Microsoft Build: All the News You Need To Know

Microsoft Build: All the News You Need To Know

Microsoft’s annual Build developer conference kicked off in Seattle today, at which it released an avalanche of news.

In his keynote this morning, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced a new AI for Accessibility program, more advanced Windows Mixed Reality capabilities, and new Azure services and partnerships around AI, drones, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

That’s only a fraction of the news. Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott, AI and cloud head Scott Guthrie, and Windows chief Joe Belfiore also detailed product announcements covering everything from blockchain and developer tools to Microsoft 365, the company’s various office and productivity apps, and Windows 10 features extending to mobile apps.

Read on for a breakdown of the biggest news out of Build.

2. AI for Accessibility

AI for Accessibility

Building on its previous AI for Earth(Opens in a new window) initiative, Microsoft is applying its rapidly evolving artificial intelligence tech to another altruistic cause: helping those with disabilities. Nadella annouced AI for Accessibility, a new $25 million five-year program comprised of grants and tech investments to use AI to enhance the lives of people with disabilities. Details are scant, but Nadella said the program will incorporate AI for Accessibility innovations into Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure.

7. More Intelligent Cloud Services

More Intelligent Cloud Services

Microsoft is doing a ton on the intelligence front, and at Build, Nadella, Scott, and Guthrie revealed a slew of new projects, services, and updates. The company announced a new Speech Devices SDK that lets developers build more advanced audio-processing apps for scenarios like drive-through ordering, in-car systems, smart speakers, and digital assistants. The SDK not only has more accurate speech recognition, but also sports features like noise cancellation and far-field voice pickup.

There’s also an Azure preview of Project Brainwave(Opens in a new window), a Microsoft Research project for deep neural network processing that Microsoft is also developing for its Azure Stack and Azure Data Box products. The AI list goes on. Microsoft also announced a new unified Speech platform in Azure Cognitive Services with improved speech recognition and text-to-speech. There’s an updated Microsoft Bot Framework(Opens in a new window) too, with richer dialogs and voice customization, and a new preview of Azure Search integrated with Cognitive Services for quicker AI-enhanced search. Finally there’s a new platform called Windows Machine Learning, designed to let developers build and train machine learning models more easily in the cloud and then deploy them offline on a PC.

10. Apps and Adaptive Cards

Apps and Adaptive Cards

Microsoft is releasing a new app called Your Phone, which connects a user’s smartphone to a window in their PC for syncing messages, photos, and notifications across devices. Your Phone will start rolling out to the Windows Insider Program this week, and there’s also a new Microsoft Launcher app for Android.

Microsoft 365 is also getting a new user interface element called Adaptive Cards. These cards, which work with Outlook and Teams, let users access rich interactive content directly in messages. Belfiore explained that if a user sees something like an expense report come in, they can approve it directly in Outlook through an Adaptive Card.

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