February 8, 2017 1:31 pm

Windows Developer Day – Creators Update

By / Corporate Vice President of Windows Developer

Back in October, Satya, Terry and Panos introduced the Windows 10 Creators Update. They showed some of the new features and announced some amazing new additions to our Surface family of devices. Since then, my team has been working to complete the platform work for the Creators Update to deliver the full power of the Universal Windows Platform to our developers around the world.

Today, I had the chance to host the Windows Developer Day for the Creators Update and to share some of the developer-focused features that are coming soon. You can get started using these today by becoming a Windows Insider and downloading our latest preview SDK, which is now feature complete.

This is an exciting day for me because I love getting to spend time and share information with our developers. We are all driven by our mutual passion to build technology, whether we work on apps for enterprise, games or anything in between.

UWP Improvements

The Universal Windows Platform (UWP) enables your Windows apps to take advantage of the full power of the PC. To show an example of this power, I was joined on stage by Vincent Hardy from Adobe Systems, who showed us Adobe XD, a full-featured and sophisticated desktop application built on UWP.  The Adobe XD app combines beauty and power to deliver a great experience across multiple devices, form factors and input modalities.

We know that many developers want to take full advantage of modern Windows capabilities delivered in UWP, while still retaining their existing technology and code investments. The Desktop Bridge for Windows enables existing desktop applications to call UWP APIs and to be distributed and updated via the Windows Store. The Desktop Bridge makes it easier than ever to share code between Win32, .NET and UWP, taking advantage of the store’s ability to deliver easy and automated upgrades to help ensure that customers are always running the latest and best versions of their apps. Today, I showed Evernote, Photoscape X Pro and KODI, just three of the more than 330 Windows apps and games published to the store in the first four months of availability.

We believe we can work faster and smarter to deliver the best platform for developers if we work with the community. To do just this, I announced that we will make all Microsoft developer documents available and open for community collaboration. In addition, we will open our bug and feature backlog to the public and take bug contributions and feature requests starting today at noon.

In that spirit of openness, I was joined on stage by Todd Anglin from Progress, makers of the powerful Telerik controls. Telerik is popular with enterprise developers, enabling them to build great business applications with a rich set of easy-to-use UI controls. Todd showed us what these great controls can do, and announced that they are now Open Source and available on GitHub and also as NuGet packages. Find out more at telerik.com/uwp.

One of the great powers of UWP is its ability to run across a wide range of Windows devices and enable a wide range of experiences. Today, I showed a few examples of this ability:

  • Developers will be able to use the Windows Holographic Platform to bring amazing 3D experiences, both apps and games, not just to HoloLens, but to the wide range of mixed-reality headsets coming soon. We showed how easy it is to make a single app look fantastic across HoloLens and occluded headsets.
  • The new Cortana Skills Kit gives developers new and natural ways to connect user to their apps and services. We built a Cortana Skill on stage today and showed how easy it is to integrate bots created using the Microsoft Bot Framework and LUIS.
  • We know that your users interact with a variety of devices throughout the day, so we are building UWP capabilities (called “Project Rome”) to help your experiences flow seamlessly across devices, and guide users to your best and richest experience. Rome provides “apps for websites”, a simple tool that directs users to your apps (with the right context) rather than simply opening the browser. Rome’s cross-device services make it easy for users to continue an activity within your app as they move from one device to another, including Android devices. To make this possible, we released today the Rome SDK for Android.

Whenever I talk to developers, I hear that it is critically important for us to enable you to build apps that are visually beautiful and engaging, and that also take advantage of the latest and coolest hardware capabilities. It is also a high priority for us. Today, I showed some of the new capabilities that are coming to the visual and XAML layers of the platform that enable you to create beautiful user experiences through the use of effects, animations and transitions. With only a small amount of code, you can bring these effects to your apps with amazing results that delight users. In the Creators Update, we have worked to deliver new capabilities in pen and ink, including a more powerful ink toolbar that’s easy for any developer to use; smart ink, which enables recognition of lists, simple shapes and even math symbols; and enhanced APIs that enable you to do more than ever with the Surface Dial. Check out the video of the presentation for a full demo that shows a lot of these features coming together to make a beautiful and engaging app.

Games on UWP

I talked a lot about apps, but we’re also building UWP to be the best platform for building amazing games that run across the PC and Xbox One. With the Creators Update, UWP makes game development faster, easier and better. Specifically, I’d like to call out three key UWP improvements that will be appreciated by gamers and devs alike:

  • Game Mode: Windows 10 can optimize system resources to deliver the best PC gaming experience possible.
  • UWP on Xbox: UWP games (along with apps) will now be available on Xbox One via the Windows Store.
  • Windows Sonic: Microsoft’s next-gen spatial audio platform provides a powerful, immersive sound experience with support for Dolby Atmos. Windows Sonic will be available on Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs, also supporting both speakers and headphones.
  • Intelligent install: Lastly, the UWP packaging format makes it easier to install the bits in the right order, letting players jump into a new game (or app) before it has fully downloaded. And updates focus on downloading only the bits that have changed, so players can jump back in even faster.

For more information on these features and many more coming this year, tune into the Xbox sessions at GDC in a few weeks.

Windows is the home for all developers

I’m a developer, and my team is a team of developers. Like you, we love our tools and services and we’re very demanding of them. We want Windows to be the very best place to develop experiences, whether for Windows, the web or cross-platform. Today, we showed some of the performance, stability and debugging improvements in Visual Studio 2017. We demonstrated improvements to the Console and Bash, as well as to the Windows Subsystem for Linux. We showed remote access to device information via the Windows Device Portal, and even pixel-level GPU debugging with the new PIX tool for Windows.

The Windows Store team walked through several new and improved services coming in the next few months. Store Services APIs provide services to help you understand how your app is performing in the wild, including analytics and telemetry, flighting, automated submissions and updates, and ad campaigns.  The team also highlighted updated services to enable better user engagement using A/B testing, targeted push notifications and more.

And, of course, I recognize that you use lots of services from providers other than Microsoft, so today it gave me great pleasure to show powerful additions to the collection of middleware that is available to Windows Developers. Today, we announced the immediate availability to two important libraries:

  • The Windows SDK for Google Analytics brings one of the most popular and powerful real-time analytics packages to Windows. The core library works with UWP, Xamarin, Windows Forms and WPF, allowing for maximum code reuse.
  • Facebook App Install Ads are now available for UWP apps. Facebook App Install Ads are displayed in the Facebook newsfeed both on the web and in the Facebook app, bringing immense reach to Windows developers, as well as rich targeting capabilities (including interests, location and demographics) and their ads manager dashboard.

Where to get the bits

Here’s a quick recap of some of the announcements we made today:

  • Windows SDK Availability: Become a Windows Insider and get the newest feature-complete flight of the Windows 10 Creators Update SDK today.
  • Documentation: For the first time, all of Microsoft’s developer documentation will be in one place (http://docs.microsoft.com/) where it will be easier to find and use. We are also opening up the docs to community contribution.
  • Developer Platform Backlog: My team and I are making our backlog public, for both features and bugs. This will be online at noon today at https://developer.microsoft.com/windows/platform.
  • Telerik Controls: The Telerik UWP control library is now open source and available on GitHub and as NuGet packages. Find out more at telerik.com/uwp.
  • Cortana Skills Kit: The Cortana Skills Kit will enter open Developer Preview later this month.
  • Rome SDK for Android: This is a new SDK that brings the cross-devices services of “Project Rome” to Android devices, allowing easy and powerful integration with Windows. Find the new SDK at https://github.com/Microsoft/project-rome.
  • UWP Community Toolkit 1.3: Today, we are releasing a big update to the toolkit that includes many contributions from our developer community.
  • Windows SDK for Google Analytics: This new SDK, available now, enables Windows developers (UMP, Xamarin, WPF and WinForms) access to one of the more popular and powerful real-time analytics suites. Get this today at https://github.com/dotnet/windows-sdk-for-google-analytics.
  • Windows SDK for Facebook: With one billion users, Facebook offers one of the most powerful tools for you to acquire new users for your app or game. Check out the new SDK here: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/app-ads/windows-sdk.

It was a great day today, and there is more to come. We look forward to seeing you at Build in a few months when we will go deeper into the Creators Update capabilities for developers, and take a look at what’s coming next. In the meantime, I’d like to invite all of you to get started developing for Windows Creators Update today. Download the SDK, update your applications with new features (or build all-new apps that deliver the best new experiences), and please keep giving us feedback.

— Kevin

Updated February 8, 2017 1:42 pm

Join the conversation

  1. Quite literally, my head is about explode from all the developer goodness. Fantastic. Docs, bug tracking, open source UI controls — it’s all happening here. Thanks!