Microsoft Build 2020 is now underway, and you'll probably have noticed that it's rather different to previous conferences. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Microsoft has turned its biggest software conference into a digital-only event.
Originally scheduled to take place in Seattle for four days, Microsoft’s massive developers conference is now a “48-hour digital experience.” What that means is that Microsoft is producing continuous content, both pre-recorded and live, spanning all timezones starting May 19 at 8AM Pacific. And, it’s now completely free to all attendees.
Microsoft's Build conferences are geared towards developers, so there's not always a lot of exciting news for consumers, but in the past, the Redmond company has slipped in consumer-related news in the past.
It has, however, shared some news regarding its Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Edge products on the consumer and business side, according to Thurrott.
Here’s everything you need to know about Microsoft Build 2020, from breaking news to what we hope to see.
When is Microsoft Build 2020 and where will it take place?
Instead of its typical four-day event, Microsoft is now holding Microsoft Build for 48 hours. It started on May 19, 2020 at 8AM PST and will end on May 21, 2020 at 8AM PST, with the first day live-streamed and kicking off with a keynote from CEO Satya Nadella.
What does that mean exactly? Basically, Microsoft is packing four days’ worth of sessions – from keynotes to live Q&As to user-generated content – into a continuous 48-hour conference. All these sessions will be available to all participants at all times, regardless of timezone, during this 48-hour duration, which allows you to switch between sessions anytime no matter where you are in the world. Just pay close attention to that time difference.
Obviously, since it’s a digital-only event, it’ll take place on your PC, and you won’t even have to leave the bed, if you don’t want to. Simply go to the Microsoft Build 2020 website to register for free and to sign-in.
Microsoft Build 2020: latest news
Microsoft Fluid is about to make Office better than Google Docs
Fluid isn't just an Office document, but a document built out of a series of interactive blocks for components like tables, lists, graphs, and the like. These elements can be edited by any Office user invited to edit them and they can be edited in any Office app.
Microsoft's Chromium Edge browser adds some nifty business features
At its virtual Build 2020 developers conference, Microsoft announced a number of new business related features and other improvements coming to Chromium Edge.
Ever since Microsoft rebooted its floundering Edge web browser to run on the Chromium engine, we've seen the company continue to boost the features of the software, and the latest update looks like there could be even more reason to switch from rivals such as Chrome and Firefox.
Microsoft Build 2020 showcases Project Reunion, Windows Terminal, WSL2, and more
During Build 2020, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced the company's latest efforts to make app development easier, by unifying win32 and universal windows platform (UWP) APIs into a single package known as Windows apps.
The company also announced how it's bringing the Linux kernel into Windows 10 itself, and demonstrated the new Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL2), which is an upgrade over Microsoft's earlier efforts to more closely integrate a Linux terminal into Windows powershell.
Microsoft Build 2020: what to expect
It doesn’t seem like Microsoft will be making any major announcements on the consumer side this year. Last year, it shared some Cortana improvements, unveiled the new version of its Chromium-based Edge browser, and teased us with a new Minecraft AR game.
However, if we were to go by this year’s session catalog, the upcoming event will be even more focused on developers and A.I.-leaning, with sessions like Expert Q&A: Cloud AI and Machine Learning, and Latest and greatest with Azure AI. Products on the consumer end, it seems, might take a backseat.
Still, we’re hoping to see Microsoft share a bit of news about its OS, which is slated to get its next update this month, Microsoft Office, and perhaps Windows 10X.
Windows 10 May 2020 Update
Since the past builds for Windows 10 May 2020 Update have been available to Fast Ring Insider testers since early 2019, we already know some of the new features and changes it’s bringing to the table. We also know that it’s done, and will be released sometime between May 26 and May 28, thanks to Microsoft accidentally revealing it in its Driver Shiproom Schedule.
This close to its release date, we hoped that Microsoft be using its developers conference to share a bit of May 2020 Update news, possibly even unveil it. According to Digital Trends, Microsoft is scheduled to give Windows a breakout session at the conference. Additionally, the Windows Insider team has already announced on Twitter that they will be hosting two webcasts for the event.
Unfortunately, while Microsoft did shares some new things for Windows developers, it has not revealed any new information for consumers.
In an effort to bring the invaluable tools we use at work into our personal and family lives, Microsoft unveiled its two new services – Microsoft 365 Personal and Microsoft 365 Family – back in March. Then, earlier this May, it rolled out an Office 365 update with new features, bug fixes and security upgrades.
So, while there will be some Office-related workshops for developers at Microsoft Build 2020 like Focus Group: Office Extensibility and Automate spreadsheets with Office Scripts in Microsoft Excel, it’s not very likely that Microsoft will be making any major announcements concerning its productivity suite.
It has, however, shared some new additions to Microsoft 365 that are meant to improve businesses' experience with the suite:
- Microsoft List – This new Microsoft 365 app allows businesses to do things like track issues and manage inventory.
- Templates support for Microsoft Teams – In a few months, Microsoft Teams will have support for templates, which will make the process of setting up a new team much easier. This feature will allow you to either choose from existing templates or create your own.
- New integration for Microsoft Power Platform – Users of the Microsoft Power Platform can now build apps through Power App. And, in July, they'll be able to use Power Automate for automating different Teams experiences.
- Fluid Framework – In an effort to "end-users to experience the Fluid Framework," Microsoft has launched the new Fluid Workspaces and Fluid Components as a preview for Outlook for web and Office.com.
Microsoft has been aggressively promoting Microsoft Edge in the last few weeks, having been launched for Windows and macOS earlier in May. And now, it's getting several new features.
The web browser's Collections feature is getting Pinterest integration and the ability to export to OneNote. Edge is also getting Sidebar Search, which allows users to quickly search the web for a word or phrase from a page by highlighting that word or phrase, right-clicking and selecting “search in sidebar."
For businesses, the browser will now have Automatic Profile Switching, which allows users to switch between their work and personal profile credentials much easier.
Surface Duo, Android and Windows 10X
Perhaps the biggest question in everyone’s mind is whether or not Microsoft will be releasing massive details about its upcoming dual-screen device, the Surface Duo, which will run on Android 10, as well as Microsoft’s own OS for foldable devices, Windows 10X.
With rumors circulating about the Duo’s potential early release, and its possible final specs leaked, Microsoft might take this opportunity to set records straight and perhaps share exciting news of their own. It’s also likely that it will release more details about its plans to support dual-screen devices through its new upcoming version of Windows, Windows 10 X.
The catalog doesn’t reveal much about these. However, sessions like Unifying and evolving the Windows app platform and Focus Group: Cross-Platform Native App development will certainly give Microsoft plenty of opportunity to do so.
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Michelle Rae Uy is the Computing Reviews and Buying Guides Editor here at TechRadar. She's a Los Angeles-based tech, travel and lifestyle writer covering a wide range of topics, from computing to the latest in green commutes to the best hiking trails. She's an ambivert who enjoys communing with nature and traveling for months at a time just as much as watching movies and playing sim games at home. That also means that she has a lot more avenues to explore in terms of understanding how tech can improve the different aspects of our lives.