What to expect from Microsoft’s Build 2016 conference – The Verge

Windows 10

Windows 10 has been steadily updated with improvements and fixes since its debut in July, but Microsoft has a lot more planned for the future. While current test versions of Windows 10 haven’t included many new features, we’re hoping to hear about a few new additions at Build. Microsoft has teased “two highly-requested surprises” for its Windows 10 Live Tiles, and many are hoping that this will include interactive Live Tiles that make it easier to respond and interact with notifications within apps.

Outside of UI changes, Microsoft is also focusing heavily on the future of Cortana. We’re hoping to hear more about changes to Cortana in Windows 10, and how the digital assistant will get a lot more powerful across Windows, iOS, and Android.

Elsewhere, Microsoft has already revealed a new Skype app for Windows 10 that will debut shortly, so Build feels like the ideal event to give us an update on other Windows 10 apps that are coming soon. Instagram and Facebook are both expected shortly, and we’re hoping to hear about other high-profile additions. Microsoft has re-engineered its new Windows Apps so they’re no longer fullscreen and they work across PCs, tablets, phones, and even the Xbox One gaming console, but we’re still waiting for developers to really show interest in the platform.

Windows Phone

Windows Phone has had a tough year. While Microsoft launched its Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL devices late last year, sales numbers of all Lumias plummeted 57 percent in the recent quarter. Microsoft isn’t planning to produce a large amount of handsets anymore, so those sales figures will decline even further.


Microsoft Lumia 950
Microsoft Lumia 950

It’s not clear what Microsoft is planning for its mobile future, but Build would be a good time for the company to explain its plans for the rest of the year. Microsoft appears to be focused on cross-platform and app opportunities on iOS and Android, but the ability for its universal apps to run across PC and phone is one of its key selling points for Windows 10. Without a strong mobile footprint, questions remain over the entire Windows 10 universal app strategy. Developers will be keen to hear more about Microsoft’s mobile efforts, so we’re hoping to hear a lot more this week.

Xbox apps

Microsoft has been teasing Windows 10 apps on Xbox for what feels like years. It’s finally ready to talk about new apps and a store for Xbox at Build this week. We’re expecting to hear a lot about how developers will be able to create games and apps that work across Windows 10 on PCs and the Xbox One. It’s a key part of Microsoft’s universal app strategy, and the company has been slowly crafting just how it handles apps and the complicated process of approvals for the upcoming app store.

Microsoft is planning to bring Windows 10 apps to the Xbox One in the summer, so we should get some idea this week of what apps and games will debut in the coming months. Microsoft is also opening up Xbox Live to allow Xbox One owners to play against PC or PS4 players. While the company could wait until E3 to provide more details, we’re hoping we might hear about some additional titles that will support this new cross-network play.

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