Developers weigh in on Microsoft's all-digital Build 2020 conference

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Build Logo (Image credit: Windows Central)

Build 2020 Digital

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft held Build 2020 as an all-digital event.
  • The format allowed more people to virtually attend the conference.
  • Developers generally shared excitement about its announcements and positive feedback about its delivery.

Microsoft shifted its Build 2020 conference to an all-digital event due to the current health crisis. Despite the relatively last minute change, the conference went smoothly and delivered hundreds of sessions to developers. Microsoft announced "Project Reunion", which brings together Win32 and UWP app development and announced updates to Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Edge,. You can check out our recap of the conference or more of our articles to catch up on all the news.

Over the weekend, we reached out to several developers to get their reaction to the conference's announcements as well as their thoughts on Microsoft's presentation of the all-digital event. With a bit of time to digest the conference, developers weighed in on how the format allowed more people to attend. The feedback received from developers was generally positive. Here are a collection of thoughts from devs across the web.

Sergio Pedri, the developer behind Legere states,

As far as the shift to a digital event goes, I think they did an awesome job at it, especially compared to other similarly big events that have instead been canceled entirely. It was full of sessions open to everyone and I loved how they really strived to make the whole thing as accessible as possible, and with all the speakers actively engaging with users with Q&A sessions. They tried super hard to make people feel like they were actively being part of the event, and it showed. Really well done on that front 👏.As for the most meaningful announcements for me (excluding WinUI 3, C# 9 and .NET 5 in general, as those were all already known before Build 2020), I'd have to say Project Reunion, which sounds amazing on paper and will hopefully reduce the fragmentation of the ecosystem. There are still lots of details to explore (specifically, the future upgrade path for current UWP devs), but the whole thing sounds super exciting nonetheless. I was also blown away by the improved support for WSL2 in particular to run CUDA accelerated applications on it, that sounds like a fantastic tool for eg. ML researchers working with frameworks such as TensorFlow, from Windows.

Niels Laute, the developer behind Huetro enjoyed the conference, but felt some of the more "visionary" stuff was missing.

Great conference setup: going all digital feels like you're not missing out on anything.Great announcements overall, but I missed a bit [of] the 'visionary' stuff we normally see in e.g. Satya's keynote. Also some sessions felt a bit short.What I really missed was anything related to Windows, Windows 10X or any announcements of what's coming for e.g. Your Phone. They did show stuff of that the last Builds. Maybe that's still coming in a separate event over the summer?Conclusion: the digital experience was organised very well, cool announcements and I hope to see more of these 'smaller' all digital events over the coming years!

Yair, the developer behind QuickPad saw Microsoft's announcements as a commitment to developers.

For me Build 2020 was all about commitments to developer's, what we saw with Project Reunion is a commitment to merge the best of UWP and Win32 together and WinUI 3 brings us closer to that goal.WinGet was a really good announcement and the Terminal announcements were great as well 🙂.

Sylveon, a member of the UWP Community Discord server weighed in, stating,

Bit disappointed as a C++ dev as there were no announcements about msvc, and I don't like the "winrt component everything" approach of Project Reunion because that's a pain to use in C++ (cppwinrt bloats up compile times like crazy) or languages without a projection, but it is what it is."

Yoshi Askharoun, another member of the UWP Community Discord server pointed out how the digital format allowed them to attend for the first time.

I never thought I'd ever be able to attend Build live. This year, the barrier to participate was so low that anyone could join, even a high school student stuck at home (pandemic or not). That's awesome, and I hope this is something that Microsoft continues in the future.

Arlo, the developer behind Strix Music(formely known as Spotimo) and a well-known UWP Community leader focused on the format opening doors to developers attending and working together.

There are countless developers around the world who dream of going to Microsoft's Build event in person, viewing sessions live, and interacting with other developers and Microsoft employees. For the majority of them, this is, and will forever be, just a dream. Though the circumstances of moving to an all-digital event are dreadful, the good of it was that every single developer around world got the same first-class treatment.We all got to watch the Build sessions live, and developers, enthusiasts, users, and even Microsoft employees have been using the Discord server to connect with each other in a way that has never been done before. Engineers from the WinUI and Terminal teams, the Uno Platform and the UWP Community Toolkit, they've all embraced the server in their own ways.The real time communication enables so much. Devs help each other, collaborate on projects, user give developers all kinds of feedback (bug reports, translations, etc.), developers give Microsoft feedback, and then the WinUI team hosted a QnA for Build! It's all just incredible to watch unfold. I am beyond happy with how the Discord server has evolved since I took over in 2019, because it has provided a footstool that is actually empowering everyone to achieve more. We've built a great community here, and I think the future has some great stuff in store.

Gustave Monce, a developer who is also known for getting Windows 10 on ARM to run on devices it wasn't meant for like the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, thinks the all-digital presentation went smoothly.

I'm very happy with how the event was done and even surprised they managed to make it happen the way it happened. It really felt like normal and that's a good plus. We could hop to the sessions we wanted and the website just worked seamlessly. I personally also prefer this approach of doing it online because I can stay at home instead of flying to Seattle. In short I felt no difference, and was very pleased and impressed with how the website worked, because it just worked fine. Interactions were good. We could still ask our questions just fine, and as a bonus we have all sessions recorded now so it's awesome.

Michael West, a developer and designer who is currently interning at Microsoft, preferred the all-digital format of Build 2020.

I've honestly really preferred the format of Build this year — making everything digital also pushed to create an event that's a lot more inclusive to people outside the US. Having live repeats of sessions at times that worked better for Europe made me feel more involved in the action and I'm sure a lot of others feel the same.I'm super excited about the announcements relating to Windows. Project Reunion is a huge deal and finally gives Win32 developers a way to access the latest Windows features, and WinUI 3 is going to empower them to create beautiful and fluid experiences that scale to any device.On the app/tools side, the new Windows Package Manager (winget) is super interesting. I can picture myself using winget to quickly set up a new PC using a single script. Also looking forward to the upcoming improvements to WSL — official support for GUI apps is going to be game changing, giving Windows developers seamless access to great tools that are only available on Linux (once again it's the year of Linux on the desktop, huh?)

We also reached out on Twitter to get thoughts from developers around the web. Here are a few of the responses we received over the weekend.

The developers that reached out to us had mostly positive feedback about Build 2020. The event allowed more people to attend, including people who normally couldn't afford to attend the conference. Many said that they'd prefer longer sessions and better ways to communicate during sessions. Overall, it seems that the community agrees that Microsoft did an impressive job shifting Build 2020 to an all-digital event.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at