Microsoft Build 2018 ushers in a huge week for technology fans and the industry as it will will also see Google I/O 2018.
To be held from May 7 to May 9 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, the Microsoft Build Developer Conference, like every year, is meant for the company’s developers for the most part. Which means, regular tech enthusiasts won’t really have a lot to look forward to in terms of consumer-facing announcements. However, the company will reveal some of its work in software and hardware, including Windows 10, Office, Surface and Xbox, if all the pre-Build chatter is anything to go by.
Windows 10 (Redstone 5 Update)
Having just released the April 2018 update for Windows 10, Microsoft is expected to roll out the Redstone 5 release by the end of this year. We already know that it will bring a few cool new features, including ‘Drag and Drop’ support for app tabs within and between Sets Windows, new shortcuts with File Explorer tabs, new context menu for Edge tabs, and various other changes. So it will be interesting to see if the company will have some major new announcement about what to expect from the upcoming update.
Having just released a preview build of Office 2019 for commercial customers, Microsoft may detail a few key features of the software at its Build conference, although, there might not be anything new on the Office 365 front. The office productivity suite remains one of the strongest performers for the company year after year, so it shouldn’t surprise anybody if the company does spend a bit of time on the product.
Windows Mixed Reality
Mixed Reality was all the buzzword last year, but the Redmond giant doesn’t seem to have been able to capitalize on the buzz over the past year. While a slew of MR headsets from HP, Acer, Asus, Lenovo and others have hit the market over the past year, Microsoft itself has been surprisingly muted about its VR and AR platform. While the ‘real’ audience for AR/VR/MR will be at the E3 in June, Microsoft may just take the opportunity at the Build to present some aspects of the platform to developers in a way that attracts more of them to the platform.
Microsoft may announce its plans for an upcoming Surface device at Build 2018, but I wouldn’t be holding my breath for it if I were you. While some sort of an announcement about a Surface tablet might still happen at the event, the much-rumored Surface phone is still a white elephant till now, and is likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
Microsoft is unlikely to even utter a word about Xbox and related software titles at the Build. With tickets costing upwards of $2,000, Build is, and has always been a hardcore developer conference, so talking about out-and-out consumer-oriented products isn’t likely to go down well among the audience. If you’re an Xbox gamer and can’t wait to hear more details about Microsoft’s plans for the console, just wait a few more weeks, because the company is expected to make a slew of announcements at the E3 next month.
Microsoft’s cloud computing service, Azure, has always had its pride-of-place at Build conferences over the past few years, and 2018 isn’t going to be any different, especially after the company recently revealed that cloud computation and Azure are among its best-performing businesses currently, with revenues from the segment nearly doubling during the final quarter of last year. That being the case, the company is expected to spend a bit of time at Build detailing how it can make Azure work better for developers.
AI and Cortana
If you haven’t been living under a rock over the past couple years, you already know how big AI has become during this time. The company remains much behind its peers Google, Apple and Amazon in terms of its AI capabilities, but is expected to detail its Windows Machine Learning (WinML) API that enables developers to integrate machine learning models into their apps. The company is also understood to be laying a lot of emphasis on its AI-based voice assistant, Cortana, but whether the company has any new thing to announce on that front remains to be seen.
How to Watch
The first keynote is scheduled to start at 8:30am PST (9pm IST) on May 7, while the second one will be delivered the following day at the same time. You’ll be able to catch Microsoft’s dedicated feed for the event on the company’s own website.