Microsoft Build 2017 – Day 1 – Chat bots and AI

First day of build is now over. One thing is for sure, it sure was a lot more focused than previous years.
If, Chat-bots, IoT, machine learning and cloud catches your eye, this might have been heaven for you. If, on the other hand, you are focused on client side development, you may feel a bit left out.

Keynote

The keynote was by far the best thing I managed to see today. It gave some insight into what microsoft feels that we should focus on. Some of my takeaways:

  • Be everywhere, mobile first is not enough any more
  • Minority report vibes from the prediction of accidents before they will happen
  • Focus on traditionally non IT-heavy workplaces such as construction. Time for a modernization wave?

Azure IoT edge

Move logic back to the client again!
Having everything in the cloud might be tricky or even impossible, using Azure IoT edge can be a viable option in this case.
Makes it possible for you to use the same services offline that you would online. Enabling you to use your machine learning model locally to make decisions and feed data to the cloud when possible for future updates.

Great for

  • No / limited internet cases (boats out at sea)
  • Low latency requirement (work place safety)

Azure improvements

  • Bash interface directly in the portal, no installation needed
  • App for Android/iOS (didn’t even mention WM), includes the cli
  • Snapshot debug of production. Allows you to place hintpoints where you want to get data from visual studio. No real breakpoints, as we’re working with prod ;)
  • MySQL / postgres with elastic scaling
  • Cosmos DB – sort of the next generation of document DB. Includes multiple possible APIs to query the data, including gremlin for graph queries
  • Azure stack – run a full azure cloud in your own server park. Offline/legal reasons
  • Cognitive services – keeps adding more and more of these. New services now are search and vision. Vision works similar to LUIS.
  • Bot framework has something called adaptive cards. A JSON description for building UI for all different clients

Other takeaways

Like I noted earlier in the post, the keynote was the main event today. But a few other takeaways:

Cortana skills

You can now extend Cortana similar to how you can build apps for Amazon echo with “skills”. Existing skills include dominos pizza and a drink mix helper. If you use bot framework, you now have a new possible client with Cortana.

Enabling intelligence at the edge with Azure IoT Edge

Supported by devices from single core with 128MB memory and up.

Think of it as a gateway for several sensors, not the sensor itself. Being able to aggregate the data before we send it along to the cloud.

Supported services: Machine learning, cognitive services, local storage, offline, cloud deployment, containers, functions, failovers/load balancing, stream analytics

You can have mock devices in the cloud so you can test everything before triggering a full deployment to your devices.

Unfortunately, in this session the demo ghost ate the demo, so you might want to skip quite a few minutes if you check it out on channel9 later.

Search

You get your own little search engine for your site. You can have it index any page, or you can set it to index pages based on a topic to get result on related sites.

My first thought was that it felt a bit like the old “Google search appliance” that I got to play with 7 something years ago but on the cloud. From a first glance, it looked promising. It depends a bit on how clever the learning algorithm is and what extensibility options we might have.

Cosmos DB

Wonder about the During public preview, there is no additional charge for using the Gremlin API. thing is about on the Cosmos DB pricing page? The simple answer is that the team isn’t sure how exactly to calculate how to translate the queries to request units yet.

No windows mobile

Apart from being used to scan the badges when entering a session, there was no mention of windows mobile.

Summary

That’s it for my brain dump of day one of Build 2017. There are some interesting things going on here, AI and chat bots are things we might want to think about when designing the applications of the future. One thing is for sure, a lot of people were interested in knowing what we might be able to do with these bot thingies. The session where the capabilities of bots was discussed ended up filled up 10 minutes before the session started and a line that looked like it could fill up another room.

All in all, it was a pretty good day. No sessions that were mind-blowing, but all I saw were somewhere between decent to good.

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