Today marks the beginning of BUILD, Microsoft's annual developer keynote. Unlike Google and Apple, Microsoft actually devotes a considerable amount of time to sharing information of interest to actual developers, so the keynote was heavy on code demos, APIs, and integration with existing products, like Office. However, there were a handful of interesting notes for normal folks.
From a personal level, the most interesting portion of the keynote was the Windows Holographic demo. Holographic is Microsoft's augmented reality operating system, designed to be run on standalone Hololens hardware. Along with a handful of tech demos, we got the first glimpse of an actual user interface for augmented or mixed reality computing. In addition to representations of traditional windows, which look like flat windows, hovering fixed in space, staying in the same area relative to your head, or hovering a few inches off of a convenient wall. Microsoft also showed some three dimensional representations of data. The interface was controlled using a combination of gestures and voice commands.
Compared to the January unveil, the registration between the actual and virtual worlds seemed to work much better. There were a couple of skips and jumps, but overall it was a much more polished experience than we'd seen before. There still isn't any actual information about how HoloLens works, but we're hoping to get some hands on time with the hardware and software later this week.
Compared to the January unveil, the registration between the actual and virtual worlds seemed to work much better.
The windows seem to float a couple of inches off of the wall, complete with drop shadows. The interface seems to be gesture and voice based. It seemed that the brunt of the user interface happens with voice control, using simple air taps to place windows and objects. When you say "Follow me" the window stays in the same position relative to your head.
Microsoft also announced that traditional Windows apps, the ones that run on your Desktop, will be coming to the Windows Store. You'll be able to buy and install them in the same way that you can buy and install Modern apps on the Windows Store today. Those applications will run in a sandbox, but they'll behave just like traditional Windows applications, on your Desktop.
Developers can reuse Java and C++ code from Android versions of their apps for phones running Windows 10. Windows phones will include an Android subsystem that lets you use native Windows features, like Live Tiles in the Windows versions of your Android apps.
Project Spartan, the new browser that's replacing Internet Explorer in Windows 10, will be known as Microsoft Edge.