Build 2017 Recap: A day of show and tell

Kareem Anderson

On stage today at Build, the mobile first, cloud first hype man Satya Nadella ushered in the evolution of the company’s vision for what looks to be poised as its new mantra of ‘distributed computing’. Distributed computing isn’t all that different from mobile first, cloud first, but takes the notion beyond ‘first’ to include mobile, cloud, and everything in between.

Today, during a three-hour marathon opening keynote to its Build developer conference, Microsoft spent its time wisely stringing together technologies and frameworks it discussed last year, in real world demos and showcases.

Last year, Microsoft spoke of bots, AI, and machine learning and this year, Microsoft put those sprawling concepts into real-world applications and technologies while showcasing how developers can tap into them to enrich their lives as well as the people around them.

Cortana grows up

At the center of much of Microsoft’s Day, One keynote sat the company’s trojan horse into the next wave of computing, Cortana. Not only did Nadella talk up “conversations as a platform” but speaker after speaker showed how developers could leverage new Cortana skills to power their services.

“The Cortana Skills Kit is now in public preview,” the official announcement reads. “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 on 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.”

Office Continues to grow as a platform

Three years ago, Microsoft spent much of its time extolling the virtues of opening up Office to a more platform model of development with developers and services at the forefront of growth. Since then observers have watched Microsoft incorporate a services app store equipped with add-on and extensions for popular programs such as Outlook, PowerBI, and others.

Now Microsoft is opening up its newly minted Teams app to developers by offering app distribution through the Windows Store.

The new chat-based workspace in Office 365 is now completely open to developers, which can now publish Microsoft Teams apps in the Office Store. These apps will soon appear in a new discover apps experience within Microsoft Teams, which is currently available in the developer preview but will soon roll our to all users.

The spread of Azure

While editorially listed as second place in cloud computing wars, Microsoft’s Azure service is growing quickly and spreading even quicker. Today at build, the company showed just how pervasive the service is becoming by announcing a long list of service that will become available across platforms in the coming weeks and months.

Visual Studio Mac

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.

The availability of both Azure Database for MySQL and Azure Database for PostgreSQL options in Azure, to ensure developers can use their favorite database with Azure.

Azure Cosmos DB, the first globally distributed, multi-model database service delivering turnkey global horizontal scale out with guaranteed uptime and millisecond latency at the 99th percentile
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 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.

The general availability of container support for Windows Server containers in Azure Service Fabric with the 5.6 runtimes and 2.6 SDK release.

Previewing Service Fabric support for Docker Compose for deploying containerized apps.

Azure Functions Visual Studio tooling preview, available as a Visual Studio 2017 extension, creates an integrated developer experience. These tools allow you to integrate Azure Functions development seamlessly into development flow.

Azure Application Insights support for Azure Functions preview provides better intelligence about Azure Functions code, allowing teams to measure performance, detect issues, and diagnose the source of the problem with serverless apps.

Azure Functions Runtime preview extends the innovations in Azure Functions to on-premises or anywhere outside of the Azure cloud.

And the rest…

Other noted highlights from Build 2017 include, Viual Studio for the Mac, Windows 10 reaching over 500 million active devices, new Azure mobile app for iOS, Android and UWP, real time PowerPoint presentation language translation and a protoype to mitigage the feedback loop lost to some suffering from Parkinson’s.

Day One was defintely developer heavy and Office focused, and Day Two is shaping up to continue the trend but with a eye on some actual Windows development as well.

We’ll be updating as the news continues to flow.