Unlike Google and Apple, Microsoft Build usually aims to be an event that needs a lot of developers. That means more coding and developer sessions onstage and fewer Surface announcements. However, you can expect new information about how developers can create experiences for Windows and the other Microsoft 365 services such as Microsoft Teams.
At last year’s Build conference, Microsoft teased what we now know as Windows 11, as well as some great features for Teams and Microsoft Edge.
We’re expecting a bit of the same again this year, and here are some highlights we want to look forward to.
How to view Microsoft Build
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Microsoft Build is free to access this year and is a completely virtual event due to the pandemic. You can register online to listen to or view various keynotes. The main keynote kicks off on May 24 at 8:00 a.m. PST. Microsoft has a webpage dedicated to streaming that keynote.
You can expect something from Satya Nadella in this keynote. Microsoft specifically mentions that the CEO will explain how “Microsoft is creating new opportunities for developers on our platforms.”
Updates or new features for Windows 11
Windows 11 is the future for Microsoft, even with Windows 10 until 2025. The operating system has reached a broad deployment status, meaning almost anyone can try it out on supported PCs now. That said, we look forward to Microsoft announcing Windows 11-related features and updates at Build 2022.
At the top of our list is a major update to the Widgets experience in Windows 11. Based on a tweet from a Microsoft leaker, we believe that third-party widgets for the OS will soon be released.
We also heard from Windows Central that developers were already informed about how third-party widgets might work. So, what better time to announce it than Microsoft Build, where developers take center stage?
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Other than that, there could be big news about the next major update to Windows 11. We’re saying this because Microsoft recently took an interesting step in the Windows Insider program to “merge” the beta and dev test channels to share the same builds of Windows – only to split both again in the weeks before Microsoft Build.
The merger was rumored to be a way for Microsoft to quality-test the first recommended update to Windows 11 with a wide audience, though the company has never confirmed it. an extra tweet from a Microsoft leaker suggesting that this update could soon add RTM to the speculation. RTM is usually when Microsoft is ready to declare a specific build of Windows stable for release to laptop manufacturers (although it doesn’t do much anymore).
So now that the two main test channels for Windows 11 have been split and RTM comes on the first day of Build, there could be a window for Microsoft to announce the first update for Windows 11.
It’s not confirmed yet, but we do believe the update will bring multiple features. Start menu folders, tablet mode tweaks, a new task manager, improved search, and live captions are just a few of the things that can be confirmed during the build for the first major Windows 11 update.
Microsoft has repeatedly said that most of these features are coming “soon” to Windows, most recently at a Windows Powers the Future of Hybrid Work event in April, so the chances of a solid release date for this and also the mentions of Windows news at Builds are great.
We also hope to hear more about tabs in File Explorer, which Microsoft hasn’t talked much about since it was first unveiled in April.
There are currently 51 different Windows sessions scheduled for Build in various languages, including one with Windows Chief Panos Panay scheduled for later on May 24.
New features for Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is on the rise due to the pandemic and the emergence of hybrid work. That said, we expect to hear a lot from Microsoft talking about Teams during Build 2022. Microsoft last reported in January 2022 that Teams has 270 million monthly active users, so Build is a great opportunity to show developers what apps and what to do for that. services can build huge Teams audience.
Last year’s build made mention of Together Mode APIs, fluid components. With Teams now also in the Microsoft Store on Windows 10 and Windows 11, there’s a reason for the company to treat Teams even bigger. As far as we know, Microsoft can even talk about Teams in the metaverse.
There are over 100 Build sessions where Microsoft Teams is mentioned by name. Some include “Conversation apps in Microsoft Teams,” “Create interactive meeting apps for Microsoft Teams,” and “Reach 270 million users and grow your business with Microsoft Teams.”
The new Outlook app for Windows
Microsoft has been working on a new version of Outlook for Windows for some time now. In the year 2020, MacOS got a new Outlook app, and we hope to hear more about the new features for a new “One Outlook” app on Windows at Build.
Microsoft has actually already confirmed that the new app is being tested with Beta channel Office Insiders, but it won’t be too surprising if breakout sessions at Build also mention the app.
In summary, the new Outlook client is streamlined and more efficient, based on the Outlook.com experience, but also with cool features like Sweep, pinned items, meeting coordination, a calendar board, and integrations with Microsoft To Do.
There are currently a total of seven sessions for Outlook at Build. The most interesting seem to be “Relevant notifications in Microsoft 365 and Windows” and “Extend Teams apps to Office and Outlook.”
More about Microsoft’s Android efforts?
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Rumors indicated that Microsoft has formed a new organization called Android Microsoft Platform and Experiences (AMPX). With that in mind, we wonder if Microsoft Build will focus more on Android experiences this year. A quick search reveals seven sessions devoted to Android, so we’re also looking forward to some Microsoft on Android news.
We hope to hear more about the Windows subsystem for Android and running Android apps on Windows 11. Other things we hope to hear could be OS updates or more about how developers can build Android apps for the Surface Duo 2.
Sessions for “Bringing Android Apps to Windows” and “Developing Windows Apps on and for a Rich Ecosystem of Platforms and Devices” add to our nudge.
More about the Metaverse
The Metaverse is the next big thing for all the big tech giants, so we wouldn’t be surprised to hear Microsoft talk about it during Build. A leaked session indicated that Microsoft was planning to emphasize Teams integrations with the Metaverse, so we hope there could be more on that. In the past, the company has also talked about its vision of working with Microsoft Mesh in the metaverse. These are all topics that can come up again during construction.
A specific session titled “Microsoft Build Into Focus: Preparing for the Metaverse” could delve deeper into these plans.
It’s rare for Microsoft to talk about physical hardware during Build, but we hope that will change this year. We know that Microsoft’s partner, Lenovo, will release the new Snapdragon 8cX Gen 3 ThinkPad X13s later this year. With the company going all-in on ARM last year by enabling 64-bit app emulation in Windows, we wonder if there could be new Microsoft or partner hardware to support it.
Last year, Microsoft announced the Snapdragon Developer Kit, which is similar to Apple’s Mac mini developer kit, so we’re wondering if a sequel is in the works to support ARM-based Windows 11 app development. It’s just a wild guess, though, as we’ve had no indication of any new ARM-based hardware from Microsoft itself. That usually comes in the fall during Surface events.