Microsoft Ignite 2017 is still a few months out, but the session catalog dropped today and it's helpful and interesting to see where the company's lavishing attention and what it's beginning to ignore.
There are 337 sessions, aimed at 18 different audience persona. Of these 337 sessions, 159 -- or nearly half -- are for the "IT cloud infrastructure" persona. This isn't surprising, since Microsoft's credo has been "mobile first, cloud first" for a while, with events reiterating its goal to retain and build users based on its services and applications across all computing environments.
But the company has made much of its machine-learning tools and how the future of human-computer interaction will lean on people working in concert with AI. So I took a look at how Microsoft's pulling its customer base into working with Cortana. There are two sessions: Building solutions with the Cortana Intelligence Suite and Microsoft AI developer bootcamp.
I also searched on "Cortana skills," "Cortana," "Cortana Intelligence Suite Platform" and "Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit."
The results -- a double handful of sessions, many of which are introductions to integrating Cortana into existing use cases for products like Azure Data Lake, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and more than one of which mentions introducing people to the timetable for rolling out Cortana across all Microsoft offerings.
Would-be attendees and Microsoft watchers can conclude that while we're moving toward voice and AI as the next iteration in everyday computing, we're not at a point where someone can say, "Hey, Cortana -- pull the sales figures for the last six quarters and chart growth and decline in this spreadsheet."
And in looking over the 17 sessions clearly labeled for "machine learning and AI," it seems that a lot of Microsoft's focus is going to be on training users to start thinking how to work speedy data-crunching tools into their existing workflow.
Another really interesting emphasis buried in the catalog: There's an increased emphasis on productivity, with 44 sessions dedicated to improving how people work. This tracks nicely with last year's Ignite, in which several keynotes, product announcements and sessions focused on improving worker productivity so they could do more in fewer steps.
And finally -- there are eight sessions devoted to "Windows 10 As A Service." We've been watching this model roll out with Windows 10 -- it'll be interesting to see how Microsoft addresses WaaS as a workplace consideration for IT professionals.