Microsoft wants to make AI available to all developers through its “intelligent cloud” and accessible to devices at the “intelligent edge.”  At the Build developer conference in Seattle on May 10, the Microsoft explained its vision, which is centered around the interaction of the cloud, data and devices.

It offered a media preview of its keynote and announcements the night before.  On the morning of May 10, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Scott Guthrie and Harry Shum explored what AI and the intelligent cloud mean for developers and Microsoft’s products.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO spoke about the growth milestones and laid out the company’s big-picture vision..To Satya, Microsoft would provide the cloud-based global infrastructure for developers and the delivery of intelligent services, which will be seen mostly on mobile devices.  Satya, at the same time, did sound a cautious note about the larger role of technology in society, talking about the need to “build trust in technology.”

Among the milestones the company announced were the following:

  • 500 million monthly active Windows 10 users
  • 100 million commercial users of Office 365
  • 140 million monthly active users of Cortana (across platforms)

One of the repeated themes throughout the morning was Artificial intelligence, in Nadella’s opening and for subsequent speakers Guthrie and Shum. Guthrie is EVP of  Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group. Shum is EVP of the company’s Artificial Intelligence and Research Group. (Bing and Cortana now reside in Shum’s group.)

Here’s a partial list of some of the other announcements being made this morning:

  • Azure Cosmos DB, a new “planet-scale” cloud services platform
  • Azure SQL Database improvements
  • Visual Studio 2017 for Mac in general availability
  • Bing Custom Search, among several other “custom services”
  • With Microsoft’s Bot Framework, developers can publish to Bing, Cortana and Skype for Business
  • New Cortana-related partnerships with HP and Intel
  • Cortana Skills Kit public preview with cross-platform distribution

Guthrie spoke a lot about the new Azure Cosmos database, and even more broadly about the company’s cloud services and capabilities.

The final keynote speaker of the morning was harry Shum, who discussed the combination of the cloud and AI.  According to Shum, AI is being integrated into every Microsoft product, “Xbox to Windows and from Bing to Office.” Microsoft’s use of AI is often not obvious to consumers (e.g., Office).

In regards to Cortana, where AI is very much on public display, Shum said that one of Microsoft’s objectives was to make it easier for developers to reach the 140+ million users that Cortana has access to.  He mentioned that after it’s introduction last year, over 130,000 developers registered with the Microsoft Bot Framework.

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