Microsoft Build 2017 is all about Windows 10, Cortana and apps

Satya Nadella, Surface Pro 5

Microsoft Build 2017 is underway and over the last two day the developer conference has been about Windows 10, Cortana and apps that make life for consumers easier and fun.

The three-hour key note was the highlight of Build 2017 wherein details about quite a few things were revealed by Microsoft. The Build 2017 isn’t about any hardware, but the event focuses entirely on software including Windows 10 OS as well as apps and related things.

A big theme of this year was Microsoft’s consistent efforts to push artificial intelligence (AI) into all its major portfolio, from Azure to Xbox and Office. Here’s what Microsoft announced on the day one of the Build conference, which is currently happening in Seattle.

Windows 10

Windows 10 has slowly been garnering a lot of ground and according to Microsoft the OS is now running on over 500 million machines. Microsoft originally set the goal of reaching 1 billion devices by mid-2018, a goal that seems unlikely to hit. Windows 10 was released in 2015, and by the end of September it was at 100 million devices.

Windows 10 Creators Update

Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s executive vice president of the Windows and devices group, revealed the Fall Creators Update for its Windows 10 operating system. You will most likely be getting the update in September and it will pack a range of new features including Clipboard, which is a cloud-based feature that basically enables copy and pasting between Windows 10, iOS and Android devices.

Next feature is Timeline, which will display a timeline consisting of the tasks you have done in the past. For example, if you were editing a Word document last week but want to continue editing it today, all you need to simply open up Timeline and get back to the editing mode. Then there’s something called “Pick Up Where You Left Of”, which will enable users to continue their work on a number of different devices. This Cortana-based feature will work across Windows, iOS, and Android.

Microsoft is bringing OneDrive Placeholders with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. It’s called the “OneDrive Files On-Demand”, which makes it easier to access cloud documents locally.

Cortana skills

Announced at the Build conference was the new Cortana Skills set, which will allow third-party developers to create new skills – or even port existing Alexa skills for the Windows platform. This will definitely improve Cortana and make upcoming hardware much better.

HP’s Cortana speaker

In an effort to beat Amazon and Google, Microsoft announced it has inked partnerships with HP and Intel to bring Cortana-powered voice-activated speakers to the market in the near future. Unfortunately, details aren’t available about the smart speaker. Earlier this week, Microsoft and Harman Kardon announced the ‘Invoke’ Cortana-powered speaker, which will hit the market later this year.

Microsoft’s presentation translator

Powerpoint can now translate slideshows in real time. Essentially, the translator plugin will offer real-time translation of powerpoint presentations without removing the original formatting. A Microsoft Garage project, the plug-in uses Translation APIs to translate content from any Powerpoint presentation into 10 different languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish). The plugin can also provide translated subtitles in real-time.

Visual studio for Mac

Microsoft has announced its Visual Studio coding platform for the Mac. It basically allows developers to code apps using Microsoft’s development environment on Apple’s Mac OS. Previously it was available for preview.

Azure app

At its Build 2017, Microsoft announced an iOS and Android Azure app. With the new mobile app, users can maintain their Azure Cloud on the go. The mobile app will come with support for new Azure Cloud Shell. Plus, Microsoft is working on a UWP Azure app for Windows 10 devices.

Windows Story Remix

As part of the Fall Creators Update, Microsoft announced Windows Story Remix, an application for editing photos and videos. It lets you add soundtracks, annotations, transitions, special effects, and even allow users to add 3D objects to your photos and videos to view in mixed reality. More importantly, it has Windows Ink support to write on photos and videos easily.

iTunes is coming to Windows Store

Microsoft revealed Apple’s iTunes and the Apple Music streaming service will be arriving on the Windows Store later this year. iTunes, is already available on the Windows platform, but the arrival of a Windows Store app is a big deal.