Surface, Windows, and everything else Microsoft skipped at Build 2019

microsoft build 2019 windows 10 satya nadella keynote 1000x646

As Microsoft continues to turn its gaze away from Windows, there are fewer and fewer reasons for the average Windows enthusiast or developer to pay attention to what the company has to say at its annual Build developers conference. I no longer head into the three-day annual conference expecting earth-shattering hardware launches, or even previews of future software projects.

The excitement stirred by the early days of the conference have been replaced by a calm, more practical approach. CEO Satya Nadella’s unflinching focus on enterprise cloud solutions and software has brought the company to a trillion-dollar valuation, but it doesn’t make for the most relevant series of announcements for the average person.

Here’s everything Microsoft didn’t announce — or even mention — at this year’s Build conference.

Surface

computing watershed moment coming surface phone concept pink ryan smalley behance

We weren’t expecting a big hardware announcement at Build, but Microsoft didn’t even pay lip service to its upstart hardware business. No sales figures, no reflection on the importance of the hardware to the company, and no previews of future products. Buzzwords like 5G and Always Connected PCs were completely missing. It’s almost as if the division that makes its celebrated Surface products is an altogether different company.

The Surface Laptop 2 and Surface Pro 6 were both updated in the fall of 2018, so it’s still too early to have heard anything new in that camp. The same is true of the Surface Go, which was launched in August 2018. Another device to cross off the list was the Surface Hub 2, which we previewed in detail earlier this year.

So, what’s left? Well, there’s the Surface Book 2, which hasn’t been updated since October 2017. Rumors were afloat that the Core i5 13-inch version could be getting updated to an 8th-gen quad-core processor. That would be a nice boon to the lower-end of that product line, but so far there’s been no confirmation.

The product we’ve all been anticipating for years now is the foldable phone/tablet PC that’s been in the works. Once identified by the project name Andromeda and now known by the code name Centaurus, this 2-in-1 device is said to be the next big step forward in the Surface lineup. Foldable screens are coming to phones first, but we’ll no doubt see them in arrive in PCs shortly. Though a preview of that device will most likely be saved for later this year, we’d hoped to get a glimpse of the underlying software at work.

Windows Lite (or Windows at all)

the making of microsoft surface hub 2 hub2 inoffice
Jeremy Kaplan/Digital Trends

Like Surface, Windows itself was hardly mentioned at Microsoft Build. The lack of communication is significant, especially given that the May 2019 Windows 10 Update is just around the corner. Microsoft spoke of Cortana and Search, both things that have changed in this new update, but never addressed how the average person would be affected. Why split Cortana from Search? What benefit does that have? How does this affect not only your Windows 10 PC but also other platforms like Xbox or mobile?

There was no comment on the current state of Windows 10, and Microsoft didn’t give us a glimpse of where Windows is headed in the future either. There’s been talk on the internet about the next generation of Windows, especially for devices outside of standard Windows 10 laptops. It’s a problem Microsoft has attempted to solve many, many times — but never has it succeeded.

The latest attempt has been colloquially called “Windows Lite,” though the real name might not have “Windows” in the title at all. This lighter version of Windows is meant to challenge the rise of Chromebooks by powering web-focused devices and form factors outside the norm. It’s said to be a derivative of Windows Core OS, a modular version of Windows 10 we’re already seeing pop up in products like the Surface Hub 2. Either way, it’s confirmation of the rumor that we may have to wait until Build 2020 before we hear more about the operating system.

Missed opportunities

So yes, Build is very much about Azure and Microsoft’s other moneymaking businesses. Our complaint is not that Microsoft’s developer conference is nothing like Google I/O or WWDC. The problem is that Microsoft never gives itself a chance to articulate its vision for computing. We don’t know how Surface, Windows, or Xbox fit into the company’s vision for the future of cloud computing because they haven’t told us. As of now, they’re disparate entities that somehow coexist under the same umbrella company.

We know where Apple and Google stand, but in the case of Microsoft, we’re left having to fill in the gaps ourselves.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Computing

Genius uses 19th-century tech to prove Google copied its song lyrics

Song lyrics website Genius says that it proved that Google has been copying its lyrics and posting them on its own search results page. And Genius says it was able to do it by using a decidedly old-school form communications tech.
Computing

Air, Pro, or just a MacBook? Here's our guide to finding the right Apple laptop

Apple's lineup of MacBooks has started to swell, leaving fans a bit confused about which laptop they should buy. Depending on what you're looking for, we'll point you in the right direction.
Deals

Amazon sale drops deals on Microsoft Surface laptops

Despite an increasingly crowded market, the sleek Microsoft Surface laptops have left their mark. Both the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 and Surface Book 2 are discounted on Amazon right now, too, with deals that can save you up to $300.
Deals

Amazon cuts prices on Microsoft Surface Pro 6 and Surface Go

The Microsoft Surface series is an excellent alternative to other tablets if you're a dedicated Windows user, and the superb Surface Pro 6 (our favorite 2-in-1) and its cheaper sibling, the Surface Go, are both on sale right now.
Computing

A dual-screen device from Microsoft is in the works. Here's what we know so far

Would you be interested in a dual-screen Surface computer? The Surface Centaurus is a Microsoft project working on just that -- and Microsoft already has a prototype. Here's all the important information on Centaurus!
Deals

Walmart cuts $300 off Dell Inspiron 5680 gaming desktop for gamers on a budget

If you're stashing money but want an upgradeable rig that will go a long way, then this solid deal on the Dell Inspiron Gaming Desktop 5680 with Intel Core i5-8400 is for you. It is now available for only $700 at Walmart.
Computing

Facebook’s crypto isn’t a new Bitcoin, it’s Disney Dollars for a new world order

Facebook has already secured tens of millions in investments for its new cryptocurrency for Facebook known as Libra. The platform is still being developed, but has already brought in backing from Visa, Mastercard and PayPal.
Deals

Check out Walmart’s steep discounts on Dell and LG gaming monitors

If you're a gamer looking for high-quality computer displays, you definitely need to take advantage of this deals from Dell and LG. These gaming monitors will fit your budget and your GPU.
Computing

A Surface Pen with an OLED touchscreen would actually be awesome

Microsoft patented another Surface Pen hardware feature, this time registering a patent for an OLED touch bar strip on the Surface accessory. This could enable dynamic setting change functionality in the next generation of Surface Pens.
Deals

Save $220 on a 2019 MacBook Pro with the latest Intel processor on Amazon

Interested customers can now grab a 2019 MacBook Pro with the latest Intel Core processor at a $220 discount on Amazon. This discounted MacBook Pro also features 512GB of SSD storage, a 15-inch Retina display, and a Touch bar.
Deals

You can grab the 2017 12-inch MacBook for $300 off right now, but act quickly

Despite the growing market for Windows ultrabooks, a MacBook is still what you need if you love the sleek interface of MacOS. The 2017 MacBook is on sale right now, too, but stock is limited, so act quickly before it's gone.
Computing

Apple's Mac Mini and MacBook Air are both great, but which is better?

Torn between the portability of a laptop and the power of a desktop? You aren't the only one. Apple offers great examples of both, with great unique and shared features for each. If we pit the Mac Mini vs. MacBook Air, which do you think…
Computing

PowerPoint is easier than ever with Microsoft’s new A.I. tools

Microsoft's new A.I. tools for Office 365 users make mastering PowerPoint presentations easier than ever. The tools help you create stunning layouts, deliver data with impact, and brush up your delivery skills with smart coaching.
Computing

Google Calendar is back online. Here’s the latest on the outage

Google Calendar is down, and that means that instead of a day packed with back-to-back meetings and timely reminders, users are instead being treated to an error message. Here's the latest on the worldwide outage.