Microsoft will webcast the opening keynote address from its Build developers conference today starting at 8:30 a.m. PT (11:30 a.m. ET).
The broadcast can be viewed from Microsoft's Channel 9 website.
Microsoft, as usual, has not revealed the keynote speakers, but it is likely that the event will be kicked off by new CEO Satya Nadella, who made his first public appearance last week, when the company unveiled its Office for iPad trio of apps -- Word, Excel and PowerPoint -- for Apple's tablet.
It's also safe to assume that some of last year's participants, including ex-CEO Steve Ballmer and Julie Larson-Green, then head of Windows development, will not participate. Larson-Green will shift to a position in the Applications and Services group, the part responsible for Office Bing, OneDrive, Outlook.com and Skype, when Stephen Elop returns from Nokia to take the lead of Microsoft's devices division.
Build 2014 runs through Friday at San Francisco's Moscone Center, the locale for the second year running.
Microsoft is expected to unveil more details of both Windows 8.1 Update -- the follow-on to last fall's Windows 8.1 redo -- and Windows Phone 8.1, and possibly announce their availability either today or as soon as next week.
The company's executives may also paint, if only in broad strokes, the future of Windows, including what most have been calling Windows 9, a 2015 release that many customers hope will be even more desktop friendly.
Microsoft is in a different spot compared to even last year, when all eyes for the June 2013 version of Build were on Windows 8.1 and how it would reverse the disappointing reaction to the original Windows 8 of October 2012.
Since then, new personal computer shipments have continued to stagnate, with a historic 10% contraction for the year overall, crimping the primary source of Windows sales. Microsoft mobile efforts in both smartphones and tablets have failed to generate enough sales to push its Windows 8.1 and Windows RT, on the one hand, and Windows Phone 8 on the other, out of the single-digit ranks as measured by industry analysts.
Gartner Research recently estimated that Windows will power only 13.7% of all devices shipped this year -- including personal computers, ultramobile systems, tablets and smartphones -- a slight decrease from 2013's 14%. Traditional PC shipments will drop 6% in 2014 compared to 2013.
"Microsoft needs to describe their vision given that Windows 8 has been a failure," said Gartner's David Smith in an email reply to questions today. "What changes now? What is the strategic future for developers?"
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is [email protected].
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