Build 2017: Microsoft Announces Several New Tools and Services for Developers

Build 2017: Microsoft Announces Several New Tools and Services for Developers

Today Microsoft kicked off their annual developers conference, Build 2017, in downtown Seattle at the Washington State Convention Center and began with a Day One keynote that included the unveiling of several new products, services, and real world demos from partners for developers.

The keynote began with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who among other things, revealed that Windows 10 is now in use by 500 million monthly active users and that the OS combined with Microsoft Office and Microsoft Azure provides Windows developers ​more than a billion opportunities to connect with Microsoft customers​.

The new Azure data and cloud services will give developers opportunities to modernize their current apps in order to expand their offerings and customer base.

Between Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's Executive Vice President of Cloud and Enterprise, and Harry Shum, Executive Vice President of Artificial Intelligence & Research, the following items were announced:

Microsoft Azure

-- A preview of Azure IoT Edge, technology that extends the intelligence — and other benefits — of cloud computing to edge devices.

-- Extensions to the Microsoft Graph to combine insights from the world of work with device insights and contextual awareness of the physical world.

-- Introduced Azure Cosmos DB, built from the ground up to power planet-scale cloud services and data-intensive applications — from IoT to AI to mobile — with incredible performance, fault tolerance and support for every type of data, including graph. It is the industry’s first globally distributed, multi-model database service to deliver horizontal scale with guaranteed uptime, throughput, consistency and single-digit millisecond latency at the 99th percentile. Developers get incredible flexibility with the only schema-free database service, with support for popular NoSQL APIs, that also offers five well-defined consistency choices while auto-indexing all your data.

-- Azure Cosmos DB, built from the ground up to power planet-scale cloud services and data-intensive applications — from IoT to AI to mobile — with incredible performance, fault tolerance and support for every type of data, including Graph. It is the industry’s first globally distributed, multimodal database service to deliver horizontal scale with guaranteed uptime, throughput, consistency and millisecond latency at the 99th percentile. Developers get incredible flexibility with the only schema-free database service, with support for popular NoSQL choices, that also offers five well-defined consistency choices while auto-indexing all your data.

-- An early preview of Microsoft’s new database migration services, which will allow Oracle and SQL Server customers to more easily move their data and quickly modernize their apps.

-- A new Azure SQL Database Managed Instance private preview, which offers customers SQL Server instance-level compatibility and makes it even easier for organizations to migrate existing SQL Server apps to Azure SQL Database.

-- General availability of Threat Detection and preview of Graph support in Azure SQL Database.

-- General availability of Visual Studio 2017 for Mac, which enables developers to work seamlessly across Windows and Mac environments with full support for mobile, web and cloud workloads, and previews of Docker tools, Azure Functions and Xamarin.IoT support.

-- Support for containers of nearly every type, on every platform, with the general availability of Windows Server Containers support in Azure Service Fabric, with Visual Studio tooling, and a preview of the ability to use Docker Compose support for Service Fabric to deploy containerized apps to Service Fabric — enabling developers to deliver mission-critical, scalable apps and services.

Office 365

-- Any developer can now publish for Microsoft Teams, the new chat-based workspace in Office 365. Coming soon, apps in Teams will be more discoverable for end users through a new app experience. Developers can also add new capabilities to Teams apps, including third-party notifications in the activity feed, Compose Extensions and Actionable Messages.

-- Microsoft also made new Microsoft Graph APIs available to developers, including APIs from SharePoint and Planner. The Microsoft Graph gives developers access to Office 365 data and intelligence and helps connect the dots between people, conversations, projects, schedules, processes and content. These insights help developers build smarter apps, enabling smarter ways to work.

-- Developers and ISVs who host their production SaaS applications on Microsoft Azure and sign up through the Azure website can now have their apps’ data and workflow automatically extended to authorized Office 365 customers through standard connectors for PowerApps and Microsoft Flow. To help ISVs expand their business even further, Microsoft is also providing additional incentives to its sales force when they jointly co-sell eligible SaaS apps and services to enterprise customers. 

Artificial Intelligence

-- The company added new services to the industry’s broadest offering of cognitive services and now 29 services for developers, with unique customization options. That enables developers to infuse off-the-shelf or custom intelligence capabilities such as vision, speech, language, knowledge and search into their app and bot experiences in any scenario. New services include Bing Custom Search, Custom Vision Service, Custom Decision Service and Video Indexer. A new PowerPoint add-in called Presentation Translator, which leverages Microsoft’s Translation APIs, was featured, allowing real-time translation to multiple languages during any presentation. The new Cognitive Services Labs were also launched, enabling developers to experiment with new services, such as a Gesture API, still in the early stages of development.

-- Using the new adaptive cards supported by the Microsoft Bot Framework, developers can write cards once that look great across multiple apps and platforms. Using the Bot Framework, developers can also now publish to new channels including Bing, Cortana and Skype for Business, and implement Microsoft’s payment request API for fast and easy checkout in their bots.

-- Azure Batch AI Training is a new Azure offering, available in private preview only, that will allow developers and data scientists to configure an environment with parameters and run their models against multiple CPUs, multiple GPUs and eventually field-programmable gate arrays.

-- In addition to Harman Kardon’s Invoke intelligent speaker with Cortana, partnerships were also signed with HP on devices and Intel on reference platforms to deliver Cortana-enabled devices.

-- The Cortana Skills Kit is now in public preview. Developers can build skills for Cortana by creating a bot and publishing it to the new Cortana channel of the Bot Framework. This is available across Windows 10, Android, iOS and the new Cortana-powered Harman Kardon Invoke speaker. The Cortana Skills kit is currently available in the U.S. only.

-- A demonstration was provided on how multiple Microsoft products and services, including Dynamics 365, Office 365, Microsoft Teams, Cortana Skills, Microsoft Graph and Sentiment Analysis, will be integrated into Tact, the sales experience platform that turns any connected device into a AI-powered virtual sales assistant, later this year.

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But, wait...there's probably more so be sure to follow me on Twitter and Google+.

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