Microsoft Build 2019 Preview: Edge, Andromeda, and More
Microsoft's Build developer conference is right around the corner, which means we'll soon learn more about the company's products and services, like Office, Azure and Windows. While the annual event is primarily targeted toward engineers and developers, a handful of features typically impact enterprise and consumer customers.
This year's conference will take place from May 6 to 8 in Seattle. Microsoft has remained fairly tight lipped prior to the event, but we have our suspicions, based on rumor and the agenda for this year. From Chromium-based Edge to Cortana, here is everything we expect to see at Build 2019.
Microsoft Edge, Built on Chromium
Nothing is generating as much buzz out of Redmond, Washington, as Microsoft's new Chromium-based Edge browser. We went hands on with the browser when Microsoft launched the Developer and Canary builds in early April and came away impressed with its feature set and overall stability.
Microsoft has been working hard to transition Edge to Chromium, and Build is the perfect time to rally the developer troops and urge them to build extensions for the browser.
There are currently two sessions at Build 2019 about the Anaheim browser, both of which are led by Microsoft employees. We'll be at the event to give you the latest news on Edge, which will hopefully include a public release date and new features.
Microsoft announced changes to its Fluent Design at Build last year, and we expect to see more of the same later this week. If not a further expansion of the design language, we should at least get an update on how it's being used across Microsoft services.
A session called "Fluent Design System: the Journey to Cross-Platform" promises to describe how Fluent will expand to the web, across different platforms and onto more hardware. Characterized by 3D effects, translucent backgrounds (what Microsoft calls Acrylic) and gorgeous, natural imagery, Fluent has helped modernize Windows 10 over the past few months.
What is going on with Cortana? Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella confirmed Cortana would not go against Alexa or Google Assistant as a stand-alone app and would instead remain a secondary app or skill. Then, earlier this month, Microsoft separated the smart assistant from the Windows 10 search bar, thus giving users the ability to avoid it altogether.
Microsoft isn't abandoning Cortana, but it's time for an update on how it envisions the virtual assistant going forward. We know (via ZDNet) that the company will talk about a Cortana Skills Kit for Enterprise, a service designed to help businesses make skills specific to their operation. Another technology that helps businesses build their own personalized digital assistant will also surface at Build. But that still leaves questions about what Microsoft will do to differentiate Cortana from other growing assistants, like Siri and Alexa.
No Windows Lite or Windows Core OS
Microsoft won't announce Windows Lite at Build 2019, according to a tweet from The Verge's Tom Warren. For those who aren't familiar with it, Windows Lite is a forthcoming competitor to Chrome OS that is designed to run on entry-level, low-power laptops.
The rumored operating system is supposedly being built from the ground up to bring a modern, fluid experience to foldable laptops and budget devices. Most importantly, it will be an entirely separate OS from Windows 10 — one that's more lightweight, so you can use it even with ARM-based chips. Build 2019 seemed like the perfect time to take the wraps off Lite, but if the rumors hold true, then Microsoft isn't ready yet.
The same goes for Core OS, a rumored operating system that will be shared across all Windows devices, including desktops, game consoles and laptops. Windows Core won't run Win32 legacy software and will instead be built as a Universal Windows Platform. As excited as we are to see what Core OS means for Windows, it doesn't seem like we'll find out anytime soon.
It wouldn't be Build without mixed reality. Microsoft unveiled HoloLens 2, the next generation of its augmented reality headset, at MWC in February of this year. We'll likely get more details about the headset and tool to help developers make mixed-reality apps at Build 2019.
We already know Microsoft hosted Mixed Reality Dev Days earlier this week, which gave developers hands-on time with HoloLens 2. Speaking of which, we spent some time with the $3,500 headset ourselves and were blown away by it. For now, HoloLens is practical only in the workplace, so we're keeping our fingers crossed for more consumer-focused updates.
What about Andromeda, aka the Surface Phone?
Core OS was originally called Andromeda OS because it was rumored to launch alongside a foldable Windows smartphone. However, in mid-2018, reports surfaced claiming Microsoft would be rethinking its plans to launch a Surface Phone altogether. More recently, The Verge's Tom Warren tweeted that Andromeda was dead. Given these reports, it seems highly unlikely that we'll see a foldable smartphone from Microsoft at Build 2019, if ever.
Credit: Laptop Mag; Microsoft