What to expect from Build 2013

Brent Schooley / Tuesday, June 25, 2013

As I sit on my first plane en route to San Francisco, I can’t help but wonder what awaits me at the conference I am flying to attend. That conference, of course, is Microsoft’s developer conference, Build. Microsoft’s recent commercials, which I admittedly first saw one of last night, are referring to one experience on all screens. They’re referring to the desktop, tablet, and phone although that experience arguably carries over to the Xbox 360 and the recently announce Xbox One. With such a unifying vision, it would only seem obvious that we should see some synergy emerge between these platforms. But what else might we see at Build? I’m going to focus on the Windows 8.1 story for this post. I’m certain we will see much more than what I mention below, but it is a good starting point for discussion.

The re-emergence of the useless Start button

Yes, it’s coming back in Windows 8.1. And yes, I said its useless. Why? Well, at least so far in the Windows 8.1 builds that have leaked the Start button does nothing more than take you to the Start screen. This can already be accomplished in Windows 8 by clicking in the lower left corner of the Desktop screen so the new (old?) Start button just simply takes up task bar real estate to provide some affordance. A surprise would be having some sort of preference that would re-enable the old Start menu functionality. I just don’t see that happening as much as some people are clamoring for it. Stick to your third-party addons if this is something you miss too much. Otherwise, join us on the dark side…we have cookies.

New snapping modes

Another feature that has been spotted in leaked 8.1 builds is a new way of working with snapped applications. Snapping is a feature of Windows 8 that allows two Windows Store applications to run at the same time. One app runs in Fill mode in which it takes up most of the screen and the other application takes up a roughly smartphone-width size portion of the screen. In Windows 8.1, it looks like Microsoft has made the width of the snapped applications flexible supporting multiple stop points. You can, for instance, run two applications side-by-side each taking up half of the screen. On larger screens, it is even possible to run more than two Windows Store apps at the same time on a single screen. I’d look for this feature to be shown I’m the day one keynote.

New multiscreen support

Apple’s Mac OS X Mavericks is not the only operating system that is going to get a revamp of its multiscreen support. Windows 8 is severely limited right now in how it handles running multiple Windows Store applications across multiple screens. I’d look for Microsoft to demonstrate new multiscreen functionality in the day one keynote.

All Apps screen

Another feature of Windows 8.1 is the All Apps screen which is accessible by swiping up on the Start screen. While this feature has already been shown at TechEd, look for more demos showing it off in the day one keynote.


I would love to see new speech features brought over to Windows 8.1. The Windows Phone SDK has some great speech recognition features that would really help developers build some amazing applications on Windows 8.1.

It has been widely speculated that the Windows Phone and Windows 8 platforms would merge into a fully common programming model. I really hope this is the case, but it’s pure speculation until Microsoft shows otherwise.


Microsoft’s developer conference is very likely to include things we expect to see as well as a few surprises here and there. There will be advances to the Windows Phone and Windows 8 platforms as well as some new Visual Studio features as well. All in all I suspect Microsoft will have a lot to show developers this year. I am very excited to be attending and I’ll have much more to say as the week progresses.


If you’re going to be at Build this week, please stop by the Infragistics booth and say hi! If you want to comment on this post or simply just say hi, I can be found on Twitter @brentschooley. You can also reach me via email at bschooley@infragistics.com.