Microsoft’s Build developer conference kicks off in downtown Seattle this morning, with a heavy focus on cloud technologies, and GeekWire is here to cover the latest news about Microsoft Azure, Windows, databases, artificial intelligence, developer tools and more.
Tune in starting at 8 a.m. for our live blog, watch the live stream from Microsoft above, and follow our coverage on GeekWire over the next three days.
Special note: All Build conference attendees and followers receive a special 15% discount to the inaugural GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit, taking place in Bellevue, Wash. on June 7th, and featuring speakers such as Microsoft Azure chief Scott Guthrie; Docker COO Scott Johnston; Cloud Foundry executive director Abby Kearns, Kubernetes co-creator Joe Beda and many others. Use the code Build15 when registering on the event site here.
Hi everybody! Todd and I are setting up at the Washington State Convention Center with a few thousand of our closest friends.
We got the silence-your-devices warning, so looks like we might actually start on time! We’re looking for a lot of updates today from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and his executive team, who are hoping to encourage developers to build (get it?) more stuff on Microsoft’s technology.
We got a glimpse of some of what will be shown today at an earlier briefing for media, and our initial stories will be publishing shortly.
The keynote hall is darkening, and here we go…
Cloud & Enterprise chief Scott Guthrie and AI & Research head Harry Shum are also expected to address the crowd today, in addition to Nadella.
And here’s Satya.
“For me, these developer conferences have marked the passage of time that we as an industry, as a company, have made.” He’s looking back at a presentation he gave in 1993 on Windows NT, client-server, and other relics of computer science that predate the millennials.
Satya shows an old photo of himself with hair, which is kind of amazing. He jokes that computing power has grown as his hair has disappeared.
Microsoft saw 100GBs of internet traffic pre-Web, now it’s millions of times that level. Autonomous cars will generate 10GBs of data per second, he says. “The opportunity for us as developers to have broad deep impact on all parts of society and all parts of the economy has never been greater.”
Satya is setting the stage for a discussion of Microsoft’s view of the “intelligent cloud,” with a focus on computing not only in remote data centers but also at the “edge,” in increasingly powerful devices.
“But with this enormous opportunity comes enormous responsibility.” Satya brings up the “unintended consequences of technology,” urging developers to remember their role in making the future happen and preventing some of the “dystopian” visions of the future from coming true.
I think this is the first time I’ve heard a reference to Orwell and Huxley in a tech keynote.
“We should empower people with technology. That’s gotta be the front and center consideration for everything we do.”
Here’s the first of our news stories from the event: Windows 10 reaches 500M devices as Microsoft makes its case to developers at Build 2017
Technology should also be used to bring this empowering feeling to more people, a nod to the digital divide, he says.
“As the world becomes more technology driven … building trust in technology is crucial.” Developers must be accountable for the technology they create, he says.
This is quite the pitch to developers Satya is making. I’m not sure he’s mentioned a Microsoft product yet.
Ok, now he’s talking about the company he runs. Microsoft now has 500 million monthly active devices running Windows 10, 100 million commercial Office 365 monthly users, and 12 million active organizations in Azure Active Directory.
“You have now the ability to reach 100 million of these most valuable users through the application you build.” Developers like tools, for sure, but platform usage numbers are what really gets their attention.
“We’re continuing to advance this opportunity so you can get the best return on your investment in Microsoft platforms.”
Platforms evolve in response to developer feedback, Sayta says. Some of the new areas we’re going to talk about this morning include agents and bots, artificial intelligence, and IoT.
“Fundamental change in the paradigm of the apps we are building: we’re moving from today’s mobile first cloud first world to a new world that is going to be made up of an intelligent cloud, and an intelligent edge.”
Edge computing is a growing topic in the cloud world, the notion that more processing is going to move away from the heart of the data center to the edge of the network, closer to the user. Applications need to evolve to stay afloat in a multidevice world, and he thinks AI and serverless technologies will allow them to do that.
“Data has gravity: computational power will move to it.” People are training AIs on GPUs in the cloud, but they’re deploying on the edge. That’s going to have to change, Satya said: you’ll need to train your AIs on the edge.
Serverless is “going to completely change how we think about logic,” Satya says. Here’s a story I wrote a few weeks ago on the growth of serverless tech: https://www.geekwire.com/2017/serverless-computing-might-be-the-next-crucial-step-in-the-evolution-of-cloud-computing/
These sound like the major themes for Microsoft now that Satya has re-oriented the company around cloud and mobile. We’re going to dive into this stuff in detail over the next few days at Build, he says.
Here’s an explanation of serverless computing for the uninitiated: “Despite the name, servers are still involved, but developers don’t need to worry about spinning up virtual machines, installing applications, patching or managing other elements of the system, as they would normally. Instead, the code is handled directly by the cloud and triggered by pre-defined events. Developers and companies are charged based on the resources their applications use.”
It’s case study time! We’re hearing about Sandvik Coromant, and how they used serverless to change their IT environment to help them make decisions about their manufacturing business.
Any thoughts on Satya’s fashion choices today? He looks ready for a golf round. (By the way, some golf-related news out of Build coming later today on GeekWire, stay tuned)
Sandvik makes tooling machines for others to manufacture their goods, and they are super complicated. They have millions of parts, and a breakdown in any one part can throw the whole system out of whack.
This is a very serious live blog, Taylor.
(For the record, he looks sharp.)
The serverless technologies used by Sandvik also pair nicely with a new Azure feature called Azure IoT Edge, which allows users to deploy logic directly to connected devices, from huge manufacturing machines to robots to cars, someday.
We’re seeing a Sandvik dashboard for a given machine, shown below.
The combination of all these technologies allow factory managers to get alerts and updates in close to real-time, so their multimillion dollar machines can be saved if anything goes wrong. When the code runs locally on the machine, everything speeds up, rather than waiting for the information to travel back and forth between Azure and the device.
Oh, I just saw Satya’s kicks as he came back on stage following the demo. Hopefully Todd can get a shot of that.
Preview of what’s coming up: Here’s Tom’s story on an interesting new database play by the company. Microsoft introduces Azure Cosmos DB, a new database with a broad money-back guarantee
We’re shifting gears into artificial intelligence. Search engines allowed us to amass a ton of knowledge about text: we indexed nearly all the text. What if we could get data on a lot of other experiences to understand how to improve safety for humans?
Here you go Taylor. What’s your expert opinion on these?
Workplace accidents could be avoided if you could detect issues sooner, Satya says. We’re getting another demo that explains how this could work. You’re almost creating “an ad-hoc data center” in your workplaces and homes with all your devices, which are more powerful than early data centers themselves.
A video is playing, very loudly. The idea is that you could capture data about a workplace, like a factory floor or chemical plant, with cameras and sensors to better understand how to detect problems and prevent them from getting worse.
This idea could also improve hospital reaction times, and big construction projects where workers are spread out over a big area. Like, say, downtown Seattle.
Andrea Carl is out on stage to demo this idea on stage. Will the demo gods be kind?
The kicks are slick!
Microsoft’s Andrea Carl giving the demo on AI and workplace safety.
Microsoft set up a small rendition of a workspace where you might want to find big tools, like jackhammers, that could be located relatively far away. Asking a chatbot where a given tool is allows someone to find it quickly, and managers can actually set policies that can detect if the tools are being stored and used correctly.
I’m sure the construction workers of the future will gladly welcome their camera overlords.
The augmented view of the workshop, as shown on the Build screen.
Still, safety is something everyone cares about. The demo is showing how you can onboard a new construction worker from a phone, granting the new worker permissions to use only certain tools, depending on their skill level.
If you’re not authorized to use a given tool, the system can alert a manager that something is not right. It’s going to be frustrating when your manager forgets to give you permission to use the tool you need to get something done.
Satya is back. Edge computing is what allows you to deliver these capabilities, he says. Now we’re shifting into a discussion of the devices themselves.
“The fundamental challenge we have as an industry right now is the social complexity of our devices,” he says. Notifications can be overwhelming, and a new architecture for notifications, agents, and task completion would be really nice, he says.
You’re already living your life in the cloud, with your email, calendars, and social networks, but the devices themselves that you use every day are increasing doing more work in the cloud and less work on the device, he says.
We’ll hear much more about Windows and devices tomorrow, Satya says.
Now we’re talking about meetings: every developer’s favorite work activity. Meetings are places for collaboration, with multiple people and devices, and building an app for meetings that is geared around a single device doesn’t really make sense anymore, he says.
This is the new incarnation of the “Microsoft Graph,” as discussed by Nadella on stage.
Laura Jones is coming out on stage to talk about “intelligent meetings.”
The demo starts off with a request to Cortana: “what’s my day look like?” Laura has three meetings today, and needs gas, so Cortana suggests leaving a little earlier than usual.
This seems like a pretty standard demo of Cortana so far. But Microsoft announced several new services for Cortana earlier today, and it seems like we’re about to hear more about those.
Satya mentioned notifications spanning devices. Both my phone and PC played my wakeup alarm today, but I was able to dismiss both from my PC
— Ginny Caughey (@gcaughey) May 10, 2017
This demo is our first in-person glimpse of the new harman/kardon Cortana-powered smart speaker, Microsoft’s first real Amazon Echo competitor.
Now we’re moving into a demo of Microsoft Teams, which is part of Office 365. Teams allows you to screen share, video chat, and allocate tasks. There are two new activities: devices and context, so that Teams can detect when people walk into a meeting and adjust accordingly.
Bots can also be used in meetings, which seems like a good way to increase frustration levels in meetings. The bots demoed, of course, return relevant results instantly to queries about work projects.
Once the meeting is done, Cortana can send you a meeting summary with a history of the meeting, as well as a task. Developers can use the underlying technology here in internal company applications to add all sorts of bells and whistles to a company’s workflow.
Satya is back. Seems like his portion of the morning keynote is wrapping up.
One data point Microsoft announced today: >145 million people using Cortana on a monthly basis. This is in Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox and increasingly it will also be in third-party devices.
He’s recapping the landscape discussed this morning, spending a lot of time on the “intelligent edge,” which is a clear theme for the morning.
“But I want to finish where I started. The future of computing is not going to be defined by any one platform technology, it’s going to be defined by the choices you make and the impact those decisions have on society.”
They start showing a video about person with Parkinson’s disease, which prevents her from doing the sketching that’s part of her work as a designer. A developer is showing how you can make a vibrating bracelet that can help steady the hand of a person with Parkinson’s.
It’s not exactly clear how it works, but the wearable allows her to write legibly and draw “for the first time in a long time.” It’s getting a little dusty in the Washington State Convention Center.
Satya thanks the two women who participated in the video, and that’s all for his portion of the keynote. Next up: a bright red-shirted Scott Guthrie.
Sorry, that’s Cloud Tech Summit participant Scott Guthrie. (He also runs Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise group.)
Scott is going to get much more technical than Satya, and I’m interested in hearing more details about Azure Cosmos DB, which Microsoft introduced this morning.
“My team works to make Azure an enterprise grade cloud service, but we also want to make your business a success.” Scott says that Microsoft leads the industry on trust and security in the cloud, which….sure.
Looking forward to hearing more from Scott Guthrie at our Cloud Tech Summit next month: https://www.geekwire.com/events/geekwire-cloud-tech-summit-2017/
The first product we’re going to talk about is Visual Studio in Azure. Scott Hanselman is out for a demo.
Scott starts off in the Azure portal, showing how you can customize the Azure dashboard around whatever metrics make the most sense for your business. Developers applaud the addition of the Azure Cloud Shell right inside the dashboard, allowing them to do command line stuff right in the portal.
We’re watching somebody code!
They warned us this would happen, Tom! :)
All kidding aside, this is why thousands of developers are here. They chuckled at a few coding jokes that soared over my head.
Another announcement: Azure is now available through a mobile app for iPhone and Android. This is the new Microsoft: making its core products available on the devices people want to use.
The Azure mobile app … there was also a standard dashboard.
We’re getting a demo of how Visual Studio and Azure allow for real-time production debugging. “This is about finding the bugs that you just can’t find unless they’re running in production.”
Another announcement: Visual Studio is now available for the Mac. It’s still surreal to me to see Microsoft demoing things at a conference on a Mac.
We’re shifting back into security. When you’re running a bunch of virtual machines in production, you want to make sure they are secure. Scott is showing how you can add firewalls to virtual machines from the Azure dashboard.
Scott Guthrie comes back on stage. He recaps the Azure tidbits: Cloud Shell, Mobile Portal, snapshot debugging, and Visual Studio general availability for Mac.
90 percent of the Fortune 500 are using Microsoft Cloud, Guthrie says. I think that stat includes Office 365 and other cloud products, not necessarily Azure itself.
Now we’re watching a customer testimonial video, which gives me a chance to stretch out a bit.
Guthrie is back, and we’re going to talk about data.
The Microsoft Azure mispronunciation issue continues. Customer in video calls it a-zoor. If you’re watching the video, Guthrie is pronouncing it correctly, or at least the standard Microsoft way of saying it.
“You love your particular database of choice, and you want to keep using it when you move to the cloud,” he says. And most people don’t want to do configuration work when moving to the cloud.
We’re talking about SQL Server 2017, which came out about a month ago. Microsoft also offers Azure SQL Database for customers who want to move to the cloud without changing their database setup. Now it’s adding Azure Database Migration Service, which allows customers to make this transition either when moving away from other databases, “including Oracle databases,” Scott says.
Oracle bashing still very much in style.
Scott announces that DocuSign will be running their services on Azure as they add new services, which is a nice win for Microsoft.
Scott is now going to talk about two new database offerings: MySQL as a service, and PostgresDB as a service. The MySQL feature is near and dear to our hearts at GeekWire: we just migrated the site to Azure, and we couldn’t have done it without this new feature.
Now for Azure Cosmos DB, which I wrote about earlier here: https://www.geekwire.com/2017/microsoft-introduces-cosmos-db-a-new-database-with-a-broad-money-back-guarantee/
Scott Guthrie at Microsoft Build 2017. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
Cosmos automatically replicates data to any Azure location around the world, giving users much faster access to an application’s data. We still haven’t solved for the speed of light when it comes to database performance, but this definitely helps. Cosmos DB also scales easily with no downtime, Scott says.
I thought the most interesting part of Cosmos DB was the SLAs that Microsoft is offering for customers: it’s going to guarantee certain levels of performance for latency, throughput, and consistency, in addition to the standard uptime guarantee.
Now Jet.com is starring in a customer testimonial video.
Here’s one customer that Microsoft isn’t at risk of losing to Amazon Web Services. Marc Lore, who started Jet.com then sold to Walmart, previously sold Diapers.com parent Quidsi to Amazon, and then left to challenge Bezos & Co. with Jet.
Jet.com used Cosmos DB from an early point to help it scale as it grew, which it parlayed into an acquisition by Wal-Mart. They’re capable of scaling up to 100 trillion transactions, like on a big shopping day like Black Friday, while enjoying single-digit millisecond latency.
Rimma Nehme of Microsoft is now demoing Cosmos DB.
She’s describing how Cosmos DB works to return answers to chatbot inquiries. It lets you specify APIs, like DocumentDB or MongoDB, and Microsoft has now added Gremlin and another API to the choices.
She’s describing the same scenario she mentioned to me yesterday in a pre-briefing: say your West Coast made app suddenly goes viral in Asia overnight. You can add new regions right from the Azure dashboard and Cosmos DB will scale to that new region without having to reconfigure it.
Cosmos also provides five consistency models. Consistency is a database concept, in which you as the developer strike a balance between providing completely accurate data at all times at the expense of performance, or allowing a few bad records here and there in exchange for super-fast performance.
Most other databases offer two choices, but Microsoft now offers five choices with Cosmos DB to pick the right tradeoff for your application.
“The true measure of any cloud service is its SLAs,” she says. She says it’s the first cloud service that gives SLAs on latency, consistency, and throughput. SLAs aren’t sexy, but they are the type of things that cloud buyers definitely evaluate when choosing a service provider.
Scott is back out. All the Cosmos DB stuff is generally available for developers to use across all Azure regions.
Now we’re moving onto app development: when moving to the cloud, a lot of companies want to take advantage of cloud native development technologies like containers and microservices. This segment’s customer testimonial video is brought to you by Alaska Airlines.
Time to talk about containers. Containers are often used in greenfield apps built directly for cloud services, Scott says, but you can also “gracefully update” older applications to take advantage of container tech through Visual Studio, he says.
Maria is demoing how to take a .Net application and move it to a cloud-native architecture. Adding Docker support appears to be as simple as a right-click in the Azure dashboard.
“Visual Studio now supports cross-container debugging,” she says. It also allows you to configure the older app for continuous delivery.
She’s demoing several other container-related aspects of Visual Studio. The basic idea is to promote that potential customers worried about a lot of overhead accompanying the cloud migration process really don’t have that much to worry about.
Scott is back out to talk about microservices.
Azure allows customers to build apps with containers in several different ways, supporting all the container management systems, Scott says. The next step beyond adopting containers in your application development process is serverless.
Serverless is definitely a hot topic in cloud development these days, and Scott is running down a list of the serverless functions that Microsoft offers in Azure. One of those new functions is Azure Logic Apps, which allows you to set app events to trigger serverless functions.
Visual Studio 2017 now supports Azure Functions and Logic Apps, and Scott announces Azure Application Insights for Azure Functions. Tools have been the weak spot for early adopters of serverless technologies, and Scott says the new releases will help.
Domino’s Pizza is using serverless technologies, guys.
And Microsoft made a video about it! Poor decision to actually show the pizza, though.
Now that the pizza is gone, Scott is back to talk about Azure Stack, which is the product for Azure customers that still want to run some workloads on their own infrastructure.
Carnival Cruises is the next customer Scott is discussing. Carnival runs some workloads in the cloud but can’t go entirely into the cloud because internet service can be spotty in the middle of the ocean.
If you’re stuck with data localization laws, Azure offers 38 regions to accommodate that data. EY, the consulting company, has to deal with this problem, and runs some workloads locally and some in the cloud to manage this. They also made a video about it.
Julia White of Microsoft is going to demo Azure Stack with another boat company: Northwind Traders, a shipping company. Hybrid cloud is being used by companies that don’t operate at sea, but it’s easier to understand what stays local and what goes up to the cloud when ships are involved.
Microsoft exec Julia White giving an Azure Stack demo at Build.
Two hours! Now taking bets for the over/under on the final time.
Scott shifts into software-as-a-service companies delivering their products over Azure. Abhay Parasnis, Adobe’s CTO, joins Scott on stage to talk about how Adobe is using Azure.
Julia White demonstrating Azure Stack.
As Adobe shifted from boxed software to the cloud, it’s been building up that business on Azure, Abhay says. Adobe is now focused on “blending the art of content with the science of data, and doing so at massive cloud scale.”
Scott Guthrie with Abhay Parasnis, Adobe’s CTO.
Scott asks Abhay what it’s like working with Microsoft as a partner. I bet he’s going to really dish the good dirt here, on stage before thousands of people.
Spoiler: Adobe thinks working with Microsoft is good.
It’s always nice to see multinational corporations say nice things about each other. Seems like we’re wrapping up Scott’s part of the keynote, we’re expecting one more speaker this morning.
Scott Guthrie with Abhay Parasnis, Adobe’s CTO. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
Scott is talking about the distribution strategies that Azure customers can use for their SaaS apps, integrating those apps with Office 365 products and “CRM systems,” leaving a certain salesforce-management company unnamed.
“I say this every year, but it’s never been a better time to be a developer.” Scott is done, and Harry Shum takes the stage.
Harry runs Microsoft’s AI group. He’s remembering back when Microsoft launched Cognitive Services in a small room at Build, and this year, AI and Cognitive Services are taking center stage.
“There are three big forces that are converging and making AI possible,” he says. That includes big compute, powerful algorithms, and a massive amount of data. “Microsoft is in a very unique position to help you take advantage of these forces.”
Harry Shum, head of Microsoft’s AI and Research Group
Big compute = Azure. Powerful algorithms = AI research. And massive data? Microsoft Graph.
Harry’s talking about progress in neural networks, centered around image recognition and speech recognition. But while AI is cool, getting AI in the hands of developers is the next, and most important step, he says.
Cognitive Services is a prime example of that AI distribution. These services include algorithms for vision, speech, language, search, and knowledge. Two new services today: Video Indexer, and Cognitive Services Labs, for trying out new services that aren’t quite ready for prime time.
“You really like customization,” Harry says, and heads nod around the room. Microsoft is announcing new custom services around the five pillars of Cognitive Services. Video time!
We’re learning about Starship Commander, a virtual reality game based around AI-powered interactions. They used speech recognition technologies in Cognitive Services to build authentic characters that react to human input.
Conversational AI is the marriage of Cognitive Services and Bot Framework. This is the next user interface, just like moving from command line to graphical user interfaces oh so long ago opened up computing to a lot more people.
Demo time: Cornelia Carapcea is showing off how to build applications around some of these AI algorithims. Developers need their own training data, but supposedly Azure handles the rest. She’s going to demo Visual Intelligence, one of the new Cognitive Services.
Shazam for food? Shazam for food.
Cornelia is demonstrating a plant-recognition app, where you can upload a photo of a plant and figure out what it is. So how can you improve this app over time? A feature called “active learning” is part of the new service.
I would use it to make Shazam for food, but that’s just me.
Here’s the custom vision technology that Microsoft is showing on stage now.
Cornelia moves on to show how image recognition AI can be used across a wide variety of apps, from consumer apps to massive data apps. There are now three new channels for Bot Framework that can be used to incorporate sophisticated bot technology (such as it is) into your apps.
2 1/2 hours in, I’m regretting that third cup of coffee.
Microsoft is also introducing Adaptive Cards, which lets developers write chatbot code once and deploy it across multiple devices.
Harry’s back and he promises that we’ll hear more tomorrow on AI and devices. All the new AI features demoed today are available today, he says. He announces one other feature that lets Azure train a developer’s neural network for them.
We’re getting another demo of Azure and AI being used by a hospital in China. Airdoc is a company that made a program allowing doctors to upload images and receive diagnoses for tricky problems like glaucoma.
Microsoft is using AI internally to “redefine Microsoft,” Harry says. Yina Arenas is going to demonstrate how Powerpoint is using AI.
Apparently Powerpoint now has a translation service from Microsoft Translator, which lets you present slide to speakers of another language by giving them a barcode to scan and get the translation on their devices, which is actually pretty cool.
The translations appear automatically below the slides as the speaker delivers the presentation. 60 languages are supported, and it works both ways: you can take audience questions in another language.
The demo gods betrayed Microsoft a little bit there, as Harry tried to add comments in Chinese, but it eventually worked. I know the mantra “space is hard,” but language translation is pretty damn hard too.
Yina Arenas, Microsoft principal program manager, demo’d the latest Microsoft Translator technologies with Shum.
A bit of news: Intel and HP have agreed to help Microsoft build devices around Cortana.
Now we’re talking about data. The combination of data across your personal lives and business lives can be harnessed to make your life easier, Harry says. Yina is back with another demo of the Microsoft Graph and Tact, which makes an AI-powered CRM assistant.
Tact used Bing Knowledge Graph to build its assistant, by allowing it to search your CRM application for details on a new customer, for example, This is also baked into LinkedIn.
The only remaining question: Will we cross the three-hour mark?
Also, need to point this out before we wrap up: I’m pretty sure this is the most women I’ve ever seen on stage at a technology developer conference, or a tech conference of any kind, really.
Harry’s back. “AI is going to disrupt every single business app.” That includes vertical industries, like retail, or business processes, like sales.
Harry’s going to wrap up his part of the keynote with a video on how AI can “amplify human ingenuity.”
That appears to be a wrap! We’re going to have a lot more coverage from Build over the next several days, including another live blog tomorrow, so make sure and check everything out. Thanks for hanging out with us this morning.
Now where is that ice bucket….