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Microsoft has another stab at a second coming today with the unveiling of Windows 8.1, along with a host of developer-related products, news and events at this year's Build conference. Watch the keynote today to see if there's any big surprises. 

Hacking Windows (Again)

Today marks the official start of Microsoft’s Build 2013 developer conference, there was a first hackathon last night to get things warmed up, but Microsoft's Keynote will be the "big thing." The event will include live streamed keynotes on Channel 9 for those not able to attend on June 26 and 27 from 9-11am PT.

Update: The Windows 8.1 Preview has been released for public testing, find out more here

During the keynotes, Microsoft's developer-focused executives will take the stage to talk about how developers, app builders and companies can create compelling experiences with the latest tools for Windows 8.1 (see the tour video), check out the latest Office developments, and work across the Windows platform.

The company needs a big rebound after the much-criticized start for Windows 8, and needs to get more developers interested to boost both Windows on PC and mobiles. For some thoughts from the top on the developer ecosystem, you might want to check out Steve Guggenheimer's MSDN post. Microsoft's VP for developer platform and evangelism covers the rapidly changing developer landscape.

The Road Ahead

While Microsoft has to focus on its core enterprise and consumer Windows business, a great deal of effort is still being put into selling the Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets, and Windows 8 phones. No matter how it spins this, it is way behind on the sales curve and doesn't seem to be picking up the pace. 

Running out of star partner devices to show, Microsoft (and perhaps Nokia or Samsung on the phone side) need to pull some must-have new hardware out of the bag at an appealing price. Given Samsung's budget tablet splurge, Windows tablets are looking decreasingly appealing with every month. 

Fortunately Microsoft has the money to invest, but with a rumored management shake-up happening soon, it also needs the product focus that the likes of Apple can generate to create something compelling for buyers, not something Microsoft's long tail of executives think we need. 

So, get your popcorn out and hope for some big bangs at the Keynote to get the Microsoft crowd enthused. Because, unless there's been a sales miracle in the last few weeks (with those mini-stores yet to come) , Microsoft still seems a company very much on the back foot, struggling to cope with changing consumer forces.