Thoughts on Day 1 of Build 2014

Today was an important day for Windows and Xbox at Microsoft’s Build conference in San Francisco. I encourage you to check out blogs on Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Update, to get the details of the work we are delivering for developers, consumers and business customers.

I wanted to use this post to share some thoughts from what I said in the keynote:

1. We believe in our ecosystem of device manufacturers and devs (developers, developers, developers!), and that their creativity has incredible potential to change the world – and we want to help them do that.

2. We believe in the Internet of Things, and that as the devices get smaller, the cloud gets bigger.

3. We believe in natural user interfaces, and the power of things like voice and gesture to transform how users will interact with their devices and apps in the coming years.

I also spent some time today sharing some parts of our roadmap. It’s always tricky to find the right balance when sharing future plans, as some parts of the plan may change. But as our industry, our company, and Windows are in the midst of a pretty massive transformation in the way we build and deliver innovation to customers, partners and developers, we are taking some steps to be more transparent in signaling what’s ahead.

As a company that works with a wide range of hardware partners and developers, it’s our job to make it easy for partners to build amazing and successful devices and experiences on the Windows platform at competitive price points. Over the past several months, we’ve taken significant strides to do just that.

We recently announced our work with Qualcomm Technologies to enable new partners to broaden their product lineup with Windows Phone faster, easier and more affordably than ever before. We are thrilled to welcome 11 new Windows Phone partners since Mobile World Congress in February, with the addition of Micromax and Prestigio just announced today.

In addition to welcoming new Windows Phone device partners, we have been working to ensure the Windows platform supports a wider range of hardware options for device makers. Today we announced that the Windows 8.1 Update will support Intel’s Bay Trail Cost Reduced options, along with 1GB RAM and 16 GB storage configurations which are popular on entry level tablets and notebooks. We’re also working with Intel on enablement programs that make it easy for their partners to onboard new Windows devices quickly, much as we are with Qualcomm.

To accelerate the creation of great mobile devices running Windows and grow our number of users, we announced today that Windows will be available for 0 dollars to hardware partners for Windows Phones and tablets smaller than 9” in size. This offering also enables hardware partners to provide their customers a one-year subscription to Office 365. These steps will help our partners to deliver the rich experience of Windows plus best-in-class hardware, software and services to consumers at affordable prices.

For partners, this makes it easier to bring more compelling devices to market. For developers, this means more endpoints for their apps in a store that’s already growing at about 50% a year. And for consumers, it will mean a broader range of great smartphones and tablets at prices that will be competitive with anything on the market.

I talked about the coming device revolution referred to as the Internet of Things, where billions of devices will be created and connected to the cloud, to each other, and to applications and services that will help define the next decade of computing.

We showed Windows running on an Intel Quark chip. It’s a processor the size of a pencil eraser that is running a full version of Windows, enabling developers to use all their Windows knowledge and skills to create new and exciting devices and experiences. When we are ready to ship Windows for the Internet of Things, we will make that available for zero dollars to encourage creation of these new devices and experiences in this new and exciting category.

I also showed the new version of Kinect on Windows, which takes the magical experience that Kinect provides on the Xbox to the PC, providing incredible opportunity for innovation in new and immersive app experiences.

Finally, I previewed some work we are doing for the next iteration of Windows, which builds on the journey we began with Windows 8 just over a year ago as well as the releases we’ve done since then. In particular, I showed some early thinking on how the user experience in Windows will evolve in a way that will help developers’ apps make their way to users across devices and form factors.

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We set out to do this is a thoughtful way – one where we could enable more productivity for customers working in desktop mode, while building smart bridges to the new modern user experience and ensuring customers can get access to all your great apps in the Windows Store no matter where they are in the experience, or which device type they’re on.

As I said today, these are glimpses of our roadmap, with a particular focus on the parts of our roadmap that are most relevant to our developer partners. We’ll continue to invest in these and many other areas to build a great platform and experiences for developers, customers and partners and you’ll hear more from us when this work is closer to being ready to ship out to the world.

It’s been a fun day so far in San Francisco – it’s always fun to show what we have ready to release soon as well as what we’re working on for the future. In a cloud and mobile first world, having a platform to enable great device experiences and the next wave of developer productivity and innovation is what we’re all about, and we hope you enjoy the journey with us.

-Terry