Microsoft held its annual Build event for developers at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle earlier this month. Here are the biggest developments.
1 Windows 10 is now active on 500 million devices. “That reach is what’s going to drive our ecosystem going forward,” noted Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in an address to the audience.
2 Azure IoT Edge was previewed, designed to simplify the relationship between the Cloud and device, including enabling devices to access Cloud services locally. According to Microsoft, developers will be able to integrate Microsoft Azure and third-party services, or augment existing services to create a custom IoT application. Said the company: “You get the best of both worlds with devices that can act locally based on the data they generate, while also taking advantage of the Cloud to configure, deploy, and manage them securely and at scale.” It’s also designed to reduce bandwidth costs by reducing the amount of data transmitted.
3 Office 365 is being expanded. According to Microsoft, over 100 million commercial users employ the Office 365 suite of enterprise tools. New additions include the ability for any developer to publish for the chat-based Microsoft Teams workspace. The apps will also become more discoverable for end users.
4 The company is going all-in on AI and intends to “bring AI to every developer” through a combination of the Microsoft Cloud and AI. New services will also let developers include in their apps and bots such custom AI capabilities as vision, speech, language, knowledge and search. For example, a new PowerPoint add-in, known as called Presentation Translator, enables real-time translation to multiple languages.
5 Cortana is making friends. Harman Kardon introduced the Invoke smart speaker with Cortana, and partnerships with HP and Intel are in the works to pave the way for future devices. The Cortana Skills Kit is now in public preview. Said Nadella: “Cortana is getting used by 140 million users every month on Windows. These are devices with nearfield audio and screens. … You have an amazing installed base that’s rich, that you can extend.”
6 Story Remix was unveiled. The video platform combines AI and mixed reality by letting users create videos using photos, 3D objects and Windows Ink drawings.
7 Speaking of Ink … Microsoft said it’s updating the way its digital pens interact with existing interfaces, including making it so users can navigate all of Windows just using a pen.
8 Visual Studio 2017 for Mac will become available, enabling 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,” said Microsoft.
9 Also on an Apple note, iTunes is coming to the Windows store by the end of the year.
10 OneDrive Files On-Demand will be available in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. This feature — which Microsoft said has been the No. 1 requested feature for OneDrive on the company’s feedback service — will let developers access their files in the Cloud without having to download them.