Microsoft Releases Multiple Products at Build 2023 Event
- By Kurt Mackie
- May 23, 2023
Multiple Microsoft products reached "general availability" (GA), or commercial release, at the Microsoft Build event for developers ongoing this week.
There were no standouts, but the highlights might include the new Burst Capacity for Azure Cosmos DB users, the Azure Monitor support for Prometheus container monitoring as a managed service, plus the ability of the Azure Kubernetes Service to use Azure Linux as a container host OS. Also, avatars for Teams users are expected next month.
The following GA list was extracted from Microsoft's "Book of News" (BoN) publication for Microsoft Build.
Azure Services GA Features
Document Translation in Language Studio reached GA. It helps developers by using AI to "translate documents in batches" (BoN 2.1.1).
Azure Machine Learning Registries reached GA. It lets developers "promote, share and discover machine learning artifacts such as models, pipelines and environments across multiple workspaces in an organization for more efficient cross-team operations and collaboration" (BoN 2.1.2).
Azure Container for PyTorch reached GA, giving developers access to the "latest PyTorch 2.0 capabilities and optimization software such as DeepSpeed and ONNX Runtime" for large model training. PyTorch is a Linux Foundation open source machine learning framework that's used for natural language and computer vision processing (BoN 2.1.2).
Azure Cosmos DB "Burst Capacity" reached GA. It gives databases or containers extra throughput capacity "during short bursts when requests exceed the throughput limit." Also, Azure Cosmos DB's "Hierarchical Partition Keys" reached GA, which lets databases be partitioned by "up to three partition keys" instead of just one, which broadens performance and scale options (BoN 2.2.3).
The open source Prometheus solution for monitoring workloads in containers is now available as a fully managed service within Azure Monitor, a capability that reached GA. This managed service can be useful for larger organizations by "automating complex tasks such as scaling, high availability and long-term data retention" (BoN 2.3.2).
Red Hat Enterprise Linux now can serve as the guest operating system on "AMD-based confidential virtual machines," where the guest OS's memory gets protected against host access by chipset-generated encryption keys. This capability is said to have reached GA, but just for the "Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9.2 Tech Preview image" (BoN 2.4.2).
The Azure Container Instances service now has support for "confidential containers," which is at the GA release level using AMD EPYC processors. Essentially, these containers can be run in a "hardware-based and attested Trusted Execution Environment," which serves to protect the data that's in memory (BoN 2.4.3).
Azure Deployment Environments, which gives developers a portal and templates for spinning up code environments, has reached the GA stage. Templates will be available for "Terraform" (preview) or "Azure Resource Management files." Azure Deployment Environments also can be used to "spin up dev boxes from Microsoft Dev Box" (BoN 2.5.1).
Microsoft Dev Box for Windows apps isn't at GA yet, but it will be "in July." The idea behind Microsoft Dev Box is that developers can create workspaces with all of the resources needed for a project, which can then be remotely accessed via a browser or remote desktop application. It's a Windows 365-based service for developers that also lets IT pros do auditing, control patching and set conditional access policies. Microsoft has added "new starter developer images" in the Azure Marketplace for Microsoft Dev Box users, which is now at the GA stage. Also, a Developer Portal capability for managing Azure Deployment Environments is now GA (BoN 2.5.2).
Azure API Management, which is a multicloud management solution for application programming interfaces (APIs), now has a "WebSocket API Passthrough" capability at GA. This capability lets organizations "manage, protect, observe and expose WebSocket APIs running in container environments with the API Management self-hosted gateway container." Also, organizations can now use Azure Active Directory tokens with the self-hosted gateway, which "allows customers to avoid manually refreshing a gateway token that expires every 30 days" (BoN 2.5.4).
Azure Communications Services, which offers REST APIs for integrating communication features (such as voice, video and chat) into applications, will get new APIs to support "intelligent calling workflows" augmented with Azure Cognitive Services' AI capabilities. This capability will reach GA "next month" (BoN 2.5.5).
Azure Kubernetes Service can now use Azure Linux as a container host OS, a capability that reached GA. Azure Linux is Microsoft's apparently new name for its CBL-Mariner Linux distro, which is used across its own services. Microsoft claimed that Azure Kubernetes Service users will gain better performance and increased security for their applications by using Azure Linux as a container host OS (BoN 2.5.7).
Azure Kubernetes Service now has a "long-term support" option at GA, which gives organizations two years of support for a particular version of Kubernetes. Also, "Transactable Kubernetes Apps" are now available from the Azure Marketplace, offering access to "first- and third-party Kubernetes-ready solutions" (BoN 2.5.10).
Semantic Kernel, an "open-source framework for building AI apps," is now at GA, with support for C# and Python. It lets developers "add intelligence to their apps" and works with template scripts. Semantic Kernel also is previewing as a VS Code extension (BoN 3.1.3).
Microsoft Edge Browser GA Features
Microsoft Edge Workspaces, a capability that lets users collaborate using "the same set of browser tabs together," will reach GA "in the next few months for enterprises." It'll be also available at some point for consumers (BoN 4.1.4).
Microsoft Edge's "Sidebar" in the browser now supports developers adding progressive Web apps at the GA stage. It's done by adding "one to two lines of code to the JSON manifest" (BoN 4.1.5).
Microsoft 365 Services GA Features
The Live Share Software Development Kit (SDK) for Microsoft Teams has reached the GA stage. Microsoft explained that "with apps built for Live Share, participants can annotate, edit, zoom in and out and interact with shared content in a variety of other ways in the Teams meeting stage" (BoN 5.14).
Microsoft Teams developers got several new capabilities at GA. Independent software vendors (ISVs) can now "target apps to select geographies" and see details about app use in the developer portal. ISVs can use keywords to improve the discovery of their apps, and they have access to user app reviews through the Partner Center. ISVs also got a license management solution at the GA stage for tracking "SaaS licenses purchased in Teams and Teams admin center" (BoN 5.1.5).
Microsoft Teams Windows and Mac desktop app users will get avatars at the GA stage "staring this week" for "all Microsoft 365 Business and Enterprise licenses" (BoN 5.1.6).
Power Platform GA Features
Copilot in Power Virtual Agents reached the GA stage. Power Virtual Agents provides a way to create "intelligent chatbots," and there's now a new "bot-building canvas" that also reached GA (BoN 6.1.3).
Power Automate for automating workflows now has a "format data by examples" capability at GA. It lets users show examples of "a value they want to format and the desired output." In response, Power Automate will "suggest the appropriate expression to use" (BoN 6.1.4).
Security GA Features
Source-code classifiers to detect intellectual property embedded in files or used in chats or other apps reached the GA stage. This machine learning security capability "supports 70-plus file extensions, 23 programming languages and can detect embedded and partial source code, based on key customer inputs" (BoN 8.1.1).
A Microsoft Entra Verified ID Wallet Software Development Kit library will reach GA in "June 2023." Organizations can use this SDK to "build verifiable credentials wallets directly into their apps." Microsoft Entra Verified ID reached the GA stage last year. It's a decentralized blockchain approach that lets users establish identity information and have control its submission (BoN 8.1.3).
Windows GA Features
Microsoft Store on Windows will get an "AI Hub" for learning about the benefits of AI and a "review summary" showing app reviews. These features will reach GA "soon" (BoN 9.1.1).
Windows on Arm will be getting the Unity Player middleware engine in "early June" (BoN 9.1.4).