Microsoft October Event: developer view

Yesterday Microsoft announced a few things at its October Event. Let’s see what I think this means for a developer.

Windows 10 Creators Update, 3D, HoloLens and Windows Holographic

We need to start embracing 3D in our apps, both in our consumer- and business-oriented applications. More and more people (and organizations!) will probably buy holographic devices (such as the greatest HoloLens, which can eventually become a full smartphone replacement, but also new cheaper things like Dell devices that are yet to be announced) in the future.

Based on some surveys that I read about in news, the trend has already started. Young people that were born with our day technology are going to have no trouble transforming, if needed, to get on the next wave, and ware such devices every day. And so will do us, the older people, eventually. Exactly as our grandparents started to use smartphones a few time after we started, but sharing the same joy when they got there.

So, start thinking now about ways your apps could input and output 3D rather than 2D, and do it faster than your competition. No pressure. 🙂

Surface Studio

If you are tired of two monitors (never liked that way myself), but you work in an office everyday, do get the Studio (or ask your company to get it for you) – it’s a great system and sold at a correct price, in my opinion. Unless you are in a country where it’s not available directly from Microsoft, and it would be difficult to get support and have issues solved if they arise.

When you design apps to support it, you might consider though that the screen size is indeed larger than standard desktops’. But generally your app should already scale well with DPI settings unless you still use antique techniques of building Windows UI.

But also ensure that you’ll support more touch, ink, and speech in the future – they are all trending up, although speech at lower rate, currently; that might increase in the future too, as AI speech recognition and language understanding features are also dramatically improving these days.

Improved Surface Book

If you like working from multiple locations (not necessarily traveling, but working from the living room as well as from the garden, or sometimes the bedroom) as I do, this 2-in-1 is a valid option.

Still, the screen size (13″) is too small for a developer (unless he or she develops backend only.) And you have the same warranty issues as for other Surfaces and for the Book the price seems a little too high too. So, personally, I’d get it only in conjunction with a Surface Studio. Which means a very high cost. Or, instead, I would consider still selecting a Dell XPS 15: larger screen, still highly mobile.

Surface Dial

Probably nice if you do artistic design or drawing mockups, but I have trouble imagining great usage scenarios for that in Visual Studio when writing code. Scrolling through IntelliSense? Nah, a mouse wheel is enough. We don’t use touch too much either when developing things, isn’t it?, so I’d skip that one for myself.

But we’ll need to consider that new input device when designing new apps because in some areas it’s probably going to be a very useful device and people might end loving it. (As they loved Apple’s first mouse, a long time ago, who knows?)

Surface Pen

That’s not new, but I added it as a topic because I think we should consider ink support more when designing new apps.

Still, as a developer you will need it only if you take notes at a meeting (which could be fine also on paper and then photographed and made searchable through an app like Office Lens), and when you architect applications or design screen mockups and you find Visio too complex or too old-style.

Personally I still find designing apps on paper OK, although I did try it with ink on a Surface 1 tablet a little, some time ago (but not with Surface Pen anyway, and I hear and hope it’s a completely different experience).

However, if you like to architect or design apps in a coffee shop with ink you will need a Surface tablet or Book as the Studio will remain at your office; and Surface Pen doesn’t work on your Dell laptop with the larger screen.

(Still) No Surface Phone

I personally think they couldn’t get a phone better than what is already there on the market now, and improvements like folding keyboards or simply better processors available now might not mean much for end users, be them consumers or business mans.

Continuum is a nice feature, but people would want it all wireless (or with just HDMI output from the phone body), without any middle dongle. No need for USB mice or keyboards as Bluetooth support would be enough. Moreover, the nice thing would be to run Windows, not Windows Mobile, and support Win32 old apps. Without these feature, it’s better Microsoft hasn’t launched anything at this event.

Still, I’d rather continue using my Windows Phone (or buy a new one if really needed, e.g. from HP, the partner they suggested), instead of buying an Android or an iPhone device, since it’s (almost) the same platform and if you love Windows on your desktop of laptop, it’s easier to have and manage a Windows phone too. The basic things you need the phone for are supported on Windows Phone too, no worries. And the number of applications in Store isn’t a big problem if you use just the basic ones like me.

But of course, as you know, Microsoft apps including Office are now also available for other platforms, and I think you’ll better develop mobile apps for those devices too. Xamarin and Cordova will surely help bridging.

XBox live streaming and 4K gaming

(Unless you develop games or you are a gamer yourself.) Who cares about this?!

Windows’ My People

Yeah, nice thingy. You can get your fellow developers there (besides family) and ensure you don’t miss their updates. Still, it’s probably going to be difficult to select who is going to go in your My People list and who not. (And if your grandmother sees she’s not on your list, I don’t know what will happen!…)


About Sorin Dolha

My passion is software development, but I also like physics.
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