During a quick Q & A with Terry Myerson today, Microsoft’s executive vice president in charge of Windows and Devices provided Mary Jo Foley and I with some interesting thoughts about the day one Build announcements.
Here’s a rundown.
On the Bash shell and Windows
Asked why Microsoft was bringing a Canonical Ubuntu-based Bash shell to Windows, Mr. Myerson noted that it was a frequent developer request.
“We have this killer app called Visual Studio,” he told us. “But for web developers in particular, there is a whole world of scripts and other tools that you just can’t use on Windows. It was a reason to not use Windows.”
Bringing Bash to Windows is only part of a broader, more holistic movement at Microsoft to lower barriers for Windows 10 adoption. Surface Book, for example, which also falls under Myerson’s purview, gives developers a powerful and precise portable PC that they can use as well.
“Incredible hardware, incredible platforms, and incredible apps,” he said. “We’re investing in Visual Studio so much. Xamarin is a piece of the puzzle, of course.”
With regards to Bash specifically, Myerson told us that the shell would run as a window on the Windows desktop, much like the PowerShell and command line shells.
“It’s a UWP app and it runs in an isolated subsystem,” he said. “It does have the ability to access the local file system, so you can use vi or other edits, move files around the PC, and copy and paste with other Windows apps.”
Like everything else with Windows these days, early access for testers in the Windows Insider program will dictate how this feature evolves, he told us. “We will learn with Insiders,” he said. “But we’d would love to have other shells.
About the Anniversary Update
Myerson told us that the name of the Anniversary Update was indicative of the rough schedule for the release: It will occur at basically the same time of year as did the initial release of Windows 10 a year ago.
“We’ll retain the flexibility to change the date as needed, rather than meet some arbitrary schedule,” he said.
And if you’re wondering when you can get your hands on new Anniversary Update features, you don’t have long to wait: They’re coming in new builds in the next “one to two weeks,” he said.
How hardware informs the design of Windows
With Microsoft making the Windows platform as well as some high-end devices that run on that platform, Mary Jo inquired whether the design of Windows was informed by the hardware.
“We make hardware that pushes the possibilities and creates new product categories,” he told us. “So, yes, that guides Windows.”
For the people wondering how the newly-announced Windows Ink platform expands on the inking capabilities that have been available in Windows for years, Myerson had a simple reply.
“It answers that basic question: I have a pen, but what do I do with it?”
More specifically it enables a new Windows Ink experience that appears as a pane on the right side of the screen when you click the top button on your pen.
“If we get this right, we can really improve productivity and create a real paper-like experience on the PC.”
“And phone too?” Mary Jo asked. “Absolutely,” Myerson said, pointing to a stenographer-sized notebook and stating that “there is a place” for a device that size.
With Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs moving ever closer to each other, we wondered whether Microsoft would really limit developers’ ability to target the console with apps. Myerson said no.
“There are more Xbox Ones than Apple TVs,” he said. “This is an exciting opportunity for Windows developers. So our intention is to be as open as we can be on the television. TVs do have different expectations, and we’ll learn as we go.”
Myerson confirmed that Xbox One is on the same Anniversary Update schedule as Windows 10 for PCs—so a mid-2016 release—and that he planned to merge the Windows Insider program with the Xbox One Preview program after the Anniversary Update. “It doesn’t make sense for these to be separate,” he said. So it looks like many more Xbox One testers will be able to live on the bleeding edge starting later this year.