A conference by developers, for developers. Sounds familiar? Well, that’s essentially what Microsoft Build is all about. An annual conference, Microsoft Build is aimed at software engineers and web developers using Microsoft technologies. We’ve seen some pretty interesting things over the past few years. So what happened at Microsoft Build 2019? Here are some things we found interesting.

A smarter, more conversant assistant

Cortana is not exactly on par with Google Assistant or Siri. But it is constantly evolving. Microsoft appears to be looking at making Cortana more conversational for those who are organizing their day. As such, Microsoft Build showcased how Cortana would be able to respond to conversations and organize meetings and set reminders in a proactive manner.

Microsoft build 2019
Expect Cortana to take on more roles in your organization (Image Credits: PCWorld)

While these features are already available in Cortana and indeed Google Assistant and Siri, it’s the conversational aspect that has been improved. In case you missed it, Microsoft purchased Semantic Machines in 2018. This has allowed Microsoft to delve further into developing conversational AI to improve Cortana. The new developments for Cortana is targeted more at employees in an organization when planning meetings and working around schedules for co-workers.

The grand plan for Microsoft is to have its own virtual assistant that can interact with everything in an organization. This will (hopefully) help organizations get things done in a more efficient manner.

Everyone is on Edge (almost)

While those on Windows have been using Microsoft Edge, Mac users haven’t had the pleasure (I guess?) of working on it. Microsoft announced at Microsoft Build 2019 that the company’s Edge browser would be rebuilt for MacOS. The browser would use the same Chromium rendering engine that Google Chrome uses. The sneak peek of Edge looked a lot like Google Chrome. While preview build of the Edge browser was made available for Windows last month, it’s listed as “coming soon for MacOS”.

Microsoft build 2019
MacOS users can expect Microsoft Edge soon (Image Credits: The Verge)

Just to put things into perspective, Microsoft Edge for MacOS will be Microsoft’s first web browser on the Mac since Internet Explorer was available 16 years ago. This was replaced by Safari and made the default browser in Mac OS X Panther. A canary version of Edge for MacOS has been made available and can be downloaded from here.

Minecraft meets Pokémon Go

What would you build if Minecraft was available in AR? Well, that may very well become a reality (pun intended). Microsoft Build 2019 teased what looked like a new Minecraft game for mobile devices. The plot twist was that the game was set in Augmented Reality, much like other games such as Pokémon Go and Jurassic World Alive.

Microsoft build 2019
Minecraft GO, anyone? (Image Credits: Polygon)

While it’s not clear what this Minecraft game would be, it would be pretty awesome to see Microsoft harnessing the power of AR for an AR version of Minecraft. The teaser video of the game shows Saxs Persson – Create Director of Minecraft leaving his phone on a bench. The phone is then picked up by a passerby and we see Minecraft running in AR on said phone. While this is all we have to go on for now, more details will apparently be made available on the 17th of May. In case you didn’t know, that date marks the 10-year anniversary of Minecraft.

Kernels, Frameworks and Terminals

The last Microsoft Build Conference saw the company bringing the Bash shell, native OpenSSH and Ubuntu to Windows and the Windows store. They are now taking things a step further and shipping a full Linux kernel to Windows 10. This will roll out with Windows Insider builds this summer onwards. Jack Hammons, program manager at Microsoft explained that the kernel itself will be initially based on version 4.19 and he latest long term stable version of Linux.

Microsoft build 2019
A full Linux terminal, you say? (Image Credits: Engadget)

This will all happen with a userspace installed via the Windows Store. For developers, this means increased performance of Microsoft’s Linux subsystem in Windows. The kernel would also be updated via Windows Update. It will also be fully open source. As such, developers can create their own WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) kernel and contribute changes.

Microsoft Build 2019 also saw the unveiling of the company’s Fluid Framework developer platform. This is designed to let developers build more shared services and apps on the web. This would be used in tandem with Microsoft Cortana to translate text, pull content from the web and also suggest edits as well. The first SDK is expected to be available later this year.

Microsoft build 2019
Fluid Framework in action with real time translations (Image Credits: PCWorld)

The live demo of Fluid Framework saw a live translation in Word for each participant in a document. It also saw the ability to share real-time tables directly within a Microsoft Teams chat UI. The framework can run across Chromium Edge, Chrome, Edge, and Firefox.

Lastly, Microsoft is also launching a new command line app for Windows called Windows Terminal. This would act as a central hub of sorts for accessing environments such as PowerShell, CMD, and WSL. The interface also has multiple tab support alongside theming and customization as well.

Microsoft build 2019
Meet the central hub of all things command line: Windows Terminal (Image Credits: Betanews)

The new Windows Terminal will support emoji and GPU-based text rendering as well. In terms of availability, Windows Terminal will be available around the middle of June.

That about wraps up Microsoft Build 2019

As the heading says, these are pretty much the interesting things we found at Microsoft Build 2019. The conference goes on till the 8th of May 2019. If you see anything that interests you, do let us know and we’ll take a look at it.

What are you most interested about at Microsoft Build 2019? We would love to hear from you.

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