What's on tap for Microsoft's Build 2015 show

Microsoft officials are expected to talk about the company's cross-Windows development technologies -- and maybe its cross-operating-systems ones, too -- at this week's Build 2015 conference.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Although Windows 10's expected launch is just a few months away, Microsoft's Build conference will focus on more than the Windows 10 developer story.

Microsoft's annual developer conference, Build 2015, kicks off on Wednesday April 29. Though it's pretty well known that Microsoft execs will use the event to highlight (yet again) what One Windows and the underlying common application platform mean to Microsoft's developer community, there will be lots of other developer news, too.

Microsoft posted a preliminary list of sessions for the conference on April 27; they're available via the Schedule Builder in the Build 2015 app (and coming to the Web site soon, I'd assume). From that list, it's apparent, as expected, that Windows 10 and Microsoft's newest Windows 10 device -- the augmented-reality HoloLens glasses -- will be big at the show.

CNET Live Coverage: Microsoft's 2015 Build developer confab

Other news I'm expecting:

Visual Studio 2015 Release Candidate: It's time for the near-final build of VS 2015, given Microsoft officials said to expect VS 2015 to launch this summer.

The "official" rebranding of the Universal App Platform (UAP) -- possibly to Universal Windows Platform (UWP). Why? Because the "universal" in Universal App Platform (UAP) currently means across Windows, not across all operating systems, as the word "Universal" might seem to imply. And given Microsoft is now calling Metro-Style/Windows Store apps "Windows apps," WPU makes more sense.

More about Microsoft's Office 365 application programming interface (API) strategy. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called Office 365 Microsoft's "most strategic" API not so long ago. Yet we haven't heard a whole lot about Microsoft's plans for getting more developers to write apps and services building on these APIs -- or about how and when the company plans to allow developers to make use of its Office Graph machine-learning technology that is powering Microsoft's own Flipboard-like Delve service.

A possible public preview of Windows 10 IoT for Small Devices. Windows 10 is going to come in multiple flavors for embedded/Internet of Things devices. Windows 10 IoT for Small Devices (codenamed "Athens") -- a desktop-less version -- will be free for makers and companies shipping products based on it. There also will be Windows 10 IoT for Enterprise, which is the follow-on to Windows 8 Embedded for Industry and Windows 10 IoT for Mobile for embedded devices like barcode scanners, and will include the cellular voice stack. Windows 10 IoT for Small Devices is what will run on the new Raspberry Pi 2 board.

More news of interest to the "maker" community around a new 3D printing formatwhich is being developed by a new consortium led by HP and others.

Broader release of the Xbox Live software development kit, which will further open up the Xbox to indie developers. (The Xbox Live SDK is currently available to select partners only.) I'd assume there also will be a HoloLens SDK, too, though I'm not sure if Microsoft will release the actual bits this week or hold off until the E3 show in mid-June.

A couple of wild card guesses as to what else we might hear this week:

AirSpace: Microsoft's secret weapon for cross-operating-system development. As mentioned above, Microsoft is expected to start referring to its cross-Windows framework as "Universal Windows Platform." But that doesn't mean the company has thrown in the towel on seeking ways to make it simpler for developers to write for all operating systems, including Windows.

The Office team at Microsoft has managed to build Office apps in a way that allows the Microsoft dev team to reuse a lot of core C++ Office code across Android, iOS and Windows. There's something called "AirSpace" that Microsoft has developed that enables the company to get the rest of the way. From what little Microsoft has shared publicly about AirSpace, this technology could include a set of practices, plus possible APIs and tooling for building apps that can run across multiple operating systems. Build might be where Microsoft takes the wraps off AirSpace and talks about its own lessons learned.

LLIC, an LLVM compiler for .Net: Some developers, including InterKnowlogy's Tim Huckaby, are excited about the possibility of an implementation of the open-source LLVM compiler coming to Windows client and devices, not just Windows Server. More info on what Microsoft is doing with regards to LLIC (pronounced "lilac") is in this FAQ. This could be another way Microsoft attempts to make cross-OS development simpler and more interesting to developers of all stripes.

Microsoft will be live streaming the Build keynotes on Wednesday and Thursday mornings from 8:30 am to 11:00 am PT from the Moscone in San Francisco. Recordings of the sessions will be available shortly after they are made on Microsoft's Channel 9.

Those who weren't able to get into Build due to space limitations can register for free for Microsoft's Build 2015 roadshow that's happening through May and June in a number of cities worldwide.

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