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March 30, 2016 was the date of this year's Build Conference, the annual developer/editor event held by the company since the past few years.
Satya Nadella, among other top professionals, introduced exciting new upgrades to their lineup-including Windows 10 Anniversary edition, Windows Ink and other major Cortana updates. Microsoft Build has evolved over the years to develop into an exciting conference with a lot of cool Artificial Intelligence stuff.
Microsoft has really big software ambitions, and it laid them all out at Build. Here are the 5 most important announcements for Microsoft Build Day One.
It's been over eight months since the Windows 10 official launch happened and Microsoft claims that the software is now live on 270 million active devices, outpacing every Windows upgrade till date. Nadella claims that people are spending more time on Windows than ever before - over 75 billion hours - with the highest customer satisfaction of any version of Windows.
Microsoft is calling this new update - the Anniversary Update and it packs in some unique new features, focused more on the security aspect of the software. It will support biometric authentication, something that will work with a fingerprint sensor placed next to the trackpad. Mcirosoft is also planning to launch the ‘Universal Windows Platform'-an open ecosystem that works across all different devices, ranging from smartphones to tablets to even their VR headset, the HoloLens.
There's good news for developers too. Windows 10 Anniversary Update will bring Linux support and legacy Windows app support as well.
Microsoft has long shifted its focus to the Surface line of devices. Recently, the company launched the Surface Book, to take on Apple's Macbook range. A major part of the whole Surface experience involves the stylus. Microsoft-at Build-announced that it is coming up with a completely revamped software experience, called Windows Ink. Windows Ink is a unique workspace that incorporates some pen-focused apps for making use of your stylus.
Cortana can now recognize dates and set automatic reminders for tasks like "Call Boss tomorrow.", once you set a reminder on the Notes app. In Maps, you can use the stylus to mark two points of interest and the app will display the most efficient route between them. Microsoft also showed off some virtual stencils and rulers that let users shape what they draw on the screen.
This is one of the most exciting announcements at Microsoft Build in terms of futuristic AI technology. The company is claiming to have integrated the efforts of both Skype and Cortana to create a seamless and smart environment for power users.
During their demo session, a Cortana bot from Cups and Cakes asked for an address to complete a delivery. Cortana brokered the conversation and gave the user directions with an update on arrival time. When asked to add an appointment to a calendar, Cortana automatically engaged with a bot from the Weston hotel, filling in location and date, and allowed the user to book the hotel room with just a few clicks. Finally, Cortana suggested texting with a friend who lived in the same area, and produced an automatic message to the tune of Google's smart replies.
Another big step towards futuristic tech, Microsoft announced that their VR headset - HoloLens - is finally shipping to the early developers and beta testers. This announcement comes just days after Facebook's Oculus Rift headset started shipping to consumers.
The HoloLens isn't the cheapest VR device out there, but no one was expecting it to be either. It's not meant for consumers but no one is sure what the future holds for VR tech. The first HoloLens app displayed on stage was Galaxy Explorer, holograms of planets and galaxies you can manage with gestures. Microsoft is releasing both the app and the code simultaneously, giving developers something to study and build upon. NASA also showed off a HoloLens called OnSight and Destination Mars, which lets you view the planet through the perspective of their scientists.
The popular virtual assistant from Microsoft - Cortana - is getting smarter this summer. Microsoft now has plans to expand Cortana to the Xbox One, with suggestions on sharing tips and tricks during the gameplay.
Cortana is also getting a substantial update for the Anniversary Update of Windows 10. Cortana can more intelligently understand time and context. It can identify the document you were working on last night, or the coffee shop you visited last year, and suggest calendar appointments based on emails and texts you receive.