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Microsoft Build: Cross-platform apps, Office as a platform, IoT and virtual reality


At Microsoft’s Build conference, the company made a few interesting announcements including a name for its browser, cross-platform app support for Android and iOS apps on Windows, holographic demos, universal Windows app etc. Here is a brief look at some of the major announcements made by the OS-maker.

Apps!, Apps everywhere!: Microsoft announced that it will allow iOS and Android developers to port their apps and games directly to Windows universal apps. The company will enable this via two new SDKs; developers will be able to use Java and C++ on Windows 10 to port Android apps, and iOS developers will be able to take advantage of existing Objective C code. The platform will also allow developers to write a single app for all Windows systems including desktop, mobile and tablet.

Developers will also be able to run websites inside these universal apps, and use system services like notifications and in-app purchases. This will enable website owners to easily create web apps and list them on the Windows Store.

Windows 10 developments: The new operating system from Microsoft will enable carrier billing for all devices that can access the Windows 10 app stores, including desktops. With this initiative, users will be able to make purchases on the desktop and add the expense to their phone bill. The company claims it will partner over 90 carrier for the Windows Store.

Microsoft also revealed the official name of its Internet Explorer successors codenamed Project Spartan as Microsoft Edge. The browser will come as a default on all Windows 10 devices and will feature Cortana integration. The company also mentioned that developers will be able to extend their Chrome or Firefox add-ons to Edge with “just a few clicks”.

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Interestingly, Microsoft will let users turn their phones into ‘desktops’ by hooking up their phones to TVs through an HDMI cable, a bluetooth mouse and keyboard. This will allow users to launch apps on the big screen, however only universal apps can be used in this mode.


Open source & IoT: Microsoft opened its Windows 10 platform to enable its OS to work with Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel’s Minnowboard Max and Hackster.IO. For this, the company has released Windows 10 IoT Core, which currently supports the Pi 2 and Minnowboard Max. The OS is made especially for low-cost small-footprint devices and will be available for ‘free’, for makers and commercial device builders.

Microsoft also partnered with Arduino for ‘Arduino Certified’ Windows 10 and has released a virtual shield for Arduino that lets developers ‘speak’ to Windows 10 devices through wireless protocols. The platform also released Windows remote Arduino to enable universal windows apps to interact with Arduino commands.

Development platform: During the Build conference Microsoft also revealed it would offer new APIs for Office which would let third party developers create apps and add-ons for Office. The company showed off how third-party companies like Uber and LinkedIn could create apps that will use Outlook and other Office applications. The apps will likely work across all platforms that run office.

Microsoft mentioned that it would port some core features of its .NET platform to Linux and Mac as well. The company released a full preview of the .NET core runtime ported to those platforms at ‘Build’. The company also launched a new code editor for Windows, OS X and Linux called Visual Studio Code which is built on top of the open source Chromium project, and had recently open-sourced its Roslyn .NET Compiler platform.

hololensVirtual reality: Microsoft also demonstrated its augmented-reality device, the HoloLens. The company displayed various use cases for the device like virtual browsers on the walls, a virtual puppy, medical and educational purposes like displaying the full human body virtually etc. Microsoft has already partnered with Disney, NASA, Autodesk and Sketchfab among others to create applications for the HoloLens.

Image source: Flickr user Nils Geylen, Arduino and Memegenerator.

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