So I do have to say I have floated away from Microsoft over the years. Last week was Microsoft’s //build/ conference. What I saw watching their keynotes and some of their sessions is a very different Microsoft. I figured I would highlight my thoughts.
Microsoft has seriously started to make the leap from a OS based company to cloud first. Almost every demo they showed was ran on multiple platforms instead of only Windows. It was very clear that Microsoft’s development goal is to get developers on their cloud platform Azure.
Azure has came a long way since it’s early days and now has many different options for every developer. They have worked extensively on cross-platform support as well. I believe Microsoft has came to the realization that they are not the only device in user hands and their only way to compete is to join them with their cloud services and productivity apps.
One of the announcements at //build/ was the launch of cognitive services. The cognitive services range from vision APIs that determine objects, faces, emotions, and even video content. Another group of APIs is around speech. These services range from custom recognition, speaker recognition, and speech in general. The third group of APIs covers Language, while the final ones cover Knowledge, and search.
With all of these services it is just a matter of time till independent and large companies create completely new ways for users to interact with their applications. I even see applications learning and knowing when to interact on their own with the users.
Conversation as a Service
A lot of the content during the keynotes seemed to be around their bot platform and creating conversations as a service. One example they showed was ordering a pizza through messages. The technology behind this called Microsoft Bot Framework. The framework allows you to create intelligent bots that interact with users through txt/sms, Skype, Slack, you name it. It appears that it does not take much to create your own and even improve them once they are live.
Microsoft finished their acquisition of Xamarin a week or so ago and they have decided to give it away with Visual Studio as well as a Mac version for free. This is a huge move. These tools typically cost $1500 per platform. This change may sway more developers to the Xamarin now Microsoft mobile platform. This seems to be a clear way to potentially bring a lot more developers into developing their mobile applications on C#.
Bash on Windows
One of the weirdest items that came out last week was the fact that Windows 10 would have bash. The way this is being incorporated is an embedded Ubuntu into Windows. The way this is working is that it is running as a subsystem on Windows. You even will be able to use apt-get to install packages. The goal here is to make Windows more friendly to other open source framework developers.
This one has me intrigued. I may actually want to take this for a spin.
Of course Microsoft continued to show off their HoloLens platform. This has promise but until the price is right and apps are in market for it we won’t know how well the platform will be adopted. It definitely has promise and not just for gaming.
I have to say I like the new Microsoft. I feel they are making some major advancements in their development platform as well as their cloud offering that make me want to potentially jump ship from my Mac. This will probably come as a shock to a lot of folks as I’ve been pretty happy on my Mac platforms for the last few years. I’m not saying I would abandon my other toys (iPads, iPhones, etc). It just means I feel their platform is becoming more and more developer friendly and not just for Microsoft development tools.