Microsoft’s annual BUILD developer conference has focused on the Azure platform, Microsoft 365 apps and services, Power platform as well as the roadmap for Windows 11 and Microsoft Edge platforms. For consumers, the Windows and Edge updates, as well as tools developers getting to expand the scope of utility for applications, including Microsoft Teams and OneNote, will be of interest ahead of the keynote address by CEO Satya Nadella at a developers’ conference.
Microsoft is now rolling out new tools and improvements for developers, with the focus on rolling out updates for Windows 11 in the coming months. For instance, the existing code for software will be easier to package for the Windows platform. The Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is now available in the Microsoft Store. Android apps on Windows, something that has been one of the biggest steps forwards that Windows has taken with Windows 11 over Windows 10, has been the integration of Android apps.
The Windows Subsystem for Android is now running Android Open-Source Project (AOSP) 12.1, which means there are experience enhancements which Android apps on a Windows PC can use, including better windowing and resizing, improved networking and more compatible apps that’ll be available for download. With Microsoft improving the networking access for Android apps on a PC, apps will let users also set up smart home devices such as smart speakers and smart security cameras.
Data privacy and security measures will get a boost too. Any Android app using the microphone or camera on a PC will also be able to report back with taskbar icons. There are also tweaks to allow Android apps to access the webcam correctly, fixes for the on-screen keyboard as well as interface tweaks, which to be honest, were to be expected.
Sticking with Android apps on Windows PCs, Microsoft confirms the Amazon Appstore preview on Windows 11 will be expanding to five additional countries. This means, users in France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom will get Amazon’s store catalogue of apps – this is expected to happen before the end of this year.
Widgets in Windows 11 will soon support third-party widgets as well – this is Microsoft opening access to developers to make companion widgets for their win32 or PWA apps, which something the company calls ‘Adaptive Cards’. At this time, widgets on Windows 11 only include the ones developed by Microsoft, and it is a logical upgrade to allow more apps on to the widget library. No clear timelines yet, except that Microsoft says you’ll see new widgets for the apps you use on your PC sometime later this year.
Speaking of Windows 11 improvements, Microsoft will expand the scope of the restore feature to make the Store smart enough to restore all your PC apps to a new PC whenever you switch to a new laptop or desktop. The Microsoft Store, at present, doesn’t do that; this means a user has to manually download all apps on their new PC as well (and often struggle with login details). Considering Microsoft Store has been adding more apps of late (Firefox, Zoom and Adobe’s apps being some examples, and continues to add more), this restore feature will be quite relevant too.
“We also shared an early vision for how apps that create and store content in the cloud could start to integrate that custom content into familiar user engagement surfaces in Windows 11, such as File Explorer, and common file dialogs,” says Panos Panay, chief product officer of Windows and Devices at Microsoft.
Microsoft Teams, the video chat platform, will get a new Live Share feature that’ll allow call participants to co-edit and co-create using third-party apps that integrate into Teams.
“Since the beginning of 2020, monthly active users of custom-built or third-party apps in Teams have grown more than tenfold. There are more than 1,400 Teams apps, with more and more independent software vendors (ISVs) generating millions in annual revenue from customers using their apps built on Teams and Microsoft 365 services,” says Jeff Teper, corporate vice-president, Microsoft 365 Collaboration.
The first steps towards that will be the early testing with Frame.io, Hexagon, Skillsoft, MakeCode, Accenture, Parabol, and Breakthru for integration within Teams. Thinking of screen sharing? This potentially goes much beyond that.