What Is Microsoft Build?
Microsoft Build is an annual conference organized by Microsoft, aimed towards software and web developers who are using Windows, Windows Phone, Microsoft Azure and other related Microsoft technologies. Initially held in 2011, Microsoft Build acts as the successor to two of the company’s previously held events. One was the Professional Developers Conference, which is aimed at development of software for Microsoft Windows. The other was MIX, which was aimed at web development revolving around Microsoft technology such as Silverlight and ASP.net.
Microsoft Build 2017 kicked off yesterday (10th) and with it came a host of new features and updates to the existing line up of Microsoft’s products. Here’s some of the ones we found the most interesting.
Microsoft’s goal for Windows 10 is halfway done
When Microsoft first released Windows 10, they announced that their goal was to have the Operating system running on 1 Billion devices within the next two to three years. Well, they’re halfway there. The OS is now being used on 500 million devices.
For an Operating system that launched less than two years ago, this is rather impressive, but on the other hand, with Microsoft stopping support for Windows 7 and Windows 8, most of the upgrades are because of necessity. Nonetheless, they did hit 400 million users back in September of last year so the OS is definitely on the rise. With Windows 10 S also now available on the Microsoft Surface Laptop, its safe to assume that Microsoft would push Windows 10 on all platforms to all developers to achieve their goal of 1 Billion devices
Microsoft’s Presentation Translator
Have you ever needed to translate a PowerPoint presentation on the go? Well, now you can. Microsoft also unveiled an interesting new plugin for its PowerPoint presentation app. The plugin allows you to instantly translate your slide deck. Called the Presentation Translator plugin, this plugin can be added to PowerPoint’s desktop app. It makes use of Microsoft’s Translation APIs to translate content in the slides into 10 languages in real-time, while at the same time keeping the original formatting and layout of your presentation.
This would be especially useful if you were showing the presentation to a group of people and they each could access the presentation and translate it to a language that they are comfortable with. In terms of languages, the plugin can translate Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Apart from simply translating your slides, Microsoft’s Presentation Translator can also aid in generating captions for people who suffer from hearing impediments.
The plugin is currently available in early access on Windows. If you’d like to try it out right now, you can register now on this page.
Visual Studio for Mac is now available for everybody
If you recall, sometime ago, Microsoft announced that they would be releasing a preview of Visual Studio to the Mac for everyone. Well, the preview was launched at the Microsoft Build Conference. Granted, Visual Studio for Mac was available for developers but with yesterday’s launch, it’s pretty much available for everybody. Visual Studio, despite being one of the most popular IDEs (Integrated Development Environments) available, is usually used only for Windows apps. But with the addition of Xamarin, developers can share code across iOS, Android, UWP (Universal Windows Platform) apps and many more.
This is going to play an even bigger role as Microsoft pushes Windows 10 S, a modified version of Microsoft Windows that can only install software from the Microsoft Store. They will need to show developers that there is indeed a viability for attracting Android and iOS developers to the UWP. The simplest way to do this would be to let developers re-use code they’ve already come up with for other platforms, which Xamarin excels at. Now that Visual Studio is on Mac, you can actually team up and work together using Microsoft tools on a number of devices. Although why developers on Macs would code apps for Windows 10 seems questionable, the answer is that it is possible if needed.
Windows Azure Is now mobile
Imagine if you, as a systems administrator could manage your system from your mobile device. Well, that’s another update that Microsoft announced at Microsoft Build 2017. The update refers to Microsoft Azure, the company’s cloud computing platform.
The first update as mentioned above, is a management application for Android and iOS, which gives system administrators the ability to manage their systems from their mobile devices. As such, you can carry out tasks such as viewing real-time analytics, restarting and provisioning virtual machines your phone etc.
The other change was the Azure Cloud Shell. This essentially allows developers to quickly log into their provisioned systems via the Azure portal, and also includes two new mobile applications. A ful BASh shell by nature, Azure Cloud Shell would also incorporate PowerShell in the not too distant future. As such, Azure Cloud Shell lets you access the Azure CLI (Command Line Interface) from wherever you are, and already has all your credentials authenticated. So simply login and work. That’s all there is to it.
Building computer vision AI models just takes a few minutes
Microsoft’s Cognitive Services is a sort of merge between artificial intelligence and machine learning. With the latest addition to Microsoft’s Cognitive Service, which is Custom Vision, you can create a sophisticated computer vision application, sans the effort and time.
Demonstrated by Cornelia Carapcea, Senior Project Manager at Microsoft, the art of creating your own custom vision API models just require a little training data, such as a number of photographic samples. Once the model is created, it is accessible via a REST API hosted on Microsoft’s servers. According to Carapcea, Custom Vision can be used in identifying food and landmarks, and even in a retail environment. Custom Vision can pick the best images that are most likely to add the most gain to your model, thereby allowing manual tagging of the image, which then leads to improvement of overall accuracy and reliability.
Keeping the Workplace safe with AI
What if a computer could make your workplace safer? Well, that’s where elements such as Azure stack, Azire IoT Edge, Microsoft Cognitive Services, and commodity camera equipment come into play. Demonstrated by Andrea Carl, Director of Commercial Communications at Microsoft, these technologies and tools could be used in tandem to make the workplace safer.
This is done by identifying tools, people, and even potential accidents, such as improperly stored toolds and spilled liquids in real time. Furthermore, the software can identify individuals who are trained to use a specific tool so if one such tool is left unattended, the system would notify the nearest trained employee to store it safely. Furthermore, it can also identify non-employees, and take note of policy violations such as unauthorized people using equipment etc.
Well there you have it. All the things we found interesting at Microsoft Build 2017. If there’s anything that you feel is worth mentioning, leave a comment below.