Microsoft Build 2018: The 3 key takeaways for business leaders

At its annual conference, Microsoft focused heavily on the enterprise and next-gen tech.

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If you\’re an IT pro at a Microsoft shop, a Windows insider, or even just a fan, chances are you\’re following Microsoft\’s annual developer conference, Build, happening over the next few days in Seattle.

While Build is focused on developers, some of the products and services that emerge from the conference may have a major impact on businesses that use Microsoft products both on-premises and in the cloud. Spanning Azure and Microsoft 365, the announcements made at Build 2018 seem to point to key themes that will impact the enterprise.

Here are the three key takeaways for IT leaders and business professionals from Microsoft Build 2018:

SEE: IT leader\’s guide to edge computing (Tech Pro Research)

1. AI is everywhere

While Google is known as one of the top tech firms when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, Microsoft\’s announcements at Build prove that the Redmond giant is coming for that crown. In a press announcement, the firm boldly declared its mission to \”help every developer be an AI developer.\”

This is all wrapped up under what CEO Satya Nadella called the \”era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge.\” As part of this theme, Microsoft announced a new architecture for neural networks, new AI SDKs, new cognitive services, and even AI-powered software development.

The firm also unveiled Windows Machine Learning, which it described in a press release as \”a new platform that enables developers to easily develop machine learning models in the intelligent cloud and then deploy them offline and in high performance to the PC platform.\”

2. Moving to the edge and beyond

To get past its image as a desktop and server-focused legacy provider, Microsoft has been expanding its developer offerings far outside of the office. Building on its efforts in AI, Microsoft launched a host of new edge computing capabilities and Internet of Things (IoT) products for forward-thinking developers.

At Build, Microsoft open sourced the Azure IoT Edge Runtime for easier debugging, enabled its Custom Vision cognitive service to run on the Azure IoT platform, and even worked with DJI to build a drone SDK for Windows 10 PCs, as noted in a press release.

The move out of the legacy mindset also extended elsewhere. Microsoft is integrating Visual Studio App Center with GitHub for iOS and Android developers to have better DevOps process automation, the firm announced in a press release. Beyond mobile, Microsoft is embracing blockchain with the Microsoft Azure Blockchain Workbench, which streamlines the process for building blockchain applications.

3. Microsoft 365 is here to stay

Microsoft 365, the company\’s enterprise bundle offering of Office 365, Windows 10, and enterprise mobility and security, was also a focus of Build, as noted in a press release, and Microsoft is looking to developers to bolster it.

\”Microsoft 365 is where the world gets its best work done,\” Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft, said in the release. \”With 135 million commercial monthly active users of Office 365 and nearly 700 million Windows 10 connected devices, Microsoft 365 helps developers reach people how and where they work.\”

To improve on the Microsoft 365 offering, Nadella and company unveiled new support for Power BI Visualizations in Excel, Microsoft Teams APIs in the Microsoft Graph, Fluent Design System updates, .NET Core 3.0, and Azure Machine Learning and JavaScript custom functions for Excel.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • AI, IoT, and edge computing were major themes at Microsoft Build 2018, with the company releasing a host of related products and features.
  • Microsoft continues to court the enterprise, putting a heavy focus on Microsoft 365 at Build 2018.

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