Build 2016: Build 2016: how to watch the keynotes and what to expect
Today, Microsoft will show off what it’s been cooking up for Windows, Xbox and perhaps even HoloLens at its annual developer conference, Build 2016.

While it’s largely aimed at the folks that make the apps you use every day, Microsoft will broadcast the conference’s two major keynotes straight from the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Calif, so that fans (and devs who couldn’t make it) can see what’s next for Microsoft as it happens.

Watching the keynotes is almost painfully easy. Just head to Microsoft’s newfangled Build 2016 page, scroll down a bit and press that play button.

However, likely nothing will happen until around 8:30am PT (or 11:30am ET, 4:30pm GMT, 1:30am AEST), when Microsoft promises the keynote will begin. Tomorrow’s keynote is expected to start at the same time.

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What might we see?

Surprisingly, there’s been pretty much zilch in the way of legitimate reports (i.e. rumors) surrounding what Microsoft will showcase today.

But, we can use deduction based on what’s happened since Build 2015 to make some educated (i.e. relatively safe) guesses.

Redstone shows its true colors

All rumors and reports point to a June 2016 release for Redstone, the internal codename for the next big Windows 10 update. So, it’s more than likely that we’ll get a sneak peek of what that major release will entail, which apparently will “change everything.”

And we’ve actually already seen a bit of what the first half of Redstone will entail, thanks to the Fast Ring of the Windows Insider program. (I use the term “first half” because reports say that Redstone will come in two phases, with the second slated for Spring 2017 to coincide with a hardware launch.)

From what we can tell, phase one of Redstone – reportedly known internally as “RS1” – will be about making good on Microsoft’s mission to tightly integrate all devices that run on the firm’s Universal Windows Platform (UWP). That means PCs, smartphones (the few that have it), Xbox One and even Internet of Things devices.

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This will likely include updates to Microsoft’s iOS-bridging Project Islandwood – aimed to bring iOS code to Windows 10 – as well as its Centennial apps program, which updates old Win32 apps for Windows 10 and its Windows Store, like Office 2016.

Finally, we’ve learned that Continuum will likely be upgraded in RS1, allowing text messages and calls sent to a Windows 10 Mobile device to appear on your Windows 10 desktop screen. Think of Apple’s iMessage platform done the Microsoft way.

Naturally, my money is on Cortana getting some major upgrades if not in RS1, then in RS2. (But, RS1, please?)

Some updates on what in the world is happening with Windows 10 Mobile beyond Lumia devices would be welcome, too.

(Also, according to a Bloomberg profile, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will also address the recent Tay debacle and unveil a series of bots like her designed to help in specific scenarios.)

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HoloLens starts to melt faces

Since it’s unveiling at a Windows 10 event in January 2015, Microsoft’s wearable computing product, HoloLens, has both captured and tempered our imaginations with its potential and limitations. And, with the developer version said to be shipping March 30, it’s almost a forgone conclusion that we’re going to hear more.

Since it teased “holoportation” just last week, Microsoft would be remiss not to show off how exactly the system works in a live demonstration – if not behind closed doors. The technology connects two HoloLens users in a holographic video chat in which each user “appears” within the other’s physical space, rendered via the headset.

Generally speaking, though, we need to see how this device is supposed to apply to our daily lives if it’s to sell once it hits the shelves. Cool augmented reality games and educational applications are one thing, but I hope Microsoft can capture how this device will fit into what’s already a glut of devices for the average, tech-savvy consumer.

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What does Windows 10 mean for Xbox, really?

Microsoft has already said quite a lot about how its UWP will apply to Xbox, name-dropping several games that will (and already) support saves across Xbox One and Windows 10 as well as cross-buy and game streaming. But, what about Windows will actually change Xbox?

At GDC 2016, Microsoft said that the Windows and Xbox One Stores will unify, offering games and apps for both platforms. Perhaps we’ll see exactly what that looks like today.

However, there has to be more to it than that. Will we soon see our phone calls and text messages – to a Windows 10 Mobile phone, natch – appear as notifications while we’re playing Halo? That would be an interesting start.

Hardware?

Ha! You’re too cute. Unless it’s a HoloLens or Surface-slash-Lumia device used for a demonstration, fat chance.

Stay tuned to this space throughout Build 2016, as this page will change to collect all of the highlights as we cover them.

  • Also, it’s VR Week on techradar – read all of our in-depth coverage right here

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