Microsoft kicks off its Build developer conference for 2017 in Seattle, and even though this isn’t a consumer or hardware event, the company announced a number of some exciting products and services.
If you couldn’t attend or you didn’t have time to watch the two-plus hours keynote, here you can check out the most exciting announcements.
Starting today, developers can integrate Cortana skills into their apps. This was originally announced back in December of last year, but Microsoft is just now making available a public preview of the Cortana Skills Kit.
This new SDK allows developers to build or integrate already created “skills” into their apps so that users can interact with their services using Cortana commands. The skills work on the Windows 10 Creators Update, Android, and iOS.
Microsoft also demonstrated how Cortana could work with numerous services, such as Microsoft Teams and LinkedIn in different scenarios, and across devices. For example, you could start your day talking to a speaker, and then move to your desktop or phone.
You can find out more at the Cortana’s got skills web page.
While it was previously announced, during the first day of the Build 2017 conference, Microsoft demoed Invoke, a voiced-activated speaker, similar to Amazon’s Echo featuring Cortana.
This new device uses the new Cortana Skills Kit and allows you to play your favorite music, manage calendars and activities, set reminders, check traffic, and deliver the latest news and much more. It also includes Skype integration, so you can make calls to cell phones, landlines and other Skype-enabled devices.
Microsoft has also announced that HP is yet another company building a speaker just like Invoke that works with Cortana commands. However, there are no further details other than the HP speaker powered by Cortana scheduled to arrive before the end of the year.
Microsoft is also working closely with Intel to create a reference platform for devices integrating Cortana, which will allow the assistant to work on a wider range of hardware.
Azure was one of the biggest talking points for Microsoft during the first day of the Build conference, and among a number of other announcements, the software giant introduced Azure IoT Edge.
Azure IoT Edge is a new service that delivers artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics functionalities to edge devices.
This new service offers easy orchestration between code and services, which allows them to flow securely between cloud and edge to distribute intelligence across IoT devices.
You can quickly integrate Azure and third-party services, or augment existing services to build a customized application with your business requirements.
Using Azure IoT Edge, you can get a mix of both worlds with devices that can act locally based on the data they generate, while also leveraging the cloud to securely (and at scale) configure, deploy, and manage devices.
You can find more information at Microsoft Azure for IoT Edge web page.
Microsoft even demoed how artificial intelligence could eventually make the workplace safer. Using the Azure stack, Microsoft Cognitive Services, Azure IoT Edge, and specialty cameras, the company on stage showed off how AI could prevent accidents in the workplace, and alter users before they happen.
There is a lot more that Microsoft announced on Azure, including Azure Cloud Shell, Azure Cosmos DB, and Storage Service Encryption for Azure Files. You can find all the details at the Microsoft Azure blog.
It’s not an app that you’ll be using to do development work, but it includes a number of features to check error reports and real-time analytics. In addition, you can even restart and provision virtual machines as needed.
Microsoft also announced Azure Cosmos DB, which is the first globally-distributed data service that allows on-demand scalability of throughput and storage across any regions guaranteeing low latency, consistency, and high availability.
In addition, the company introduced MySQL and PostgreSQL to extend Azure managed database services.
During the keynote, Microsoft showed off a new plugin for PowerPoint that allows to translate your slides in real-time.
The new plugin uses Microsoft’s Translation APIs to translate your presentation instantly into 10 languages in real time: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish.
After month in preview Microsoft has announced that Visual Studio is now fully ready for macOS users.
Using this new version of Visual Studio 2017 for Mac, you can develop apps for Android, macOS, iOS, tvOS, watchOS, web, and cloud with Xamarin and .NET Core. Code fast, debug, and diagnose with ease, test often, and release with confidence.
You can download the new version of Visual Studio for Mac at this Microsoft web page.
Alongside all the new announcements during the first day of Build 2017 in Seattle, Microsoft unveiled that more than 500 million devices are actively running Windows 10.
Originally, the software giant was planning to have more than 1 billion devices running Windows 10 by 2018. However, a few months after the release of the new OS, Microsoft noticed that the goal wasn’t going to be feasible.
While half of a billion devices is lower than expected, it’s still a significant milestone, since the company added more than 100 million new users after reaching 400 million back in September.
During the first day of the Microsoft Build 2017 developer conference, nothing about Windows 10 has been announced as the company is planning to talk about the future of its operating system on day two.
Originally published on May 10th, updated on May 11th.