On the first day of the Microsoft Build conference there were no new computers, smartphones, or operating systems, but there were ideas, paths, and tools. The future is being drawn.
A Microsoft conference for programmers began this Wednesday in Seattle, USA. The Microsoft Build (#MSBuild) is the event where we present the projects and the company’s future trends. They are not just ideas, they are already concrete tools, with which programmers and companies can begin to develop products. The power of the giants like Microsoft comes here, by pointing a direction.
In the great presentation of this first day (keynote), Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has announced the discussion topics that will be developed in the numerous parallel sessions that will take place over the next three days. The head of Microsoft follows in line with the technology market, pointing out the three vectors of the future: Cloud, Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence.
With more and more networked devices – and the billions of little gadgets that connect to what is called the Internet of Things – you need to find answers to effectively put all of the technology around us to work. It is based on this requirement that Satya Nadella underlined the three values and principles that govern Microsoft’s technological development: empowering people (building but also controlling); Make the interface inclusive (uncomplicated); Build trust in technology.
In a keynote to the business world, the head of Microsoft said that more than 90% of the 500 companies on the Fortune list use Microsoft Cloud services. It’s a number worth what it’s worth, but no one has any doubts that puts Microsoft in the mood to outline the way.
The great leap of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is coming soon, but for it to take place, it takes versatility and the ability to process information. This is where the Cloud comes in, where an increasing number of data is stored. Some demonstrations of these processes were presented here (in a rather technical and not always interesting language, by the way), but the idea was that teaching machines to “think” is getting easier. This is probably the way, the ability of giants like Microsoft to build tools capable of enabling (and conditioning, too) technological innovation.
On the first day of this conference aimed mainly at programmers, the focus pointed to companies of all sizes. In fact, scalability (the ability of software to adapt to the growth of a company) was a word often used. As a business grows it accumulates more data, which needs to be processed and that can increase in complexity. That’s why Microsoft is investing in faster, smarter storage services such as Azure IoT Edge, which offers fast, low-latency, and low-latency (less than 10 milliseconds) AI integration.
The subject is complex but was well exemplified. For example, by how AI can increase safety at work, through a problem identification system at a factory or building site, or even in a hospital, in monitoring patients. The cameras and sensors record information (27 million times per second), it goes to the “cloud” and Artificial Intelligence does the rest: sending alerts, connecting people, speeding up information.
Other examples include productivity in day-to-day things, from organizing the agenda to communicating with co-workers – Microsoft Teams – when driving a car. All this, of course, on the spot and without ever taking your hands off the wheel. Cortana, Microsoft’s personal assistant, performed very well during the demonstrations. You are faster and understand the context better.
Microsoft has launched the developer challenge to use Cloud computing power. That was the motto for the presentation of SQL Server 2017 and Azure Cosmos DB, a system that automatically replicates the data to the various Microsoft servers around the world, according to the traffic flow of each company. The great practical advantage is to adapt the response of a site or service to increasingly global requirements.
Other news: the Azure app can now be downloaded on Android and iOS, Visual Studio is already available for macOS and PowerPoint will use the AI to do real-time translation. A whole morning that had behind it a technological principle with which we will have to learn to live. Microsoft calls it Cognitive Services, which translates into the ability to turn technology into something more “human.”
In this chapter there was still room for one of those moments to pull into the emotion, but pertinent. Satya Nadella said that technology brings two things: opportunity and responsibility. To illustrate it gave the example of Emma, a device that is used on the wrist that allows patients with Parkinson’s to be able to write or draw.
Increased computing power, more powerful algorithms and a growing number of data. The ecosystems of the giants are moving towards solving this equation. It remains to be seen how all this “intelligence” will be able to cross. Because being “smart” has to be more than being able to use an app on an iPhone and Android, or on a Mac and Windows. In order for the technology to be truly “intelligent” it will have to be able to communicate interplatform (i.e. between technological ecosystems).
But no one talked about whether or when this is going to happen.