What are your thoughts on Microsoft Build?

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So first time Microsoft Build attendee, long time Microsoft and Thurott fan.

I work as a Data Scientist building ML & AI models and Microsoft and my world are beginning to converge meaningfully. The company I work at is purchasing Azure and gradually moving away from legacy data science platforms like SAS. Overall I’m pretty excited about things to come. Here are 5 of my hot takes from Build:

1. I don’t recognize Microsoft as a company at all anymore. Maybe it’s because Build is for a particular part of their business (?) but you would hardly believe this is the same company that made Windows. They might have mentioned it 2x in passing in the keynote. *All* they seem to care about is Azure.

2. Microsoft displayed some really hideous, laughable even, hardware that connects to, or is an extension of, the Azure cloud for on-premise deployment. Seriously it was reminiscent of IBM tape backups and mainframe servers. Apparently use cases include highly sensitive data that the owner doesn’t want on the cloud, or simply not having the bandwidth to upload and download terabytes of data to the cloud. Parts of the Azure cloud are not actually connected to the cloud.

3. They handled the Edge transition to Chromium super graciously. It was almost like their capitulation on the original Edge browser never happened. Or, it was so gracious you forgave them, moved on, and listened to what was next. The tech world moves so fast. One new helpful Edge feature is rendering and internal support IE, as lots of corporate intranet sites are still optimized for IE.

4. Azure’s processing power and speed is super impressive. They showcased a regression model using the Azure cloud backened and Power BI frontend being built on millions of rows and thousands of columns in milli-seconds. It was totally crazy. SAS can’t do that. Python can’t do that. Actually several of the ML and AI features they are bundling as part of Azure are super exciting: voice recognition and NLP, form recognition for processing and transforming unstructured data, decision engines based on reinforcement learning. There is A LOT to like right out of the box.

5. Gaming is still a priority for Microsoft thank goodness.

Bonus #6, I got to meet Paul at Microsoft Build! He was gracious and pleasant.

What about you? What have you noticed from Microsoft Build?

Comments (4)

4 responses to “What are your thoughts on Microsoft Build?”

  1. ryguy

    Thanks for the update, sounds like a cool experience!

  2. Tony Barrett

    You're right, all MS do really care about is Azure. MS are primarily a services company now, so it's in their interest to promote their services back end as much as possible. Windows is just a small part of the picture now, but is important, as it's Microsoft's primary conduit to get end users into their cloud and subscription services. As with any cloud company, once they have you and your data, it will lead to lock-in and for MS at least, continuous revenue - it's not rocket science.

    As for the Azure demo, sure it looked impressive - it was meant to - but if an average company used that much resource on Azure to run their simulations, they'd be bankrupt in a month. It's not uncommon for cloud costs to spiral out of control without strict management.

  3. bill_russell

    Will be interesting to see if the new Edge results in a spike in uptake. I suspect usage must be so low because it was super buggy. I know I had some weird problem as I fired it up the first time to download firefox and chrome.

  4. jules_wombat

    Microsoft make a great play on accessibility, but I worry on the costs of Azure cloud services, especially for demanding machine learning tasks. It quickly becomes too expensive for all but the serious players and Enterprise. I guess those Azure charges all help Microsoft share price.

    Google are promoting more local machine learning, and the Google cloud ML are a lot more competitive priced and mainstream than what Microsoft can offer.

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