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Microsoft Build developers conference 2017: What to expect

Microsoft is scheduled to hold its 2017 edition of the Build developers conference in Seattle -- a change in venue from San Francisco. The three-day conference will start at 8:30 PM India time and Hindustan Times will live blog the event updates.

tech Updated: May 10, 2017 18:44 IST
Anirban Ghoshal
Microsoft is scheduled to hold its 2017 edition of the Build developers conference in Seattle -- a change in venue from San Francisco.
Microsoft is scheduled to hold its 2017 edition of the Build developers conference in Seattle -- a change in venue from San Francisco.(Screengrab)

Microsoft is scheduled to host its annual Build developers conference in Seattle this year and the first keynote of the three-day conference that will stretch till May 12 will start at 8:30 PM Wednesday evening (India time).

The Windows developer is expected to roll out plans for its flagship OS Windows 10, digital assistant Cortana, new bots and Microsoft Office. There are speculations as well that the company may launch new Surface hardware but most of the plans are expected to attract developers to its platforms.

Hindustan Times is going to run a live blog about the updates and launches that the conference will unveil during the keynote presentation. However, the event can be live streamed via build.microsoft.com.

Here are some of the announcements that we expect will be made at the Build conference:

Project neon: Will Windows 10 get a new look?

Windows 10 is going to get an update and in not only looks but some other features as well. Codenamed Redstone 3, the next update will include features like pinning contacts to the task bar and a new power throttling option. Microsoft is also expected to detail its “Project Neon” effort to refresh the user interface of Windows 10. Most of the UI changes will be relatively minor, with a renewed focus on blur in apps and OS features.

The picture shows a concept edition of Windows 10’s improved looks codenamed to be Project Neon.

Alongside the UI changes to Windows 10, the company might reveal plans for Windows 10 on ARM chips. The software maker originally revealed last year that it will bring Windows desktop apps to mobile ARM processors, but we’re waiting for more information on when devices will appear in the market.

Microsoft recently revealed Windows 10 S, with a plan to get more desktop apps into the Windows Store. It’s likely the company will discuss this effort at Build, and it will also need to explain to developers how its Universal Windows Apps still fit into its goals with Windows 10.

The picture shows Harman Kardon speakers powered with Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana.

Cortana-powered speakers with Harman Kardon

Invoke the digital assistant! That seems to be Microsoft’s goal with Cortana as the company plans to take on Google Home, Amazon Echo and Apple’s expected Siri-powered speakers. We expect a number of devices from manufacturers. Microsoft is also building a Cortana skills set for developers to build apps that work directly with Cortana, and we’re expecting to see some examples of potential integrations for these upcoming devices.

Watch Microsoft vice president of corporate affairs speak about women in the field of technology

Welcome to the next phase of the bots race

Microsoft has been quietly working on bots and is likely to unveil elaborate plans for AI and bots this year. The company is planning to allow developers to add bots to the company’s Bing search results to let you to chat with restaurants and other retailers. This should bring Microsoft’s bots feature outside of Skype and onto the web in a bigger way.

The Office suite

Micrsoft’s blue-eyed programme so to say and so we are expecting that it will earn itself a place on the Windows 10 Store. Also, expect some new features and updates to the suite as well

The picture shows the Microsoft Edge browser that was launched alongside Windows 10.

Microsoft wants an Edge with apps just like Chrome?

Microsoft is expected to detail the future of Microsoft Edge at Build. While the company supports third-party extensions, the Windows Store isn’t full of them yet. You can expect to see its extensions support broaden for developers, and hear more about its plans for web apps.

Augmented or virtual? Wait! it is mixed reality

Microsoft’s PC partners are planning to ship mixed reality headsets later this year for use with Windows 10. We’ve seen a number of demos with Acer’s headset recently, and we’re expecting to hear more at Build about specific apps and features that work with these new headsets. Expect to see an onstage demonstration of mixed reality, alongside some examples of HoloLens. Microsoft loves to show how HoloLens is being used, but we’re not expecting any major announcements for its own headset plans.

Surface phones or other hardware?

Although Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has been continiously hinting at new smartphones, many believe that this year’s edition of the build may not bring in any new hardware. In fact, many believe that Microsoft is planning an event in Shanghai on May 23rd where it will launch a refreshed Surface Pro 4 device that will likely be branded simply as “Surface Pro” with better battery life and Intel’s latest Kaby Lake processors.