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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Delivers a keynote at BUILD 2017. Microsoft
Microsoft Build 2017

What to Expect From Microsoft BUILD 2018

Next week, thousands of Microsoft-centric developers will arrive in Seattle for Microsoft BUILD 2018. Here’s what we expect to see and how Microsoft’s map for the future affects IT.

If you ever need proof of how developer conferences are the best way to forecast the future, consider Microsoft BUILD 2017. Last year at Microsoft’s developer event, BUILD, the company reminded its constituency that edge computing is coming to change everything in IT. It also positioned itself as more than a Windows vendor, laying the groundwork to link Windows 10 to iOS and Android and announcing plans to offer Linux variants in its Windows Store.

It delivered on those promises, and a quick look at its financials shows how Microsoft is profiting as it continues to focus on things such as cloud services with Azure, and subscription software services such as Office 365 and Microsoft 365. Their recent performance in the market has them lined up as the third most valuable company in the US based on market cap. Only Apple and Amazon sit ahead of them.

Part of the reason Microsoft is seeing such success is the company’s willingness to move away from what was tried and true. The biggest example of this is the recent reorganization that signaled the changed role of Windows in the company. Now split into two parts across two different engineering teams Windows is still an important element of the company. However, its role is now more one of supporting the other technologies versus being the front-line bread winner as it was for so many years.

These shifts in their focus is showing up at Microsoft BUILD 2018. More than ever, Microsoft wants to provide developers with the tools to maximize the benefits of all the cloud services I mentioned earlier.

Unsurprisingly, the perceived demotion of Windows after its recent breakup is not reflected in the sessions list for Microsoft BUILD 2018.


While the sessions are the bread and butter of the Microsoft BUILD 2018 developers conference, the keynotes set the tone for them.

Kicking things off Monday morning at 8:30 AM PT will be Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella with his Vision keynote. Expect Nadella to review the company’s recent achievements and their progress in a broad range of areas. Then he should discuss the concepts/focus for this year’s event, likely have a few demos, announce a new product or service, talk with a couple of other companies about new partnerships, and then wrap up with his vision of the company’s impact and direction for the future.

The second Day One keynote will be delivered by recently-promoted Executive Vice President of Cloud and Enterprise at Microsoft Scott Guthrie. His keynote, titled Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge, is scheduled to begin right after Nadella wraps up at around 10:00 AM PT.

This 90-minute session will be full of demos and Guthrie’s trademark red shirt. Expect to hear about artificial intelligence, big data, the Internet of Things, Web development, cloud computing — and Windows as a client. It still dominates the breakout sessions with 145 separate events. Any product demos will be previews for sessions later in the week. I would also expect big product announcements sprinkled throughout the session.

On the second day of Microsoft BUILD 2018, the only keynote of the day will be led by Joe Belfiore. After the recent reorganization, he remains in charge of the Windows user experience and several of the inbox apps. His keynote kicks off at 8:30 AM PT on Tuesday. The session is called Microsoft 365 Application Development. The name indicates we will hear about Microsoft 365 which was launched last summer but it may also be part of a cover name. Joe Belfiore oversees the Windows UI and first party app experiences – not Microsoft 365 as an enterprise subscription package. I certainly have not heard that he might be also running app development for that package either. For those reasons, I suspect this might just be a filler name for the session.

This is another 90-minute keynote session though. Microsoft has started to play down the semi-annual feature updates for Windows 10 such as the April 2018 Update which was just released this week. I am pretty sure the new low-key focus will not result in 90 minutes’ worth of Windows 10 demos. However, expect to at least hear about a couple of items they are working on for a future update to Windows 10.

One thing you will not hear is when these new demoed features will show up in Windows. They did that at BUILD last year when they demoed Timeline and the Cloud-Powered Clipboard. Neither made it into the Fall Creators Update for Windows 10 as stated in that presentation in 2017. They also announced that iTunes would arrive as a Microsoft Store app by the end of 2017 but it just made its debut last week.

Demos – yes. Delivery commitments – no.

One thought keeps coming to my mind as I write about Joe Belfiore and this keynote supposedly about Microsoft 365. Is it possible that an announcement will be made about a consumer version of Microsoft 365 that delivers Windows 10 licensing and the Office 365 productivity suite in one package?

I guess we will see next week one way or the other.

Which Sessions Should You Attend?

Let’s begin with the session categories and the number of talks in each (note many sessions cover more than one topic area):

- AI (31)
- Client (145)
- Cloud (47)
- Data (57)
- IoT (8)
- Tools (25)
- Web (5)

All of these systems have interfaces that need to displayed and viewed somewhere right? Well it is obvious that Windows is the perfect platform for that experience. Windows itself is listed as a product in 91 of the 145 Client sessions. Other products tied to the Client category include:

- Business Application Platform
- Visual Studio
- Azure
- Microsoft 365
- Office 365
- Enterprise Mobility + Security
- HoloLens
- Windows Mixed Reality

That is a broad mix of related content for just this category. AI, Cloud, Data, IoT, and Web together account for the other half of sessions (148). Of course, they are all tightly integrated in many ways. It makes sense that they would all cover the other half of the listed session categories.

Finally, there is Tools. This is the interfaces connected to these cloud services and platforms that allow developers to build their creations. The king of that hill is Visual Studio so expect plenty of announcements related to expanding what is available to developers in this software.

I looked through the session catalog and have a recommendation for each of the main session categories. These are sessions I believe will deliver key content around that subject. In addition, I have three bonus suggestions because of either the presenters and their reputation, or the specific content in the session.

Note: All times are listed as Pacific Time since the event is in Seattle.

BRK3224 The Microsoft AI platform: A State of the Union

Monday, May 7 4:30 PM-5:45 PM; Breakout 75 minutes; Topic: AI

Join Joseph Sirosh, Corporate Vice President of the Cloud AI Platform, for a deep dive into the AI platform and exciting AI use cases. Joseph will showcase how every developer can infuse intelligence into their applications and create amazing new experiences with AI. In this exciting overview, you will learn about the application of AI technologies in the cloud. We will help you understand how to add pre-built AI capabilities like object detection, face understanding, translation and speech to applications. We will show how developers can build Cognitive Search applications that understand deep content in images, text and other data. We will also show how the platform can be used to build your own custom AI models for predictive applications and how to use the Azure platform to accelerate machine learning. Joseph will also show how companies assemble end-to-end systems of intelligence using the rich variety of data and application development services on Azure.

BRK2438 Windows 10 on ARM for developers

Tuesday, May 8 4:45 PM-5:30 PM; Breakout 45 minute; Topic: Client

Learn about the Windows 10 on ARM devices, how the magic of x86 emulation works, and finally how to submit and build apps for Windows 10 on ARM. We will be showing how to build ARM64 apps for desktop and UWP.

BRK2137 What's new for Serverless Computing in Azure

Monday, May 7 2:45 PM-4:00 PM; Breakout 75 minute; Topic: Cloud

Serverless applications are transforming the ways that developers are solving problems by radically increasing productivity and reducing operational friction. In this session, we review the various Azure technologies enabling this trend, including Functions, Logic Apps, Event Grid, and more. Learn what Azure serverless platform can do for you with examples of successful serverless applications

BRK4102 ETL 2.0 - Data Engineering for developers

Wednesday, May 9 10:15 AM-11:30 AM; Breakout 75 minute; Topic: Data

In this session we will demonstrate how a Data Engineer can develop and orchestrate the processes of data ingestion, data transformation and data loading at scale in Azure using Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Azure Databricks and Azure Data Factory. The combination of these three powerful Azure services enables a truly compelling advanced analytyical solution which accommodates both batch and real-time data analytics leading to a true 360 degree view of business performance.

BRK3803 Azure IoT Platform services - The modern IoT developer toolbox

Tuesday, May 8 10:30 AM-11:45 AM; Breakout 75 minute; Topic: IoT

In this demo heavy session you will learn what’s available for modern IoT developers. Azure IoT Hub, Device Provisioning Service, Time Series Insight, Azure Location Based Services, Visual Studio Code will all be put to contribution and you won’t believe all that can be achieved in only 60 minutes.

BRK2145 Get in the Zone: Visual Studio 2017 Productivity Enhancements

Wednesday, May 9 2:45 PM-4:00 PM; Breakout 75 minute; Topic: Tools

Learn how to be a better, faster .NET developer using Visual Studio 2017. In this demo-heavy session, we'll demonstrate the many capabilities we've added to Visual Studio 2017 to make you more productive—improvements to editing, refactoring, debugging, and testing your code—which previously required additional extensions. Whether you’re new to developing or have been using Visual Studio for many years, we guarantee you'll learn something that will make you more efficient.

BRK2428 Building Progressive Web Apps for Windows devices

Monday, May 7 2:45 PM-4:00 PM; Breakout 75 minute; Topic: Web

In this session, you'll learn what's in store for Progressive Web Apps on Window - where they fit in alongside other Windows apps; how to get started converting a web site or web app into a Progressive Web App; how to submit PWAs to the Windows Store , and more.

Bonus Sessions

BRK2503 Amplify your Awesome

Wednesday, May 9 4:30 PM-5:45 PM; Breakout 75 minute; Topic: See What's New

Living your dream life takes more than just hardcore geek skills. Accelerating your career, magnifying your impact, and achieving big fat hairy audacious goals takes balance! Typical people are satisfied being one dimensional, but champions are never satisfied: they are perpetually learning, growing, and leaving their mark on the world. Join experts who have mastered techniques you can use to make yourself more awesome. This is a fast-paced session chock full of nuggets of useful information to help you refine your brand, tell your story, do what you thought was impossible, and live your very best life!

BRK2431 WIP + Analytics = Successful Apps in your Org

Monday, May 7 1:00 PM-1:45 PM; Breakout 45 minute; Topic: Client

So you’re on board with developing applications for your business in the Windows as a service world…now what? In this advanced session, learn how to implement a Windows Insider Program inside your organization, how to use Device Health, App Health, and the Windows Desktop App Program to ensure great experiences for your employees, and make you a hero in your organization.

BRK2136 Visual Studio Code Can Do That: Tips & Tricks

Wednesday, May 9 10:15 AM-11:30 AM; Breakout 75 minute; Topic: Tools

Visual Studio Code is on fire. Everybody loves this unexpected text editor smash hit, and for good reason: it can do A LOT. It can compile JavaScript templates on the fly, execute JavaScript inline, manage Mongo DB instances and so much more! In this session, we’ll take a look at the most powerful features and plugins in Visual Studio Code, many of which, nobody knows about. John and Burke will walk you through some of their favorite tips, tricks, extensions and hacks. This is Visual Studio Code like you’ve never seen before.

THR2404 Modernizing Twitter for Windows as a Progressive Web App

Tuesday, May 8 5:00 PM-5:20 PM; Topic: Web

In this theater session, join Twitter as they walk through how they re-built their Windows app using the new Progressive Web App platform in Microsoft Edge and Windows 10. This new app powers the Twitter experience on the Web, Android devices, Windows, and more, providing a performant, feature rich experience regardless of form factor, all from one unified codebase providing a modern experience on any device.

Our Coverage

ITPro Today will be at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle for Microsoft BUILD 2018.

Our coverage will include:

- Live tweeting, commentary, and real time imagery from all three keynote sessions. Follow Richard Hay (@WinObs) who will be in the keynotes out in Seattle and Lisa Schmeiser (@lschmeiser) who will be watching from San Francisco. Our @ITProToday Twitter account will also be checking out the shows and sharing tidbits and other insights.

- Hands On around the BUILD 2018 Expo Show Floor. There will be many opportunities to talk with software engineers and program managers about Microsoft product and services. Just leave a comment here or send a note on Twitter to any of the accounts listed above. We will work to get you some feedback from the product teams themselves.

- Articles about the announcements at Microsoft BUILD 2018 and why they are important to you as an IT Pro, System Admin, or IT Manager/Leader.

Looking forward to sharing the experience with everyone. If you are at BUILD track me down and say hello. We would love to hear about your experience with ITPro Today and how we can better meet your needs.

Safe travels.

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