We’re back from an exciting 3 days of Build conference in San Francisco, once again the epicenter of Microsoft biggest platform announcements.  In our previous posts we already provided the highlights of day 1 and day 2 and in this post we want to give you a recap on what made this year’s Build conference one to remember.

We started the conference big with amazing updates to Windows Phone and Windows. Windows Phone 8.1 adds a bunch of features that make it the world’s most personal smartphone.  The feature that reflects this most is Cortana, your personal digital personal assistant. Powered by Bing, you can ask her anything, from scheduling appointments, adding people reminders, to managing your Phone while you’re in meetings.  The Windows 8.1 update refines the touch-optimized experience you already knew with better support for mouse and keyboard to perfectly fit all of your Windows devices.

With these major OS updates we also opened up new opportunities for developers.  Especially with the introduction of universal Windows apps you now have a common way to build and architect apps for phones, tablets and PCs, as they all run on the same common Windows runtime.  For example, app suspend and resume, or roaming of settings are now all implemented in the same identical way. Check Kevin Gallo’s post for all details about universal apps.

Universal Windows apps for a common Windows runtime

Already today you start building those universal Windows apps; we have announced the release of Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 RC. In addition to building universal apps this update also adds more developer productivity and collaboration features. For example the Windows Phone diagnostics tools are nothing less than impressive, and with the integration of the Azure tools you can manage your cloud assets without ever leaving Visual Studio. Check out the Soma’s post for an overview of developer tools enhancements.

Since its initial release over 12 years ago, .NET has gained immense popularity and is powering some of the most important software solutions.  At this Build conference we have announced some very important and significant updates to the .NET platform. Check Soma’s post about the .NET platform innovation.

Key to our commitment to the open .NET ecosystem, we have formed the .NET Foundation that currently groups 24 .NET open source projects, including the .NET Compiler (“Roslyn”).  We welcome input from the entire .NET community, Microsoft and others, to further drive innovation to this platform.

At the same time, we continue to innovate the .NET platform, from the core .NET runtime and compiler, advancements to the C# and VB.NET languages to runtime performance enhancements with the introduction of .NET Native and the .NET JIT Compiler (“RyuJIT”). And even for cross-platform mobile development you can leverage C# and Visual Studio through our partnership with Xamarin to build Android or iOS apps.

Organizations and Enterprise are also key users of the Windows platform and also for them we’re further innovating and optimizing the Windows platform. With the OS updates coming to Windows Phone and Windows, we’re adding several capabilities designed for the Enterprise. Ranging from enhanced mobile device management, secure access via VPN on Windows Phone, to optimized mouse and keyboard support on Windows and Internet Explorer compatibility.

And we did not forget about the Enterprise app developers.  We have made it easier for you to leverage your existing code to create and deploy touch-friendly business apps and improve efficiency across devices.  With the introduction of brokered windows runtime components, you can invoke existing .NET code from within a Windows Store app, allowing you to leverage previous investments.

From an Enterprise app deployment perspective we have also listened to your feedback. We’re making it more cost effective for you to deploy apps inside your organization using Enterprise sideloading. You can now purchase sideloading rights for an unlimited number of devices. Check the full details about Windows in the Enterprise on the Windows Business blog.

In a devices and services era, this Build conference also amazed us with several advancements to our Microsoft Azure cloud platform.  Our vision is to simplify cloud development and one step in that direction is the Microsoft Azure preview portal, demonstrated by Scott Guthrie on day 2.  With Azure we also want you to be able to use the tools, frameworks and technologies you’re accustomed to. Notable in that respect is the integration with open management tools such as Chef and Puppet Labs.

Build 2014 was once again an amazing experience with great platform announcements. If you weren’t in San Francisco or want to re-live some of the sessions, you can find the recording of keynotes and other sessions on Channel 9.

Where do you go from now

As of today, the Windows 8.1 Update is available through Windows Update to all existing Windows 8 customers.

For app developers, you can get the developer tools to start building universal Windows apps right now. Start today, build an amazing app and win great rewards with our Applause contest.

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If you’re looking for some more in-depth training on what was announced at Build, check out our free online trainings on Microsoft Virtual Academy.

Get started with Microsoft Azure today by activating your MSDN benefits or by getting a free trial.

Keep your Build feedback coming through Twitter by using the #bldwinbe hashtag.