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Microsoft's biggest announcements from Build 2019

By Sara Barker
Tue 7 May 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Microsoft Build 2019 has brought new innovations for the Microsoft 365 – the umbrella for Microsoft’s biggest products including Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security.

When Microsoft 365 was launched two years ago, it was a little like how Microsoft combined Word, Excel and PowerPoint into one set of productivity apps more than 30 years ago, the company says.

Now Microsoft offers Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Search, and Microsoft Stream to create ‘deeply connected’ experiences across the world’s ‘productivity cloud’. Microsoft Graph is foundational to Microsoft 365.

"As computing becomes embedded in every aspect of our lives, the choices developers make will define the world we live in," says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. 

"Microsoft is committed to providing developers with trusted tools and platforms spanning every layer of the modern technology stack to build magical experiences that create new opportunity for everyone."

Now, Microsoft applications and experiences are becoming even more ‘people-centred’. Here are a few ways in which the company is making that a reality.

Microsoft Graph data connect: New ways for developers to build on Microsoft Graph

Microsoft Graph data connect is a service that helps organisations bring together productivity data from the Microsoft Graph with their own business data securely and at scale using Azure Data Factory. 

This balances customers' demands for a new class of insight-powered applications — those driven by at-scale datasets — with IT administrators' needs to consider the challenges inherent to moving and managing significant amounts of organisational data.

Microsoft Graph data connect is now generally available as a feature in Workplace Analytics and as a standalone SKU for independent software vendors (ISVs).

Fluid Framework – a new way for people to create together

This is a new web-based platform and componentised document model for shared interactive experiences. Fluid will break down the barriers of the traditional document as we know it and usher in the beginning of the free-flowing canvas. Fluid is expected to be available to developers later this calendar year through a software development kit. Also, later this year we expect to deliver the first Microsoft 365 experiences powered by Fluid. 

Coming soon: New features for the next version of Microsoft Edge

IE mode — addressing the more than 60% of businesses using multiple browsers today, IE mode integrates Internet Explorer directly into the new Microsoft Edge via a tab. This allows businesses to run legacy Internet Explorer-based apps in a modern browser.

Privacy tools — additional privacy controls allowing customers to choose from three levels of privacy in Microsoft Edge: Unrestricted, Balanced and Strict. Depending on which option you pick, Microsoft Edge adjusts how third parties can track you across the web, giving customers more choice and transparency for a more personalised experience.

Collections — addressing the information overload customers feel with the web today, Collections allows you to collect, organise, share and export content more efficiently and with Office integration.

The future of intelligent agents

This new approach is focused on building powerful conversational interfaces from data and machine learning instead of from rules, intent and code.  
This technology is going to be integrated into conversational experiences going forward, including Cortana, and made available to developers in the Microsoft Bot Framework and Azure Bot Service.

New open source technologies and developer tools to create intelligent apps from cloud to edge 

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) is one of the fastest-growing services in Azure. Microsoft is delivering several new features and capabilities to power and safeguard Kubernetes workloads:
Kubernetes Event-driven Autoscaling (KEDA) is an open source component that supports deployment of serverless event-driven containers on Kubernetes created in collaboration with Red Hat.

Now in public preview, KEDA presents a new hosting option for Azure Functions that can be deployed as a container in Kubernetes clusters, bringing the Azure Functions programming model and scale controller to any Kubernetes implementation, both in the cloud or on-premises with OpenShift.

Azure Policy for AKS applies at-scale enforcements and helps safeguard AKS clusters in a centralised, consistent manner. Azure Policy blocks any violations happening at runtime and performs compliance assessments on all existing clusters for up-to-date visibility across the environment.

Quantum programming goes open source

Microsoft designed Q# specifically for quantum programming, delivering an approachable, high-level programming language with a native-type system for qubits, operators and other abstractions. At Build, Microsoft is open sourcing Q# compilers and simulators to grow the community of Q# developers and unlock new opportunities for partners and startups to enhance their offerings for their own businesses. 

Azure Active Directory comes to GitHub

This enables GitHub Enterprise customers to gain the benefits of Azure AD identity management and security, along with synchronisation of accounts across systems. Developers can now also use their existing GitHub account, including Azure Portal and Azure DevOps, to sign in to Azure. This update enables GitHub developers to go from repository to deployment with just their GitHub account.

Azure Database for PostgreSQL includes a new hyperscale option

The new Hyperscale (Citus) option in Azure Database for PostgreSQL joins Azure SQL Database Hyperscale to enable developers to build highly scalable, low-latency applications using their existing skills. Azure Database Hyperscale significantly scales out compute, storage and memory resources as needed, allowing developers to focus on building app experiences without worrying about performance and scale limitations.

Microsoft commits to making elections more secure 

Microsoft is announcing two new solutions aimed at addressing the security of voting systems around the world:

ElectionGuard is a free, open source software development kit, developed in partnership with Galois, that provides security and public verifiability for elections, as well as guidance and tools to build more accessible voting systems. Microsoft is asking developers around the world to build on and integrate ElectionGuard into existing and new voting systems. The ElectionGuard SDK will be available this summer on GitHub, and Microsoft has partnered with several leading election technology providers to pilot this service in preparation for future elections.

Microsoft is also announcing Microsoft 365 for Campaigns. This new service, also available in June, will provide the high-end security capabilities of our Microsoft 365 Business offering to political parties and campaigns, initially those for federal office in the United States. It will do so in a streamlined way and at a low price, preconfigured to optimise for the unique operating environments campaigns face, including their fast pace and high-security-risk profile.

Microsoft 365 for Campaigns builds on the AccountGuard threat-detection and nation-state attack notification service we announced in 2018 and simplifies security for political organisations by providing specialised wizards that campaigns can use to easily and efficiently harden their security posture from the ground up. 

Microsoft stays committed to partners 

Since introducing Microsoft's first co-sell program that brings the global scale of Microsoft's sales force to our partner community, nearly 3,000 ISVs running on Azure have generated over $5 billion in revenue in the past 12 months. Today Microsoft is announcing two expansions to this program:

Expanding co-sell to Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Power Platform to create deeper collaboration in selling line-of-business applications.

Expanding sales incentives to Microsoft channel partners when they resell eligible ISV solutions through Microsoft's cloud solution provider (CSP) program. For all ISVs, small and large, this effectively offers "channel as a service" to accelerate customer acquisition through one of the world's largest distribution channels.

With the introduction of transactable seat-based SaaS capabilities for AppSource and Azure Marketplace, Microsoft will provide customers in over 141 countries with faster access to innovation from partners through Microsoft's cloud marketplaces or through its worldwide reseller channel.

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