Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella kicked off the Build 2019 developers conference in Seattle on Monday, offering a sweeping vision for how Microsoft is working to transform life for software developers.
Nadella outlined new opportunities for developers and ISVs to innovate on the Azure cloud platform, as well as on the Microsoft 365 productivity platform—including using emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and mixed reality.
“These platforms are rich canvases for you, in this era of the cloud and the edge, to enable you to turn the dreams that you all have into magical experiences that address the most pressing challenges out there,” Nadella said. “It's this community here that has the power to create that future.”
What follows are Nadella's five biggest statements from his keynote at Microsoft Build 2019.
Along with having 54 data centre regions—including the first public cloud to operate on the African continent—Azure has "more certifications than any other public cloud out there. We have over 90 compliance certifications," Nadella said. "Why is that important? It's because you have to meet the real-world needs—regulated industries, data sovereignty needs, operational sovereignty needs. You need to be able to meet the world's complexity with what you build, so that it really enables all of you as developers to be able to build with less friction."
Additionally, "we're also building out Azure as an open platform," Nadella said. "Windows and Linux is first class, .NET and Java are first class, SQL and Postgres are first class. We have Kubernetes workloads, we have Red Hat OpenShift workloads, we have workloads from VMware. We really want to make sure that every layer of the stack, again, meets the needs of developers."
Microsoft is also investing to ensure that Azure tooling is making developers more productive around artificial intelligence and machine learning, Nadella said. "One of the things that you'll see in agile ML advances is the no-code ML tools," he said. Meanwhile, "it's been fantastic to bring [the] same rigor of development and engineering and deployment to machine-learning practices," Nadella said.
When it comes to cognitive services, "we continue to take the breakthroughs that we have across all of the various cognitive services and make them available to developers," Nadella said. Key advances are being made in areas such as speech recognition, he said.
Meanwhile, "the other service that is really getting tremendous momentum is these conversational interfaces that are being built using Bot Framework," Nadella said. "In fact, 3000 new bots, or conversational apps, are getting created using this framework each week."
Ultimately, it's of "strategic importance for every business out there to build their own conversational apps," he said. "Just like you build websites, just like you build mobile applications, [bots] become very important for every business out there, to be in control of their own destiny when it comes to this new platform of conversations."
The online customer conversation is "perhaps one of the most important pieces of data" for businesses and developers to harness, Nadella said.
Following the announcement at Build of a development edition for the HoloLens 2 mixed-reality headset, Nadella called the HoloLens "the quintessential AI device."
The combination of Azure plus HoloLens as an edge device can "create completely immersive experiences," he said. "You also have know Azure services such as the spatial anchor service, which allow you to build cross-device mixed-reality experiences. So mixed reality to us is going to be something that's going to happen across Azure and Azure edge, across HoloLens 2 in Azure, but also all the other devices and Azure—to enable for example the next generation of training, the next generation of architecture design."
For the Microsoft 365 productivity suite—which includes Office 365, Windows 10 and device management—Nadella said one of the major opportunities is around the Microsoft Graph. The Microsoft Graph brings together data signals from sources such as email, calendar, Teams chats and documents, enabling AI technologies to generate insights from the data.
As a result of the widespread shift to Office 365, "a very rich database gets created—a database that is about people [and] their relationships with other people," Nadella said. "Their artifacts—whether it's their schedules, documents, projects—all of that is available as a first-class database structure for you."
Ultimately, "it's exciting to see even how some ISVs are using the Microsoft Graph," Nadella said, pointing to announcements at Build 2019 including the general availability of Microsoft Graph data connect solution. Microsoft Graph data connect provides customers with a way to combine their productivity data with their business data—allowing big-data/analytics applications to gain managed access to the productivity data, enabling even deeper insights for organizations. "We think of this as a very rich ecosystem that's developing," Nadella said.
Windows and Office
With more than 800 million Windows 10 devices deployed, as well as 1 billion devices running Office 365 / Microsoft 365, one of the "biggest opportunities" is "for developers who have written applications for these platforms to extend their reach," Nadella said.
"Every app—whether it's a Win32 app, whether it's a WPF app or a UWP app—any app can be annotated with Graph data," he said. "And all of these applications can also now incorporate natural user interface, whether it's speech, Windows Hello, ink. And that's what we see with developers."
Overall, "application development in Windows [is getting] richer across all of the frameworks that you may have used because of the Graph, as well as natural user interface," Nadella said. "So that's how we think about the future of Windows and Office development."