So I was on my flight to San Francisco for the 2013 Microsoft Build Conference and was working on my laptop, totally disconnected from the web, punching in User Stories and Tasks in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that I had previously connected to TFS 2012 before heading out. I click on File > Save and it gives me a connection error for obvious reasons, I mean, I am on a plane after all. When I get to my hotel and connect to the WiFi, I click on File > Save again, and bam, all the work I had done on the plane was saved to TFS ready for my team to work on. No double entry required! That alone lead me to believe this was going to be a great trip.
Now, at the Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco, I sit in for the Day 1 Keynote and man, the progress Microsoft has made in the last 8 months since the last Build conference in Seattle is astonishing! I’m blown away with even just the subtle differences between Windows 8.0 and Windows 8.1, just one min version, yet it seems like a major version release. New features such as dual screen support for the modern view (formerly metro), multi-view snapping with variable width support, native 3d printer support, hands free mode, lock screen slide show, Skype call answering from lock screen without having to login and much more. The Search results from the charm are incredible for example, search “New York” from your desktop or device and a pseudo app will be created on the fly with aggregated data from your machine, social accounts, xbox as well as Bing search results and more as the Bing API is now open to developers to build on top of those search results.
One thing I wasn’t happy about was the come back of the start button, I was the only one in the crowd booing that one as everyone else clapped. I personally wish they would just get rid of the desktop altogether. I’ve been looking at it for over a decade, on Windows and various Linux flavors including Macs, it’s all the same, I’m over the whole icons and menu bar on a desktop view! Let’s move on people!
As for tooling, the updates in VS and TFS 2013 are great. There’s finally decent async debugging! In addition, there are over 1,500 new API’s for us to play with. I can go on and on but one thing that really amazed me was Project Spark. Wow! This is definitely a game changer (no pun intended) as it’s a platform that allows anyone to build games on a tablet using touch gestures for example then seamlessly share and play it on an XBox console. My son already develops virtual worlds to play in online via Roblox but what Microsoft has done with Project Spark simply blows Roblox out of the water. The graphics are what you would expect of an XBox game and literally no programming knowledge is required.
If you’re interested in learning more about Project Spark, go to https://joinprojectspark.com.
For videos and other details on the Microsoft Build Conference, go to http://buildwindows.com.