It is one of the most eagerly anticipated technology shows of the year. Developers flock from across the globe to hear what Microsoft has in store. And on the first day of its Build 2017 show, the tech giant pulled out all the stops. Unveiling record numbers of Windows users, promises of more Cortana products and the launch of a visual coding platform, Microsoft has come out firing on all fronts.
Unlike most other years, Microsoft kicked off its conference by focussing on developers rather than products during its keynote speech. Perhaps the most exciting news to come out of the first day was the announcement that more Cortana products are in the pipeline. With Amazon pushing Alexa products out at a rate of knots, Google recently entering the smart speaker market and rumours of a Siri-powered home device, the digital assistant sphere is really starting to take shape.
However, unlike its rivals, Microsoft showed no interest in a stand-alone smart speaker. Instead the company has signed deals with HP and Intel to bring more built-in Cortana-powered products to market. HP will integrate Cortana into its devices, while Intel will focus on reference platforms. The Cortana Skills Kit has also been launched which basically gives developers the ability to create skills – or borrow them from other devices – and train Cortana to use them. The firm also pledged to roll out Cortana in all its products including Xbox, Windows, Bing and Office.
In another move that is bound to get developers salivating, Microsoft launched its Visual Studio coding platform for Mac. It allows developers to code apps using Microsoft's development environment on Apple's MacOS platform. They can sync across both Windows and Mac devices and build native mobile apps for iOS, macOS, Android, and the web. Microsoft said it enables MacOS and iOS developers ‘to use Microsoft’s development tools, since they will no longer need a Windows computer or virtual machine to do so’.
In other news, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 is now running on 500 million devices a month, and that its Office 365 package is now used on 100 million devices each month.