Microsoft Build 2017 Recap – Day 1 announcements and highlights


The Day 1 of the annual developer Microsoft Build Conference started at the Washington State Conference Center in Seattle on 10th May, 2017. There were over 5000 attendees and the place looked all jam packed by 7AM, as people started to come in for the Keynote.

This was my 1st Build Conference and my 1st time in Seattle – so stating that I was just excited, would be an understatement!

The Keynote event kicked started with a beautiful Welcome video. Satya Nadela talked about Microsoft’s vision to empower developers/organizations to better understand their data and in the process bring about a positive impact to lives of people across the world. He also focused on the ‘Opportunity and Responsibility’ as a developer we all have. Throughout the keynote, I felt there were 2 things which got highlighted the most and seemed to be the focus of Microsoft in upcoming days – AI and Azure Cloud.

Satya Nadela also mentioned that there were more than 500 million active monthly Windows 10 devices and also more than 140 million active Cortana monthly users.  These numbers indicate an awesome growth in the user base and is encouraging.

Satya Nadela

There were lot of announcements which were made during the Keynote —

Azure IoT Edge

You can use Azure IoT Edge to extend the Intelligent Cloud to your edge devices. It’s a great technology where you can send telemetry to cloud, enable artificial intelligence and let it do predictive data analysis.  You can find more information about IoT Edge Preview here – https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/campaigns/iot-edge/

Azure IoT Edge

AI for workplace safety

You can use AI to detect anomalies/accidents at workplace before it happened. Real life examples from Hospitals and Construction sites were shown, which was quite impressive. Digital and Physical world are coming together using technologies like Microsoft Cognitive Services, Azure IoT Edge, Smart Cameras etc.

There was a live demonstration by Andrea Carl on stage to display how this works.  You can watch this video relating with Workplace Safety Demonstration.

I feel like it is early days for AI, but it looks promising in distributing intelligence in cloud. AI has great potential to extend our capabilities and empower us to achieve more. You can learn about AI and the various Products/ Services it offers here –

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/ai https://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2017/05/10/microsoft-build-2017-microsoft-ai-amplify-human-ingenuity/

AI for workplace safety

Visual Studio for MacOS

Microsoft’s strengthened their vision to support developers in different platforms by announcing the general availability of Visual Studio for MacOS. So, we will now see Visual Studio IDE being used across Windows, Linux and MacOS operating systems.

You can download Visual Studio for Mac and browse through the features here

Visual Studio for Mac

Translate PowerPoint Presentations

In its pursuit towards infusing AI into various products and services, Microsoft announced a PowerPoint add-in which will translate your PowerPoint presentation to any of the 60+ supported languages. Internally it uses Microsoft Cognitive Services APIs to evaluate the content of the slides and translate them.

You can learn more about the PowerPoint translator here.

Snapshot Debugger Preview for Azure

Debugging issues in Production is tough, and especially when your application is running in cloud. Capturing a snapshot when an exception is thrown is helpful because it shows the state of source code and the values of the variables at that point.

Scott Hanselman showed how to remotely debug an application running in Azure through Visual Studio IDE. Additional details are in the link here.

Snapshot Debugging for Azure

Introducing Azure Cosmos DB

One of the biggest  Azure news that was announced by Scott Guthrie was the release of Azure Cosmos DB – globally distributed, multi-model database service. It is a schema agnostic database service, and is kind of superset of DocumentDB. It will be highly scalable(millions of transactions per second) and Microsoft will offer SLAs for performance, latency, uptime and consistency. It will be able to elastically scale across geographical regions and would also provide automatic indexing.

You can learn more about Azure Cosmos DB here.

Azure Cosmos DB

Azure Mobile App on Android and iOS

Scott Hanselman announced the release of Azure mobile apps for Android and iOS – which will allow system admins to monitor their applications through mobile devices on the go. You can get real time notifications in your mobile, in case of any critical issues.

You can view detailed information on the Azure Mobile app here.

PostgreSQL and MySQL as a Service

Apart for SQL Server, Microsoft will now support two new database services in Azure – MySQL and PostgreSQL. So, developers will be able to stand up a MySQL/PostgreSQL database in minutes and scale on the fly in Azure Cloud.

Resources –

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/mysql/

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/postgresql/

Public preview of the Cortana Skills Kit

Using Cortana Skills Kit, developers will be able to able to leverage bots created with the Microsoft Bot Framework, add intelligence with the power of Cognitive Services and publish them to Cortana as a new skill – just like they did with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Cortana skills will work across Android, iOS and Windows 10 platforms and devices, and hence developers can reach a large set of users. They will also be able to port the existing Alexa skills without mush effort.

Cortana attracts developers to build skills – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1peSYqO2PU

Microsoft announced the ‘Invoke’ Cortana-powered speaker, in partnership with harman/kardon, which will be coming to market later this fall. This seems to be a direct competition to Amazon Echo and the Google Home. The speaker with its metallic look, powerful speakers, ability to make/receive skype calls, scheduling meetings, push notifications and more seems promising. You can check other details around the ‘Invoke’ speaker here.

You can sign up for updates, access to the preview and learn more about the available Cortana skill sets here.

Intelligent Meetings and Cortana

Project Emma – Technology raising hope for Parkinson’s disease

The most inspiring and touching demo shown on Day 1 was the ‘Emma Watch’ created by Microsoft, which helps counter Parkinson disease tremors. It send vibrations to the brain which helps in controlling the hand tremors. It is only a prototype for now, but is a great technology for humanity and the 10 million people around the world affected by it.

Haiyan Zhang who created the prototype for her friend Emma Lawton came to the stage to a huge applause. You can watch more about the Project Emma here.

Project Emma

Introducing Conversational AI applications

Harry Shum mentioned that by using Cognitive Services and Bot Framework, we are moving from a world where we had to learn about computers to a world where Computers understand human. AI has the potential to extend our capabilities and empower developers/organizations to achieve more. You can learn about the various products/services AI has to offer here.

Cognitive Services

Preview of a new Database migration service to Azure

Migrating an on premise database to Azure is always a challenge. Using a new database migration service, this process will be streamlined and accelerated. This should help lot of organizations who are evaluating moving to Azure cloud and making the required changes before the migration. For additional details, refer the link here.

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