//Build/ 2015: HoloLens, MS Edge & All Things Windows 10
//Build/ is an annual conference hosted by Microsoft each year for software and web developers and Windows enthusiasts. The event, which was first held in 2011, acts as a showcase for Microsoft to reveal their biggest announcements and technology improvements.
With the impending release of Windows 10 this summer, I was expecting a lot of the focus to be on its changes and improvements. Upon arrival at the conference however, I quickly realized just how much Microsoft has in store, with Windows 10 being only one of their big releases for 2015.
A new part of the Windows 10 release is a new web browser, Edge. While Internet Explorer (IE) will still be available for companies who have heavy investment in applications that only run in IE, Edge drops all of the backwards compatibility that most modern websites don’t need, allowing it to be just as fast and compliant as Google Chrome.
I had the chance to eat lunch with one of the MS Edge developers, Andy Sterland. This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me. Just a group of 8 of us, sitting around eating lunch, talking about F12 Developer Tools and what we think could be done better. Andy was a real nice guy, genuinely interested in our suggestions.
Some of the other big announcements and demonstrations throughout the conference were:
Visual Studio, Microsoft’s primary software development integrated development environment (IDE), is receiving a big update in Visual Studio 2015. Almost all of the tools and platforms Visual Studio targets including, of course, Windows Store apps will be updated as well as a new version of .NET, ASP.NET, and SQL Server (although this update is slated to come out next year). A lot of the new features center on adding direct support for tools that many non-Visual Studio developers are already using such as Node Package Manager (npm), Bower, and Gulp.
- Microsoft announced they are going to make it possible for iOS and Android developers to compile their applications for Windows 10 desktops, tablets, and phones.
There was a lot of information and demonstrations on the next two releases of ASP.NET. Both new versions of ASP.NET share many of the same improvements including support for HTTP/2 and almost all of your v4.6 skills will carry over to the v5 products. No official date was announced but both are expected to be released right around the same time as one another.
ASP.NET v4.6 is built on .NET 4.6 which is in itself an improvement from the current .NET Framework. The release contains many new improvements that are incremental to the previous version.
ASP.NET v5, which is built on .NET 5, will have more radical improvements. The biggest being almost all of the v5 products now open source. It looks like Microsoft’s web team capitalized on this to make some big improvements and is likely why the v5 products will still be very familiar to ASP.NET developers.
Last but certainly not least, is the release of HoloLens.
I was one of the lucky few to demonstrate HoloLens. If you haven’t seen any videos, HoloLens is a pair of glasses that allows you to see holograms in your physical world, places, spaces and things. Unlike virtual reality glasses that block out everything external and immerse you in a virtual world, HoloLens lets you see real world objects in 3D; what Microsoft is calling a “mixed reality.”
When the demo began, I was provided with my pair of HoloLens’ and told to scan the room. As I scanned the room, the glasses picked up everything – from the framing of the walls to the placement of every single object in the room. Once scanned, a control panel appeared on the wall to my left. The control panel let me do exactly that – control various items in the room by performing simple actions.
In the most simplistic terms, looking at a specific item wearing HoloLens’ is equivalent to hovering your mouse over an item on your screen and making a clicking motion with your finger is similar to clicking a mouse. Using these two actions, I started off by placing a cartoon island from the control panel into the middle of the room. I went on to release a fish from a cage (by deleting the cage) and duplicated the fish to create a school. That was fun but what I really wanted to know was how expansive the hologram covered area was. So, I decided to resize one of the fish. It ended up being the same size as the island (which was rather large) and probably could have been bigger but I think the guy running the demonstration was getting annoyed.
Everything about the HoloLens experience was really cool. From the secret hotel I was redirected to, to having to hand over my phone, camera, and computer, to the actual demo itself was a thrill. Although the actual holograms aren’t quite as solid yet, at least for me compared to what I’ve seen in promo videos, I have to say HoloLens is in and of itself, really impressive. And, it’s practical. Another demo experience showed an architect using HoloLens to work on the model of a building and physically walk around inside the model.
Build 2015 was a great experience – from the networking event Xamarin hosted, to testing out new tools and meeting many of the people who create – if you use Microsoft tools as a software or web developer, I certainly recommend attending Build 2016.
Zack Moore is one of LBA Ware’s leading software engineers. Part of the LBA Ware team since early 2012, Zack has contributed to the success of many our software solutions. Zack most recently focuses on applying his expertise to our middleware integration application, LOS Talker. Integrating with industry leading loan origination systems (LOS), core processing systems and lead management CRM software providers, LOS Talker replaces the need to manually update loan data files and risk missing in-process marketing and sales opportunities that often occur with existing management systems.