Microsoft is on the edge: Windows, Office? Naah. Let's talk about cloud, AI

At its dev conference, Redmond is all about Azure, bots, Azure and also Azure


Kiss goodbye to that boring old Oracle stuff

In an effort to win customers away from the competition, Microsoft has introduced its Azure Database Migration Service to help move third-party and SQL Server databases into Azure SQL Database with minimal downtime.

As Guthrie observed during the keynote, Microsoft is hoping to entice Oracle customers to defect.

Azure Service Fabric, which lets customers run Windows- and Linux-based containers, can now handle containers spun up via Docker Compose. And with the arrival of Service Fabric's 5.6 runtime and 2.6 SDK, Windows Server containers have reached general availability.

Visual Studio 2017, through an extension, gained tools for serverless computing development, through Microsoft's event-driven managed programming services Azure Functions and Azure Logic. The capabilities include an Azure Functions Runtime preview, which lets Azure Functions run on-premises, and Azure Application Insights support for Azure Functions, which makes analytics and diagnostic capabilities available for Azure Functions.

There were a number of other Azure-related announcements not mentioned at the keynote that Guthrie touches on in a blog post published on Wednesday.

Microsoft opened its chat-based workspace, Teams, to all developers, enabling them to publish apps through the Office Store and to make those apps more visible via an improved app discovery process. It introduced a preview of Teams in November.

Word and Excel have been endowed with expanded JavaScript APIs, now in preview, for interacting with structured data.

OneDrive has been rewarded with new File Handler capabilities that may help Microsoft partners improve how files stored on OneDrive get presented. And the SharePoint Framework, introduced in February to provide JavaScript hooks into SharePoint, has been enhanced with SharePoint Framework extensions, in preview, for customizing SharePoint resources.

There was an impressive demonstration of the forthcoming Presentation Translator add-in, which brings real-time language translation APIs to PowerPoint. The presenter's speech was quickly and accurately translated and displayed on screen.

Microsoft Graph APIs have expanded to reach into OneNote, SharePoint site, and Planner.

The Redmond-based software giant plans to release new Insights APIs for Azure analytics. But they're not yet available, even as a technology preview. Two novel Microsoft Graph capabilities did see the light of day: delta queries, for listing data changes related to Graph, and custom data, which lets developers extend base Graph data types, like users or contacts.

Actionable Messages, previewed in web-based Outlook last fall, have made it to Office 365 users in Microsoft Teams and in Outlook 2016 for Windows, bringing additional integrations with third-party services like Salesforce.

And in happy ending of sorts, Office Store has gotten hitched to Microsoft AppSource, enabling organizations to manage their software in a more organized fashion. Along similar lines, there's now centralized deployment with Office for Mac and Office Online. It appears there's room for central control somewhere between the Intelligent Edge and the Intelligent Cloud.

Closing the day-one keynote, Shum recalled the words of computer science luminary Alan Kay: "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."

And after that, set aside some time to debug the unintended consequences. ®

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