Day 1 at Microsoft's Build 2013 summarised: Bing, Windows 8 and Windows Phone

Today was quite the day if you follow our feeds. Microsoft took the stage on day one at its Build 2013 conference to show off some products running Windows 8, as well as presenting Windows 8.1 and talking about the ecosystem in general. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer leaped on to the stage to kick the show off, but we were also blessed with the presence of Julie Larson-Green and co.

Don't worry if you somehow missed the keynote as we've got a summary right here for you.

Windows 8.1

Windows Build

The Windows 8.1 preview is available for everyone to check out. We covered the announcement, so be sure to head on over to check out the download link. Speaking of upgrades, we've got some new apps on the way to Windows, including Facebook, Flipboard and NFL.

Developers can further enhance their apps by utilising the redesigned Windows Store. Monetisation opportunities and more flexible design options are now available. Internet Explorer 11 is included in the Windows 8.1 preview.

The next version of Microsoft's web browser builds on IE10 and is further optimised for touch input. The new release delivers rebuilt F12 developer tools, more options for favourites and tabs, performance improvements, as well as the ability to synchornise browsing history, favourite sites, tabs and settings across all Windows 8.1 hardware.

This is a neat new feature that will be welcomed by those who use a combination of desktops, laptops and tablets. But that's not all as the audience and viewers were also treated to a sneak peek at the new Xbox Music app and Powerpoint for RT. We'll look at the new features and updated system apps soon.


Bing Build

Bing was also touched on during the keynote. Gurdeep Singh Pall, Corporate VP of the online services division, outlined how Bing has crafted a platform that allows the technology behind Bing to be embedded as intelligent services into Microsoft hardware, services and third-party apps. This provides more information, which is easily accessible by consumers when searching and browsing. Microsoft is essentially attempting to make Bing more human.

The new platform was presented to deliver three broad categories of capabilities of which third-party applications can take advantage of:

  • Services to bring entities and world knowledge to apps
  • Services to enable apps to deliver a more natural and intuitive user experience
  • Servers that bring an awareness of the physical world into apps

Bing Build

Highlighted services included: The Bing Entity API, Bing Optical Character Recognition Control, Bing Translator Control, Bing Speech Control and Bing Maps 2D/3D Control. As well as developers, Microsoft also unveiled two new Bing apps for the Windows 8.1 Preview during the keynote today.

The first was Food & Drink, which as the name suggests enables users to check out videos, recipies and other content. The app sports a hands-free mode that utilises the camera to detect a gesture. The second new app was Health & Fitness, more on these new apps and anything else in Windows 8.1 / Bing later.

The Extra Stuff

Microsoft Build

As well as the main highlights, Microsoft had a number of small thing to show off. Visual Studio 2013 Preview and .NET Framework 4.5.1 Preview are both available for download right now. 3D printing was endorsed by the team with native support and partnerships formed with top companies in the industry, including MakerBot, 3D Systems, Netfab and more. This will help make it easier for folk to get cracking with said hardware.

The Kinect for Windows team announced version 1.8 of the platform's SDK, which is set to be released in September later this year. A developer kit program will also be kicking off in November 2013 for the new generation Kinect for Windows sensor (hello, Xbox One). Sign-ups have already started and the new developer kits for qualifying developers will include an early version of the next-gen Kinect sensor, access to pre-release versions of the SDK and a second sesor when the final version is released to the public. 

On a lighter note, Windows Phone developers can rejoice with Microsoft slashing the registration fee to just $19.

That about sums it up, excluding the Acer Iconia and Microsoft Surface Windows 8 tablet giveaways, of course. Be sure to remain tuned to our feed for more bits and bobs from Build 2013.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.