What can developers build? And what does the world want them to build? These questions are central to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who wants his company to stand shoulder to shoulder with the programmers who code for tomorrow’s world. What does it mean concretely?
Satya Nadella shows a 47-year-old cover of Newsweek. Microsoft’s CEO points to the illustration of the three-headed dragon that adorns the cover of the magazine. Inflation stands on the first neck. recession and energy crisis on the other two. The context in which Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft 47 years ago is not much different from what we see today.
“Just like then, there are challenges and opportunities today,” Nadella says. At his Keynote for the Build 2022 digital conference, his mission is to demonstrate that Microsoft is doing everything it can to help developers seize the opportunities.
Under Build, Microsoft traditionally pulls everything to show that the company is the preferred partner for developers across the country. This edition is good for more than 50 messages spread across different domains. The world has about 32 million developers responsible for 8 billion people. Microsoft wants their work to run as smoothly as possible, and at the same time as much as possible citizen developers provide the tools to take unnecessary work out of the hands of programmers. Ten trends are central this year.
1. Too much for the flow
“You need to get from idea to code to the cloud to the world as quickly as possible,” Nadella says. “For us, the approach starts at GitHub, where developers of individual projects and Fortune 500 applications are at home.”
Last year, Microsoft already introduced the online development environment Code Spaces. The company builds on this edition with the introduction of Dev Box: a flexible VDI environment configured for individual projects. It should eliminate the friction at physical workstations.
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“What if you have an AI partner to help you code,” Nadella continues. “Last year, GitHub Copilot went into preview. Today, 35 percent of the code in Java and Python is already generated by Copilot. A third of users return frequently.” This summer, the solution, which proposes code so that developers do not have to write it themselves, will be widely available, and Copilot will be free for students and open source developers.
2. Cloud everywhere
“Azure is the world’s computer,” Nadella repeats. This is not the first time we have heard this marketing phrase. Based on size, AWS is basically the world’s computer, but we understand where the CEO is going. Azure is ubiquitous today with more than 60 data centers and 190 PoPs. “With Azure Orbital, we’re even in space.”
Above all, Nadella would like to emphasize that Azure Cloud with its wide presence is a great place for developers to build on. Not many changes on Build.
3. Apps everywhere
With Windows 11, Microsoft launched a new Windows Store. After that, the company forgot for a while that it had a digital app store, but suddenly the focus is completely back. “All apps belong in the store, no matter what framework they are built on,” Nadella says. “We announced last year, and now the time has come: win32 apps are finally getting a place in the Windows Store.
Nadella wants to convince developers and organizations even more with financial rewards. For example, the Store gets a new advertising framework, and companies that use their own trading engine in their app can track their entire revenue. The store is on millions of computers worldwide. It should be understood that development for Windows is similar to development for the world.
4. Cloud native
“Everything in app development today starts with a microservice,” says Nadella. “Container scaling has become the standard.” Azure gets the necessary love again. Azure Container Apps allow you to build containerized applications without the need for knowledge of Kubernetes or the underlying infrastructure. Convenient and generally available right away. Azure Kubernetes Service also gets some updates.
We must not lose sight of security and the cloud, so Nadella points out that Azure Cloud is today the most modern form of confidential data processing supports. In addition, data remains encrypted during processing thanks to smart functionality in AMD and Intel CPUs and Nvidia GPUs.
5. Data everywhere
“Each app will be intelligent and will adapt in real time,” Nadella predicts. “Analysis is becoming an essential part of any application.”
Of course, this is easier said than done, as management, analytics and databases are often still separate. Microsoft’s CEO therefore announces Intelligent Data Platform. This in itself is nothing new, but it combines all data-related Microsoft solutions into one architectural platform. The uniformity should facilitate the integration of data and analyzes.
6. AI models as platforms
Tomorrow’s applications will not only get an Analytics injection, they will also become more intelligent. Microsoft is working with Open AI to train several very powerful models, but training alone is not enough. “Models need to be used and integrated into apps,” Nadella realizes. To this end, Microsoft is approaching the trained models as platforms on which developers can build.
Azure Cognitive Services is a great example. This solution is extended through the possibilities of the language models, which enables summaries of texts (in English). In a short demo, Nadella shows another project where 3D designers can manipulate their scenes in Maya 3D via natural text.
7. Hybrid AI
AI applications should be able to run anywhere, Nadella says. Logically, since Microsoft is everywhere. Hybrid Loop is a new approach where developers do not have to pre-select where inference is running for an application. This is possible in the cloud, for example, but just as well at an endpoint if it has the right hardware.
For this purpose, Windows is being expanded. The OS will soon run on traditional CPUs and GPUs as well as NPU systems, with Azure as an optional coprocessor. Project Volterra is an ARM-based developer kit that will soon allow programmers to build Windows apps with NPU support.
8. Low code / no code
No Microsoft developer event without low code and no code. “81 percent of the organizations we surveyed say that low code increased collaboration,” Nadella says. The idea remains the same: There is too much work and too few developers, so there are two solutions. The first: The more business users can do themselves, the more time developers can spend on more complex issues. The second solution brings low code and no code to developers themselves. They also gain time if they do not have to work out simple code every time.
81 percent of the organizations we surveyed indicated that low code increased collaboration.
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft
At Build 2022, it will take the form of two major announcements: Express Design and Power Pages, both part of the Power Platform. Express Design converts sketches into functional AI and Power Pages takes care of website design. Nadella: “With Power Pages, anyone can build modern, secure and responsive business websites.”
9. Collaboration applications
We must not forget Teams. “The work of the future depends on a new class of collaboration applications,” says Nadella. He briefly points to Microsoft Graph before discussing Live Share in Microsoft Teams. Live Share allows you to develop applications that run in the shared meeting window of Teams and are interactive.
last and in this case certainly also Least: the metaverse also gets a little love. We have long been happy that the hype train has lost some momentum and that Zuckerberg’s fever dream is not a central pillar of Build 2022. Microsoft has always taken a more thoughtful approach to AR and VR, and fortunately that has not changed.
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At the heart of the matter is the Mesh platform in Azure, which Microsoft already announced last year. This enables 3D functionality across platforms. Nadella dreams of a future where people from different places attend a meeting and really feel like they are together. “The walls between digital and physical locations are falling away,” he says. Microsoft is doing its part with the further expansion of Mesh.
Build 2022 is an ambitious conference according to Nadella’s keynote. There is no focus and at the same time focus is everywhere. However, some important points are clear. For example, Nadella makes it clear that Microsoft today is not equal in scope. From endpoint to cloud and everything in between: The developer who wants his application to have a great reach will find a partner with a reach in Microsoft.
At the same time, Microsoft really wants to present itself as the developer’s friend. Many innovations aim to make application development more streamlined and simpler: less friction, more results. At Build 2022, developers are Batman in today’s society, and Microsoft is Alfred and Lucius. Nadella again challenges the participants: “What can you build? And what does the world want you to build? ” He assumes that the answer will at least have something to do with Microsoft.