Top 5 Updates for Startups from the BUILD Conference

Last week I attended Build, Microsoft’s annual conference for developers in San Francisco.

The excitement and buzz was palpable. With a new CEO at the helm and a wave of product updates, it’s truly an exciting time for the company. And who better to share in the excitement than with 5,000 developers that are leading the industry in building what’s next?

For those of you who were following, there was a ton of updates and a lot of sessions to attend. Here’s my attempt to capture the stuff most relevant to you – startups. Given Microsoft’s cloud first/mobile first vision, whether you’re building on us or not, here are a few updates you might find interesting.

Windows 8.1 Update, Windows Phone 8.1 and Cortana

Man speaking on stage

Belfiore unveils the Windows Phone digital assistant, Cortana

As Terry Myerson noted, we are continuing to refine and improve Windows based on feedback from customers, including the return of the Start button, tutorials, more personalization options, the ability to boot to desktop, improvements to multi-tasking, and more. Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 customers is available via Windows Update and the majority of customers will receive the update automatically. In addition to the Windows 8.1 Update, Joe Belfiore also discussed Windows Phone 8.1 and how they are becoming much more aligned in their strategy. Belfiore also unveiled Cortana, the world’s first truly personal digital assistant available on Windows Phone. One of the things I am excited about for startups is that we’ve also designed Cortana to be able to interact with 3rd Party Apps installed on your phone.  I’ve been playing with Cortana for a month – she’s like a personal assistant with the biggest brain in the world, it’s a very cool experience.

Windows for the Internet of Things

Windows is a compelling platform in part because it delivers a single development environment for a broad range of hardware, including PCs, tablets, embedded devices, Internet of Things (IOT), and system-on-a-chip (SOC). Myerson also unveiled that we’re bringing Windows to a whole new class of small devices, including the Intel Galileo board. Check out to sign up and learn more.

Windows App Studio Beta

Build a Windows Phone AND Windows app in one session, no code required. With this release, you can build a universal Windows app project that results in an app for Windows Phone and Windows, all in a single session. In addition to starting a project from scratch, we’ve added the ability to build a template that allows you to wrap a mobile website into an app, and add native controls, called a WebApp. By simply entering the URL of the mobile website, you can create a Web App Template (WAT) for Windows Phone. In addition, learn more about creating universal Windows apps and the Windows Store, which now enable you to reach users across the spectrum of Windows devices with optimized app experiences built from one shared project.

Announcing Preview of New Portal and Exciting Updates to other Azure Services

Steve Guggenheimer and John Shewchuk talked a bit about our goal to focus on simplifying a developer’s life. We've gone about this in three ways: by empowering developers to painlessly bring their existing investments and assets forward, by enabling the creation of cloud and mobile first app experiences, and by providing tools and technologies that help developers maximize their business opportunities across different platforms. We unveiled several exciting updates to Microsoft Azure at Build, all consistent with Microsoft’s broader vision of helping developers innovate in a mobile-first, cloud-first world. The big news is that we completely reimagined the management portal. Take a look and check out the Microsoft Azure Portal preview.

Audience listening to presentation

5,000 developers attended BUILD to get an early glimpse of what's to come

.NET Foundation Established to Foster Open Development

We also announced an independent .NET Foundation to foster open development and collaboration around the growing collection of open source technologies for .NET. It will serve as a forum for commercial and community developers alike to strengthen the future of the .NET ecosystem by promoting openness, community participation and rapid innovation. The .NET Foundation will start with 24 .NET open source projects under its stewardship, including the newly announced.NET Compiler Platform (“Roslyn”) as well as the ASP.NET family of open source projects, both open sourced by Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc. Technology leader Xamarin also announced its support for the .NET Foundation and will also contribute six of its projects including its open source email libraries: MimeKit and MailKit.

There is a lot of great momentum and likely a lot more updates I should include (like Kinect for Windows v2). Make sure to check out the Build Newsroom, Channel 9 and the Microsoft Developers Network for more information.

I’m really liking what I’m seeing at Microsoft. The recent announcements demonstrate our eagerness to support multiple platforms aggressively.  Our products are more relevant to startups now than ever before.