Microsoft's Build 2020 virtual conference for Windows developers this week has released a lot of new announcements. Most of them are cool, but a bit thin for individual reports. We will update you in this summary and provide links to individual topics if you are interested in more.
Windows Terminal goes 1.0
The settings for Windows Terminal 1.0 are changed in a very Linux-like manner by editing a large JSON-formatted text file that is displayed when accessed via the Settings menu in the editor.
In addition to multiple tabs, you can open terminals in multiple windows on the same tab using Alt-Shift-Plus and Alt-Shift-Minus to split vertically and horizontally.
It is uncomfortable that splitting a terminal into windows forces these windows into the standard shell, regardless of how the shell was originally on this tab. You can work around this by running another interpreter in this area once it's divided.
With Windows 10 – and Server 2019 – offering more and better command line features, the terminal itself is one of the parts of the overall experience that looked shabby in comparison.
Windows Terminal is trying to change this, and it just went 1.0. The terminal itself is open source and can be viewed and / or hacked under the MIT license at Github. Microsoft's own announcement lists 14 contributors by name and hundreds more are recognized. This is a more than welcome change for those of us old enough to have lived through the Halloween document era.
The user-friendliness of the project itself is promising, but needs to be worked on from the point of view of a Linux user who drives daily. We like the JSON-formatted settings file, which can be created in the editor with a simple menu click. We like the native support for tabs and panes even better. However, one of the nooks and crannies is the fact that under standard configurations, an Ubuntu / Bash shell suddenly turns into two PowerShell panes when you split them.
The problem is that the hotkeys for splitting windows only support the creation of new windows with the standard profile under Terminal and the profile contains the loaded interpreter. In addition to changing the default profile, which is done very simply by copying and pasting GUIDs into settings.json, clever users can get around this limitation to some extent by simply running another interpreter in the area after the area has been set up itself open.
Terminal 1.0 also offers some support for PuTTY style copying and pasting. If you select text in Terminal, it is not automatically inserted into the copy buffer, as is the case with PuTTY (you need more Linux-y-Ctrl-Shift-C). However, if you right-click in another terminal window, it will be inserted immediately.
There are many more features in Terminal, most of which appear to be "shiny" for now – background images, animated GIFs, scan lines, and glowing text (to emulate old green screen CRTs) and so on. Interested users are advised to read the build announcement here and the project documents here.
Azure Arc adds Kubernetes administration to its resume
If you're looking for a single pane of glass for Windows servers, Linux servers, Azure services, and K8 containers, you'll find it here.
Arc aims to integrate cloud-centric practices into local infrastructure (and developers).
This Azure Data Studio screenshot shows some of the database services that Arc manages.
Azure Arc is, or will be, Microsoft's cloud management tool for all services.
The goal is for Arc to be as vendor-neutral and type-neutral as possible, providing support for managing Windows and Linux servers and VMs, Azure cloud services, and now Kubernetes container clusters through a single pane of glass.
It was tempting to see Microsoft and Canonical as partners focusing on Ubuntu in the Windows subsystem for Linux, but Microsoft is demonstrating continued vendor neutrality in Arc with the announcement of direct support and integration for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server aside from some special platforms (like SAP Hana Enterprise Resource Planning), the total area in Europe is larger than in the USA.
Although Azure Arc is still in the preview (mostly in the public preview, some features still in the private preview), interested users can sign in to start today.
Microsoft loves open source these days – here's the fluid framework to prove it
The Fluid Framework was one of the most interesting announcements made at the Ignite conference last year. Fluid enables large-scale, low-latency document collaboration – and blurs the lines between traditional document types, allowing simple and functional dynamic content to be embedded from one framework to the next.
Enlarge /. We were slightly impressed that this copied Word table was actually rendered correctly in an instant message – let alone that the recipient was able to update the data in the IM himself. (Click through to see the animated demo.)
Microsoft has annoyed us with the integration of Fluid in Office 365 apps since the framework was first announced in September. This week the company went one step further and promised to release the framework as open source. Jared Spataro, VP of Office 365, announced that "Microsoft will make the Fluid Framework open source so developers and developers can use Fluid Framework's key infrastructure in their own applications."
As exciting as it is, we are a little concerned about the subsequent impact on social engineering. If you can easily embed the fully responsive Office document functionality into any webpage, it may be much easier to confuse users to enter sensitive data and credentials where they shouldn't.
A live preview of some uses of the Fluid Framework can be found here for all users of a OneDrive for Business account.
Social Hacking – Integrated voice and text chat in Visual Studio Live Share
Enlarge /. VS Live Share enables live collaboration between colleagues with very low latency.
Visual Studio Live Share is similar to Google Docs for Code. You and several colleagues can edit the same document live, with cursors highlighting each of your changes live as they occur.
However, the latency in VS Live Share is significantly lower than most Google Docs users. The collaboration naturally takes place in a fully functional development environment, not in a simple word processing document.
The missing piece of this puzzle was out-of-band communication – simple chat, whether text or speech. Previously, developers had to load separate tools from the site – possibly using teams in another window for instant messaging or Mumble / Skype / Hangouts / whatever language. Today's public preview brings the missing communication functions directly into Visual Studio Live Share.
Reunion project – you have your UWP in my Win32
Project Reunion aims to provide access to UWP and Win32 libraries from a single unified framework.
One of the frustrations in developing for Windows is the coexistence of legacy and modern APIs. Many developers are more familiar with using the older Win32 API. However, if you switch to UWP – the universal Windows platform – you will not only get access to Windows, but also to Xbox One, HoloLens and future hardware platforms. UWP also means an extra layer of security that frustrates as many developers as they love. UWP apps can only be installed directly from the Microsoft Store.
Project Reunion, launched on Wednesday at Build 2020, aims to address this divide somewhat by decoupling both APIs from the Windows operating system and making functions available universally for apps built under both APIs. For example, Reunion makes WinUI 3 Preview 1 – the modern native UI framework for Windows – available in the same way for UWP or desktop apps (Win32).
Microsoft develops Project Reunion openly and publicly on Github and gives non-Microsoft developers the opportunity to directly influence the future of Windows development.
Microsoft Teams adds bookings, bots and broadcasts
Microsoft Teams is Redmond's next generation messaging and collaboration application, replacing what your cynical author used to call "Lync, Skype for Business, or whatever you call it this week."
Unlike Lync and Skype for Business, Teams has a working web interface. This makes it much less painful for those who cannot or cannot install the native client directly on their own PC – including but not limited to Linux users.
This week's news is the integration of scheduling and shift management directly into the teams themselves as well as chatbots and support for third-party streaming services. Scheduling and chatbots are exactly what they sound like – and if you're not familiar with the streaming option, think of "interviewing in teams, streaming through Open Broadcast Studio (or a similar platform) to the world".
Added Pinterest integration to Edge Collections
Enlarge /. Edge collections are a convenient way to group a number of websites and richly formatted notes. They can be saved, exported and released directly.
To the horror of die-hard Chrome fans and Microsoft haters, we at Ars have become increasingly interested in the Edge browser. By foregoing its own rendering engine and working with Google on the Chromium open source browser, Microsoft has reclaimed many hours of manpower and energy available for innovation.
When you build on Chromium, you get a snappy, easy-to-use browser that’s guaranteed to work almost anywhere Chrome works. Since then, Microsoft has divided its focus on integration into its own platforms (e.g. Office 365 SSO authentication) and usability functions. In simple terms, collections are one of these functions: users can create graphically, intuitively and simply large "website playlists" that can be saved and searched later.
However, Microsoft may have lost us a bit as a result of the latest integration: the browser integrates Pinterest into its collection function, shows suggestions for Pinterest boards at the bottom of users' edge collections, and enables collections to be exported to Pinterest itself. Meh.
Listing image from Microsoft