Microsoft Build: 3 Important Announcements From the Annual Developer Event

  • Microsoft Build, a hybrid event this year, saw some stellar new product offerings.
  • From OpenAI adopting Bing as its default search engine and introducing plugins for copilots to enabling developers to leverage OpenAI’s large language models, Microsoft envisions itself as a key player in enabling AI-centric development.

Microsoft Build wrapped up on 25 May. The three-day annual developer conference, conducted as a hybrid event this year, saw some stellar new product offerings. Indeed, Microsoft, in an aggressive mode, is a different beast altogether.

Microsoft in 2023 is a different company than it was after its founder and then CEO Bill Gates left the company in January 2000. Gone are the Steve Ballmer days when most products Microsoft introduced failed to make a mark.

While Ballmer-headed Microsoft was not short on cash, it certainly lacked the aggressive flair that Satya Nadella has brought to development. In the Nadella era, the company shed its antipathy towards open-source, resorted to a cloud-first approach, thus ringing the cash registers, and is leading the charge for AI-driven products and services.

Time will tell who comes on top, but for now, the company has even left behind Google in adopting an AI-centric approach to product development. Let us see some of the announcements from Microsoft Build 2023 that shed light on the company’s vision for developers and end users.

Microsoft Build 2023 Top Announcements

1. Bing is now ChatGPT’s default search engine (who’s surprised?)

An AI chatbot that sources information from the internet should come with a warning; yes, we’re looking at you, Blender Bot 3. Meta’s August 2022 rollout of its chatbot was rather short-lived when it answered questions with racist intonations, made controversial political remarks, and even turned on its creator company. The company was also criticized for Galactica.

We expect that a Bing-integrated ChatGPT won’t deliver the same results, though, primarily because of the underlying large language model (GPT-3.5 vs. Blender Bot 3’s OPT-175B).

A search engine-driven conversational AI experience is precisely what we believe Google’s nightmares are made of; unless it comes up with an alternative soon. However, while OpenAI has taken Microsoft’s Bing and integrated it with ChatGPT, at the recent Google I/O, the search giant did the inverse and integrated generative AI in its online search, Search Generative Experience (SGE).

It will be interesting to see how the online search experience is affected by the tug-of-war between a Bing-integrated ChatGPT and an AI-based search (SGE).

See More: Apple Bans ChatGPT Use, Seeks Hundreds of AI/ML Professionals

2. Copilots

Microsoft calls AI-powered programs or chatbots ‘copilots.’ A copilot can generate text or images and assist in day-to-day activities. At Microsoft Build 2023, the company rolled out several copilots across the breadth of its product and service offerings.

For end users, Windows Copilot is a novel upgrade anchoring on the Bing Chat functionality. Microsoft calls Windows 11 the “first PC platform to announce centralized AI assistance.”

Windows Copilot is accessible on the taskbar, which opens on the sidebar to perform all sorts of tasks that a Windows machine and installed applications allow. For instance, you can action on items (copy/cut and paste), customize your settings, summarize text, answer questions, and more. Microsoft will start the Windows Copilot preview in June this year.

For data engineers, Redmond announced Microsoft Fabric, a data analytics platform designed to streamline data engineering workflows and unify data silos. The tool is along the lines of  Salesforce’s recently announced Tableau GPT.

Microsoft Fabric is also the umbrella product for seven different data experiences. Additionally, the analytics tool accompanies the launch of Copilot in Microsoft Power BI, which like other copilots, can help with tasks specific to the data visualization app. Copilot in Microsoft Power BI can also help users write formulas in Microsoft’s Data Analysis Expressions language in Power BI.

For developers, Redmond is bringing Plugins for Microsoft 365 Copilot. At Microsoft Build this year, the company announced it is adopting the same open standard for plugins that integrates across OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s copilots.

This can be highly beneficial for companies seeking to build AI-integrated tools within respective applications. ChatGPT and Microsoft-developed AI tools such as and Bing Chat, Microsoft Teams message extensions, Power Platform connectors alongside third-party ones such as those from Adobe, Asana, Box, Calendly, Freshworks, Instacart, Wrike, and more, are currently available in private preview. “Expect thousands of third-party plugins in the coming months,” Microsoft said.

3. Azure OpenAI Service updates

Azure AI Studio is perhaps the most significant update to the Azure OpenAI Service, which enables developers to bring the power of OpenAI’s LLMs (GPT-4, GPT-3, Codex, and DALL-E) to their applications and platforms.

For instance, Microsoft itself relies on Azure OpenAI Service for GitHub Copilot, the AI program synthesizer based on Codex. With Azure AI Studio built into the Azure OpenAI Service, Microsoft is basically eliminating the barriers for developers to leverage OpenAI’s LLMs trained with internal proprietary data over Microsoft’s infrastructure for their applications.

As such, companies leveraging Azure AI Studio under Azure OpenAI Service can go beyond using Microsoft-built generic copilots and train and deploy tailor-made copilots.

Other updates

Microsoft also integrated the Edge browser with Microsoft 365 Copilot and rolled out new features for the Azure Container Storage and several other products and services.

Developers also have Microsoft’s AI training and documentation resources. The company has also made the AI Assist for Microsoft Q&A for quick answers to technical difficulties they may face.

Which of these announcements are you most excited about? Share your thoughts with us on LinkedInOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , or FacebookOpens a new window . We’d love to hear from you!

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