The first day was a busy day of announcements from Microsoft. There are far too many to list here (I’m sure I’d miss some!) and I could spend hours (or days) writing up the details of each announcement. I’d rather call out some of the announcements that I personally found to be more interesting.
Possibly the bigger announcement related to WinJS is that it is now open source – available here. It’s also worth watching to see how WinJS might be utilized for building apps on other platforms such as iOS and Android. To get more insight as to where WinJS might be heading, check out WinJS roadmap here
Buried a couple hours into the morning’s keynote was a quick statement telling us that Windows 8 is now free (for hardware makers) for all devices less than 9 inches in size which includes all Windows Phones and most tablets. Just prior to this statement, Terry Myerson (Microsoft) also stated that once the “Windows for the Internet of Things” was ready, that Windows would be free.
This seems like a fairly profound statement to me though I haven’t read much about it since it was stated. Also,what isn’t immediately clear is whether any of this applies directly to consumers. For example, once Windows 9 (or whatever it ends up being called) is released,will existing Windows 8.1 users have to pay for the upgrade?
In what appears to be a direct competitor to Apple’s Siri and Google Now Windows Phone 8.1 now sports Cortana, a personal assistant for your Windows Phone. Interacting with Cortana is as simple as pressing the search button (or corresponding live tile) on your Windows Phone and telling Cortana what you’d like her to do. For example, you might ask Cortana to wake you up at 7 o’clock tomorrow morning or ask her to remind you to get milk on your way home. I don’t know how comfortable I’ll feel talking to my phone but I’m looking forward to at least trying it out.
With Windows Phone 8.1 comes a new keyboard – Word Flow. Word Flow allowing you to type messages by moving your finger around the keyboard. Seeing the demos reminded me of the Swype keyboard which is popular on many Android devices.
Joe Belfiore (Microsoft) demonstrated the new keyboard on stage and the speed and accuracy was impressive. Even more impressive was a video they played showing an attempt to break the world record for speed typing on a mobile phone – which they did (i.e. Microsoft now claims to hold the record for the world’s fastest phone keyboard).
There were many, many more announcements made during the keynote and throughout the remainder of the day. I’ve no doubt that much will be written about the announcements made, especially once Windows Phone 8.1 is made available to developers within the next couple of weeks. For more details, you can watch all the conference sessions (as they become available) on the Channel 9 Build 2014 website.