UPDATE 5/23: Here’s the latest information that Microsoft and its partners have disclosed so far:
Microsoft Build commences in Seattle on Tuesday, and considering Microsoft’s extensive coverage on AI, Bing, and ChatGPT, the conference may not feature any major news announcements.
Build is primarily a developer conference, focused on educating developers about new tools and techniques, rather than a platform for unveiling new products. This has been the trend in recent years. With Microsoft’s significant involvement in artificial intelligence, programming that utilizes this new technology takes center stage at this year’s conference, alongside other related topics.
The conference is a combination of in-person and online events, running from May 23-25. Remote attendees can sign up for free at build.microsoft.com or live stream the conference on YouTube.
Let’s get started with the Show
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (Credit: Microsoft)
Reviewing the session schedule posted online, we can deduce certain topic trends. Apart from the expected keynote by CEO Satya Nadella, which begins at noon ET on Tuesday, OpenAI President Greg Brockman will deliver a talk, setting the AI theme right at the beginning. Fans of Windows will be pleased to know that Panos Panay, the Chief Product Officer, will also be speaking. He has been the face of new Windows announcements in recent years. Additionally, programming guru Scott Guthrie will be discussing developer-related matters, with several Azure leaders also making appearances.
Similar to previous years, the Build conference will feature the Imagine Cup, which recognizes exceptional programming achievements by young student developers. It holds significant importance to Microsoft, as it emphasizes the involvement of future generations of coders.
Notably, the conference will cover not only the exciting possibilities that AI can create but also responsible AI practices. One session, for example, focuses on “Building and using AI models responsibly,” demonstrating how Microsoft incorporates responsible AI and safety features with Azure AI, as well as how Azure Machine Learning enables users to evaluate their own LLM applications. There will also be sessions on “How to build models to check for fairness.”
The second keynote, titled “The era of the AI Copilot,” will be delivered by Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott, who will discuss Microsoft’s and OpenAI’s AI platform powered by the Azure cloud. Another interesting session is titled “Shaping the future of work with AI,” where Panay will demonstrate to developers how they can utilize the Copilot AI feature in Windows and Microsoft 365.
Azure AI and Hardware
A session titled “Build, Customize, and Deploy LLMs At-Scale on Azure with Nvidia NeMo” epitomizes the conference’s atmosphere. It highlights how large language models have become popular among hardware companies like Nvidia, Qualcomm, and AMD.
Surprisingly, Intel doesn’t feature in any session information, even though their processors power most Microsoft operating systems (although AMD is gaining ground). However, there are sessions for beginners in AI, such as “Learn Live: Get started with AI on Microsoft Azure.” Curiously, only five Build sessions include the term ChatGPT in their title.
AI encompasses more than just generative models, and traditional machine learning plays a crucial role. Microsoft will showcase how developers can incorporate AI into their Windows apps using the ONNX runtime. Another session will focus on the role of Windows in the AI revolution, titled “Deliver AI-powered experiences across cloud and edge, with Windows,” featuring Jeff Mendenhall, Principal Product Manager AI Frameworks Hybrid & Edge. Note that “Edge” here refers to the concept of combining cloud computing with local hardware, rather than Microsoft’s browser.
We’ll also learn more about the Microsoft Dev Box, a cloud-based, managed development virtual computer that coding teams can use, eliminating the need for local physical hardware setup.
Recommended by Our Editors
Windows on Arm and Qualcomm Project Volterra (Credit: Microsoft)
At last year’s Build conference, Microsoft introduced Project Volterra, an Arm-based Windows desktop equipped with AI processors. Microsoft is still committed to Windows on Arm, despite its checkered history. A session this year, titled “Learn how to build the best Arm apps for Windows,” and another session called “Optimize your apps for Arm,” demonstrate the ongoing focus on this platform. Qualcomm experts will also showcase the capabilities of the Snapdragon 8cx Gen3 Compute platform, which supports Windows. In fact, Qualcomm features in four sessions at the conference. Last fall, the company unveiled Oryon, a new processor that promises to introduce groundbreaking technology and deliver incredibly powerful and efficient devices.
While we’re still adjusting to the rebranding of Microsoft’s productivity offering from Office to Microsoft 365, Build includes at least ten sessions on developing for Microsoft 365. Many of these sessions concentrate on the beta Copilot, an AI assistant for Microsoft 365 users, which adds to the productivity suite.
Microsoft Teams continues to evolve, and there are 26 sessions dedicated to it, either primarily or indirectly. Teams now supports WebView2, Microsoft’s browser-rendering engine that powers Edge and other web-accessible applications. Sessions will cover building chatbots within Teams and leveraging AI and Copilot.
Surface and Xbox
Based on previous Build conferences, Microsoft’s PC and gaming devices will likely receive only brief mentions. The transition to WebView2 may prompt a reference to Xbox, and we may see Surface mentioned in a few keynote sessions.