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The Year of Microsoft: 3 Announcements to Watch for at the Build Conference

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Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT  )  press event at the Build Conference in San Francisco on March 27 is drawing close. As Nadella's first major press event as CEO, eyes will be on his new plans and stage presence. The conference is also a chance for Microsoft to explain its new mobile/cloud strategy, confirm rumors regarding Office, and show where its next updates are headed. The conference provides an opportunity to see where such investment will be placed, and what other businesses stand to benefit. There are several key bits of information to watch for.

Office for iPad confirmed
Reports that Microsoft would be bringing its Office suite to the iPad sent Microsoft's stock price to a one-year high. March 27 is the date that these reports will -- presumably -- be confirmed, which could give the stock another boost. This is big news for Microsoft and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) , as well as BYOD trends in general, since an Office option on the iPad will make workplace mobile environments more flexible. Microsoft is accepting the risk that Surface sales may fall if consumers choose the iPad Office option instead, but an Office app for Apple tablets has been needed ever since the iPad's release.

If the news is confirmed, it could give Apple a boost, too. Currently trading slightly below its historical average, including times earnings and price-to-sales, Apple may look attractive for some buyers now. But, good news from Microsoft about the iPad could have synergies with Apple's stock as well, leading to new price growth.

Windows Phone updates
Microsoft has already demonstrated its Windows 8.1 update for its phone line, showing new features such as greater cloud connectivity and a new Windows Store interface. The Build conference is a strong opportunity to dig deeper into the update and release more information on any new apps or compatibility. This is especially true when it comes to mobile/social functions that Microsoft has been investing in lately, including the acquisition of business social network Yammer and a $15 million partnership with Foursquare.

Hints about Windows 9 could also surface, perhaps including plans with new phone partners like Lenovo, LG, ZTE, and Foxconn, which Microsoft recently announced back in February. Signs that the phone division of Microsoft is not a waste of investment would be welcome.

More 365 info
Microsoft has already used March conferences to speak about Microsoft Office 365 and how it seeks to combine cloud power, big data, and new mobile capabilities in one big package. Nadella now has the opportunity to elaborate on Office 365, particularly when it comes to mobile devices.

How will the new Groups feature, with its cloud-based unification and connections to SharePoint and Yammer, empower mobile users? What new benefits does OneDrive bring to the mix? Can additional demonstration of Office Graph prove it is more of a utility than a gimmick? The Build conference may be the time to provide answers consumers are waiting for.

It may also be the time to unveil some entirely new apps and features. A newsfeed-like, intelligent app codenamed "Oslo" has also been previewed, but the official name and details remain unknown. Showing more about this interface app and other upcoming products, like OneDrive for Business (set for release in April), could encourage developers, consumers and investors alike.

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Tyler Lacoma

Tyler Lacoma is a business writer and editor with experience in international economics, marketing, and tech news.

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