Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella kicked off the Build developer conference this year by focusing on how his company is empowering developers to do good in the world. “This conference is about the role, the responsibility, and the opportunity of this community in shaping what comes next,” Nadella said, highlighting some of the challenges that the past year has brought, including the ongoing global health pandemic, an economic crisis, climate change, and issues with racial injustice and inequity. From the view of the average person, Windows is at the heart of what Microsoft does. The Build will never be a consumer-focused event, but that didn’t stop Nadella from teasing some big changes coming to Windows 10 in the future.
Not all of the big changes were announced during Nadella’s keynote, however. Some of the juiciest updates were revealed through press releases and technical sessions. Here are some of the key highlights from this year’s conference so far:
“Soon we will share one of the most significant updates to Windows of the past decade to unlock greater economic opportunity for developers and creators,” Nadella teased. “I’ve been self-hosting it over the past several months, and I’m incredibly excited about the next generation of Windows. Our promise to you is this: We will create more opportunities for every Windows developer today and welcome every creator who is looking for the most innovative, new, open platform to build and distribute and monetize applications. We look forward to sharing more very soon.”
We already know a visual overhaul to Windows 10 is coming later this year in the Sun Valley update, but it sounds like there’s a much larger plan in the works for Windows 10. It wasn’t addressed in the opening keynote, but Microsoft has also announced increased support for Windows 10 on ARM.
“Across all the opportunities I’ve highlighted today, Windows is implicit,” Nadella said during his keynote. “It’s never been more important. Windows 10 is used by more than 1.3 billion people to work, learn, connect, and play. And it all starts with Windows as a dev box.”
Though he didn’t provide many details about the developer box during Microsoft’s short 30-minute presentation, Microsoft had separately announced that it will be making a big push with Windows on ARM this year, with the help of Qualcomm. Ahead of Nadella’s keynote, the company unveiled the Snapdragon Developer Kit, which resembles Apple’s Mac mini developer kit announced last summer at that company’s developer conference.
Microsoft’s developer box will help developers port their apps to the ARM-based PC platform, and it will be available at the Microsoft Store this summer. Pricing and additional details are not yet available. In addition to the developer kit, there are already existing Windows PCs on ARM, like Microsoft’s own Surface Pro X. It’s not quite as monumental as Apple’s move to its own M1 silicon, but it does feel like Microsoft is finally getting serious about supporting ARM PCs.
Microsoft Edge 91 updates roll out
Microsoft also announced updates to its Edge browser that will improve performance and help with battery life. Sleeping Tabs and a startup boost are two new features that were unveiled at Build but not included in Nadella’s keynote. The company claims that Sleeping Tabs could help save memory use by as much as 82%. Both features are rolling out this week on version 91 of the browser. These features have been previously announced but will be in the hands of real users for the first time this week.