Company releases new AI-driven collaboration and hybrid-cloud innovations across Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Azure
Monday at Microsoft Build 2019, Microsoft Corp.’s annual developer conference, the company showcased new technologies for developers of all kinds to create intelligent and productive solutions. Microsoft customers and partners, including Starbucks, J.P. Morgan, Kroger, Spatial, Epic Games and others, are showcasing new solutions that deliver more intelligent, customer-centric experiences.
Announcements include new collaboration and productivity services across apps and the web as well as AI capabilities in Microsoft 365 to further address the changing nature of work. In addition, Microsoft is delivering new open source technologies and developer tools in Azure and Windows. Microsoft’s trusted, extensible cloud platforms — spanning infrastructure, data, AI and mixed reality, productivity and collaboration, business applications, and gaming — bring together a global collective of developers and technology capabilities toward creating breakthrough new experiences for organizations and individuals. In his opening keynote, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella outlined the company vision and developer opportunity across Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform, Microsoft 365, and Microsoft Gaming.
“As computing becomes embedded in every aspect of our lives, the choices developers make will define the world we live in,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “Microsoft is committed to providing developers with trusted tools and platforms spanning every layer of the modern technology stack to build magical experiences that create new opportunity for everyone.”
Microsoft 365: the world’s productivity cloud
Microsoft 365 delivers integrated, secure productivity experiences for everyone — from the largest companies to small businesses and from knowledge workers to Firstline Workers. Foundational to Microsoft 365, Microsoft Graph is one of the most comprehensive graphs of organizational activity available. It securely maps the relationships between people, information and activities within the context of an organization to show connection points and insights to improve the ways people work, and work together.
The news includes:
- Microsoft is creating new opportunities for developers to build on Microsoft Graph, with the general availability of Microsoft Graph data connect. Microsoft Graph data connect is a service that helps organizations bring together productivity data from the Microsoft Graph with their own business data securely and at scale using Azure Data Factory. This balances customers’ demands for a new class of insight-powered applications — those driven by at-scale datasets — with IT administrators’ needs to consider the challenges inherent to moving and managing significant amounts of organizational data.
- Microsoft Graph data connect is now generally available as a feature in Workplace Analytics and as a standalone SKU for independent software vendors (ISVs).
- To give people and teams new ways to create together, the Fluid Framework was announced. This is a new web-based platform and componentized document model for shared interactive experiences. Fluid will break down the barriers of the traditional document as we know it and usher in the beginning of the free-flowing canvas. Fluid is expected to be available to developers later this calendar year through a software development kit. Also, later this year we expect to deliver the first Microsoft 365 experiences powered by Fluid. Its capabilities include:
- Enabling content, e.g., from the web or productivity apps, to be deconstructed and reconstructed into modular components so people can more easily create together.
- Delivering high-performance, multiperson, co-authoring experiences at speeds not yet achieved in the industry.
- Creating room for intelligent agents to work alongside humans to co-author, fetch content, provide photo suggestions, identify experts, translate data and more.
- New features were announced for the next version of Microsoft Edge that address some of the fundamental frustrations with browsers today, including:
- IE mode — addressing the more than 60% of businesses using multiple browsers today, IE mode integrates Internet Explorer directly into the new Microsoft Edge via a tab. This allows businesses to run legacy Internet Explorer-based apps in a modern browser.
- Privacy tools — additional privacy controls allowing customers to choose from three levels of privacy in Microsoft Edge: Unrestricted, Balanced and Strict. Depending on which option you pick, Microsoft Edge adjusts how third parties can track you across the web, giving customers more choice and transparency for a more personalized experience.
- Collections — addressing the information overload customers feel with the web today, Collections allows you to collect, organize, share and export content more efficiently and with Office integration.
- These features and more will begin to roll out over time as we get closer to the broader launch of the next version of Microsoft Edge.
- The company also announced its vision for the future of intelligent agents. This new approach is focused on building powerful conversational interfaces from data and machine learning instead of from rules, intent and code. We envision a world where every organization has an agent, just like today where every organization has a website. And, the experience is completely natural with multiturn dialog, spanning multiple domains and, importantly, working across multiple agents. With the addition of the Semantic Machines team we’re accelerating our work here. This technology is going to be integrated into our conversational experiences going forward, including Cortana, and made available to developers in the Microsoft Bot Framework and Azure Bot Service.
New open source technologies and developer tools to create intelligent apps from cloud to edge
Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) is one of the fastest-growing services in Azure used by global companies like ASOS to manage cloud app container infrastructure at scale, providing greater reliability and flexibility. At Build, Microsoft is delivering several new features and capabilities to power and safeguard Kubernetes workloads:
- Kubernetes Event–driven Autoscaling (KEDA) is an open source component that supports deployment of serverless event-driven containers on Kubernetes created in collaboration with Red Hat. Now in public preview, KEDA presents a new hosting option for Azure Functions that can be deployed as a container in Kubernetes clusters, bringing the Azure Functions programming model and scale controller to any Kubernetes implementation, both in the cloud or on-premises with OpenShift.
- Azure Policy for AKS applies at-scale enforcements and helps safeguard AKS clusters in a centralized, consistent manner. Azure Policy blocks any violations happening at runtime and performs compliance assessments on all existing clusters for up-to-date visibility across the environment.
Quantum is an exciting new frontier for developers. Microsoft designed Q# specifically for quantum programming, delivering an approachable, high-level programming language with a native-type system for qubits, operators and other abstractions. At Build, Microsoft is open sourcing Q# compilers and simulators to grow the community of Q# developers and unlock new opportunities for partners and startups to enhance their offerings for their own businesses.
Developers spend most of their day toggling between applications, services and tools. To help streamline, Microsoft has brought the world’s most-used enterprise identity system — Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) — to GitHub. This enables GitHub Enterprise customers to gain the benefits of Azure AD identity management and security, along with synchronization of accounts across systems. Developers can now also use their existing GitHub account, including Azure Portal and Azure DevOps, to sign in to Azure. This update enables GitHub developers to go from repository to deployment with just their GitHub account.
Supporting and managing the exponential growth in application data and building a foundation for AI capabilities is an essential element to developing any modern cloud application. The new Hyperscale (Citus) option in Azure Database for PostgreSQL joins Azure SQL Database Hyperscale to enable developers to build highly scalable, low-latency applications using their existing skills. Azure Database Hyperscale significantly scales out compute, storage and memory resources as needed, allowing developers to focus on building app experiences without worrying about performance and scale limitations. Azure is the only cloud that lets developers scale across multiple engines — both proprietary SQL databases and open source databases such as PostgreSQL.
Developing solutions to secure the election process
We believe technology can play a critical role in securing elections and that technology companies have a responsibility to support them. Today Microsoft is announcing two new solutions aimed at addressing the security of voting systems around the world:
- ElectionGuard is a free, open source software development kit, developed in partnership with Galois, that provides security and public verifiability for elections, as well as guidance and tools to build more accessible voting systems. Microsoft is asking developers around the world to build on and integrate ElectionGuard into existing and new voting systems. The ElectionGuard SDK will be available this summer on GitHub, and Microsoft has partnered with several leading election technology providers to pilot this service in preparation for future elections.
- Microsoft also announced Microsoft 365 for Campaigns. This new service, also available in June, will provide the high-end security capabilities of our Microsoft 365 Business offering to political parties and campaigns, initially those for federal office in the United States. It will do so in a streamlined way and at a low price, preconfigured to optimize for the unique operating environments campaigns face, including their fast pace and high-security-risk profile. Microsoft 365 for Campaigns builds on the AccountGuard threat-detection and nation-state attack notification service we announced in 2018 and simplifies security for political organizations by providing specialized wizards that campaigns can use to easily and efficiently harden their security posture from the ground up.
Deepening our investments in partners
Partners are critical to developing solutions that meet customers’ industry-specific needs, and Microsoft is committed to supporting them. Since introducing Microsoft’s first co-sell program that brings the global scale of Microsoft’s sales force to our partner community, nearly 3,000 ISVs running on Azure have generated over $5 billion in revenue in the past 12 months. The original program is designed to help enterprise customers in their digital transformation by introducing relevant solutions from Azure-based ISV partners. Today Microsoft is announcing two expansions to this program:
- Expanding co-sell to Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Power Platform to create deeper collaboration in selling line-of-business applications.
- Expanding sales incentives to Microsoft channel partners when they resell eligible ISV solutions through Microsoft’s cloud solution provider (CSP) program. For all ISVs, small and large, this effectively offers “channel as a service” to accelerate customer acquisition through one of the world’s largest distribution channels.
With the introduction of transactable seat-based SaaS capabilities for AppSource and Azure Marketplace, Microsoft will provide customers in over 141 countries with faster access to innovation from partners through Microsoft’s cloud marketplaces or through its worldwide reseller channel.
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