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Best of Build 2018 Day 1

by John Browne, on May 7, 2018 5:17:53 PM

Build is Microsoft's annual homage to dorkiness and it's here in full glory. The de rigueur attire is a teeshirt with some kind of nerdy slogan or product (acceptable alternatives include beer but only craft beer), jeans, and a backpack apparently stuffed with the owner's entire worldly goods. 

The keynote went, as noted by someone or other, longer than Infinity War which, having just watched it last night, I can attest is a LONG movie. Didn't get to come? Didn't catch the keynote? Here's some of the cool stuff from Day 1. 

Good stuff

I'm old enough to remember PDCs (predecessor of Build) where it was all Windows Windows Windows. I think today's keynote might have mentioned Windows, but only in passing. It's all about AI and IoT and Azure Azure Azure.

A few things that stick in my mind:

  • Samsung is releasing a camera with full processing stack. And you can put all of the IoT stuff from Microsoft into a container and deploy it on the camera, or on 1000 cameras. The obvious sinister implications, sure, but also, imagine monitoring manufacturing processes, remote oil drilling platforms, high-crime areas...
  • Cortana can now talk to Alexa which I suppose is the sort of thing you will like if you like that sort of thing (ok I stole that). 
  • The speech to text demos are at the level of Kirk saying "Computer!" I mean really good. And new meeting apps (Skype for Biz?) record the audio and turn it into text in near real time plus translate to other languages. Finally I'll be able to make myself understood to my colleagues in Costa Rica. Ok, that was unfair--their English is fine, it's my Spanish that blows.
  • Drones! Connect the IoT, AI, Azure, and Drones. DJI will have some Azure capabilities and Microsoft will have an SDK for DJI drones so they could send real time video back for real time analysis. Or something. I'm not buying one until they come with missiles. 
  • The HoloLens is still a solution in search of a problem. More demos of scenarios that seem to be using a shotgun to kill a fly. But what do I know. "Grab a kitchen knife, put on the HoloLens, and I'll show you how to take out your kid's appendix." 
  • Microsoft is giving another $25M for different applications and research into using AI et al into helping disabilities. One touching example: a French boy with severe autism who at 15 cannot speak. Using speech recog, Azure, and AI, pictograms (which he can understand) can be created in an app to make it possible to communicate. The possibilities are pretty exciting. As someone with a hearing disability, the idea of truly real-time close captioning (instead of lagging 10-30 seconds behind) would be cool from my POV.
  • Our buddies over at GrapeCity have a new product line with Documents and Excel spreadsheets. Watch a video here
  • The good folks at 7pace announced Timetracker for Mobile
  • Finally, we're offering a Prusa 3D printer raffle (with our partners Progress, DocuSign and Microsoft .NET Foundation). We have found the all-time coolest printer - and your chances of winning are great - even better if you enter! Stop by our booths to learn more. 

They could have done better dept

  • A few years ago, attendees got an XBox. Another year a Surface. This year they don't even get donuts for breakfast, just some coffee. Oh, and a tee shirt. Jeez.
  • When a zillion people are trying to get from the Wa State Convention Center lobby (floor 1) to the event (floor 4) why close off one of the only two escalators? That just pushes the mob down in front of the poor people trying to make a living in the coffee shop. 
  • As has apparently become a tradition at all Microsoft events, the choice of food varies from the revolting to the bizarre. I fully expect cans of Spam at some future Build.

And finally:

In a new tradition (I hope they keep it), they have a petting zoo with some miniature horses, bunnies, and a sleepy retriever.  The horses wanted to visit some of the vendors, so they went for a stroll:




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