3D Printing and Raspberry Pi: Why Stanford students should take notice of Microsoft again

May 18, 2015, 10:50 p.m.

Conventional criticism aside, there’s a lot of reasons why Stanford should be taking the “New Microsoft” (as they call it) in a different light. The company has long been trying to shed its image of archaism and lethargy, and this time around, it seems like they’ve finally figured out how to shake it off.

There was a time when what Microsoft did had little bearing on the lives of students at Stanford, especially engineers and computer scientists. That’s no longer the case. The new Microsoft ecosystem, highly based on interoperability and incorporating open-source technologies for the first time, is something that students should take note of.

One of the most talked-about products at Build 2015 is Microsoft’s “Universal Platform,” which is a common platform incorporating applications for Windows, Xbox and Hololens. The platform allows developers to write code once and have it be deployed across the entire Microsoft ecosystem.

“How can Windows 10 let you take the code you have today and reach a billion users?” was the common refrain at Build, and we got a taste of what that meant.

More interesting about this, though, is the “Universal bridge” that Microsoft unveiled during today’s keynote.

The company created multiple pathways to the Windows 10 platform, including conduits for iOS, Android and Web applications to be automatically parsed and converted into applications compatible for the entire Windows 10 ecosystem, which includes Phone, Desktop, HoloLens and Surface.

“There is one design language and control set across the platform,” we were told at the keynote on day 2.

What is more interesting, though, from a development point of view, is that the new universal platform makes developing natively for the Microsoft platform a far more favorable option, especially if Microsoft’s parsing capabilities from Windows to iOS and Android projects is as good as they say it is.

The system performed well in what they stated was a live demo, turning a Visual C# project into Android and iOS solutions automatically, though we didn’t get the chance to run performance metrics on what the iOS and Android versions ran like.

Another cool new feature that Microsoft touted at Build was the new diagnostic setup in Visual Studio that lets you see section-specific CPU and memory utilizaion without having to run a separate profiling tool. This is definitely something that would be useful for a lot of students, though word’s still out on whether this would create issues with the Honor Code.

Development solutions aside, let’s get into what will really interest the broader Stanford community: integration with Raspberry Pi and Arduino. With Windows 10 capable of running on the new Raspberry Pi, development opportunities are endless — it’s super easy to build code for the Raspberry Pi and push it to the Windows 10 install that’s running off of it. Microsoft didn’t go too far into the details but promised to show us lots more in the coming months.

Disclaimer: I worked for the SHAH tester program for Windows 7 when I was in high school. My opinions of Microsoft and its relevance to Stanford students in this piece are based solely on my experiences at BUILD 2015.

Contact Nitish Kulkarni at nitishk2 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Nitish Kulkarni '16 is a senior majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He writes about technology and breaking news, and runs online content sections. Email him at nitishk2 'at' stanford.edu.

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