Let’s get the Windows 8.1 party started

The following is a post from Frank X. Shaw, Corporate Vice President of Corporate Communications at Microsoft.

I’ve spent the last 48 hours or so at the Moscone Center. After the past 45 days, I bet the staff there could crank out some code on their own.

As I watched our keynotes and attended sessions, it struck me that within the past 45 days more than 15,000 developers from all around the world have made the very same pilgrimage to San Francisco, and had a very similar experience. Hotel room-to-Moscone-Center-to-hotel-room-to-Moscone Center…

You get the picture. Not many tans among these crowds. But LOTS of optimism.

That’s what’s great about our industry. No matter economic conditions or political strife in whatever regions of the world, the developers who’ve traveled to the Moscone Center recently, first for Google I/O, then for Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, and this week for Microsoft’s Build conference, have come with an underlying sense of optimism and a belief that the strings of code they write can improve people’s lives.

This sense of optimism is universal; it isn’t limited to one company’s platform, as some would suggest.

First, Google updated its developer community about Chrome, Android and many of its services, followed by Apple a couple of weeks later, which rolled out updates to iOS7, OS X and many of its services. Some thought the new version of iOS looked very similar to Windows Phone 8 software, and then there was the news that Siri will feature Bing search results.

This week, it was our turn. And what a turn it was:

· The Windows 8.1 Preview;

· IE11, the best way to experience the Web on touch devices;

· New tooling in the form of Visual Studio 13;

· Amazing new first-party food and fitness apps from Bing;

· The new Xbox Music app;

· New third-party apps from Facebook, Flipboard and the NFL;

· An incredible panoply of Windows 8 devices, from really small tablets to very large, but portable systems, all at a range of price points;

· 3D printer support in Windows 8.1;

· Bing platform capabilities for developers that got shown off on Wednesday and again yesterday as Steve Guggenheimer and John Shewchuk brought it home by demonstrating how you could use Bing Web data to extend Office apps;

· All the Windows Azure power, scale and integration that Satya Nadella and Scott Guthrie brought to life yesterday, including the availability of Windows Azure Mobile Services and Windows Azure Web Sites;

· The Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Release Preview; and

· So much more that Guggs and John covered during yesterday’s keynote.

At the end of two days, we had presented an amazing array of new touch-capable devices and compelling first- and third-party services and apps supported by Windows Azure cloud infrastructure and other higher-level cloud services.

Three different developer conferences. Same venue. Similar concepts, but different message.

Microsoft’s vision for the future is one of an amazing array of computing devices of all types, sizes and price points running incredibly compelling services for work and play that are constantly updating and syncing across PC, tablet, phone, TV and other devices via the Cloud.

We’ve been talking for quite some time about a devices and services future; that future was on display this week at the Moscone Center (if you missed it, you can check out the keynotes and other sessions on Channel 9). As some have noted this week, we aren’t moving there timidly; in fact, others are noting the pace at which we’re pushing forward. As Steve Ballmer said in opening the conference Wednesday, one of the messages he hoped attendees would take away is “the transformation that we are going through as a company to move to an absolutely rapid release cycle — rapid release, rapid release. “

Continuous services. Boom.

At the conclusion of Wednesday’s keynote, Steve acknowledged that developers have lots of choices, but made the case why they should bet on Microsoft’s devices and services future.

“…when people really need to get some work done, when people really want to hard core lean in and have some fun, we think we’ve got absolutely the highest volume platform on the planet. We will sell literally hundreds of millions of Windows devices this year. Windows Phones. Windows tablets. Windows PCs… And while certainly some of the form factors that have been most traditionally in Windows will see an interesting transition, the rise of new Windows form factors, phones, tablets, two-in-ones, all-in-ones, even the sense of where we take Xbox and the ability to participate in Windows experiences is unparalleled. And the opportunity as an application developer to use Windows on the device and Windows Azure in the cloud to build next-generation mobile, connected experiences has absolutely never been better than it is today.”

In Wednesday’s keynote, Antoine Leblond, corporate vice president for Windows Web Services, said Windows 8.1 has more than 5,000 new APIs that developers can utilize to unleash their creativity.

“Windows 8.1 has a lot of surface area,” he added.

A lot of surface area, indeed. Let’s get the party started.

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