At Build 2017 in Seattle, Microsoft shared its vision to make the power of artificial intelligence (AI) available to everyone, “from developers and data scientists to tech enthusiasts and students.”
As part of that vision, “we are committed to providing developers with a comprehensive platform of tools and services, anchored in principles of trust that put people in control,” Shum says.
At Build, the company demonstrated how multiple Microsoft products and services, including Dynamics 365, Office 365, Microsoft Teams, Cortana Skills, Microsoft Graph and Sentiment Analysis, will be integrated into Tact’s conversational AI-powered virtual sales assistant later this year.
Among the announcements, there are now 29 Microsoft Cognitive Services available, “giving developers a wealth of options for incorporating off-the-shelf and custom AI capabilities with just a few lines of code,” Shum says.
With Microsoft Cognitive Services, developers can build apps that recognize gestures, translate text in multiple languages, deconstruct video for quicker search, editing and real-time captioning, and even customize data to recognize images in categories most important to customers.
In addition, Cognitive Services Labs, which allow developers to take part in the research community’s quest to better understand the future of AI is launched. too.
One of the first AI services available via Cognitive Services Labs is a gesture API that creates more intuitive and natural experiences by allowing users to control and interact through gestures.
This next big wave of innovation include:
- Custom Vision Service, in free public preview, is an easy-to-use, customizable web service that learns to recognize specific content in imagery, powered by state-of-the-art machine learning neural networks that become smarter with training. You can train it to recognize whatever you choose, whether that be animals, objects, or abstract symbols. This technology could easily apply to retail environments for machine-assisted product identification, or in digital space to automatically help sorting categories of pictures.
- Video Indexer, in free public preview is the most comprehensive video AI services. It helps you unlock insights from any video by indexing and enabling you to search spoken audio that is transcribed and translated, sentiment, faces that appeared and objects. With these insights, you can improve discoverability of videos in your applications or increase user engagement by embedding this capability in sites. All of these capabilities are available through a simple set of APIs, ready to use widgets and a management portal.
- Custom Decision Service, in free public preview, is a service that helps you create intelligent systems with a cloud-based contextual decision-making API that adapts with experience. Custom Decision service uses reinforcement learning in a new approach for personalizing content; it’s able to plug into your application and helps to make decisions in real time as it automatically adapts to optimize your metrics over time.
- Bing Custom Search, available today in free public preview, lets you create a highly-customized web search experience, which delivers better and more relevant results from your targeted web space. Featuring a straightforward User Interface, Bing Custom Search enables you to create your own web search service without a line of code. Specify the slices of the web that you want to draw from and explore site suggestions to intelligently expand the scope of your search domain. Bing Custom Search can empower businesses of any size, hobbyists and entrepreneurs to design and deploy web search applications for any possible scenario.
- Microsoft’s Cognitive Services Labs allow any developer to experiment with new services still in the early stages of development. Among them, Project Prague is one of the services currently in private preview. This SDK is built from an intensive library of hand poses that creates more intuitive experiences by allowing users to control and interact with technologies through typical hand movements. Using a special camera to record the gestures, the API then recognizes the formation of the hand and allows the developer to tie in-app actions to each gesture.
- Next version of Bing APIs, available in public preview, allowing developers to bring the vast knowledge of the web to their users and benefit from improved performance, new sorting and filtering options, robust documentation, and easy Quick Start guides. This release includes the full suite of Bing Search APIs (Bing Web Search API Preview, Bing News Search API Preview, Bing Video Search API Preview, and Bing Image Search API Preview), Bing Autosuggest API Preview, and Bing Spell Check API Preview. Please find more information in the announcement blog.
- Presentation Translator, a Microsoft Garage project provides presenters the ability to add subtitles to their presentations, in the same language for accessibility scenarios or in another language for multi-language situations. Audience members get subtitles in their desired language on their own device through the Microsoft Translator app, in a browser and (optionally) translate the slides while preserving their formatting. Click here to be notified when it’s available.
- Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS) improvements – helps developers integrate language models that understand users quickly and easily, using either prebuilt or customized models. Updates to LUIS include increased intents and entities, introduction of new powerful developer tools for productivity, additional ways for the community to use and contribute, improved speech recognition with Microsoft Bot Framework, and more global availability.
Microsoft Bot Framework, since its release last year, has more than 130,000 developers registered to build. At Build, the company showed new “Adaptive Cards,” which let developers create cards that work across multiple apps and platforms.
Developers also can now publish to new channels including Skype for Business, Bing and Cortana, and implement Microsoft’s payment request API for fast and easy checkout with their bots.
For developers, who want own deep neural networks, Microsoft launched a private preview of a new “Azure Batch AI Training,” that can be use to train models using any framework including Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit, TensorFlow and Caffe.
Microsoft is infusing AI into every product and service from Xbox to Windows, from Bing to Office—today, a new “Presentation Translator” that uses Translation APIs for real-time translation in multiple languages during any PowerPoint presentation is announced as well.
“Presentation Translator embeds live transcriptions of the presenter into a specific language and even generates a unique link that attendees can use to get translations in their own language in real time.”
Microsoft notes, that more than 145 million people are using Cortana, the personal intelligent assistant in many different countries.
In addition to Harman Kardon’s Invoke intelligent speaker with Cortana, partnerships also were signed with HP on devices and Intel on reference platforms to deliver Cortana-enabled devices.
“Edge computing,” discussed Wednesday at the developer conference, brings compute to the edge of a network, closer to where the data is being generated. Towards this, Microsoft annnounced the new Azure IoT Edge, a cross platform, running on both Windows and Linux, and on IoT edge devices even smaller than a Raspberry Pi with as little as 128MB of memory—that make it easy to securely distribute cloud intelligence locally.
Azure IoT Edge is the evolution of the Azure IoT Gateway SDK. Microsoft and third-party services can be enabled on edge devices for immediate data processing and action, while you tap into the power of the cloud to centrally configure, deploy and manage IoT devices and the services – securely and at scale.
Azure IoT Edge is the new name for open-source and cross-platform support for building custom logic at the edge, and the newly announced features will be available later this year.
Microsoft also is making it easier for developers to use the Microsoft Bot Framework, and offered developers more details about the Microsoft Graph, which allows customers to use unique data from their organizations to drive AI transformation.
See the intelligent cloud announcements below:
A new starter “kit certification for Azure Certified for IoT” program announced at Build, enable hardware manufacturers to certify their IoT kits for Azure.
The family of third-party kits, known as Microsoft Azure IoT Starter Kits, “provide users with everything they need to get started with Azure IoT in minutes, and move quickly from idea to prototype to production.”
Each kit consists of development boards, sensors, actuators, and is bundled with user-friendly online tutorials that help users seamlessly connect to Azure IoT.
Microsoft launches Developing IoT Solutions with Azure IoT training, which is designed to help learn how to connect and manage devices, analyze data, and extract insights using a flexible IoT platform.
“The structured curriculum of this training will help you become familiar with Azure IoT and enable you to start a proof of concept within no time,” writes the team.
In the course you will learn how to:
- Connect, monitor and manage IoT devices at scale with Azure IoT Hub
- Do hot path data analysis with Azure Stream Analytics
- Store complex data from devices with DocumentDB
- Visualize insights to transform your business with Power BI
Check out more over HERE.
Automatic Device Provisioning, enables zero-touch provisioning to an IoT hub without requiring human intervention. This functionality is currently being previewed by a group of early adopters.
Device twins change notifications allow back end applications to be notified in real-time of twin changes and react as business logic requires. It’s available beginning today in both new and existing IoT hubs in the West US 2 region.
The updated functionality will be rolling out to all geographies throughout the month of May.
Device lifecycle notifications allow back end applications to be notified in real-time of device identities being created or deleted in your IoT hub. This adds flexibility when designing your device provisioning and deprovisioning logic, especially when it involves multiple back-end systems in addition to IoT Hub. Just as with device twin change notifications, device lifecycle notifications are accessed by creating a routing rule from the “Device Lifecycle Events” source.
Device lifecycle notifications are also available beginning today in a new and existing IoT hubs in the West US 2 region. The updated functionality will be rolling out to all geographies throughout the month of May.
Device twin import/export allows developers and operators to bulk manage IoT devices, for example, to build a highly available solution or for disaster recovery. Beginning today, bulk import/export capability is available for device twins for all existing and new IoT hubs across all regions. Please refer to the bulk management tutorial for more information on this enhancement.
Device twins and direct methods support for Java SDK – Beginning this spring we have updates to the Java SDK to support device twins and direct methods. In addition, we have updated the direct methods tutorial to now include Java.
With this release, Azure IoT Hub now has device twins and direct methods support for all the major SDKs: C, Node.js, C#, Python, and now Java.
Device management for the STMicroelectronics STM32 Nucleo – STMicroelectronics has collaborated with Azure IoT to bring an out-of-box implementation of device management to the STM32 Nucleo Pack for IoT Node platform.
This includes ready to use binaries that connect a STM32 board to a web dashboard experience hosted in Azure and uses Azure IoT Hub for device control including firmware update.
Device management in Windows IoT Core – This open source library allows developers to easily add Azure IoT Hub device management capabilities to any Windows IoT Core device. This includes support for device restart, certificate and application management, as well as many other important capabilities. Full information and source code for the library can be found on the Windows IoT Core GitHub site.
Azure Data Lake Tools for Visual Studio Code (VSCode) general availability, gives developers a light but powerful code editor for developing big data queries.
With ability to run on Windows, Linux, or MacOS, “ADL Tools for VSCode supports integrated authoring of U-SQL and C# to develop scripts that can process any type and size of data.”
The tools also make it easy to extend U-SQL with custom code using local code-behind files or shared assemblies. Code can be directly submitted for execution on Azure Data Lake Analytics (ADLA) service, or run and validated locally.
The tooling is also integrated with the Azure Data Lake Storage (ADLS) service allowing developers to browse, preview, and upload files into ADLS.
Azure Mobile App public preview comes in —”stay connected to your Azure resources – anytime, anywhere.” The app help you:
- Check status and critical metrics of your Azure resources
- Get notifications and alerts about important health issues
- Perform simple operations to resolve common issues
- Run powerful Azure Cloud Shell scripts in the app (coming soon)
Snapshot Debugger preview for Azure, takes a snapshot of in-production Azure app when an exception occurs or at other points of interest. It lets you see exactly what went wrong, without impacting traffic of your production application.,
This is a completely new feature of Application Insights and Visual Studio, and “will help you, as a web developer on Azure, to dramatically reduce the mean time to resolution of issues found in production environments.,” says the team.
The public preview of a cloud service called “Video Indexer” as part of Microsoft Cognitive Services, enables customers with digital video and audio content to automatically extract metadata and use it to build intelligent innovative applications.
Video Indexer is built using Azure Media Services, Microsoft Cognitive Services, Azure Search, Azure Storage and Azure Document DB.
It brings the best of Microsoft AI technologies for video, in the form of a scalable cloud service for customers.
REST APIs includes the following functionalities:
- Content upload – You can upload videos by providing a URL. Video Indexer starts processing videos as soon as they are uploaded. Multiple AI technologies are used to extract insights across multiple dimensions (spoken words, faces, visual text, objects, etc.)
- Insights download – Once a video finishes processing, you can download the extracted insights in the form of a JSON file.
- Search – You can submit search queries for searching for relevant moments within a video or for moments across all videos in your Video Indexer account.
- Player widget – You can obtain a player widget for a video, that you can embed in any web application. Player widget would enable you to stream the video using adaptive bit rate.
- Insights widget – You can also obtain an insights widget for showcasing the extracted insights. Just like the player widget, an insights widget can be embedded in any web application. You can also choose which parts of the insights widget you want to show and which you want to hide.
For more, check out the video below and this Video Indexer documentation.
Azure CLI 2.0 with new functionality including: new commands, features is available now in Azure Cloud Shell, through these new or significantly enhanced command modules – “appservices, cdn, cognitive services, cosmosdb, data lake analytics and store, dev/test labs, functions, monitor, mysql, postgres, service fabric client, vsts.”
“You can continue to use the previous CLI commands for another couple of releases, but we will deprecate these after that and you will need to start using the new commands,” the team said.
- Cloud Shell removes workflow friction and improves productivity by enabling automatic and secure access to a preconfigured workstation built for Azure, on Azure.
- Cloud Shell runs entirely on containers orchestrated by Kubernetes, illustrating just one example of how container technology can revolutionize solutions built on Azure.
- Cloud Shell offers a Bash experience today, with a PowerShell experience coming soon that will offer shell environment selection in addition to GUI/CLI flexibility.
Generally available Storage Service Encryption for Azure File Storage, is a fully managed service providing distributed and cross platform storage.
IT organizations can lift and shift on premises file shares to cloud using Azure Files, by simply pointing applications to Azure file share path. Azure customers already benefit from Storage Service Encryption for Azure Blob Storage. Encryption support for Azure Tables and Queues will be coming by June.
Microsoft handles all the encryption, decryption and key management in a fully transparent fashion. All data is encrypted using 256-bit AES encryption, also known as AES-256, one of the strongest block ciphers available. Customers can enable this feature on all available redundancy types of Azure File Storage – LRS and GRS. There is no additional charge for enabling this feature.
The feature can be enable on any Azure Resource Manager storage account using the Azure Portal, Azure Powershell, Azure CLI or the Microsoft Azure Storage Resource Provider API.
Azure Application Insights now offer enhanced usage analysis tools to help you improve your app’s usability. Here’s a quick summary of features:
- Snapshot debugger and profiler show you execution traces from your live web app where customers encountered problems (and a few, for comparison, where they didn’t). No more hours trying to reproduce a rare failure or performance issue, and much faster fixes!
- Application Map now shows all the dependent roles and components of your application on one active diagram – including clients, web services, backend services, Azure Functions, Service Fabric, Kubernetes. Every node shows its performance and has click-through to diagnostics.
- Smart Detection helps you quickly identify the root causes of performance anomalies.
- Usage and retention analysis tools help you discover what users do with your app, so that you can measure the success of each feature and improve its popularity in each iteration.
Preview of Azure Functions Runtime, provides a new way for customers to take advantage of the Functions programming model on-premises.
Built on the same open source roots that Azure Functions service is built on, “Azure Functions Runtime can be deployed on-premises and provides a near similar development experience as the cloud service,” writes Azure team.
- Harness unused compute power: It provides a cheap way for customers to perform certain tasks such as harnessing the compute power of on-premises PCs to run batch processes overnight, leveraging devices on the floor to conditionally send data to the cloud, and so on.
- Future-proof your code assets: Customers who want to experience Functions-as-a-Service even before committing to the cloud, would also find this runtime very useful. The code assets they build on-premises can easily be translated to cloud when they eventually move.
Build and certify your PowerApps, Flow & Logic Apps Connector
Microsoft also on Wednesday said that application or service owner, can now develop connectors that allow the app to work with Microsoft Flow, Logic Apps and PowerApps—thus enabling customers to easily automate their business processes and create their own no-code line of business apps.
“An API connector is an Open API (Swagger) based wrapper around a REST API that allows the underlying service to talk to Microsoft Flow, PowerApps, and Logic Apps. It provides a way for users to connect their accounts and leverage a set of pre-built triggers and actions to build their apps and workflows.”
A new public preview introduces helping to obtain and consume Azure compute at a much lower price using “Azure Batch – low-priority VMs” is announced today.
“Low-priority VMs are allocated from surplus compute capacity and are available for up to an 80% discount, enabling certain types of workloads to run for a significantly reduced cost or allowing you to do much more for the same cost,” writes Azure team.
Microsoft says, the price for low-priority VMs is fixed, “with each VM size now having a fixed low-priority price in addition to the existing full price.”
You can see Azure Batch pricing page for more details.
Microsoft today, made the Azure Service Fabric 5.6 runtime and 2.6 SDK with orchestration of Windows Server Containers now generally available.
This release comes with many features targeted towards container orchestration including a DNS service, resource governance, integration with OMS for container diagnostics, support for mounting volume drivers, and Hyper-V isolation.
Additionally, a separate preview release of Service Fabric runtime and SDK that contains support for Docker Compose for deploying containerized apps to Service Fabric with Visual Studio 2017 tooling integration is announced as well.
Visual Studio Team Services also includes support for continuous integration and deployment of these containerized applications to Service Fabric clusters using Docker Compose.
The new MSALs take advantage of new capabilities such as advancing features of the v2 protocol endpoint of Azure AD and Azure AD B2C, will simplify integrating authentication features in your apps like never before.
A developer preview of the Data Connector SDK lets you now begin to create your own custom data connectors.
Simply put, “Data connectors, are how you connect to data within Power BI. These are extensions on the connectivity/Mashup engine that powers the “Get Data” experience in Power BI and Excel.”
- Azure Batch Rendering offers an easy way to help scale rendering jobs using market leading applications like Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya. Teaming up with Autodesk, Azure is the first public cloud to offer this seamless integration across, client application, licensing, orchestration and infrastructure.
- Low-priority Batch for Linux and Windows VMs introduces access to surplus capacity using Azure Batch. At discounts up to 80%, Low-priority Batch increases the flexibility and cost-control for large-scale workloads, allowing you to mix and match low-priority and on-demand VMs.
- New capabilities for VM maintenance and availability, including Scheduled events and instance metadata API General Availability. With this new feature, applications running in a VM can learn about upcoming updates.?In the rare case that maintenance requires VM reboots or redeploy, we now offer the capability for customers to select a timeframe within a 30-day window to schedule the maintenance. We can now also detect and predict some imminent hardware failures, and perform VM live migration to another server to avoid disruption to you.
- Storage Service Encryption for Azure Files on all available redundancy types (LRS and GRS) at no additional cost, that ensures that all data being stored in Azure Files is encrypted using AES-256.
- New Azure Service Catalog to enable organizations to package and curate managed applications approved for an organization’s use.
- Managed disks support for Azure DevTest Labs including VM OS disks, data disks, and custom images that makes storage and cost management easier.
- Azure Functions with Common Data Service is available in preview, to create and use Azure Functions with Common Data Service (CDS) to extend the functionality of apps.
- Azure SQL Database enhancements including Managed Instance private preview, which offers SQL Server instance-level compatibility like VNET, SQL Agent, 3-part names, and CDC, making it even easier for you to migrate SQL Server apps to Azure SQL Database. We also announced preview coming soon for Graph support and General Availability for Threat Detection.
- General Availability of Azure HDInsight 3.6 backed by our enterprise grade SLA. HDInsight 3.6 brings the latest versions of various open source components in Apache Hadoop & Spark eco-system to the cloud, allowing you to deploy them easily and run them reliably on an enterprise grade platform.
- New previews of Azure Accelerated Network to reduce network latency and VM overhead by off-loading the VM network interface to an FPGA.
- CDN Enhanced Integrations with App Services and Storage so you can add?CDN to your Azure web app service?or Azure storage account without leaving the respective portal experience.
Microsoft also announced preview support for several new capabilities for serverless application development in Azure using Azure Functions and Azure Logic Apps.
“Serverless is primarily about making developers more productive and allowing them to focus on their solutions. The integrated tooling provided by Visual Studio makes the serverless development experience with Azure Functions and Azure Logic Apps really stand out.”
A preview of Azure Functions tools for Visual Studio 2017 available as an extension from Visual Studs Marketplace, allow developers to seamlessly integrate Azure Functions development into their normal development flow that includes leveraging 3rd party extensions, testing frameworks, continuous integration systems, etc.
Azure Logic Apps tools for Visual Studio 2017, also available as an extension from Visual Studio Marketplace, provide full support for developing and managing Logic Apps in Visual Studio 2017.
Azure Functions’ support for Application Insights has today moved from beta to public preview, and now include: support for adding Application Insights at the time of app creation, a direct link from Azure Functions’ portal to the Application Insights blade, and additional settings to configure the amount of data that needs to be collected for the apps.
Microsoft is also now providing an express option that allows developers to export their Functions based API directly from Azure portal to be used inside PowerApps and Flow.
Along with the recently announced OpenAPI (Swagger) support for Functions, “this new feature now provides an easy way to create, document, and publish serverless APIs to PowerApps and Flow, all as a part of the regular Functions development workflow.”
Preview of Azure Functions templates for Common Data Service (CDS), functionality allows developers to build Azure Functions based APIs, which talk to data aggregated using CDS, and can then be invoked from PowerApps based apps across the organization.
And, the preview of Azure Functions Runtime, brings the simplicity and power of Azure Functions to on-premises and provides a near similar development experience as the cloud service.
Below is a consolidated list of latest cloud releases:
- Azure Batch | Deep Learning Service Limited Preview
- Azure Batch | Low Priority VMs Public Preview
- Azure Batch | Rendering Service Limited Preview
- Azure Cloud Shell | Public Preview
- Azure IoT Suite | GA
- Azure Virtual Machines | New N Series Limited Preview – NCv2 and ND
- Operations Management Suite | App Insights and Insight & Analytics Updates
- Windows Server | Disclosure
- Starter kit in Azure IoT device catalog | Announcement of program
- Bot Framework | Public Preview
- Cognitive Services | Build Release
- Azure Database for MySQL and Azure Database for PostgreSQL | Public Preview
- Azure Data Lake analytics service | ADL Tools for VSCode – GA
- Azure Time Series Insights | Public Preview Disclosure
- Azure Cosmos DB
- Azure SQL DB Preferred Dev Environment | SQL DB: Graph Support – Disclosure
- Visual Studio for Mac | GA
- .NET Core 2.0 (runtime, standard library, tools) | Public Preview
- Azure DevTest Labs | Managed Disks support GA
- Azure Functions | App Insights and Functions integration
- Azure Functions | Azure Functions Runtime for Windows Public Preview
- Azure Functions | Azure Functions with CDS Public Preview
- Azure Functions | Direct Export of Azure Functions for PowerApps
- Azure Functions | Visual Studio 2017 Azure Functions tooling
- Azure Service Fabric | 5.6 Runtime Release GA
- Visual Studio Snapshot Debugger | Public Preview
- PowerApps | Disclosure- Release of PowerApps Community Plan
- Visual Studio 2017 | Update (version 15.2)
- Azure AD B2C new deployment model and capabilities | Public Preview
- Accelerated Networking | Windows Public Preview + Linux Limited Preview
- Azure SQL DB protects and secures data | Threat Detection – GA
- Azure SQL DB protects and secures data | SQL DB: Encryption at rest default – GA
- Azure HDInsight | Azure HDInsight 3.6 – GA
- Azure Search | Synonyms/New Azure Search – Public Preview
- Azure SQL DB protects and secures data | Auto Failover – Public Preview
- Azure SQL DB build multi-tenant apps | Pools storage premium tier-Public Preview
- Video Indexer | Public Preview
- Azure CDN | Enhanced integrations with App Service & Storage
- Microsoft Intune | Intune for Education
- Microsoft Cloud App Security | File encryption GA
- Azure Germany | Global Billing availability