Microsoft Build 2017 wrap-up: 20 reasons why it was awesome for developers and fans alike

Microsoft’s annual developers conference is always packed with tonnes of news and surprises, and this year’s event in Seattle was no different.

Here’s everything you need to know:

Microsoft Build 2017: Day 1

Cortana normally keeps a cool, calm head about her. But on Wednesday, Microsoft announced new Azure data and cloud services to help developers quickly modernize their existing apps, as well as new AI and Azure services that allow them to more easily build intelligent apps with understanding and natural user interaction capabilities.

The company also showcased new data, Internet of Things (IoT) edge and AI services built for a future of ubiquitous computing and intelligent edge.

Here’s our top 10 list of why Day 1 of Build excited developers, and Cortana, too:

1. Azure Batch AI Training is a new Azure offering, available in private preview, that will allow developers and data scientists to configure an environment with parameters and run their models against multiple CPUs, multiple GPUs and eventually, field-programmable gate arrays.

2. Microsoft has the industry’s broadest offering of cognitive services with 29 of them now, and with unique customization options. New services include Bing Custom Search, Custom Vision Service, Custom Decision Service and Video Indexer. A new PowerPoint add-in called Presentation Translator, which leverages Microsoft’s Translation APIs, was featured, allowing real-time translation to multiple languages during any presentation.

3. New Microsoft Graph APIs were made available to developers, including APIs from SharePoint and Planner. The Microsoft Graph gives developers access to Office 365 data and intelligence and helps connect the dots between people, conversations, projects, schedules, processes and content. These insights help developers build smarter apps, enabling smarter ways to work.

4. Any developer can now publish for Microsoft Teams, the new chat-based workspace in Office 365. Coming soon, apps in Teams will be more discoverable for end users through a new app experience. Developers can also add new capabilities to Teams apps, including third-party notifications in the activity feed, Compose Extensions and Actionable Messages.

5. They learned about how graphic designer Emma Lawton, who has Parkinson’s disease, can sketch and write again without shaky scrawls, thanks to Haiyan Zhang. The Microsoft researcher spent months studying Parkinson’s disease, creating and testing prototypes to give Lawton what is dubbed “Emma’s Watch,” a wearable device that temporarily short-circuits tremors in the right wrist and hand. Now Zhang is collaborating on a new initiative, Project Emma, exploring the use of sensors and AI to detect and monitor the complex symptoms associated with the disorder – from body rigidity and gait slowness to falling and tremors.

6. Visual Studio 2017 for Mac, out of preview and now generally available, enables developers to work seamlessly across Windows and Mac environments with full support for mobile, web and cloud workloads and previews of Docker tools, Azure Functions and Xamarin.IoT support.

7. New MySQL- and PostgreSQL-managed services are joining Azure SQL Database to give developers expanded choice and flexibility on a service platform that delivers high availability, scalability with minimal downtime and data retention and recovery.

8. Azure Cosmos DB was announced. It’s the industry’s first globally distributed, multi-model database service that delivers horizontal scale with guaranteed uptime, throughput, consistency and millisecond latency at the 99th percentile.

9. Azure IoT Edge, technology that extends the intelligence – and other benefits – of cloud computing to edge devices, was shown.
10. Cortana Skills Kit is now in public preview in the U.S. Developers can build skills for Cortana by creating a bot and publishing to the Cortana channel of the Microsoft Bot Framework. This is available across Windows 10, Android, iOS and the new Cortana-powered Harman Kardon Invoke speaker.

Microsoft Build 2017: Day 2

On Thursday at the Build 2017 developer conference in Seattle, Microsoft shared the first details of the next major update to Windows, the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, which includes new tools that make Windows home for all developers.

Here’s our top 10 list of Day 2 goodness announced at Build:

1. No markers! We were introduced to the world’s first Windows Mixed Reality motion controllers — no markers required! The motion controllers offer precise and responsive tracking of movement in your field of view using the sensors in a Windows Mixed Reality headset. There is no need to install hardware on the walls around you.

2. More choices goodness: With the Xamarin Live Player. developers can build, test and debug their iPhone applications from a Windows PC. With it, all users need is Visual Studio and their iPhone to get started building native apps for iOS in minutes.

3. When in Rome: With modern code, developers can take advantage of Windows and the Microsoft Graph, using Project Rome for UWP, Android and now iOS.

4. Development tools reign: Several new tools for Windows developers were announced. .NET Standard 2.0 for UWP and XAML Standard are both coming later this year so that web devs, C++, .NET or UWP developers will love to build on Windows.

5. iTunes and more coming to Windows Store: The Windows Store is adding additional popular applications later this year, including iTunes. Windows users will get the complete iTunes experience, including Apple Music and the iTunes Store, as well as support for iPhone and other Apple devices on any Windows 10 or Windows 10 S PC; Autodesk SketchBook, the de facto application for painting and drawing, and built from the ground up as a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) application leveraging the pen and touch capability of Windows 10; and SAP Digital Boardroom, one of the most popular solutions from SAP.

6. Windows Story Remix: Built on .NET and distributed through the Windows Store as a Universal Windows Application, Windows Story Remix uses AI and deep learning to organize and transform photos and videos into stories. It will use the Microsoft Graph to connect users across devices. Story Remix brings memories, photos and videos together to cr
eate stories with a soundtrack, theme and cinematic transitions. Users can also create mixed reality by adding 3D objects to photos and videos to tell stories in a whole new way.

7. Cortana, where was I? Not sure? The new You Can Pick Up Where You Left Off feature for Cortana also works across Windows, iOS and Android devices. Clipboard is the easiest way to copy and paste just about anything between connected devices. OneDrive Files on Demand allows access to all files in the cloud without having to download them and use storage space on a specific device.

8. Jump back in time: Microsoft Graph ensures experiences flow seamlessly between Windows, iOS and Android devices. New Microsoft Graph features include Timeline, which allows users to easily hop back into files, apps and websites as if it was real time.

9. Divine design: Microsoft Fluent Design System, which will deliver intuitive, harmonious, responsive and inclusive cross-device experiences and interactions. For developers, Fluent Design is built to help users create more expressive and engaging apps that work across a wide range of device and input diversity.

10. More than a half-billion devices: Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, available later this year, delivers new experiences for more than 500 million Windows 10 devices.

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