Developers are the obvious focal point of Microsoft's annual Build conference. And on the opening day of Build 2018, the company made its mission very clear: "Help every developer be an AI developer" across any Microsoft platform.
The above quote came from a Monday press release introducing some of the newest features that Microsoft believes will help developers take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI). This starts with the intelligent cloud and edge, CEO Satya Nadella noted.
"The era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge is upon us," Nadella said in the release. "These advancements create incredible developer opportunity and also come with a responsibility to ensure the technology we build is trusted and benefits all."
SEE: Internet of Things policy (Tech Pro Research)
Within that intelligence edge, Microsoft announced that it was open sourcing the Azure IoT Edge Runtime to bring more clarity and control over edge apps, the release said.
Another edge initiative announced at Build was Custom Vision being able to run on Azure IoT Edge. With this combo, enterprise drones and connected machinery (industrial IoT) can perform critical actions with a connection to the cloud, utilizing edge computing to handle often business-critical procedures. This could make Microsoft a more appealing platform for oil and gas, general contracting, and other industries that make heavy use of connected devices in the field.
Speaking of drones, a new SDK from drone giant DJI is also coming to Windows 10 PCs, the release noted. In addition to flight control, data transfer capabilities will also come to Windows 10, helping Microsoft shops make better use of drones in business.
Keeping with the AI theme, Qualcomm Technologies and Microsoft have also partnered to develop a vision AI developer kit that runs Azure IoT Edge. This combines the hardware and software needed for "camera-based IoT solutions," the release said, and also provides machine learning and analytics services to grok the data gleaned from such a solution.
A sensor package for building AI-powered IoT solution, called Project Kinect for Azure, was also unveiled at Build. This comes alongside AI-powered Azure search, a new bot framework update, a Speech Devices SDK, Azure Cosmos DB updates, and a preview of a new architecture for neural networks called Project Brainwave, the release noted.
To keep business professionals connected, a new collaboration tool called Microsoft Remote Assist offers "heads-up, hands-free video calling, image sharing, and mixed-reality annotations" to connect workers needing help with experts like help desk, the release said. Also, Microsoft Layout will let users more easily create spaces within mixed reality.
At Build, Microsoft also released a few new tools that make it easier to develop across their platforms. Here are the highlights:
- Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), for example, simplifies the process for building out container-based apps.
- Visual Studio IntelliCode uses AI to improve code quality for everyday development.
- Visual Studio Live Share lets developers collaborate and debug in real-time.
- Azure DevOps services are now available to GitHub customers.
- A new integration of Visual Studio App Center and GitHub allows GitHub developers building iOS and Android apps to automate DevOps processes within GitHub.
- Microsoft Azure Blockchain Workbench streamlines the process for building blockchain applications.
Following the AI trend, Microsoft also announced a new effort called AI for Accessibility. According to the release, this is "a new $25 million, five-year program aimed at harnessing the power of AI to amplify human capabilities for more than 1 billion people around the world with disabilities."
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- At Microsoft Build 2018, CEO Satya Nadella said now is the "era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge" for developers.
- To bring more developers to Microsoft, the company announced a host of IoT and edge computing tools at its Microsoft Build 2018 conference.
- Windows 10 April 2018 Update: An insider's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- Google I/O vs. Microsoft Build: Dueling yet similar visions for developers (ZDNet)
- Microsoft Azure: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft opens its 'BrainWave' AI-on-FPGA service to external testers (ZDNet)
- Microsoft forces Windows 10 update on PCs that were set up to block it (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft's obsession with Windows is ending, and I couldn't be happier (CNET)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.