Microsoft Advances Its Cloud, AI Vision at Build

Microsoft kicked off its 2017 Build developer conference on Wednesday in Seattle, Wash., announcing new offerings related to Azure, Cognitive Services, Visual Studio and more.

CEO Satya Nadella's opening keynote was notable in that it signaled a shift in his signature message of "mobile-first, cloud-first," which -- now that Microsoft has a firmer grasp on what its tools and services are capable of providing to developers -- is evolving into a message of "an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge."

Nadella and crew then provided lots of proofs-of-concept on the work that's being done at Microsoft around AI and its Cognitive Services offerings, using the complement of developer-enabled Microsoft hardware, services and tooling.

Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's executive vice president of Cloud and Enterprise, and his direct reports took over the rest of the proceedings with announcements of new products and some early previews of the tools that will be given more detailed attention during conference sessions. Here are some of the highlights:

Cognitive Services: Four new AI-enabled services are to be added to the growing list of services available already. Video Indexer provides indexing of gobs of videos using image recognition. Bing Custom Search uses a bit of AI behind the scenes to figure out the best search sources. Custom Vision Service provides image recognition. Custom Decision Service also uses AI to build decision-making into apps. Many of these services can be previewed in a newly launched Cognitive Services Lab. More here.

Azure Batch AI Training: Currently in private preview, it's a new Azure service specifically aimed at data scientists and machine learning experts to provide a managed service for batch training neural networks.

Azure Cloud Shell: A new addition to the Azure Portal that was previewed back in December that provides developers with access to a Bash shell via the newly minted Cloud Shell.

Azure Cosmos DB: A new service aimed at global enterprises, this one is touted as a globally distributed, multi-model database service that boasts 99 percent uptime with a handful of consistency options. "Customers including are using Azure Cosmos DB to scale to 100 trillion transactions per day and growing, spanning multiple regions," said Guthrie. Also new are two managed services for Azure SQL Database for MySQL and PostgreSQL, and a private preview of SQL Server- and Oracle-to-Azure SQL Database migration services.

Azure Service Fabric: Support for Windows Server containers in Azure Service Fabric with the 5.6 runtime and 2.6 SDK is now generally available. In preview is native support for deploying containerized apps using Docker Compose.

Azure Mobile App: Now in beta, developers can view and receive notifications of health data and metrics on a number of app services, as well as start and stop VMs and Web apps. It's available in beta for iOS and Android, with a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) version in the works.

Azure IoT Edge: New is this cross-platform runtime that can be installed onto any device, and which uses Azure as the hub for managing and telemetry and analytics.

Visual Studio for Mac: It's now out of beta and generally available and, for the most part, provides a fully Visual Studio-enabled environment for those developing C#, F#, .NET Core, ASP.NET Core, Xamarin or Unity apps from a Mac machine.

PowerShell Extension for Visual Studio Code: With this release, Visual Studio Code becomes the de facto shell for creating and editing PowerShell scripts, replacing the PowerShell ISE.

Visual Studio 2017: Version 15.2 is now available. A 15.3 preview is also out that includes NET Core 2.0 preview support, and Live Unit Testing for .NET Core projects, among a slew of other enhancements (click here to find out more about participating in the preview). Also new is a Visual Studio Snapshot Debugger that provides quicker debugging response to apps running on premises or in the cloud.

MSDN Magazine Editor in Chief Michael Desmond contributed to this report.

More from Build 2017:

About the Author

Michael Domingo has held several positions at 1105 Media, and is currently the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.


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