Microsoft's Build powwow: Our wish list

Microsoft's Build powwow: Our wish list

Summary: Here are six insights we'd like to get out of Microsoft's Build Developer Conference starting April 2.


Microsoft kicks off its Build Developer Conference April 2 and is expected to publish the specific schedule soon to put some meat on its broad agenda. While the company is deliberating we thought it's worth building a wish list of what we'd like to see from Microsoft as it rallies its developer base.

First, it's unclear whether CEO Satya Nadella will appear at Build or do more than a guest appearance. The No. 1 item on our wish list is to give Nadella the spotlight, preach to the base, rally developers and perhaps give a strategy talk.

That wish may be a bit of a stretch. Nadella is working through the organization, taking input and pondering the company's existing strategy as well as tweaks. Just because Nadella is an insider doesn't mean he can magically hit the ground running.

build screen

What Nadella can do is give his thoughts on what One Microsoft means to him. He can talk about the services role, highlight the thinking behind Windows 8.1 Update 1, which is supposed to make the operating system better for keyboard and mouse interfaces, and be cheerleader in chief for the developer base. Overall, folks want to get a feel for Nadella's leadership chops. Build will be a success if the only thing Microsoft does is allow Nadella to shine.

No. 2 on our wish list is a dose of humility and maybe even an apology about Windows 8. Microsoft clearly outran its user base and I'll give the company props for being ballsy and taking its big shot on touch interfaces. Now Windows 8 deserves some of the hits it receives, but Microsoft's message needs to be that we goofed, we didn't take your input and we'll iterate our way out of this pickle. Cue the Windows 9 references.

No. 3 on the wish list is to clarify the Windows 8 interface and what it means going forward. There's a view that Microsoft will in some fashion jettison the interface formerly known as Metro. It's a safe bet that the tiles approach is here to stay, but Microsoft does need to make it easier on multiple screens. Simply put, the Windows interface needs to read and react much better.

No. 4 for us would be for Windows Chief Terry Myerson to outline the development bridges between the Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox ecosystems. The general theme is that these OSes will be connected and cohesive. The reality is Microsoft will support three operating systems. However, Microsoft needs to leverage its developer base to get Windows Phone some love.

No. 5 would be a coherent statement on Nokia's Android foray. Was that effort total BS or is there some role for Android in the Microsoft developer mix? Unless the deal closes before Build, Microsoft legally can't say much. 

And the final thing on our wish list is some mobile enterprise color. Nadella is an enterprise guy. He's a cloud guy. Microsoft is dominant in the enterprise. In fact, Microsoft's enterprise business carries the team and gives the company the cash to spend to alleviate its Apple (the Nokia acquisition?!? Really?!?) and Google envy. Windows Phone could get more enterprise mojo and fill in the corporate gaps left by BlackBerry. Instead, Microsoft has allowed companies like Samsung step into the void.

ZDNet's Monday Morning Opener is our opening salvo for the week in tech. As a global site, this editorial publishes on Monday at 8am AEST in Sydney, Australia, which is 6pm Eastern Time on Sunday in the US. It is written by a member of ZDNet's global editorial board, which is comprised of our lead editors across Asia, Australia, Europe, and the US.


Topics: Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Software Development

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  • As a developer I want BUILD to target us

    Improved and more expansive. NET in store apps. SQL compact and a database API would be nice.
    • "maybe even an apology"

      What!? Got to be serious. MS dosen't need to apologize at all. They were the first to have a vision to unify the UI for touch and Destkop device. They certainly did no entirely succeed in their attempt but they had the guts to do what Apple or Linux did not. Win 8.1 is selling well now and all of the Anti-Metro at first would not go back to Win 7.

      Zdnet Bloggers should start giving MS the credit it deserves for Win 8. MS Apologies came with Version 8.1, a free major upgrade that fixed most of the issues.
      • You On Drugs?

        Win 8 is HORRIBLE; the only reason it's "selling" is there's no other choice!

        It is UGLY and a throwback to Windows 3.1

        Windows 7 was the BEST user-friendly version. TOUCH SCREENS ARE USELESS IN BUSINESS.

          I agree. However Windows is not only a desktop system anymore. I also agree, Win 8 was less than stellar at first but 8.1 made it a lot better. I totally disagree with 3.1 argument. Win 8.1 boots faster, is even more stable that Win 7 and has enough new stuff, even on the desktop side, to make it worth the Upgrade.

          Sorry you didn't get it.
          • Win 8.1 more stable?

            Meh, alone maybe... On a domain I've had half the laptops lose their trust and remove user credentials.
            Pro is buggy.
            Christopher Moor
        • Touch screens actually aren't horrible

          They can improve usability and will for those growing up in the "iPad/iPhone" world. It is the "older" group that understand using a mouse and general windows GUI that haven't seen the potential use of a touch based system. I see lots of potential for touch interfaces even in old business formats.
        • there is choice, however it is a laughable selection of jokes

          Linux (all 600 versions), android, iOS, osx,. Use them at your own risk.

          Tell that to the thousands or Millions of iPad and Smartphone Business Users. Oh, and losing the need for Gazillions of Mice - no a bad thing either for Business. I am of the generation that heard PC's were useless and expensive etc... Write a 5-page resource allocation report to justify a department's purchase, not Divisional use. A mechanical device we wipe across a surface is not elegant or efficient - really? The touch or gesture is truly elegant and efficient and is the future. Don't fight the inevitable - because if the OS API's have the capability then the Apps can easily use them in business applications etc.. Progress call it what you will (i.e. "HORRIBLE").
          • Touch = fatfingers

            "Man = toolmaker"
            There's a reason most great artists are NOT known for their fingerpainting - crude, clumsy, prone to mis-touching, and on and on. The keyboard and mouse once learned are much quicker, precise, and varied than a phatphinger. It's just that folks accustomed to iPhones are expecting closed systems that while well-designed, give users the illusion of choices but really are moving from one small closed set of options to the next.
            It is the difference between a shopping cart and working a backhoe - one seems versatile unless/until you really need to work outside the box; the other has versatility and a lot more power and flexibility than first appearances might suggest.
            I enjoy the small set of apps on my phone, but the device is actually a closed unit container for running a wide variety of well-designed single-purpose gizmos, and that suffices for the vast majority. Think anything BUT a computer.
            Computer LoQ
      • I agree with the spirit of your comment...

        ...but the problem with W8 is that during the beta and feedback duration, they had a huge number of users telling them exactly what was wrong with W8 and they just completely ignored them. I mean it was like a kid sticking his fingers in their ears going "la, la, la, la".

        Note, this comes from a person that really likes W8 and esp 8.1, love my Surface RT and Pro. But MS should say a very big "sorry" for ignoring their customers. The pre-launch of XBox One was a similar debacle.
        Rann Xeroxx
      • No, they should apologize

        The UI has been done plain wrong (proven and explained by UI experts), they did not listen to the community, they did not ask the community (with Windows 7 they did and the result speaks for itself). Android, iOS, Mac, even Ubuntu have proven that computing can be done without Microsoft and they MUST apologize so that we do not insist it SHOULD be done without Microsoft.

        Just an apology is not enough. They should also explain what is going on, why each and every key figure that left did not stay.
    • Actually, I want BUILD to go away

      BUILD has the problem of trying to be all things to all people (sort of like Win8). In the past Microsoft would have specialist conferneces, that brought together their developers and customers/developers of a discipline. No, matter how hard they try with BUILD, it is too big and targeting too many interests to have much value besides a great party.
      • BUILD = PDC

        @oldsysprog To ensure historical accuracy. "In the past" Microsoft ran Professional Developers Conference (PDC). 1992 was the 1st one I was involved with, but it may have been running longer. It ran every other year typically to launch the API's of the next windows / server releases. BUILD is similar & appears to be a rename.

        Over the past 20+ years the MS product set has grown dramatically. Perhaps that is the root cause of the issue, you mention.

        NB: MS still runs many targeted conferences. Most are recorded & available via Some are online only.
  • Microsoft should ....

    Buy ModernMix and make it part of the default install. Solves 80% of the issues with the "Modern" interface on the desktop.
    • Microsoft Should

      Forget Moore's Law and create a version of windows that uses the same resources WinXP does. My WinXP windows folder uses 12 Gb of HD space and runs on 1Gb of ram, about 250Mb when idling and it runs on a 1.4GHz Celeron. WinXP install fits on an 800Mb CD. Yes, all of this is on a 9 year old laptop. Also, Microsoft lose the strong-arm approach to getting all the new OS installers onto your Cloud; make it easy for earth-based folks. Make a separate, clean, lean, fast OS just for us PC Neanderthalers!
  • Microsoft's Build powwow: Our wish list

    No. 2 is not needed. First, Microsoft doesn't have to explain anything especially when Microsoft Windows 8 is selling well on mobile platforms so this humility and apology you speak of is total crap. I want to hear an apology from ZDNet for having a terrible forum layout. You never mentioned what they have to apologize for with Microsoft Windows 8. For those of us that actually use it, it is working fine. For the armchair bloggers on ZDNet they seem to be the only ones that have issues with it. The rest of the list seems to be alright.
    • Thank you

      My thoughts align with yours on this.
    • My Thoughts Exactly

      I use Windows 8.1 on multiple screens and shudder to think what it would be like to move back to Windows 7.
      Curtis Quick
      • agree

        Those are my feelings as well. I really don't like using my work computer with multiple screens running win 7 compared to my home setup with 8.1 - 8.1 is much better in my view. Pair multiple monitors with the remote desktop app so I can access my work computer, and I'm set at home.
      • Agree.

        I use it everyday on 3 monitors. It works great, is super solid and it gets the job done. I don't access the "metro" side much except to quick launch some native windows apps which I have tiled there. Someday when I get a Windows tablet, I will appreciate the fact that the metro side is accessible on my desktop as well.