Microsoft Build 2021: Major updates and announcements

After three days of events and more than 300 tech announcements, Microsoft’s annual Build developers’ conference for 2021 has officially concluded. Just like every major tech event recently, Microsoft Build 2021 was online-only. For the uninitiated, Build conferences from Microsoft usually pack in a slew of announcements detailing the updates and changes made to the company’s lineup of products and services. This year’s event included a whole bunch of interesting announcements on Windows, Microsoft Teams, Azure, developer tools and updates, and several other Microsoft services and products.

Here is a list of all the major announcements made at Microsoft Build 2021.

Future of Windows

The biggest and most-anticipated announcement from this year’s event was ironically not formally announced or showed off. Instead, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, teased the future of Windows, hinting at a next-generation update in the queue to be released soon along with the upcoming Sun Valley update for Windows 10. That big reveal is scheduled for an event to be held on June 24.

Build 2021 | Password protecting files and folders on Windows 10

Here is what Satya Nadella said during his keynote at Build 2021:

Across all the opportunities I’ve highlighted today, Windows is implicit. It’s never been more important. Windows 10 is used by more than 1.3 billion people to work, learn, connect and play. And it all starts with Windows as a dev box. Windows brings together all developer and collaboration tools in one place. It lets you choose the hardware you want, works with Linux and Windows as one, and has a modern terminal.

And soon we will share one of the most significant updates to Windows of the past decade to unlock greater economic opportunity for developers and creators. I’ve been self-hosting it over the past several months, and I’m incredibly excited about the next generation of Windows. Our promise to you is this: we will create more opportunity for every Windows developer today and welcome every creator who is looking for the most innovative, new, open platform to build and distribute and monetize applications. We look forward to sharing more very soon.

Sources suggest that Microsoft is planning a major design revamp and UI changes to Windows 10 through a project codenamed “Sun Valley.” This update is expected to be a part of the Windows 10 “Cobalt,” which is scheduled to be released later this year.

Microsoft Teams: More updates

Microsoft Teams has been a primary focus for Microsoft ever since the pandemic started disrupting our lives. The tech giant has been very actively working on baking Teams with more features to meet the growing demands for collaboration and productivity worldwide. Teams, which is now arguably the world’s most widely used collaboration and remote work platform, received a plethora of new updates and features at Build 2021.

Although Microsoft Teams apps for meetings first rolled out last year, the company announced a few major additions to allow developers to build more collaborative apps that work within Teams. Microsoft announced the preview version of Shared Staged Integration that allows developers to make collaborative experiences, including project boards and whiteboards within a meeting. After a lot of rumors and speculation, Microsoft finally announced Together mode, packing in the ability to create custom scenes such as a classroom or a coffee shop. It is a fun way to set up meetings and is aimed to bring people together virtually while helping to curb meeting fatigue.

Microsoft Teams | Build 2021 | remote learning

Microsoft Teams is also set to support fluid components that will allow multiple users to edit content at the same time. Microsoft also announced that it would soon be rolling out extensions for Outlook on the Web to provide a unified experience for message extensions across Teams and Outlook on the Web.

Finally, Microsoft is easing the collaborative custom app development for Microsoft Teams. Microsoft says building collaborative apps into Teams is now much easier as developers can leverage all the standard web technologies to combine them with Teams’ APIs to integrate solutions into messaging channels, meetings, and other aspects within Teams. Moreover, developers can also utilize Microsoft’s already available set of developer services such as Microsoft Azure, Power Platform, Microsoft Graph, and several others for app development.

Project Reunion 0.8

Microsoft announced an all-new preview version of the Project Reunion app framework at this year’s Build conference. Project Reunion is Microsoft’s attempt to minimize the gap and unify both Win32 and UWP apps as “Windows apps” instead.

Project Reunion is designed to help developers build Windows 10 applications by bringing together and unifying various development platforms across Win32 and UWP apps. The latest 0.8 version also features support for WinUI 3, WebView2, and .NET 5 applications. This is a huge move toward mobile app development as both WinUI and WebView2 packs in support for modern development frameworks and technologies that allow developers to use Microsoft Edge’s rendering engine for web-based content. On the other hand, with the support for .NET 5, developers can directly use and implement Windows Presentation Foundation and Windows Forms app.

Azure updates

A common trend across all the announcements made at Microsoft Build 2021 was a major focus on enabling developers with tools to build more applications with ease. Accordingly, a majority of the announcements in this year’s three-day event were focused on Microsoft Azure. Azure announcements ranged from Azure AI, communications, PowerBI, Cosmos DB, PyTorch Enterprise, Azure marketplace offers, Azure Analytics, Azure Arc updates, and many more. For more information and detailed announcements regarding each of these Azure services, click here.

Microsoft Build 2021

Microsoft Build 2021 wrap up

Apart from these major announcements, there were many other unveils and announcements made at the event. While it is evident that Microsoft was focused on developer updates, the event did highlight other services and products. Microsoft’s very own Edge browser pacing to be the best browser on Windows platform, Windows Package Manager coming out of preview, Azure-powered conversational AI for Windows were among other announcements made.

Images: Microsoft

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2 thoughts on “Microsoft Build 2021: Major updates and announcements”

    1. Sukesh Mudrakola

      I couldn’t agree more. While there already are a plethora of apps and services which work on all these major platforms. However, there are multiple operational, business, and conflict of interests in doing so.

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