Build 2016: Conversational intelligence, new innovations for Windows 10 and cloud tools for all developers — Weekend Reading: April 1 edition

| Vanessa Ho

Welcome to the Build 2016 edition of Weekend Reading, highlighting all the news from Microsoft’s annual developer’s conference this week.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella outlined the company’s vision to help developers embrace a new era of conversational intelligence, with additions to the Cortana Intelligence Suite and new cloud services and toolkits to help us understand the world around us and create intelligent, helpful bots.

“As an industry, we are on the cusp of a new frontier that pairs the power of natural human language with advanced machine intelligence,” Nadella said. “At Microsoft, we call this Conversations as a Platform, and it builds on and extends the power of the Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Windows platforms to empower developers everywhere.”

The Cortana Intelligence Suite – the new name for the Cortana Analytics Suite – can transform lives, with a prime example being Seeing AI, an app in development to help people with visual impairment understand their surroundings.

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Additions to the Cortana suite include Microsoft Cognitive Services, a collection of intelligence application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow systems to see, hear, speak, understand and interpret our needs with natural communication. Also new is the Microsoft Bot Framework, which helps developers build intelligent bots that allow users to chat in natural language on many platforms. Both additions are in preview.

Microsoft also announced at Build the Skype Bot Platform, which allows developers to create bots that leverage Skype’s many ways to communicate, including text, voice, video and 3D interactive characters.

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Terry Myerson, Microsoft executive vice president of Windows and Devices Group, shared the company’s next chapter to create more personal computing, with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update and new capabilities for the Universal Windows Platform.

The Windows 10 Anniversary Update features Windows Ink, which lets you handwrite on your device and create sticky notes. The update includes a proactive Cortana that can guide you even when your device is locked. And it has new Windows Hello features that extend the security of Windows 10 to multiple devices and Microsoft Edge.

“With Windows 10 now running on over 270 million active devices, we’re celebrating with our fans by delivering the Windows 10 Anniversary Update,” Myerson said. “This significant update will help you interact with your Windows 10 devices as naturally as you interact with the world around you — using your pen, presence and voice.”

New developer capabilities for Windows 10 include full access to Cortana’s intelligence, and new APIs and tools to integrate Windows Ink, Windows Hello and other Windows 10 innovations into apps. And Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition shipped, allowing developers to start building the future of holographic computing. Plus a new Xbox Dev Mode turns any Xbox One into a dev tool, enabling anyone to develop for the living room.

On Thursday at Build, Scott Guthrie, Microsoft executive vice president of the Cloud and Enterprise Group, announced new tools and resources for developers to tap into the cloud’s possibilities.

“Today, we made targeting every device and platform a lot easier by making Xamarin available to every Visual Studio developer for free, including the free Visual Studio Community Edition,” Guthrie wrote in his blog post.

“We are also making available a free Xamarin Studio Community Edition for OS X. Developers worldwide can now easily create apps using an end-to-end mobile development solution – joining companies like Slack, Pinterest, Alaska Airlines and more.”

BMW Connected

Guthrie also announced new Azure services to help developers address operational realities and take advantage of emerging trends, including the Internet of Things and microservices. BMW demonstrated how it’s using Azure, with the launch of its new digital mobility app, BMW Connected, which is based on a flexible platform the automaker built using Azure.

Also on Thursday, Qi Lu, Microsoft executive vice president of the Applications and Services Group, highlighted how developers can use the Office platform to create new business opportunities. Office developers can now build apps and place them into Word, Excel and PowerPoint ribbons. And on the Build stage, Starbucks showed off an Outlook add-in that enables people to send Starbucks e-gifts within Outlook and schedule meetings at Starbucks locations.

For the closing keynote, Steven Guggenheimer, Microsoft corporate vice president of Developer eXperience and chief evangelist, showed how partners are innovating with Azure, Office and Windows. And actor Kevin Hart weighed in with a hilarious video on how everyone wants to be a developer, highlighting Muzik LLC’s software development kit that turns headphones into a platform.

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For more wrap-ups of Build, check out the Top 10 ways Build rocked it for developers on Day One and Day Two.

And finally, we heard from Nadella, Myerson, Guthrie and Lu across the Microsoft social communities as they announced the latest Microsoft updates at Build.

Thanks for reading and see you next week!

Vanessa Ho
Microsoft News Center Staff

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