Microsoft’s Build conference is one of their most important shows of the year, with a developer focused discussion that provides some guidance on the direction of Microsoft and its platforms. Over the last couple of years, the platforms have been some of the bigger talking points as well, with Microsoft diversifying across new technologies and markets to try and stay ahead of the curve. Microsoft has predominantly been a platform company over the years, and it’s a rare product they release that doesn’t end up as a platform of some kind. Over the years, the focus on some platforms has had to adjust in order to keep up with the times, and that’s not always an easy goal to accomplish when your original platform, Windows, has been so successful since its inception.

Microsoft had quite a bit of forward leaning news to announce at Build, which we will go over to shed some light on where the company is heading. The company has changed course with their mobile platform never gaining the traction they hoped, and although they have been very successful building out their cloud platforms, for many it’s the consumer facing products that are the most interesting.

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

Possibly some of the biggest news about Windows actually got announced on April 20, when Microsoft committed to biannual updates for their operating system. This was a welcome announcement, and while some people would argue that it is still too often, when such a large portion of their install base is business, the almost random update interval that came with Windows 10 was unsustainable. IT needs a chance to schedule testing and deployment, and when you have randomly scheduled semi-major updates to the OS, that can be a burden. Having it set in stone for spring and fall should be a much more manageable process, especially since Windows Update for Business will allow them to defer if necessary.

The first big news was a name for the next update to Windows 10, which Microsoft is calling the Fall Creators Update. Perhaps that means the Creators Update should be prefixed with Spring, but the release date and announcement was not unexpected. After the Creators Update arrived with less major changes, and more smaller updates, perhaps there was an expectation that Windows 10 would move to more smaller updates, but the Fall Creators Update looks to be packed with new features.

With the Fall update, Microsoft is looking to refresh the experience again. They are introducing a new experience called Fluent Design, and it appears to be a solid overhaul of the design language for Windows.

Microsoft is also looking to branch out beyond their platform in new ways, with a big push for Cortana and the Microsoft Graph to enable portable experiences across platforms. It’s a smart play when you consider what happened with mobile, and all powered by the cloud.

The Windows Store got a lot of attention, and arguably it’s the part of Windows 10 that needs the most work, especially with the announcement of Windows 10 S where only Store apps will be able to be installed. The Desktop Bridge for Windows has some interesting new customers, and UWP got a lot more API support.

The big surprise at last year’s Build conference was arguable the introduction of the Windows Subsystem for Linux, and that got some more discussion at this conference as well. That, coupled with the new development tools, makes Windows a powerful development platform for much more than just Windows.

As always, it was a busy conference, with plenty of announcements. It’s always exciting to see where the different tech companies try to move the industry, and in what they prioritize in any given year, so let’s dig into the Build conference.

Fluent Design
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  • Gothmoth - Friday, May 19, 2017 - link

    they should do proper testing of updates... one of the last updates messes with my audio system. :-( Reply
  • close - Friday, May 19, 2017 - link

    The thing with "proper testing" is that unlike Macs for example Windows runs on thousands and thousands of different hardware and software (drivers especially) combinations. Proper testing on all of them is possible only theoretically.

    So MS figured out what they think is a way to get proper, real data from real computers to aid with troubleshooting and debugging (to which they added another level of data to aid their bottom line :D). They called it telemetry and we all know how people reacted to it.

    Thing is if you want *your* system to be more reliable you have to send some reliability data to MS. Don't expect any magic though. There's a chance you have a uniquely non-standard setup.
    Reply
  • raiden1213 - Friday, May 19, 2017 - link

    How about the ability to NOT install certain updates. You know, like back in the windows 7 and 8 days?

    Forced updates are never a good idea for an operating system that runs on "Thousands and Thousands of different hardware"
    Reply
  • close - Saturday, May 20, 2017 - link

    Sure, then you get thousands and thousands of different update configurations. How does it help with testing when you have for example 200 updates available for an OS and everybody has a different combination applied? How do you make sure that every future update works for your combination? Reply
  • sallgeud - Monday, May 22, 2017 - link

    That's how you end up with WannaCrypt, fool. Reply
  • mominusa - Saturday, May 20, 2017 - link

    Well, five minutes on the internet would have let them find the "lose wifi on wake from sleep" bug that has driven me nuts. Another five minutes on the internet could have told them that the anniversary edition update brought it back and the workaround that solved it previously no longer works. I am sure they much have had thousands of feedback comments on it as well, and I personally sent several. They dont need "more data", they just need to resolve known issues. Reply
  • close - Saturday, May 20, 2017 - link

    I hope you realize that's not how software development and debugging is done. Googling for a generic error that may or may not be a Windows issue or a driver issue. And I hope you realize that the people affected by this are a small fraction of the total number of Windows users. Everybody thinks their bug is critical because it shows up on the first page of Google but it's not.

    To prove a point, I searched for "Windows is great" and found plenty of happy people.

    And reintroducing bugs is exceptionally common in software development. It's down to reusing old code. If you tell me what you do for a living I can find a problem that affects lots of people. And I'm pretty sure your work doesn't cover 80% of a market.
    Reply
  • close - Saturday, May 20, 2017 - link

    Anyway, how many such serious/obvious problems did you have with updates in the past 2 years? No software is perfect and if 1 or 2 bugs is all that you've encountered when updating such a complex piece of software like Windows, with all its dependencies on other software and drivers I'd say it's not that bad, is it?

    It's no different than any other OS, even those that run in very standardized configurations.
    Reply
  • emn13 - Friday, May 19, 2017 - link

    Same here - motherboard integrated realtek audio required a driver reinstall to work. The same driver that was already installed worked; so I'm guessing it was a config corruption issue.

    It's not the first time I've had issues with updates, but it's pretty rare all around, IMHO. I can remember maybe a handful of cases the past decade or so - not too bad, right?
    Reply
  • Samus - Sunday, May 21, 2017 - link

    I've come across a reproducible wifi bug in the Creators Update across different hardware: failure to "reconnect' when resuming from sleep, even though the connection shows you are connected to the wireless network, there is botched network connectivity; some works, some doesn't.

    Going back to sleep and resuming, or disconnecting and reconnecting, solves the problem in each case. Driver updates didn't fix the issue. All laptops with this issue had various Intel controllers, 7260's, 8260's, N's, AC's...could be an Intel issue, but it didn't happen before creators update.
    Reply

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