The three-day Microsoft Build 2021 developers conference included announcing more than a hundred new services and updates. A common theme underpinning their book of news is empowering the increasingly hybrid future of work. Targeting a developer audience that’s estimated to reach 71.5 million in 2030, a 44.5 percent increase from today, according to IDC, Microsoft displayed its commitment to facilitating remote collaboration and better communication, in particular.
In his keynote, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella teased an upcoming Windows update that would be “the most significant in the decade.”
Here are the most notable announcements related to empowering a hybrid workforce.
Since the pandemic began, organizations worldwide have switched to remote work, using digital platforms such as Microsoft Teams. In fact, it has 145 million daily active users — almost double from a year ago. During his address, Satya Nadella revealed a new category of "cross-device collaborative applications'' coming to Microsoft's video conferencing platform.
Users will be able to send and receive messages across Teams and Outlook, and a new feature called shared stage integration gives developers access to the main stage in a Teams meeting. Media APIs provide developers access to live audio and video for translations and transcription purposes.
After MT grew in popularity for coworkers to stay in touch remotely, the company announced the launch of Azure Communication Services. The same systems that Teams uses for running calls and chat are accessible to third-party developers as application-programming interfaces (APIs). Next month, Microsoft users will be able to preview recording of calls in audio and video format, just like in Teams. There are also new open-source user-interface components developers can plug into applications when working with Azure Communication Services.
Leading cloud providers are increasingly enabling developers to run cloud services in alternative environments. To that end, Microsoft announced Azure Arc in 2019 so customers can use resources from competing clouds, such as Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud Platform, and manage the resources through Azure. Now, Microsoft is previewing Arc support for more of its cloud services, including the Azure App Services, Azure Functions, Azure Logic Apps, and Azure API Management.
Of course, a more remote workforce and hybrid environments means greater security vulnerabilities. Cyber security teams will be happy to hear that Microsoft announced the preview of Azure Confidential Ledger, a tool for storing critical data. The service runs on special Trusted Execution Environments (TEE) and is tamper-proof, so data cannot be erased or modified.
Last year’s surge in Teams adoption saw Microsoft introduce Together mode, a way to view all video call participants in a virtual group setting with the same background. This summer, developers will be able to customize scenes for Together mode and access audio and video feeds to build new features into Teams, such as translations and notes.
The Power Platform is Microsoft’s group of low/no-code applications that business users can use to build software. To improve collaborations between line of business leads and developers, Microsoft is providing building updates to its Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code applications that will make it easier for developers to package up resources that non-technical people can access in the Power Platform.
Azure application services such as App Service, Functions, Logic Apps, API Management, and Event Grid now can run on Kubernetes clusters anywhere across on-premises, multi-cloud, and edge environments with Azure Arc.
With the app services now Azure Arc-enabled, customers can deploy Web Apps, Functions, API gateways, Logic Apps, and Event Grid services on pre-provisioned Kubernetes clusters, taking advantage of features such as deployment slots for A/B testing, storage queue triggers and out-of-box connectors from the app services, regardless of run location.
Developers can save time building hybrid applications using the portable application services enabled by Azure Arc. More specifically, when combined with Arc-enabled data services like Azure PostgreSQL and Azure SQL, applications and their data can now run anywhere using fully managed cloud services — an industry first.
As Satya noted, technologies are multiplying with an increasing variety of hardware. The top priority for any business is to be able to build and create from anywhere.
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