Like many Microsoft-focused pundits and bloggers, I’m heading into this week’s Build 2017 conference with a sense of anticipation. But I think I can channel the concerns of many other enthusiasts when I say that what I would like to see at Build differs very sharply from what we will most likely be shown.
Which is to say, Microsoft is very clearly heading down a path that makes tons of sense for its future. But as it transforms into a cloud computing giant, Microsoft will also, over time, deemphasize the things I care the most about: Windows specifically, but personal computing in general.
Over the past several Build conferences, I have of course focused on those client-side technologies, and I will continue to do so for as long as I can. But looking to Build 2017, I can’t help but think that we’ve crossed some line. And that this show will focus overwhelmingly on the cloud.
Yes, we will no doubt be shown “Redstone 3,” the next major version of Windows 10, and Microsoft will most likely highlight the work its done to bring this OS to the ARM platform.
Because it can never stop beating a dead horse, mixed reality will be a central part of the client story, I bet, thanks to the pending release of Windows Mixed Reality.
I’m not sure I “expect” this, but one topic to be on the lookout for, especially in the keynotes, is progressive web apps, or PWAs. My opinion is that this, and not UWP, is the future of apps on Windows, and I am curious to see if Microsoft will announce or at least suggest this shift at the show.
Alternatively, Microsoft could (and probably will) make a painful last attempt at making UWP look successful. So I’m also on the lookout for any major new apps in the Store, and whether they are “pure” UWP apps or, more likely, more Centennial-contained apps.
There will be Office news, for sure. I have no idea what that might be, however. Surface? Doubtful, but I could see Microsoft quietly revving Surface Pro 4 at any time.
And that’s about it on the client.
On the developer end—Build is a developer show, after all—I’m curious to see any news about future Visual Studio products and versions, especially Code and Visual Studio for Mac, both of which are probably due for upgrades.
And on the cloud front, we already know that Microsoft will belatedly introduce its Cortana Skills SDK for developers at the show. There will be tons of Azure, and bots, and AI/machine learning, and lots of other nonsense I just don’t care much about.
So we’ll see what happens. But Build is a perfect microcosm for that thing I do all the time, which is to view everything Microsoft does under the lens of this ongoing transformation. And while some may resist this change—or deny it, as many blogs did for years with Windows phone—I’m simply resigned to it. This change is happening. It’s just a matter of time and pace.
See you in Seattle.