What We Know About Microsoft Build

"no compromises--you get to use whatever kind of device you prefer to run the apps you love."

The quote above comes from the Microsoft Build Web site. While the new conference is scheduled for September 13th through the 16th in California, information on the event has been limited. In fact, as I write this, the Build Web site's agenda has only dates and times with no actual details. The schedule for Tuesday is as follows:

Tuesday, Sept 13

7:00am - 9:00am
Registration
9:00am - 11:00am
Keynote
11:30am - 6:00pm
Sessions

While that makes it hard to know exactly what is going to be presented, Microsoft has implied what will be covered. The quote above indicates a focus on devices. The actual name of the conference is //build/ windows so it's clear the focus is on Windows as well. Microsoft has shown demos of Windows "8" and even stated that this conference will be where it talks about it. If you read the brief descriptions on the conference page, you learn that the focus will be on showing developers - actually they state modern developers -- how to take advantage of future Windows, aka Windows "8." (emphasis is mine)

A New App Model

Windows "8" has raised a lot of questions. Two, in particular, could have huge consequences on today's Windows developers - modern or not. I'm sure both will be answered at the Build conference if not before.

The first question is, "What happens to .NET?" With Windows "8," Microsoft has stated there will be a new programming model that centers on HTML5 and JavaScript. Microsoft is pushing these technologies as a new way to build touch-enabled, hardware-accelerated apps when combined with Windows "8" and Internet Explorer 10. Of course, if HTML5 and JavaScript are the core to building Windows "8" applications, then where does .NET fit? Any serious developer today is going to tell you that JavaScript and HTML don't have the depth to do what .NET does on Windows, so how is this new approach going to work? The question of .NET's future is waiting for an answer. Implications are that .NET developers are not the modern developers anymore.

The second question is, "What happens to Windows?" Actually, the question is "Is this the end of Windows?" This might seem like a strange question since the focus of the conference is about the future of Windows.

This is an important question, though. It centers on the new programming model of HTML5 and JavaScript as well. If you can now use a standardized language and markup to create your applications, then, unlike .NET, there is nothing about those languages that ties you to the operating system. This means that your JavaScript and HTML5 applications should run on Android, Linux or any other OS that also supports these standards. The need for Windows as the operating system would appear to be much less if your applications could potentially run on any platform. It seems odd that Microsoft would shift to a model that negates the need for its operating system.

Of course, a few comments related to this second question have already been dropped. For example, using Internet Explorer 10 with your applications will allow you to tap into a computer's hardware for acceleration. As such, while your apps might be standardized, you should gain a performance boost on Windows "8" with IE 10.

These are big, big questions, which I'm sure Microsoft has thought through. When you combine these questions with the implications that Windows "8" will be as big of a change as Windows 95 was, you quickly begin to realize there are some interesting changes in the works. Microsoft has been quiet on the details. I've asked and gotten more silence than I ever have in the past. Does that mean some big things are in the works? The last time Microsoft was this quiet was right before .NET and C# were announced. As such, I'd say that there is a high potential for some very interesting things to be announced.

When and where do we think answers are going to be shared? It looks like the Microsoft Build conference might be the place to be in September. It should be interesting.


Side note: In the interest of full disclosure, we do business with Microsoft including advertising for the Microsoft Build Conference.



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