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Microsoft Build Preview: Part 1


News by admin on Monday April 13, 2015.

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Microsoft's Build 2015 developer conference is just around the corner, but with invitations already snapped up in January, the doors are already closed. This is the event is where Microsoft typically announces the bulk of its core products. Sure, the company will make announcements sporadically at other events, but Build is where it is at if you want the low down on Microsoft for the next year.

All eyes will of course be on Windows 10. We know the operating system is due to land in the summer on numerous form factors, but Microsoft will have plenty more to talk about when the event kicks off in a few weeks' time.

While details are pretty scarce about what Redmond will reveal, we do have some pointers as to what the company has planned.

Windows 10

Has we mentioned, Windows 10 is certainly going to be the star of the show and we expect that Microsoft will shed even more light on its new operating system. The company has already offered plenty of information regarding Windows 10, including the fact that it will be available for smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Microsoft has said that Windows 10 will be launching a massive 190 countries around the globe "this summer". That is earlier than the end of year launch that was expected and will truly bring the new multi-platform OS to the masses, with the software set to arrive in 111 different languages.

For those running devices or machines running Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows Phone 8.1, the new Windows 10 operating system will be available as a free upgrade. While familiar Windows Phone collaborators will remains, and Microsoft will obviously continue making Lumia handsets, the company was quick to point to new collaborators too.

Chief among those was Chinese company Lenovo. Microsoft said the third largest smartphone manufacturer will release a Windows 10 smartphone that will be released through the middle of this year on China Mobile. Microsoft also said that Xiaomi will be one of its partners, but stopped short of saying the company will be building a smartphone for the platform.

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The developer community confirmed that Windows 10 for Phones will be tested on 512MB variants, although likely to be quad-core variations. However, there have also been reports that hugely popular handsets like the Lumia 520 will also get Windows 10, despite that particular product packing just a dual-core processor.

Microsoft's own chief of mobile and convergence strategy, Joe Belfiore, has Tweeted the company's plans and revealed that the Lumia 520 will be tested with Windows 10 for Phones and will likely get the software bump when the platform launched later in the year.

He said that it is the company's ambition to make Windows 10 available for these lower end devices, although Belfiore did confirm that handsets with 512MB of RAM will lack some of the features found on higher scale smartphones.

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Forget about all this talk of Windows 9, Microsoft chose an intimate event today to unleash the newest version of its desktop platform, Windows 10. Yes, the company chose to skip a number, but this is the brand new version that the company hopes will not only carry its computing to the next level, but also its mobile devices such as Lumia smartphones and Surface tablets.

In fact, Microsoft's latest operating system will be uniform across all devices and all form factors eventually, meaning the experience will be more or less the same whether you are rocking a 5-inch smartphone or a 27-inch all in one PC. The company is calling it "one tailored experience" although I am not sure how the company will nail making the OS uniform across different form factors, or more to the point whether it can strike a balance of functionality across different platforms.

Microsoft showed off a beta version of the platform in front of a small crowd today and the company got all corporate speak on us about the goal of Windows 10. It said that Windows 10 brings the familiarity of Windows 7 with the functionality of Windows 8, which in other words means that it strayed too far away from Windows 7 and what people like for the 8th version. So, early calls that this is the OS that Windows 8 should have been seem reasonable, at least at first glance.

The removal of the Start Menu in Windows 8 was seen as sacrilege, and while it made a return for 8.1 (sort of) it seemed like a half assed attempt. Make no mistake, the very visible and immediate presence of a Start Menu here is Microsoft caving to public demand, although the company is not quite ready to throw its own vision away just yet. So, the love them or hate them live tiles from the Metro layout are alive and present, but now they appear in the Start Menu. This is clearly Microsoft trying to give people the best of both worlds, but I cannot help but think that most will just completely ignore Metro... nothing new there then.

Microsoft is trying to make the Start Menu more dynamic than it has ever been, allowing the user the ability to expand it, resize tiles, and even extend the menu beyond the monitor for left/right scrolling. These are all tile Metro motifs and who knows, they may catch on, but I get the feeling the public en masse has already voiced its opinion on this. Luckily, it is more of an added option on Windows 10 than the forced new interface it was on Windows 8.

Microsoft learned its lesson and has not gone for a radical new design direction here, this is Windows as you knew it on Windows 7 and as you probably remember it on Windows 2000 and older if you are of that vintage. Obviously things are slicker, newer, more modern, but ultimately this is the platform we all grew up loving, or indeed hating.

Apps seem to be dynamic, at least the ones Microsoft showed off today such as Mail, with these apps adjusting to the specific screen size of the device they are being used on. This is going to be the key feature of this operating system as it is meant to be able to easily adjust between form factors, moving from desktop to smartphone or tablet and function in exactly the same manner. That of course means that Windows 10 as we see it here will be the same software that we see on Microsoft's and other manufacturers Windows Phone devices in the future. Of course, Microsoft will make some mobile specific adjustments, but the company did not explain what they would be at the event. That explains why Microsoft is eager to change the mobile platform from Windows Phone to just Windows.

This was clearly an early version of the system shown today, with Microsoft saying that the OS will not be available until the end of 2015. Yes, that's a whole year away, so I imagine somethings will change, some will improve, and some will be scrapped altogether between now and then. As I wrote earlier today, Microsoft will give a more thorough demo of Windows 10 at its Build developer conference in April of next year.

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Smartphones

Microsoft has been frustrating since the company purchased Nokia?s Lumia smartphone division last year. The buyout gave the company its own hardware base in the mobile market, but since then the Lumia devices that have rolled out have been underwhelming. Sure, most of the handsets have been solid to good, but they have all been functional and released at lower price points.

We are all waiting for a flagship from Microsoft, one that features the very best specs, just like the top of the line Android high end units. Windows 10 is supposed to be the platform that will allow Microsoft to do that, so it seems obvious that Microsoft needs to go big with a huge smartphone launch to usher in Windows Phone 10.

Unfortunately, it seems that Microsoft will not use its Build conference to launch any smartphones it seems. That means the company will wait until later in the year when the Windows 10 OS is already rolled out and a new smartphone could have a bigger impact.

 
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