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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft 365 and the Future of App Development: Microsoft Build 2018 Second Day Keynote

Microsoft 365 and the Future of App Development: Microsoft Build 2018 Second Day Keynote

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Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president in Microsoft's Operating Systems Group, led the keynote at the second day of Microsoft Build. The theme of the keynote was how Microsoft 365 is the future of application development.

Although the focus of the talk was on the merging of Enterprise Mobility Services, Microsoft Office, and Windows 10 in Microsoft 365, the underlying Microsoft Graph API and development platform will have much wider use as ubiquitous computing, the union of data and AI, and multi-sense and multi-device experiences become more prevalent. Microsoft Graph is a cloud based data store, and applications can reason against this graph.

The keynote revolved around four "chapters" of developing the Microsoft 365 platform to allow people in organizations to become more effective as the nature of work has evolved. This requires embracing multi sense experiences so that people can use mouse and keyboard, ink, or even virtual reality displays as they move among multiple devices while working on a single problem or task.

The first chapter is to achieve better productivity across devices.

Commercial account adoption of Windows 10 is about 79% percent year over year growth. The idea is to build a better desktop that can work with other devices. In the April Windows 10 update, your Timeline on the PC is available with a single click on other devices. This provides a cross-device experience, so that when you do something on your iPhone, the activity data is put into Microsoft Graph. When you go to your desktop, you can see the work that was done.

Developers will be able to write to Microsoft Graph so it can include customer applications.

In an upcoming Insider build, Cortana will be able to make proactive suggestions based on your work habits by reasoning against the Microsoft Graph.

Microsoft Launcher can be used to create a customized environment on Android.

Timeline is being brought to both Android and iPhone. This will enable one click access to all activities on all devices.

In a future Windows release, there will be an app that allows you to get critical workloads off the phone so that you never need to look at the phone. For example, you could get text messages on the desktop so that you do not have to get distracted by your phone, and you can reply to the text by typing on a keyboard as opposed to a phone. You could get phone notifications on the personal computer.

Since identity is used in Microsoft Graph to pull information from the PC, the user is in full control and can enable and disable this pull. The data is not synced to the cloud and stays on the phone or the personal computer.

On insider builds, there are sets. Sets allow you to keep all the elements of a task together whether it is apps, web pages, documents or files. When you resume work after a period of time, all the relevant elements can be restored. You can also search through all the related information. Microsoft Graph remembers what was worked on so that Timeline can be related to sets so that apps can be restored with the data.

If customer applications incorporate sets into their application, they can be restored as well. Belfiore emphasized that sets will be available when Microsoft gets it right; there is no release time commitment.

The second chapter is to enable multi-device scenarios and make Windows 10 the best development platform for all environments.

The Fluent design system, announced last year, is a community-driven effort to understand the way applications can be modified across multiple devices and multiple senses.

There are also improvements being made to the Windows platform. The Unified Windows Platform (UWP) is being decoupled so that it can be used across code bases. For example, you can bring Fluent experiences to existing apps. UWP XAML islands with host controls can be used with WPF, Windows Forms, and native Win32. A UWP control can be dropped in any user interface. All windows applications can access Fluent design systems irrespective of the user interface.

Ink analysis is being added to Cognitive Services so that it can be used in any application.

Machine Learning is being applied to grammar checking in Microsoft Word to catch tricky grammatical errors such as the use of the proper preposition in any sentence.

The Windows UI library can be obtained via NuGet. These are the same controls that ship with the platform and are used in products. In the Windows 10 Anniversary update or later you can use these controls right away.

.NET updates are decoupled from Windows platform updates. Starting in .NET Core 3 you can run multiple, side by side, versions of .NET Core without updating the operating systems. This will be available later this year.

MSIX is the next generation Windows installer that allows you to create one secure installation package for all platforms. It also supports Enterprise and Microsoft store deployment. It will also be available for Windows 7.

To genuine applause, it was announced that Windows Notepad now supports Linux line feeds.

The Android Emulator and Hyper-V can now coexist side by side.

Microsoft is now working with the community to release new setup scripts to Boxstarter and Chocolatey.

Changes have been to the Windows store for better app tracking. The revenue model has been changed so that for consumer apps (not games), the revenue share is now 85% for the developer. If the purchaser comes to the store from the developer's site, the share is 95%.

The third chapter is to think of apps as value that lives where the end users are collaborating or communicating. 135 million people use Office 365, and 200,000 organizations use Microsoft Teams.

You will be able to integrate business logic and services into Office. For example, you will be able to write functions that work just like a native Excel function such as a customized depreciation function.

Adaptive Cards, an open format, can be put into Outlook and they become actionable. For example, if you get a GitHub notification you will be able to handle it without leaving Outlook. You could pay bills using Microsoft Pay within Outlook using adaptive cards.

Microsoft teams used by 200,000 organizations in 81 markets, puts application and data into the flow of a conversation. You can build in security and compliance. It is built on top of Microsoft Graph.

Any application can be added to a Team tab, so that bots, message extensions, adaptive cards, apps, and data can be added to a persistent chat that is organized by team and topic.

The last chapter is Microsoft Graph. Graph connects data and intelligence with any kind of device that can make a HTTP request to the Graph API. The graph represents relationships among the data. Your data, while hosted in the cloud, is owned and managed by the customer or organization.

Microsoft Graph allows Microsoft 365 to provide, for example, single sign in, use the same business data throughout, integrate conversations from Microsoft Teams, calendar events from Outlook, and cross device experiences from Windows.

Customer applications, by being made part of the graph, can be deeply connected with Microsoft applications and other customer applications. The new Universal Windows Platform (UWP) graph controls are now available as open source.

Ultimately, the Microsoft Graph development platform will move the focus from switching between applications to allowing users to solve problems within the context they are currently working.

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