Before Apple WWDC and Google I/O, there is Microsoft Build. Developer conference, it is. Yesterday saw the update to Project Spartan, information on Windows 10 and some serious holography.
In the following trilogy of articles, I’ll be sharing with you various the new developments in Microsoft’s world!
Article 3: Microsoft Edge, Cortana and Developers!
Windows 10 is the latest build of the historic Windows OS family. It includes great new features, like multi-platform support, a hybrid start menu, lock screen ‘Spotlight' and most importantly, an all new browser. Yes, the days of the good old Internet Explorer are dead, and Microsoft Edge is here.
Edge is a significant improvement to the “slow and boring” Internet Explorer. Edge has an all new design that is extremely "material” and simple. Straight lines, precise buttons and grey icons are everywhere. Its not a bad thing at all though; all designs today are extremely spartan. And Edge was undertaken under the very name “Project Spartan”. No doubt!
Anyways, good design is one thing, functionality is something else. As Windows is growing to be and “open” OS, Microsoft has made sure Edge doesn’t stay locked down. Microsoft said it has taken various extensions from Chrome and tweaked them into their browser. There is one unique feature in the browser though: the ability to write/markup on any website using inbuilt tools. That makes is way easy to share snippets from websites, and even more useful on touch devices where drawing on the webpage actually makes sense. There is also a beautiful new New Tab window that includes search, stocks, weather, news you follow and calendar.
Finally, speed. Previous tests on Project Spartan reveal it isn’t the best. But recent ones are shocking. Edge isn’t just fast, it even beats Chrome! Maybe its too early to comment, but the sheer power of Chrome might just be overshadowed by Internet Explorer’s latest. The Edge for now seems to be surprisingly good. Personally, I didn’t find Edge laggy, but I couldn’t believe it was faster than Chrome.
Another addition to the Windows family is Cortana. Cortana is a personal digital assistant, much like Siri, that understands and learns about you as you speak to it. It was first introduced on Windows Phone 8.1, and now the desktop version of it is here.
Many would consider having a personal assistant on a desktop useless, but it isn’t. At least when you want to set reminders or alter the calendar. Cortana literally learns who is who, who are you, what your daily schedule is like and replies accordingly. Its is not as good as Siri or Google Now, but it does simple tasks pretty well. Cortana rests on your menu at all times, so you type to it (to search) or you can just call her by saying “Hey, Cortana”.
Cortana to Windows is like Spotlight search to Mac OSX. Cortana will also help you find your files on the computer. It’ll search the whole computer. Cortana includes this amazing window that displays latest news and weather similar to Google Now Cards.
Cortana and Edge are great for the users, but what’s for the developers?
Considering this is a dev conference, there were many announcements Microsoft made to attract developers. Microsoft’s developer base is depleting, and this is probably the last chance for them to bring back interest on their platform.
All developers hate writing different code for the same app on three different OS’s. Microsoft did what most couldn’t believe: To make a Windows app, open the same Android/Java or iOS/Objective-C code on Visual Studio, perform minor tweaks, and the app is ready! How much more easy could they have made it! Visual Studio now supports Objective C (that only Apple uses) and the Java used in making Android apps straight off. The popular game ‘Candy Crush’ was ported onto Windows using this exact system: the developers simply ran the iOS Xcode project on Visual Studio and published it. This addition will surely get more developers interested in publishing apps for Windows, is not making them.
Developer tools have also been improved vastly, with the all the Visual Studio Code that runs all languages. Plus, Code supports Windows, OS X and Linux as well, expanding possibilities even more. Developers also so improvements in Azure, the online database for any apps we use today. Cloud coding was also there, with more easy ways to push up code to databases and share code while developing. Pretty cool for devs.
That is it! Build 2015 was good, but we are still awaiting the release of everything they displayed. Microsoft has probably filled a balloon with hope, waiting to burst it and show the world what it is.
Previous articles in this series:
1. Hololens: www.technonerdsblog.com/blog/microsoft-steps-up-the-holo-game-build-2015
2. Windows 10: www.technonerdsblog.com/blog/microsoft-is-closing-on-building-a-successful-windows-10-build-2015