Build 2012

So I have finally dried the tears after watching the Keynote for Build 2012.  This wasn’t because it was an emotional presentation, but because for the second year I missed the goodies.  Each on site attendee got a Surface RT, a Lumia 920 and a voucher for 100GB of SkyDrive storage.

The event was opened with the announcement that in the three days since the launch of Windows 8 over 4 million upgrades have been sold.  I don’t care who you are that is an impressive stat.  Ballmer then spent a fair amount of time remaking the case for the Windows and Windows Phone platforms similar to what we have heard over the last to launch events.

There were some cool, but non-essential demos.  The one that was the most fun was the Perceptive Pixel 82” slate device.  At first glance I wondered why I would ever want such a device, but then Ballmer explained it’s possible use for schools and boardrooms.  The actually made sense.

Then things got strange.  Steve started explaining features that developers could leverage.  Usually this type of information is left to the product leads.  He focused on the integration with the Charms features such as Search and Share.

Steve “Guggs” Guggenheim showed off an app that would appeal to my kids from Disney called “Agent P” which is base on Phineas and Ferb.  Then he got to the meat of the presentation.  We found out that you could add a tile that can be used to sell ad space.  In the same vein we also found out that you could use Microsoft’s, Paypal’s or any commerce engine of your own creation or choosing.

For those who are interested in sports and especially developing sports apps you would have found the small presentation from Michael Bayle of ESPN.  He introduced the ESPN app which has tons of features.  For the developers in the crowd he also mentioned that ESPN has an API available at developer.espn.com.

During the launch events we were told apps were coming.  In this presentation we were actually shown a scrolling list of logos and told about a couple of them.  Ballmer mentioned specifically Twitter, SAP and DropBox.  These are impressive names that were just a couple of the list impressive names.

Steve Ballmer addressed the question of why you should develop for the Windows 8 platform.  He feels that Microsoft has the best commercial terms for developers, a better way to build apps than other platforms and a variety of form factors.  His key point though was the available volume of customers given the current Windows install base and assuming even a flat growth of the platform.  This he backed with a promise that Microsoft is going to do better at marketing and you won’t be able to avoid the ads that they are bringing out.

The last section of the key note was present by Kevin Gallo from the Windows Phone team.  This was the real reason I tuned into the webcast.  He impressed upon those watching that the strength of developing for the Microsoft platform is the common programming model that now exist.  While there are difference between form factor implementations you can leverage code across them.

He claimed that 90% of developer requests for Windows Phone 8 had been implemented.  These include:

  • More controls with better performance
  • Better live tiles including lock screen integration
  • Speech support in custom apps
  • Easier submission to the market place
  • App camera integration
  • VOIP and chat support
  • Bluetooth and NFC support
  • Native C++ development
  • Direct 3D development

 

The quote from Kevin that stood out for me was that “Take your Dramamine and buckle your seatbelt type of games are coming to Windows Phone 8”.  He back this up by displaying a list of game development frameworks and then having Unity come out and do a demo.

Ok, almost done …

The last two things of note for me were the announcement that the SDK is immediately available at dev.windowsphone.com and that they were reducing the cost of an individual developer account to $8 for the next 8 days.

Let the development commence.