Build 2014 has been kicked off yesterday, I wasn't able to attend Build2013, but fellow colleagues have attended and most have returned disappointed. The main reason for that was that Build13 was scheduled a bit close to Build2012, causing hype of something big that is about to come, and when it wasn't fulfilled, disappointment was unavoidable.
Build 2014 is a different story, Microsoft is not the same company that were in Build2013, the one Microsoft motto is not CEO materials, it's obvious that the new approach is in effect to the last programmer at MS. Microsoft is stepping down from its "Ivory Tower", that's is a big big news, MS is not only listening to responding better to developers and influencing bloggers, but also can not ignore the consumers that has just refrained from using something that has giving them just not enough value, and that without talking about he Surface (RT) that is just not a good enough product.
Step by step, Windows Phone is closing the gaps with iOS and Android, especially with the introduction of the Notification Center which is looking solid so far, but nothing that will rock your boat, but it's a blocker for many potential users on Android/iOS that have thought of switching to WP. Another feature that you must mention is Cortana, a Siri/Google Now feature that looks good so far, but probably will speak only american in the foreseen future.Closing gaps with other platforms is of course a main priority but I was very pleased to see more imaginative and original features, such as the ability to create lock screens new features and such.
I've said that MS is now better listening to consumers, the classic example for this is Windows 8, with the next update, rolling out on the 2nd week of April 14, familiar and new features has been introduced, for example the Start Menu is back, and Windows Store apps contain more visual hints for users and better mouse and keyboard support. In a way Win8.1 Update 1 is another step back to help the transition for users from XP and Windows7. Usually I was really against the Windows 8 vs Vista comparison, cause the cause of the problems were really different, but the results are obviously looking similar as we go. Windows 8.1 update 1 looks much more like it Windows 8 should have launched with.
On the developer side, a new way of developing directed on to write "once" for both WP and Windows, called universal apps that I will probably be writing a post dedicated to it. But again it's a step to close the gap with iOS that you can develop iPhone and iPad pretty much in the same place.
In conculsiong, there is a lot to watch now as WP matures, and WIndows got a much better stories. Also devices are gaining tractions. Remember that MS is always a sucky sprint runner but you really can't beat it in a marathon, and the devices markets battle is just beginning.