Build 2018 Review: Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge

Build 2018 review; intelligent cloud and intelligent edge 16th May 2018

There were some high-flying announcements (literally) during Build 2018 last week (7 – 9 May 2018). Here’s a quick review of the highlights if you were unable to get to Seattle.

DJI, the world’s biggest drone company, is partnering with Microsoft to develop an SDK for Windows 10. It gives full flight control over DJI’s drones as well as real-time data transfer. Agriculture, construction and public safety were mentioned as areas where Windows-controlled drones could be useful.

new technologies to help every developer be an AI developer, on Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and across any platform

New version of Visual Studio 2017

There were, however, also more grounded news which is more likely to affect the majority of Windows-developers. The new version of Visual Studio 2017 (version 15.7) was released after it had been in preview for a while. For debugging, IntelliTrace’s new step-back debugging which was first shipped in Visual Studio 2017 version 15.5, is now available for .NET Core applications.

Another interesting announcement was that Visual Studio’s Intellisense would be augmented with IntelliCode further down the line. IntelliCode, which Microsoft describes as “AI-assisted development capabilities”, will suggest code completion based on the code’s context. This should mean that you don’t have to scroll forever to get to the function, keyword or variable you need [1].

There was a slew of announcements relating to cloud development. Among those is that developers now can publish .NET applications directly to Kubernetes containers.

Microsoft’s Director of Program Management for Visual Studio, John Montgomery, goes into the detail on his blog as well as having a peek at the upcoming Visual Studio 2017 15.8 [2].

Mobile and AI

For mobile developers, it will also be interesting that Xamarin Forms 3.0 was released together with the new version of Visual Studio 2017. Xamarin makes it possible to write native Android, iOS and Windows apps in C#. Xamarin was founded by the developers behind Mono, which is a cross-platform implementation of .Net. Microsoft bought Xamarin in 2016.

According to Xamarin, the new Forms will improve the building of mobile user interface with a new Visual State Manager and other improvements. What is also a significant improvement is that the XAML-compilation has been optimised so build times are reduced by as much as 88% in some benchmarks, according to Xamarin [3]. So now you only have time for one cup of coffee during build time 🙂

The A-word – A must for All Tech-conferences

Yes, the A-word was mentioned quite frequently at Build. These days, you can’t have a technology-conference without AI. It took centre stage together with cloud announcements when Satya Nadella opened the conference with his keynote speech.

The era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge is upon us, Nadella said, and he showcased “new technologies to help every developer be an AI developer, on Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and across any platform” as Microsoft put it.
You probably already know about Microsofts many AI-initiatives for the cloud, but what is this about the intelligent edge?

Well, the smart devices are getting more powerful, so according to Microsoft “These devices are so smart, in fact, they are powering advanced ways to see, listen, reason and predict, without constant connectivity to the cloud.” Central to the intelligent edge is Azure IoT Edge which “delivers cloud intelligence locally by deploying and running artificial intelligence (AI), Azure services, and custom logic directly on cross-platform IoT devices.” [4]

As part of fulfilling this vision, Microsoft is partnering with Qualcomm to construct an AI Developer kit to develop camera-based IoT solutions [5].

Cortana and Alexa engaged

Speaking of IoT; there was another exciting announcement in this field. If you’re not too excited about the Royal Wedding on Saturday, maybe this will thrill you.

Microsoft’s Cortana is getting engaged with Amazon’s Alexa.

Meaning, you will be able to speak with Cortana through an Amazon Echo or reach Alexa through your Windows 10 PC.
(The engagement could be seen as a signal of the tech-sector becoming more inclusive as Cortana is named after the synthetic intelligence character in Microsoft’s Halo video game, which used the actress Jen Taylor for the voice-over. So, the engagement could be seen as a celebration of diversity, LGBTQ-rights and so on – but maybe I am taking this interpretation too far).

On stage at the convention centre, representatives from Microsoft and Amazon showed how to integrate Amazon’s Echo and a Surface. The feature is in a limited beta, so it’s not available for everyone, but you can signup for more information [6].

P.S. Saw this interesting article when writing this piece. Researchers have found a way to activate voice-recognition systems by using frequencies inaudible to the human ear. “They could control voice-activated devices with commands embedded in songs that can be broadcast over the radio or played on services like YouTube”. Interesting …[7]


[1] Introducing Visual Studio IntelliCode
[2] Visual Studio 2017 version 15.7 and version 15.8 Preview 1

[3] Try the Latest Release of Xamarin.Forms 3.0!
[4] Azure IoT Edge
[5] Microsoft Build highlights new opportunity for developers, at the edge and in the cloud
[6] Cortana & Alexa
[7] Alexa and Siri Can Hear This Hidden Command. You Can’t.

Dan Mygind

Author: Dan Mygind

Dan is a Journalist and Computer Scientist with a strong interest in technology, technology-related businesses, and the transforming effect source code can have on society.
He has worked for startups, SMEs and global IT-organisations such as IBM as a developer, consultant, and IT-architect. With a solid technology background, he has written extensively for a wide variety of publications such as Computerworld as well as writing technical white papers for Microsoft and other companies.
He is also a published author, ‘World Storytellers

Contact Dan Mygind: mygind{at}writeit{dot}dk

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the view and opinion of Curo Talent.