” said Nadella. “We’ve been inspired by what developers have done, and since Kinect, we’ve made a tremendous amount of progress when it comes to some of the foundational technologies in HoloLens. So we’re taking those advances and packaging them up as Project Kinect for Azure.”

    It’s big news after the depth camera and microphone accessory that originally debuted on the Xbox 360 was basically declared dead last October when Microsoft stopped manufacturing it.

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  • Tom Warren

    May 7, 2018

    Tom Warren

    Microsoft demonstrates Alexa and Cortana integration

    Microsoft first announced its Alexa and Cortana integration last year, and the company is providing an update today. Despite falling behind both Google Assistant and Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana will now include access to Amazon’s digital assistant. At Microsoft’s Build conference today, the software maker demonstrated Cortana running on Alexa and vice versa.

    The integration works by simply summoning Cortana with the command “Alexa, open Cortana.” You can then ask follow-up questions or commands like “send an email” to a particular person that you wouldn’t normally be able to do with Alexa alone. Likewise, you can bring up Alexa within the Cortana interface on Windows 10 and get access the skills that Alexa offers.

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  • Chaim Gartenberg

    May 7, 2018

    Chaim Gartenberg

    Microsoft partners with DJI on a new Windows 10 drone SDK

    DJI is partnering with Microsoft to build a new drone SDK for Windows 10 that will enable full flight control and data transfer to Windows 10 PCs, which allows it to directly connect DJI’s drones with Windows computers.

    Along with controlling the drones, the SDK will also make it possible to easily integrate third-party hardware like multispectral sensors or custom actuators with DJI’s drones, expanding what customers will be able to do with their drones.

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  • Adi Robertson

    May 7, 2018

    Adi Robertson

    Microsoft Layout lets HoloLens users design a floor plan with holographic furniture

    Microsoft is expanding its list of “mixed reality” tools with a program called Microsoft Layout, which lets people design and visualize real spaces in either Microsoft HoloLens or a virtual reality headset. Layout allows Windows Mixed Reality users to define a virtual floor plan and then move 3D models around on it in a VR headset, previewing how a room would look and feel. Then, they can go to a physical location and view that layout using HoloLens — either alone or with other designers — to see how these new objects would fit alongside existing ones.

    There are lots of existing design tools that do similar things to Layout, including augmented reality apps that let you preview furniture in a space. Microsoft’s video suggests that Layout is more business-focused than some of these apps, since users are shown designing an efficient factory floor. And in general, augmented reality glasses have made more inroads among business customers than ordinary consumers. Microsoft has already partnered with Adobe, Trimble, and other companies to release HoloLens apps for designers and engineers.

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  • Tom Warren

    May 7, 2018

    Tom Warren

    Microsoft’s new Windows 10 app mirrors your phone’s features to your PC

    Microsoft is unveiling a new “Your Phone” app for Windows 10 today at its Build developer conference. The app is designed to provide a mirror of a phone straight to a desktop PC, and it will let Windows 10 users access texts, photos, and notifications from their machines. 

    Features will vary depending on iOS and Android, but Microsoft can mirror far more Android phone features to a Windows 10 PC so you never have to physically pick up your device while you’re working on a PC. It’s a concept that Dell tried earlier this year, allowing calls and notifications to be displayed on a PC. Microsoft’s app will include access to SMS, photos, and notifications initially.

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  • Dieter Bohn

    May 7, 2018

    Dieter Bohn

    Exclusive: Satya Nadella on the future of Microsoft

    ”We are the Windows company, after all,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told me.

    I was at Microsoft’s campus in Redmond a week before the Build developer conference, and I wanted to know what was going on with Windows after a reorg split the team into different divisions. Was Microsoft really preparing itself for a world without Windows? Nadella was ready to tell me that Windows isn’t going away — of course Windows isn’t going away — but he also wanted to explain his latest buzzwordy vision for the future of the Microsoft: AI, Intelligent Cloud, and Intelligent Edge.

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  • Tom Warren

    May 7, 2018

    Tom Warren

    Microsoft needs to prove it’s not another IBM

    Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
    Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
    Photo by Amelia Krales / The Verge

    Microsoft has been known as the Windows company for years, but that’s changing. As it embraces a world beyond Windows, Microsoft is increasingly focusing its efforts on businesses rather than consumers. The software maker has been reshaping itself recently and embracing rival technologies in the process. Slowly but surely, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has made cloud, AI, Mixed Reality, and quantum computing his priorities for Microsoft’s future, moving the company away from the concept of Windows being at the center of everything it does.

    It’s not clear what will replace Windows as Microsoft’s main priority, but this week’s Build developer conference will give us a clearer sense of what really matters to the company. Nadella will take the stage this morning to detail Microsoft’s AI, cloud, IoT, and other work. It’s not going to be the usual Build keynote, as Microsoft has decided to shift the Windows demos to a second keynote on day two. I’m expecting to see a lot of impressive cloud and AI demos from Microsoft with a focus on businesses, not consumers. It will be very telling to see how many times Windows is even mentioned today.

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