Notes from BUILD – Day 1 – Keynote Part 1 – Steven Sinofsky’s Introduction

This is part of a transcription of my notes from Microsoft’s recent BUILD conference in Anaheim, CA, minus anything that might be considered Red Gate confidential. Thus, they’re somewhat unstructured, sometimes ramble off-topic, and often contain dodgy grammar. My own commentary and observations will generally be italicised so you can easily distinguish it from the reporting on what actually happened. Much has already been said about this conference, and about Windows 8, but I hope you find these useful. Please feel free to comment or ask questions and I’ll be happy to answer them as best I can.

Steven Sinofsky is President of Microsoft’s Windows and Windows Live Division:

I’ve only ever seen a short extract of Steven in a YouTube video previously, but apparently he has a reputation for execution. My impression of him is that he’s taken care of himself, is confident, articulate and passionate. The latter seems to spill over into a habit of interrupting his co-presenters that might become rather annoying if you’re one of them – OTOH a couple of those interruptions did seem to be rescue attempts, so kudos there.

Some interesting statistics:

  • 450M copies of Windows 7 shipped, which is now more than Windows XP
  • 542M Windows Live users
  • (Later on Steve Ballmer shared that 350M Windows devices will be shipped this year)
  • IE9 is the fastest growing web browser on Windows 7 – didn’t quote actual market share though, and I wonder who it’s stealing market share from out of Chrome, Firefox, or earlier versions of IE
  • 1502 non-security-related changes and improvements have been made to the product since Windows 7 shipped

Since Windows 7 shipped the world has changed. We have seen a proliferation of form factors, from phones, through tablets, laptops, netbooks, and the faithful old desktop computer – didn’t mention media servers, but I imagine because of small market share. More importantly he also didn’t mention servers, virtualisation or the cloud, but there are obviously changes here too.

We have also seen the rise of touch and Microsoft believes that before long people will want touch everywhere, and that a monitor that doesn’t support touch will soon seem laughably primitive. At the time I rather churlishly observed that if you use Apple devices you already know this, but this was obviously before we’d really seen anything of substance.

Mobility is also key – people expect to be able to use their devices, and access applications, data, and services on the move from wherever they happen to be.

We will also see more and more richly connected applications. By this we mean apps that connect to eachother, to other apps, and to a wide variety of cloud services to provide functionality we haven’t yet imagined.

Windows 8 will be 100% Windows 7 compatible – it makes 7 better.

More than that, with 8, Microsoft wanted to “re-imagine Windows” from the chipset right through to the user experience. They also aim to provide access to the system for developers at every level with multiple layers of abstraction depending upon how much, and how directly, you need to interact with the hardware – although this has always been true to some extent, at least since the advent of DirectX.

Keynote demos coming up:

  • Windows 8 Experience
  • Metro Style Platform and Tools
  • Hardware Platforms
  • Cloud Services

Microsoft have focussed on fundamentals and have improved the performance and decreased the resource usage relative to Windows 7. Thus, base operating system resource usage after boot now looks like this:

  • Windows 7 SP1: 404MB and 32 processes
  • Windows 8: 281MB and 29 processes

This represents a saving of 25 – 30% over Windows 7 SP1, and somewhat more over the original Windows 7 release, although I didn’t manage to grab the figures.