The //BUILD/ Keynote

WP_000401In a fashion very similar to MIX11, the keynote kicks off with a live musician. The twist this time is that the guy has a couple of Windows 8 apps that he’s running on a 27” all-in-one and is playing synth music off of the device.

Ballmer comes out to applause and welcomes everyone, then starts the keynote with a note to the East Coast. Very classy.  He quickly covers some highlights, generally available information through media, and then states strongly: “If you want the best experience in Windows 8, you will buy a Windows Phone.”

Next up, he wants to start showing the devices now available (or soon available). He elicits some laughs with a “It’s all shipping hardware, so let’s see how this goes.”  and then, when showing off PixelSense, “Here’s our 82” Windows 8 slate…” Nice demo, cracking jokes, showing off Bing maps on the biggest tablet I’ve seen.

Jumps into OneNote (a great app I use all the time) and adds some notes. I WP_000404anticipate some applause later when he shows it updated on the other devices.

Next up is a demo of the DELL 27” AIO. This is likely to be our new family PC.  On this machine he’s showing off the search contracts that are available for applications to implement. This allows users to search system and app wide with one search effort.  Share contract is up, but this is a mixed crowd, so the tech details are thin. If you’ve worked with the Windows 8 SDK these contracts were the thing that stood out most to me.

The new Bing app looks wonderful…love the pinned view and how it works with IE side-by-side. Great way to use pinning.

Now he’s showing off the roaming profiles. This is bigger than most people realize, but the demo is cool just the same. He’s changing the lock screen background on one PC and the others are changing on the fly.

The Windows 8 Phone offerings are very strong. I’m leaning towards the Nokia as I’ve always loved their phones (the first mobile I got in 1998 was a Nokia).

Now we’re back to OneNote, this time on the phone. No applause? Craziness.

There’s a 1.5 lb tablet from Asus. Pretty slick. He’s using the tablet to show off pinning in the built in Sports app. Pinning is something that Microsoft is really hoping that devs embrace, and they need them to. This is one of those features that really distinguishes Windows from other OS’s, for now. But the feature is too good to not be mimicked.WP_000405

When he moves to the Surface, there is general applause.

“Surface is the best expression for ‘PC meets Tablet’, good for work and play.”

Free music streaming for every Windows 8 machine. This is significant, and it works across Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox.

One last peak at the Surface…the clicking and folding that we see in the ads…and he finishes with a stylish walk across the stage to more applause.

The Lenovo tablet tablet is very nice..1.5 lbs and running on Atom, so everything x86 will run.

WP_000406The next laptop, at 2.38 lbs, is the Aspire S7-191 from Acer . It supports multi-touch, and comes with some pretty beefy hardware.  Ballmer shows off the device and shares how he’s been surprised at the impact this laptop has when he shows it off.  This is the class of machine that every Windows 8 developer should have.

“We’re all in with Windows 8.”

There’s a quick Xbox video highlighting some of the cool features that you get when you mux up Windows, Xbox and Windows Phone.

Next up, Steven Guggenheimer.

As big Phineas and Ferb fans, my kids are going to LOVE this: Agent P Strikes Back. It’s an HTML port to Windows 8, and it looks good. Sweet…he just plugged in an Xbox controller into the Surface and is now playing the game with the controller.  Then he takes it to the next level…WP_000410fires up Skype and docks it to the side, then brings up the game side-by-side. Your iPad can’t do this.  And then the same game running on Windows Phone. Very cool.

Wow…the HP all in one 27” workstation is pretty nice.  Guggs just opened it up while it was running.

The Sony Vaio has a capacitive pencil that works in really high res and looks very fast and accurate from the demo. He’s showing off a sketch app which works great in a “lay it flat and work with the customer” mode.

Now some economics through the Microsoft Store:

  • 70% to devs for all apps sold through the store
  • Jumps to 80% when you sell $25,000
  • Or…use your own delivery mechanism and get 100%

The Microsoft Payment engine is next up on the demo slate. You can now use PayPal in-app, the Microsoft payment system, or write your own.

WP_000411Michael Bayle from ESPN comes on stage and walks us through the development experience that they “reimagined”. I’m going to get sick of that word by the end of the week. The app is using all the bells and whistles of Windows 8, sounds like they collaborated heavily with Microsoft, and they built it on their new APIs at Nice work, guys.  The app supports deep pinning within the app itself, hosts all kinds of content, and you can move around easily with semantic zoom. 

Mr. Ballmer walks out on the stage.  Talking about writing apps…and showing tons of apps. SAP and Dropbox are coming, along with everyone from fitbit to Disney to Adobe to Hulu and more.  Twitter just announced that they’re building a “great Twitter app” this morning as well.

Now he’s making the pitch: here’s why you should build for Windows 8:

  • Lots of volume
  • Good timing

WP_000413Interesting that he’s talking about “devices” and not just PCs. The expectation is that there will be 400 million new devices running Windows 8 this year.

Steve acknowledges that there’s limited Windows Phone users right now, but commits to better marketing efforts for Windows and Windows Phone.  “You will not be able to pick up a magazine, newspaper, or watch television without seeing our ads quite frequently.”  The marketing commitment is something that has been missing on Windows Phone, so I’m really jazzed about that.

Holy Crap. Steve just started the giveaways:

  • 100 Gb of Online Storage (lots of laughs lol)
  • A free Surface (crowd goes nuts) – with a plea to build a couple apps


Now, on to Windows Phone with Kevin Gallo, Director of Program Management of Windows Phone.  He walks us through how he has customized his experience. If you have a Windows Phone already, this is something that you likely already love and use.

WP_000414Lots of great features coming for users and developers:

  • Tap and send
  • Share contracts
  • Kid Zone – really played this one up
  • Three sizes of live tiles
  • Rooms – private sharing of events, messaging, photos with groups of people
  • Better hardware
  • New UI elements
  • Common cloud services
  • Higher reuse of code through shared code base.
  • Windows Phone is now emulated on Hyper V
  • In-App purchases
  • Wallet
  • Lenses
  • Performance improvements
  • Speech API
  • Lots of tooling improvements
  • Bluetooth, better WiFi and NFC
  • …tons more. 90% of the top developer requests are now implemented and part of the package.

The Windows Phone SDK is now out with a free version of VS 2012, emulators, tools, samples, etc.

Next, he fires up Visual Studio to some applause, planning to show us a demo.

Cool…simple app using paired devices (Windows Phone and Windows 8) over NFC. Takes a picture, uses a gesture to “flick” the photo from the tablet to the phone, then from the phone to the device. The code base is shared, there’s c++ wrapped as a component, a shared project, a Win8 project and and WP8 project. The c++ code was older and easily imported, then called from the other apps.

WP_000415Now the real s#!t is happening. They’re flying a quad copter with the phone, it’s got a live video feed, but their “lawyers wouldn’t let them fly the helicopter over the crowd”.

75% of the top grossing apps are games, so this isn’t a market that you should not ignore if you have the ability to develop for Windows 8. Consumables, durables, c++ native code, all kinds of gaming engines are online with the platform, including Unity, who’s here to demo the Unity Gaming Engine on Windows Phone.

The Unity IDE is pretty sweet…I haven’t played with game environment editing since the Half Life editor and Milkshape. Looks like the IDE supports multiple platform targets (iOS, Windows, Android, etc). You can edit the game while it’s running, which he did, then easily deployed it to a prototype Nokia device.

WP_000417Richard Kerris from Nokia just came onstage to introduce the Nokia 920 (again to much applause).  Features:

  • NFC
  • Pureview
  • Maps that work (hahahahaha!!!)

Holy crap. They are handing out the 920 to everyone in attendance!

“Now you really do have everything you need to start building great apps for Windows Phone 8”.  And then, he dropped the price of the Windows Phone app store pricing from $99 to $8…everybody can get in at this price.  Only for the next 8 days. for all the kit.