Windows at Build 2013

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer just kicked off Build 2013 this morning in San Francisco by announcing the availability of the Windows 8.1 Preview. Steve talked about how Windows 8.1 is a “refined blend” of the desktop experience and modern experience with the Start screen, and how Bing powers the Windows experience.

It’s hard to believe that it has been only 8 months since we launched Windows 8 – and here we are today already delivering a public preview of Windows 8.1 update! As Julie Larson-Green mentioned during this morning’s keynote, Windows 8.1 advances the bold vision we set forward with Windows 8. Windows 8.1 also is evidence of our commitment to continuous innovation and improvement to the product. It is so exciting to be where we are today.

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During the keynote, Julie talked about how Windows 8.1 is great for tablets of all sizes. On small devices for example, the reading experience is great. Julie held up the Acer Iconia W3 and showed off the reading experience with the Nook app which has received a new update today (version 1.5). Julie also demoed the new Mail app coming for Windows 8.1 later this year, the new search experience powered by Bing, the redesigned Xbox Music app, new apps from Bing, and seamlessly playing videos from a PC with Windows 8.1 to the Xbox One.

This morning in the keynote as well as at Build this week, we’re also sharing details about how Windows 8.1 will provide additional opportunity for developers to design, build and market differentiated, innovative apps. We’re seeing growing app momentum for Windows. Last week we announced that new popular apps were coming to the Windows Store. And during this morning’s keynote, it was announced that Facebook and Flipboard are coming to Windows:

“Facebook has always believed in connecting everyone, everywhere, on every device. Given our strong and longstanding partnership with Microsoft, this is an exciting way to advance that vision.”- Mike Shaver, Director of Engineering at Facebook

“Flipboard fits naturally into Window 8. Working together we aspire to craft the world’s most beautiful Windows app.”Mike McCue, Flipboard CEO [Read Flipboard’s blog post here!]

Antoine Leblond also took the stage during the keynote to show off Windows 8.1 to developers and the benefits of developing for the platform.

The Windows Store has been redesigned in Windows 8.1 bringing a new layout with improved navigation, more related content with better discoverability based on an individual’s preferences and a new search control from Bing in the UI. Antoine also announced we are introducing Windows Store gift cards (guess what I am getting everyone for Christmas this year?), an easy way for people to purchase apps, books, games and content. You will be able to load your Microsoft account with stored value in local currency and make purchases online from the Windows Store. All this accrues to better ways for developers to make money.

Antoine also showed how Windows 8.1 natively supports 3D printing. You can read more about that here in this blog post.

Windows offers the best in class economics for developers who get to keep 80% of the revenue for the lifetime of their app once it crosses the $25,000 USD revenue threshold. Industry standard is 70%. And with Windows 8.1, developers can create apps that can work together with other apps to share data, share the screen and deliver richer experiences across a wide range of devices, including new 8-inch-and-below form factors. As examples of the wide range of devices for Windows, Antoine showed the Lenovo Helix, the Acer Aspire V5 which is now available under $400, the Dell XPS 10 which is also available under $400, and the really cool Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus which has a screen resolution of 3200 x 1800!

So bottom line, Windows 8.1 brings tremendous opportunity to app builders, while increasing the breadth and depth of apps in the Store that customers will download and enjoy.

If you’re a developer – see this blog post from the Windows App Builders Blogfor all you need to know to get started building great apps for Windows 8.1.

We’re super excited about today’s milestone. Windows 8.1 will bring a lot of compelling improvements and enhancements to areas such as personalization, search, the built-in apps, Windows Store experience, and cloud connectivity. With the Windows 8.1 Preview, you can try all the improvements and new features out for yourself!