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Build 2012 Keynote Highlights the Windows 8 Vision

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Microsoft's Build 2012 Developer Conference in Redmond, Washington opened this morning with a keynote headlined by CEO Steve Ballmer. The keynote began with a prologue hosted by Jordan Rudess, keyboardist from Dream Theater, that combined his original music with software running on Microsoft Surface Tablets.

Ballmer's entrance continued the high-energy focus, recapping the past few days in Microsoft's world.  Windows 8 and Windows Surface went on sale Friday, since that time over 4 million Windows 8 Upgrades have been sold. Ballmer cited Mark Slater of Dixons (UK retailer) "Sales of laptops during launch weekend have been 20% ahead of our forecasts".

Ballmer was previously in San Francisco Monday for the Windows Phone 8 launch. Ballmer stated his excitement for the reimagination of Windows, and cited three big events during his career at Microsoft: the launch of the original IBM PC, Windows 95, and now Windows 8 with Windows Phone 8 and Surface.

Microsoft is taking a decidely different approach with this Windows 8 family: focusing on their integration with the cloud and the personalization offered to each user of the device. According to Ballmer, “...every Windows device can be personalized, very individual to you with the power of the Cloud”. The cloud integration allows applications to freely and quickly share data.

Contrary to the more standardized approach taken by competitors in the phone marketplace, Ballmer says that instead Microsoft's approach “[is that] the magnetic north, the guiding light, is the personalization. Make the phone personal for each of us. Not a standard sized one size fits all.” Ballmer says thenew Windows 8 phones have the best screen resolution, audio support, and cameras-- to provide the best Windows experience.

"Great Application Opportunity"

In Ballmer's words, “These launches kick off the golden age of opportunity to create great applications.”

  1. One app, all PC forms
  2. Easy phone sharing
  3. Better Experience: live tiles, Microsoft Account/SkyDrive, Windows 8: Search/Share
  4. IE 10 Fast, and Perfect for touch

Ultimately Ballmer says, that [developers] can build popular applications, and the applications you build for Windows will be better than the applications anywhere else if you take advantage of the features including Live tiles, and embrace Microsoft account access. Ballmer's empahsizes speed, fluidity, and touch-optimized features of IE10.

Ballmer continued with some live demonstrations of these new features running on Windows 8 generation hardware, not Windows 8 on previous hardware generations.

He began with a demonstration of how search works on Windows 8 using an active search with the various charms on the Windows 8 sidebar. Mentioning acctress Jessica Alba from the Windows Phone 8 launch, Ballmer worked through various search options: apps, Internet, News application, etc. Each application can register with the system to enable sharing of data both to and from the other applications.

User settings can automatically roam across the various systems using Microsoft Account and SkyDrive.  As an example, Ballmer changed his lock screen wallpaper on one computer, which then updated on another computer automatically.

Demonstrates various phones from Samsung, HTC, Nokia. The automatic roaming demonstrated again as ink notes taken on OneNote via computer synced up with a phone on stage.

The integration just doesn't apply to business apps: a quick video presentations shows gamers playing X Box while showing in-game maps and game character details on a Windows Phone 8. Also showed interaction with music and movies on a TV screen while a paired tablet showed/shared information between them. For example, one video showed footage from Game of Thrones on TV while the tablet showed a synchronized map of where the scene was taking place in the fantasy world.

Ballmer returns to stage after some third party app demonstrations to announce that Twitter is building a new Windows 8 Twitter app along with Dropbox and SAP.

Why write for Windows 8, according to Ballmer?

  • 670M potential upgrades
  • 400M new devces
  • Windows Phone rising
  • Marketing investment

Ballmer wraps up his presentation by stating that Windows 8 takes less resources than Windows 7. While Microsoft doesn't know what will happen with the trajectory of the PC market, Ballmer reports that if the PC market just stays flat, there will still be 400 million new Windows Devices available for targeting. Finally, Ballmer reports that Microsoft is launching a huge effort to provide more marketing and better marketing for Windows 8.

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