Microsoft’s Build 2014 conference kicks off today at 8.30 am Pacific Time in San Francisco. The company is expected to announce new features and products, including a Siri-style voice assistant for Windows Phone and an update to Windows 8.1.

The event will begin with a 2-hour keynote speech by new CEO Satya Nadella. Build is a three-day event aimed at getting developers familiar with the latest Windows features and capabilities. The most anticipated new revelation at this year’s conference is Windows 8.1 Update 1, which has already been leaked.

The update will reverse some of the controversial changes introduced in Windows 8, improving the Windows 8 user experience for mouse and keyboard users and booting to the desktop by default. The changes are unlikely to convince all the critics, but the making the operating system easier for mouse and keyboard users may encourage more of Microsoft’s key business customers to upgrade. Though the proposed name ‘Update 1’ suggests more updates are to come, many analysts believe this will be the last major update before the release of Windows 9.

Another major development for Windows 8 users is the forthcoming release of Office for the Metro/Modern interface. Attendees at the conference expect to see a preview of the software, which will probably resemble the recently-released version of Office for iPad.

Microsoft is expected to launch Windows Phone 8.1 featuring a voice-recognising assistant akin to Apple’s Siri, called Cortana. The update is also expected to include a central hub for both emails and text messages, rivalling similar features on Apple and Android phones. Nokia, the Finnish mobile phone manufacturer acquired by Microsoft for $7 billion, is expected to unveil Lumia 930 and 630 smartphones at the event, running Windows 8.1.

The recent rumours of a free version of Windows 8.1 may be elaborated upon--or quashed. Key themes of the conference are likely to be Microsoft’s ambitions in cloud computing (new CEO Satya Nadella’s area of expertise), as well as the company’s ambitions for Nokia and the Windows Phone division.

The conference begins today at 8.30 am, Pacific Time.