Microsoft Build Day 1 presents a new Microsoft

Microsoft unveiled a number of ongoing initiatives today on the first day of the Build 2014 conference.  Microsoft's new CEO, Satya Nadella's course correction for the company was evident to attendees during the keynote.  Highlighting the event was a conscious decision to make Microsoft tools and services relevant in the increasing mobile, cloud computing world its customers work in.

Microsoft led off with the introduction of "Universal Windows apps". Developers will soon be able to write once and compile straight to Windows, Windows Phone and XBox One. This strategy is made all the more real with the previewing of the latest updates to Visual Studio 2013 in which Windows Phone (And presumably XBox soon) SDKs are integrated into the development environment to allow easy customization of Universal apps for different form factors.

Following that much appreciated development, Microsoft then gave a sneak preview of a future update to Windows 8.1 that will bring back the Windows Start menu and running Windows 8 Modern apps in a window on the desktop, features long requested and provided by third parties like Stardock (a co-owner of Neowin).

Nothing highlighted Microsoft's convergence plans more than Cortana, Microsoft's virtual assistant. Similar to Apple's Siri (or Google Now) in many ways, Cortana differentiates itself from the others in that it fully integrates into Microsoft's service eco system (OneDrive, Bing) similar to Google Now but also explicitly supports extensions by app developers allowing third parties to gracefully extend Cortana's functionality.

While Microsoft's course correction brings a sigh of relief to developers, it remains to be seen on how quickly and effectively Microsoft will be able to execute on their new direction.  Brad Sams and I have been very impressed and surprised at how willing Microsoft has been to recognize their recent missteps and now move to aggressively address them. 

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22 Comments

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I like ballmer personally but really he wasn't MS CEO type. comparing satya to ballmer (this year vs last year) is like comparing Flint Lockwood or Leonardo to Homer Simpson

This is really Ballmer direction changes shown today. It is not like in the three months that since Satya Nedella became CEO that all this things today were created from scratch. Yes, maybe they decided to bring the desktop start menu on as a option late in the game but, everything here today was pretty much created and the focus/direction we see was Ballmer leadership. I am always surprised by people that think a massive corporation like Microsoft should be able to adjust course like a nimble start up. No, they are like an aircraft carrier with a surrounding armada. But, once they change course, heaven help those in their way.

We will see how Nadella direction as a CEO perhaps next year or truly the year after that will be all his. Nadella, does bring a new ability to rally the troops even if the immediate battle plan has not changed much, if at all at this point, since the last leader left.

Edited by pjosephson, Apr 2 2014, 11:37pm :

trojan_market said,

no Leonardo from The Alvin Show. smart dude

I don't remember a Leonardo on Alvin and the Chipmunks. Maybe you are referring to Theodore?

pjosephson said,
This is really Ballmer direction changes shown today. It is not like in the three months that since Satya Nedella became CEO that all this things today were created from scratch. Yes, maybe they decided to bring the desktop start menu on as a option late in the game but, everything here today was pretty much created and the focus/direction we see was Ballmer leadership. I am always surprised by people that think a massive corporation like Microsoft should be able to adjust course like a nimble start up. No, they are like an aircraft carrier with a surrounding armada. But, once they change course, heaven help those in their way.

We will see how Nadella direction as a CEO perhaps next year or truly the year after that will be all his. Nadella, does bring a new ability to rally the troops even if the immediate battle plan has not changed much, if at all at this point, since the last leader left.

Exactly. Nadella hasn't had nearly enough time on the job to create, organize, and institute all these changes. Most likely these changes were planned even before Ballmer announced his retirement.

Speaking of Stardock, I hope the company releases a little app to enable Aero in classic Windows 8 apps.

What can I say, I do like my transparency.

coth said,
Windows 9 will be tomorrow?

not sure. now that they have that start menu planned for windows 8, not sure if we'll see a windows 9 announcement at build 2014 anymore..
still, hard to tell.

After seeing the start menu being added back in, I doubt we'll hear anything about Windows 9 for at least 6 months.

What I'd like is a total UI revamp with the next update for Windows 8 or Windows 9. Replacing all the old, crappy icons and keeping a consistent, flat UI across the desktop and Modern UI. Similar to what they did with iOS 7, but way better :)

I would really like to see that as well. A rework on the Control Panel on the lines of Modern UI would be nice. Bundle the settings under similar category into a single tab with the option to view basic and advances settings. So much can be redone on the control panel, which has literally not changed much since Windows 95.

aviator189 said,

not sure. now that they have that start menu planned for windows 8, not sure if we'll see a windows 9 announcement at build 2014 anymore..
still, hard to tell.

I heard from an authoritative source that Windows 9 will have two start buttons.

scorpian007 said,
After seeing the start menu being added back in, I doubt we'll hear anything about Windows 9 for at least 6 months.

What I'd like is a total UI revamp with the next update for Windows 8 or Windows 9. Replacing all the old, crappy icons and keeping a consistent, flat UI across the desktop and Modern UI. Similar to what they did with iOS 7, but way better :)

pretty much. a new set of icons is way, way overdue.