The Build 2020 developer conference happened without much pomp and show in the form of an online event. Microsoft unveiled some cool and much-needed stuff to the audience watching the virtual event from across the globe.
It includes everything from new features in WSL2, new ways to install apps in Windows 10, app integrations for Microsoft 365, and combining the likes of various Windows app platforms.
So, here we have summed up some of the big announcements Microsoft made at Build 2020 annual developer conference.
Microsoft Build 2020 – 6 Major Announcements
1. Windows Package Manager – install apps from command-line
Microsoft has previewed a new open-source Windows package manager utility called WinGet that lets you install Windows apps via command line. After installing the WinGet client on your PC, you can use the ‘winget install’ command to add apps from Microsoft’s community repository.
Mainly intended for developers, it takes the Windows 10 experience closer to what Linux users have been doing for ages. Microsoft said it didn’t invest efforts in already existing package managers as it was a challenging task to deliver the package manager as a native Windows application and integrate existing features like SmartScreen.
WinGet supports Windows 10 1709 and later versions, and you need to be a Windows Insider to try the preview release of the package manager. You can find more details here.
2. Project Reunion – Unifying UWP and Win32
We all know how Microsoft tried to project UWP (Universal Windows Platform) as the future of Windows apps and how it failed. UWP apps were meant to become the replacement of the Win32 legacy apps, but now they’re more like an alternative.
Well, Microsoft is giving another try at UWP by taking a different road this time. At Build 2020, it has announced Project Reunion to combine the features and capabilities of Win32 and UWP into a single platform. Also, their respective APIs will be decoupled from the Windows OS.
This new approach will help unclutter the mess of multiple app platforms Microsoft is maintaining right now. For starters, freshly released APIs WinUI 3 and WebView2 are built along similar lines.
3. Fluid Office integration
Microsoft has announced the new Fluid Office integration in Outlook and Office.com for Microsoft 365 users. It’s an attempt to improve the interoperability between its apps and streamline the work.
In other words, you can create a Fluid workspace and combine apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Calendar, to-do list, etc. in one place instead of juggling through them. It also means multiple users can collaborate and edit stuff in different apps at the same time in a workspace, which could turn out to be more useful than, for example, collaborating in just one app.
Microsoft said it will add more components in the future, including Teams. The Fluid Office integration is based on the open-source Fluid framework that Microsoft previewed last year at Ignite. It will be available for Microsoft 365 enterprise users in the coming months.
4. Microsoft Edge features
Speaking of the new Edge Chromium features, Redmond has tried to cater to both general users and developers by making a plethora of announcements at Build 2020.
For the users, Microsoft has added Pinterest integration to the Collections feature. It lets you easily export saved bookmarks, images, text, etc. and get Pinterest suggestions directly in the Edge browser. Also, a new ‘Search in sidebar’ option lets you find more information on a select text without switching to another browser tab.
For developers, Microsoft is making changes to bring Progressive Web Apps (PWA) experience closer to the native apps on Windows 10. This means the apps would launch in a standalone window and appear in places like Start Menu and Taskbar for easier access. If you want to install PWAs using Edge Chromium, you can read our detailed post.
Furthermore, the updated DevTools now includes a 3D view mode. Microsoft is also updating the UI of the Edge Addons website, adding new categories, and making it easier to search browser extensions.
People also spotted Microsoft engineers running an unreleased version of Edge for Linux on their machines, although the company didn’t make any announcements regarding the same.
5. Learn TV to watch free programming videos
If you’re interested in learning some programming skills, why not take a look at Learn TV which provides videos on tons of free programming concepts.
Learn TV features on-demand videos and brings content from various other places like Channel 9 under one roof. It’s an addition to the existing platform Microsoft Learn that primarily focuses on written resources.
6. Windows Subsystem for Linux 2
WSL 2 is scheduled to release alongside the Windows 10 May 2020 Update, and one big change this time is Microsoft has decoupled the Linux kernel from the OS image.
At Build 2020, Microsoft has brought some much-needed addons for its Linux userbase. WSL will get support for Linux GUI apps, which means users won’t be limited to command-line utilities anymore.
Also, Microsoft is working on a dedicated version of Direct for Linux, which will allow WSL instances to take advantage of GPU hardware acceleration.
So, this was a roundup of some major announcements that Microsoft made its annual developer conference this year. If you have something to add, feel free to drop your thoughts in the comments.