Oxford economist Colin Mayer captures the role of the modern corporation perfectly when he says, “The purpose of business is to produce profitable solutions to the problems of people and planet.” The problems we together are looking to solve are far from static, and as they evolve and grow, a key part of our job here at Microsoft is to create the tools and platforms that deliver better, faster and more effective solutions.
Today, developers solve problems, big and small, across every industry and organization on the planet. That’s why this year’s Microsoft Build, the company’s flagship event for developers, so clearly reflects our roots. Of course, the future is exciting to imagine (and we’ll do some of that), but what Microsoft is delivering with Build are tools that developers can use today to make a real difference. At Build, we will be announcing more than 50 new products and features. Many of these updates and innovations fall into several key categories:
- The impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and AI-assisted development – keeping developers in their flow.
- The broad opportunity with Windows for developers including new hybrid AI app patterns for new edge endpoints, without walled gardens.
- Just as we’re keeping developers more productive, we’re introducing tech innovation that will help bring that same sense of flow more broadly across the organization with automation.
Here are the major areas we are highlighting:
The impact of AI and AI-assisted development
AI and coding have become deeply entwined, and at Build, we are proud to detail all the platforms and tools being provided to developers to aid them with AI development. The goal is to improve developers’ sense of flow – getting in the zone and staying there – and removing obstacles to let them focus on the most important code they need to write. Major announcements include:
GitHub Copilot general availability: Microsoft introduced a preview of Copilot last year, and the reception has been overwhelmingly positive. More than one-third of those who signed up for the program have become daily users.
GitHub Copilot is an AI pair programmer that provides full-code suggestions inferred from code and comments. Now, with Copilot becoming generally available, more developers will get a chance to utilize these tools, which not only help them write code via AI, but also use AI to understand that code and create better code in the future.
Microsoft Dev Box: We’re changing the idea that you are bound and tethered to a physical PC. Microsoft Dev Box allows developers to spin up a virtual machine (VM) and provision it automatically in the cloud, reducing limitations and delays.
Now, developers can use Microsoft’s AI tools and the AI-infused cloud to write apps they want and deploy them anywhere. Microsoft is the only place where developers can go from the box to the cloud and back out to any endpoint in the world.
New hybrid AI app patterns for new edge endpoints
As developers explore intelligent cloud solutions that have multiple endpoints and neural processing units (NPUs), the natural evolution is to create hybrid apps with unique capabilities.
However, many are stopped in their tracks by a common problem. Developers must write specific code for specific ecosystems – in this case, chips. Instead of a hybrid solution, developers are forced to step into a walled garden, writing code for each individual chipset in order to provide working apps.
Microsoft is providing developers freedom to work outside those walls with a set of tools in the cloud that automates the process and allows them to capitalize on using hybrid apps. After they’ve written an app, they can use our service to target NPUs no matter the chipset.
Microsoft is creating a powerful, cross-platform development pattern for building AI experiences that span the cloud to the edge, using ONNX Runtime and Azure Machine Learning, along with an AI toolchain. In addition, the forthcoming Project Volterra is a development kit with AI capabilities that will come with a neural processor that has best-in-class AI computing capacity and mind-blowing efficiency.
Looking ahead to a new era of AI and automation for all
While developers are the primary target of these Build releases, we realize that everyone would like tools to get the things they want done in a simple, efficient and intelligent way. To that end, we are showing tools infused with AI and automation that work for all of us, including:
- Microsoft Power Pages, a low-code development and hosting platform that allows anyone, from low-code maker to professional developer, to design, configure and publish websites for both desktop and mobile through a fluid, visual experience.
- Express Design in Power Apps, which allows you to upload a PDF, PowerPoint or even a hand-drawn sketch that Express Design will convert into a working app within seconds.
- With text summarization for customer support, users can recap complex conversations to help reduce handling time and improve job satisfaction.
These kinds of scenarios give everyday users the power of a cloud-based AI supercomputer to help them accomplish their work quickly and effectively. This is what we mean when we think about tools for people to use today to change the way they work and live.
The innovation continues…
The areas we’ve highlighted are just the beginning when it comes to the new features and products we are releasing at Build. Other noteworthy items include:
- Cloud developer environments and DevSecOps, including news on the .NET Multi-platform App UI, otherwise known as .NET MAUI, which is now generally available.
- Cloud-native apps that deliver new levels of scale and performance alongside greater reliability, including Azure Container Apps, a serverless container hosting service where developers can focus on apps instead of managing underlying cloud infrastructure.
- The Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform, a new, integrated platform that unifies databases, analytics and governance to empower organizations to invest more time creating value rather than integrating and managing a fragmented data estate.
- Microsoft Store Ads, a new product designed to help developers grow their business by getting their apps or games in front of the right customers, at the right time. In the coming months, developers can participate in the pilot program, where they will be able to create ad campaigns for the Microsoft Store using Microsoft Advertising.
- The new Live Share experience for apps in Teams, which takes screen sharing in meetings to the next level by making the Teams meeting stage interactive. Developers can build Live Share apps in Teams that let meeting participants edit, annotate, zoom in/out and interact with shared content in new ways.
- The metaverse is creating an entirely new feedback loop and opportunity for business. We are enabling metaverse experiences at all layers of our stack, so customers can more effectively model, automate, simulate and predict changes within their industrial environments, feel a greater sense of presence in the new world of hybrid work and create custom immersive worlds to enable new opportunities for connection and experimentation.
Whew! That’s a lot, I know. For even more information, you can watch Satya Nadella’s Build keynote on demand and explore all the news and announcements via the Book of News.
Tags: AI, Build 2022, developers