Today’s sessions continue Microsoft’s efforts to attract developers to build software using Microsoft’s various platforms, including Windows 10, Office, Azure and Xbox.

Share story

What you need to know:

Update, 11:11 a.m.

Seattle Inc. is hanging out together in San Francisco.

Demonstrations of happy customers are a staple of shows like Build. This time around, Microsoft seems keen to tout what seems like all of its hometown neighbors.

On Wednesday, Boeing was shown in a video happily using applications on Windows 10. This morning, Alaska Airlines was shown in awe of Microsoft’s developer tools.

Starbucks’ Chief Technology Officer Gerri Martin-Flickinger joined Qi Lu onstage to tout the company’s add-ins for Office. One tool enables people to send Starbucks gift cards from within Office. Another sends calendar invites to propose meetings at a nearby Starbucks.

Martin-Flickinger sent Lu $100 worth of coffee. “I’m feeling generous,” she said.

Update, 10:25 a.m.

Data, Qi Lu says, is the new oil.

Lu, the executive vice president who leads Microsoft’s Applications and Services group, made the case that the Office suite is a foundation to tap into some of that currency.

He outlined the software’s reach: 1.2 billion people use Office. The productivity suite’s mobile variants has been downloaded 340 million times. And 60 million business users had signed on to Microsoft’s Office 365.

Microsoft’s aim is to take Office beyond now-basic productivity tasks like email and document formatting. That’s shown by the company’s push of next-generation products like smart Office information tracking tool Delve and data crunching tool Power BI.

One demo Thursday showed off Microsoft Graph, the programming interface that lets developers tap into data stored by Office. Another touted the latest tools to build Office add-ins, or software that companies build on top of Office.

Update, 9:20 a.m.

Developers, it turns out, are just like the rest of us. They like free stuff.

The crowd here broke into applause on the announcement that Xamarin, the popular San Francisco cross-platform developer software company that Microsoft bought recently, would be included at no extra cost in Microsoft’s Visual Studio developer tools.

Xamarin’s products help developers target multiple mobile platforms with their software, and test how well it will run on hundreds of devices.

With developers paying less attention to Windows after the rise of the massive mobile ecosystems overseen by Google and Apple, Microsoft has tried to stay front-and-center with the software builders by following them to whatever platform they’re targeting.

That effort also includes a newfound embrace of open-source, or releasing technology under terms that allow the community to contribute to or distribute the code. Startups, reluctant to bet on one company’s proprietary tools, in many cases favor open-source tools.

Microsoft said Thursday that it would open-source the core Xamarin tools.

Update, 8:56 a.m.

Scott Guthrie, the executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group, kicked off Day 2 of Build with a pitch for the company’s critical Azure cloud-computing group.

He wasn’t shy about going after the competition.

Azure’s network of data centers includes 30 regions around the world, Guthrie said, more than’s Amazon Web Services and Google combined. That figure on its own can be a bit misleading. AWS does much more business with fewer defined regions, analysts say.

Guthrie also outlined what Microsoft thinks is its biggest advantage in the nascent market for Web-delivered software: its pedigree selling to Big Business. It’s a contrast Microsoft is trying to draw with Amazon and Google, which, the company implies, don’t have the same chops.

“Enterprises aren’t an afterthought” for Azure, Guthrie said. “They’re a key design point.”
He also touted the company’s massive network of sales and support staff. “We understand the critical requirements of running software for business.”

Update, 7 a.m.

The first day on Microsoft’s Build conference showed much of the company’s vision of how technology can help meet people’s wants and need. In particular, Chief Executive Satya Nadella talked about how human language is the new interface, moving away from the mouse and keyboard.

Today’s sessions continue Microsoft’s efforts to attract developers to build software using Microsoft’s various platforms, including Windows 10, Office, Azure and Xbox.