Microsoft just closed the doors of Build 2017, its annual developer conference. This year, hundreds of developers flocked to Seattle to see what Microsoft had in store for them.
The first day of Build 2017 featured announcements about SQL, Visual Studio, and other developer-centric features.
On the second day, Microsoft announced new features and improvements coming to Windows 10. Sure, most of it was still developer-centric, but it gave us an idea of what to expect from Windows in the upcoming months.
The Fall Creators Update
Not to be confused with the original Creators Update that launched in April, the upcoming update to Windows 10 will be called The Fall Creators Update (which is a mouthful, we will call it the Fall Update for this article). Why Microsoft decided to call it so is beyond us, so we will stick with Microsoft’s explanation.
The Fall Creators Update will continue to iterate on making Windows the platform for creators of all sorts to unleash their creativity.
Just like the original Creators Update, the update doesn’t have features only targeted towards creators.
Fluent Design system
Previously rumored as Project NEON, the Fluent Design system will bring back Aero, the translucent elements of Vista and Windows 7. Except that it will do so in a more modern interface. Think of it as merging Metro (Windows 8 flat design) and Aero.
The main aim behind the fluent design system is consistency than a drastic UI overhaul. Still, it is going to be refreshing to see some transparency and cool new animations. It will make the experience a lot more fluid and consistent.
Here is Microsoft’s video on Fluent Design:
As you can see in the video above, there are a lot of new visual effects and animation coming to Windows 10. Microsoft also wishes to make the experience a lot more fluid for HoloLens users and pen users as well.
That said, we will get some UI overhauls. For instance, at 0:55 in the above video, pause and drop your speed to 0.25. Pay close attention at 0:58, you’ll notice a radical overhaul to File Explorer.
Personally, I am very excited for the Fluent Design system to arrive and for other developers to catch on and have their apps embrace it. I will admit however, that it does look a little – very little, macOS esque.
Essentially, it’s Movie Maker. Only, a more modern movie maker. It’s a new addition to the Photos app that automatically creates short videos based on your videos and photos. It automatically trims footage, adds effects, adds in soundtracks and presents it to you. You can then make changes or export it right away. You can also start a new project from scratch, and the user interface is simple and easy to navigate. Add in Microsoft Fluent Design, and you get a modern Movie Maker.
Story remix has already made its way to the latest Windows insider builds, although it is quite buggy at the time of writing.
Here is Microsoft’s video on Story remix:
I have always wanted Movie Maker back. There are lots of free video editors out there but they are mostly underpowered compared to Movie Maker. If any one wants a full featured video editor, they have to go with expensive suites like Adobe. And Microsoft has always been lacking a built-in video editor, while Apple had the likes of iMovie integrated and pre-installed within its OS.
Microsoft Graph API
Another feature in which Windows was behind its rival (macOS) was integration between devices. Macs have always handled other devices such as smartphones more effectively and efficiently than Windows. Especially if you use an iPhone with your Mac, features such as continuity and handoff, and file syncing via iCloud make switching from your Mac to your phone really easy and painless.
Microsoft figured it had to implement some way to make device integration much more pleasurable. And so, at Build 2017, they announced the Microsoft Graph API. Essentially it is a fancy term for continuity and handoff, only that developers can connect their apps to Microsoft Graph using the API.
Microsoft Universal Clipboard
For example, you can copy an item on your computer, and it automatically syncs across to the Microsoft Graph. From there, any app that is designed to work with Microsoft Graph can use that clipboard and allow you to paste from there. At Build 2017, they demonstrated this by copying an address from the computer and using SwiftKey keyboard on Android, he could paste the address on Google maps. Think of it as Apple’s universal clipboard, only that it’s available for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.
Another feature that was highlighted is similar to Apple’s continuity feature. But it does not work on texts and calls, rather on files that the user was working with.
At the Build 2017 keynote, they presented a scenario where someone was working on a PowerPoint presentation on their main work PC. The person got a new laptop, and Cortana suggested that they continue to work on that particular PowerPoint presentation. Cortana immediately retrieved the file from Microsoft Graph and they could continue working right where they left off without needing to download the file.
The above mentioned are just a fraction of what the Microsoft Graph will be capable of. Moreover, the possibilities are endless and I am excited to see what Microsoft and other developers can do with the Graph API.
This feature is mostly dependent on the Microsoft Graph but can also come in handy otherwise. Basically, on the Task view, there is a timeline that shows what you were working from all of your devices. Clicking on a particular app will open the app and will resume your work right where you left off at that particular time. In the case of Edge, it will restore the entire session. Again, Microsoft is providing APIs for developers to leverage this functionality within their apps as well.
Apart from new features, there are a lot of general improvements we would like to see. It was teased that Microsoft Edge would be updated individually via the App store, rather than relying on Windows Update. This should be a welcome change as many people stay away from keeping their PC updated.
As always, we also expect Cortana improvements. One thing we would like to see is the ability to shut down and restart your computer using your voice.
We should also see MyPeople, which was originally meant to arrive with the original Creators Update.
Apart from that, we would like to see an Office update that embraces Fluent design.
Microsoft has plenty of stuff to be excited about in the upcoming Windows 10 update. If you are interested in beta-testing some of the new features, you can become a member of the Windows Insider Program. Note that the insider builds are quite buggy and should not be run on your main machine.
As a bonus, iTunes is also coming to the Windows Store. Good news for Windows 10 S devices!
What are you most excited about in the upcoming Windows 10 update? Let us know down in the comments below.