Yesterday, Microsoft began its 2-day Developers’ Conference, BUILD 2014. The event was headed by a keynote by the various heads of departments in Microsoft beginning with Microsoft’s own Terry Myseron, EVP of the Operating Systems Group, introducing the new Windows Phone 8.1 Software update for their mobile platform. The feature which stood out the most in the update was ‘Cortana’, Microsoft’s answer to Siri and Google Now. The Windows 8.1 ( Desktop ) update features a more mouse and keyboard friendly UI and brings back the Start Menu.
Other features of the Windows Phone 8.1 update were Action Center (think Android Notification Center with a more Windows-ish design), new lock screen APIs allowing more interactive experience customisability, ability to change the background of the live tiles in a way that the same photo is spread across a grid of tiles( instead of solid tiles ), Cortana – WP’s Personal Assistant software (information below), VPN Encryption of text messages, new Windows Store UI, improved Battery Saver, Data Sense and Storage Sense, and Wi-Fi Sense – an app to connect to good, free, WiFi networks in your vicinity, Shape Writing – an onscreen keyboard update adding Swype-like functionality to it, and finally IE11 which comes pre-installed with the phone and now features Cortana integration
Windows 8.1 will be pre-installed on all new phones coming in late April or early May and be released . Microsoft also announced new platform partnerships with Micromax and Prestigio.
Windows 8.1 (Desktop)
This update makes it easier to use the platform with a mouse and keyboard. There’s now a PC settings tile with a power button and search button in the upper-right corner, so you don’t have to go into the Charms Bar. The Store UI is also more Mouse-and-Keyboard friendly. Another great announcement was Universal Windows Apps i.e. you can now use common code to produce code across PCs, phones and tablets. This approach is much different than Google and Apple’s approach. Universal apps are based on the Windows runtime environment and have the same programming language, security context infrastructure, power management, etc.. Also, Visual Studio now supports the same.
Windows 8.1 Dev Preview and Visual Studio 2013 update RC2 are live today along with Windows Phone 8.1 Dev Preview at MSDN for the developers but not the consumers.
The Windows 8.1 update will come to all Windows 8 and 8.1 users via Windows Update on Tuesday, April 8th 2014.
One of the greatest announcement was the inevitable return of the Start Menu, with live Tiles.After two years of complaints, Microsoft finally gave in to the developers’ as wells consumers’ remonstrance.
Also, from now on Windows will be available free of cost for all Internet-of-Things type devices (Running on Intel’s Quark) and phones and tablets with displays smaller than 9 inches.
Microsoft also showed off its new Kinect for Windows, coming this summer. Next summer, Microsoft is adding support for one of gaming’smost pervasive dev toolkits toKinect for Windows: the Unity engine — tools developers already know the strengths and weaknesses of, which should bolster the app selection even further.
Photos Courtesy: Engadget