//build is a developer-centric conference Microsoft hosts every year. Since I never expected to work for Microsoft, I wasn’t even aware of //build. So, when my manager asked me if I was excited to attend and I told him no, I now know why that was the naive answer.

AWS has a head start on cloud services over Azure. But if this conference was any indication, Microsoft is taking this all the more serious.

Here’s some of the announcements that really caught my eye:

Click here for my detailed conference notes.

  • CosmosDB: Originally the distributed storage behind DocumentDB, CosmosDB allows not only a document store, but a MongoDB API, a key-value store and a graph database (Gremlin). That alone is pretty impressive; however, the portion that impresses me the most is how CosmosDB handles consistency. Traditionally, a database will offer either strong or eventual consistency.

    However, CosmosDB goes far beyond those two models and introduces 3 more that are all available as a turn-key solution. (Bounded Staleness, Session and Consistent Prefix (a new model of their own design))

    As a data guy, this is impressive to say the least. Not just because I work here, but because this is a new level of choice that I haven’t seen before and am excited about.

  • Speaking of being a data guy, offering Postgres and MySQL as a service made me giddier than it probably should. That said, AWS has had it for a while, so I’m more excited that we’re catching up.
  • AI: There’s no denying that machine intelligence is on the rise. Netflix’s $1,000,000 prize was just the start, and the pot has gotten bigger. The teams demo’ed Object detection and identification in manufacturing rooms, that led to a “sledgehammer selfie”. You had to be there.
  • Skype: While Skype may not be sexy technology, if it can provide an email transcript of a meeting with a list of action items (assigned by voice commands) as the demo provided, that might change.
  • Powerpoint + AI: Powerpoint isn’t really sexy either. Even less than Skype. In fact, I’d put it along the same sexiness as Orkut. But the demo of speech-to-text + text translation got a huge round of applause (the demo showed a Spanish presenter translated to Chinese in seconds.)
  • ServiceFabric: The team announced a GA for 5.6, and while it was already available, Windows + Linux containers. It can also ingest docker-compose files, which is interesting, but sent a mixed message to the OSS community.
  • Fluent Design: I’m color blind, so visual design is often lost on me. Other people seemed excited about it. So, that’s nice.
  • Lin on Win: Ubuntu Bash on Windows is nothing new. But now you can download Ubuntu, Fedora and SUSE from the App store instead of enabling “developer mode”. Oh yeah, iTunes is on App Store now too. Dude.
  • Hololens: Microsoft’s current Hololens is very neat, but costs ~$3000. Microsoft announced is a $399 model from Acer, which will be available in time for the holidays. Microsoft’s Hololens uses a transparent screen in front of your eyes to overlay augmented reality, and the Acer model provides a complete-view screen with cameras on the side to augment. There were 19 mixed reality experiences (vendors/partners) attending //build.

  • The parties: Microsoft spared no expense in ensuring that the guests enjoyed themselves. My highlight was walking around CenturyLink Field (home of the Seattle Seahawks) and screaming “Who Dat!”. Rock-aoke (Karaoke with a live-band) was a huge hit too.

Want to pretend you were there from experiencing my photos? Now you can!

See you next year!