A closer look at what we can expect to see revealed at Microsoft Build

Spring is upon us, and what does spring bring? Developer conferences, of course! Ahead of Google I/O and Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, Microsoft will kick things off with Build, a two-day event in San Francisco that begins today.

Execs take the stage today – starting at 16:30 GMT – and throughout Thursday, to talk about the latest and greatest news surrounding Windows 8 and Windows Phone. Those sessions will air live on Microsoft's Channel 9, but we will be there, too, bringing you all the latest news.

Microsoft has provided some sneak peeks at its upcoming releases, but Build is when things get real, and it's where we'll probably get more concrete details about release dates and such. Until then, here's a rundown of what we expect Microsoft to discuss this week.

Windows 8.1 Update: At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month, Microsoft corporate vice president Joe Belfiore announced another update for Windows 8.1, with new features to help non-touch users navigate Modern UI apps. The new update will stick power and search buttons up in the Windows taskbar, where they're easy to find. Right clicking on tiles will pull up a contextual menu, which mouse users expect. Modern apps will have a window-shade with a close button. And you'll be able to flip between Modern and desktop apps using the traditional taskbar, even if you aren't running any desktop apps. Expect more details on when you can check it out for yourself.

Windows Phone 8.1: Also at MWC, Belfiore revealed some critical details about the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1, including more big-name manufacturers coming to the platform, and the ability for any phone maker to load Windows Phone onto existing Qualcomm-based Android hardware. Look for details about phones running Windows Phone 8.1 and upgrades for existing devices.

Nokia Devices: "Boy, have we got some treats lined up for you," Nokia teased in a 25 March blog post about Build. The company has a press event scheduled for later today, which will likely include some Windows Phone 8.1-enhanced Lumia devices, so stay tuned.

Goodies: Attendees at these sorts of shows normally get some pretty nice swag, and according to Paul Thurrott, the Build freebies will include a Nokia Lumia Icon and a new Windows Phone 8.1 gadget. Nice for them!

Windows 9: Microsoft is still primarily focused on Windows 8, but operating systems take time to develop, and Redmond is expected to provide a very high level glimpse at what the next version of Windows will entail. According to reports, Windows 9 – codenamed Threshold – probably won't make any sort of official debut until 2015. But execs will likely share Microsoft's "vision" for Windows at Build.