Microsoft Build 2022 | Windows 11 apps, Dev Box cloud service, and more

FILE PHOTO: Smartphone is seen in front of Microsoft logo displayed in this illustration taken, July 26, 2021.

FILE PHOTO: Smartphone is seen in front of Microsoft logo displayed in this illustration taken, July 26, 2021. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Microsoft Build 2022, the company’s annual developer conference commenced on Tuesday with the keynote from CEO Satya Nadella. Like the last one, this year’s three-day event is all-virtual. The software giant made several announcements on day one that included Windows 11 apps-related updates, a cloud service for developers, new features and tools for Teams developers, Azure AI updates, and more.

Windows 11 apps-related updates

Microsoft Store, the gateway to Windows apps, was rebuilt and launched last year alongside the company’s latest operating system – Windows 11. The software giant is working on a feature that would allow Windows 11 users to automatically restore their apps to a new Windows device. The app restore feature will be tested soon in the Windows Insider channel, the firm said, adding that it will also help developers retain users without having to remind them to re-download their app.

Besides, Microsoft has developed a feature that will give users quick access to apps listed in the company’s app store. Soon, using a simple search from the Start, Windows users will be able to view and install apps from Microsoft Store, including ones like Adobe Express, Audacity, Canva, Discord, Epic Games, Firefox, WinZip, and Zoom.

The tech giant has also announced Microsoft Store Ads, which according to the company, would help developers surface their apps to the right user at the right time. A pilot programme for developers to create ad campaigns for the app store will be available in the near future, Microsoft noted, adding that developers interested in participating can sign up for the waitlist.

Another Windows 11 feature, Widgets, which allows users to take a quick look at their calendar, check the weather forecast, or glance at top news stories, will be opened to developers. This means, that in addition to native widgets, users would have access to third-party widgets on Windows 11.

Additionally, the Windows maker announced the removal of the waitlist program for Win32 apps in its app store. Developers can also use the new GitHub Action or Rest APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to automate and manage app submissions.

According to Microsoft, in the first three months of 2022, there was a more than 50% increase in new desktop apps and games coming to its app store compared to the same period last year.

Dev Box cloud service

Microsoft introduced Dev Box, a new cloud service for developers. It will give developers access to high performance, cloud-based workstations that are preconfigured and ready-to-code for specific projects, according to Microsoft.

“Dev Box empowers developers to focus on the code only they can write, making it easy for them to access the tools and resources they need without worrying about workstation configuration and maintenance,” the software firm said in a blog post.

Developers can manage their Dev Boxes through a developer portal, including creating and deleting them easily. As the service integrates with Windows 365, they can conveniently access them from Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, or a web browser. The integration will also allow IT administrators to manage Dev Boxes together with Cloud PCs in Microsoft Intune and Microsoft Endpoint Manager, the company said.

According to Microsoft, Dev Box is in private preview and will be in public preview in the next few months.

Developers tools

The software giant’s Windows App SDK and WinUI 3 are used for building Windows desktop apps. The company said its latest Windows App SDK 1.1 will include features such as Fluent visual materials in WinUI 3, updated desktop windowing APIs, enhancements to push notifications, and new environment variable APIs for C++. Currently, in preview, it will be available soon to more developers.

The Windows maker announced the availability of a new framework for building cross-platform, natively compiled apps for iOS, Android, macOS and Windows using C# and XAML in a single codebase. Microsoft says NET Multi-platform App UI (.NET MAUI) solves the challenges developers face when building native apps across many operating systems, such as learning multiple technology stacks.

Teams features, tools

Microsoft’s popular communication platform, Teams, has grown significantly in the last few years, with more than 270 million monthly active users and over 1,400 Teams apps. At the event, the company introduced a Live Share feature for Teams users. It will allow meeting participants to annotate, edit, zoom in and out and interact with shared apps through the Teams meeting window.

Additionally, developers and independent software vendors can build Live Share capabilities into their apps with the help of new extensions to the Teams SDK, available in preview. Some developers building Live Share experiences include Hexagon,, Skillsoft, and MakeCode.

Besides, the firm announced the availability of Teams tools such as JavaScript 2.0 SDK and manifest. These tools can help developers to build apps that can extend Personal Tabs and Message Extension functionality to other Microsoft 365 apps, including Outlook and to reach more users in the flow of work, the company said.

Azure AI

Azure AI is a set of artificial intelligence services designed for developers and data scientists. The company said it is introducing two updates to Azure Cognitive Services to help developers deploy high-quality models as APIs and infuse language capabilities into their apps more efficiently and responsibly. Besides, the service now provides summarization for documents and conversations to help developers quickly surface key information in documents and contact centre calls.

Project Volterra

The closest thing to a hardware announcement was Project Volterra, a new Arm-powered device that will be powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon compute platform, with an integrated neural processing unit (NPU). Developers will be able to use the NPU to build apps that execute local AI-accelerated workloads. They can build, test and debug Arm-native apps alongside productivity tools, including Visual Studio, Windows Terminal, WSL, VSCode, Microsoft Office and Teams, according to the firm. Microsoft will share more details on the project in the future.

“Because we expect to see NPUs being built into most, if not all, future computing devices, we’re going to make it easy for developers to leverage these new capabilities, by baking support for NPUs into the end-to-end Windows platform,” Microsoft CPO Panos Panay said.

Microsoft also announced a comprehensive end-to-end Arm-native toolchain for Arm native apps, including Full Visual Studio 2022 & VSCode, Visual C++, Modern .NET 6 and Java, Classic .NET Framework, and Windows Terminal. The first preview of many of these tools will be available in the coming weeks, Panay confirmed.

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Printable version | May 25, 2022 9:48:48 pm |