Microsoft Build 2017 - Day 1 Highlights

Microsoft has started its annual 3-day Build developers conference on Wednesday with a long three-hour keynote. While the previous year (Build 2016) was mainly evolved around release of Visual Studio 2017 & .NET Core; Microsoft this time in Build 2017 announcing some new hardware at conference. The focus is usual to increase their integrity in the enterprise segment through various tools and services. A big push this time is, in artificial intelligence (AI) into all its major portfolio, from Azure to Xbox and Office. The event started with Satya Nadella’s key notes giving overview of the event. Here’s are the key highlights of what Microsoft has announced on the day one of the Build 2017 conference, which is currently happening in Seattle. You can livestream the entire event at Channel9 website

Cortana has come out from Phone and Machine OS

Cortana has got some skills this time. In competition to beat Amazon Alexa, Amazon Echo and Google Home, Microsoft announced partnerships with HP and Intel to bring Cortana-powered voice-activated speakers to the market in the near future. Earlier this week, Microsoft and Harman Kardon announced the ‘Invoke’ Cortana-powered speaker, which will hit the market later this year. New Cortana Skill will allow third-party developers to create new skills, even port existing Alexa skills for the Windows platform. This will definitely improve Cortana much intelligent and make upcoming hardware much better. Samsung launched Bixby, so of course Samsung-owned Harman is making the Cortana speaker. There are not much details available as of now, but surely Cortana is going to get some mad skills this time.

(half a billion!) use Windows 10

Of course, That’s impressively right! Windows 10 is now used on more than 500 million devices. It is definite that Microsoft has ran a brilliant upgrade campaign ever since launching of Windows 10 OS, but the milestone is still impressive, considering the OS was released less than two years ago. Microsoft also said that more than 100 million customers use Office on a monthly basis, while Cortana has more than 141 million unique users. The Next update codenamed as Windows10 Redstone 3, will include features like pinning contacts to the task bar, a new power throttling option, “Project Neon” effort to refresh the user interface of Windows 10. Most of the UI changes will be relatively minor, with a renewed focus on blur in apps and OS features.

Visual Studio 2017 for Mac

Microsoft also announced general availability to download Visual Studio 2017 for Mac, their multi-platform development magical environment. Visual Studio 2017 is an integrated development environment (IDE) includes all of the development tools necessary to code for multiple platforms in one environment, now available on Mac.

Azure Mobile App & Azure cloud shell

Microsoft's new Azure mobile app is coming to Windows 10 UWP, Android and iOS devices. There is also a new Azure Cloud (Bash)Shell, which will make it easier for developers to log into their systems. This is something exciting. At the event, Scott Hanselman showed off a new Azure mobile app for Android and iOS, but not for Windows 10 Mobile device and hence it wasn't clear whether the app would be available for Microsoft's own Windows Mobile Platform as well, but then senior Microsoft developer Etienne Margraff has confirmed on Twitter that a UWP app is in the works. The Azure Mobile app lets you easily keep an eye on your VMs and web apps on the go. The app includes detailed health and status tracking with metrics and the ability to correct common issues from your phone. Even it lets you run Azure CLI commands in a command line, with PowerShell coming soon.

Azure database services for MySQL, PostgreSQL and CosmosDB

Much like Amazon RDS, developers will appreciate these tools, which will let them use their favorite databases on Azure. While speaking on these new database services, you really have to meet something new; Cosmos DB, which is Microsoft’s brand new database tool. Azure Cosmos DB is Microsoft's globally distributed, multi-model database. With the click of a button, Azure Cosmos DB enables you to elastically and independently scale throughput and storage across any number of Azure's geographic regions. It offers throughput, latency, availability, and consistency guarantees with comprehensive service level agreements (SLAs), something no other database service can offer.

Project Emma

There was also an impressive demo to unveil a wearable device developed by a Microsoft researcher haiyan zhang to calm hand tremors (Parkinson disease). It’s called Emma, named after a girl suffering from this disease from UK. In this touching segment, Microsoft introduced this wearable device that helped Emma, to steadily handwrite. The vibrating device was able to distract Emma's brain from attempting to control the tremor and enabled her to write her name and draw shapes.

PowerPoint Presentation Translator

Office PowerPoint application can now translate the slideshows in real time. This translator plugin will offer real-time translation of presentations without removing original formatting. A Microsoft Garage project, the plug-in uses Translation APIs to translate content from any Powerpoint presentation into 10 different languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish). The plugin can also provide translated subtitles in real-time.

Other Key Points

  • Azure Batch AI Training: it uses Azure to train deep neural networks, which means developers will be able to train their AI and machine learning products without worrying about the hardware.
  • Azure for Business: The Company wants more independent software vendors (ISVs) to use Azure platform, and it’s offering developers more incentives to adopt this cloud based service.
  • Cognitive Services: For AI and Machine learning apps, there is an announcement of get four new Cognitive Services on top of the 25 existing ones, three of which will be user customizable. These new services include a machine vision service, a Bing-based search engine powered by AI, a video indexer, and a new online lab where more experimental services may be unveiled.
  • New AI Category in MVP Award: a new category announced to recognize Artificial Intelligence experts world wide.

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