This week we’re focused on the big announcements from Microsoft Build. Tom Hollingsworth and Rich Stroffolino break down the latest updates with Office, Azure, AI, and open source. There’s a lot to unpack from this major Microsoft event.
This week on the Rundown:
Microsoft launched the public beta of Project Bonsai, a platform for building autonomous industrial control systems. This essentially opens Azure to be used to help simulate and train control systems for autonomous robotic systems. This uses hierarchical deep reinforcement learning to break down complex tasks into extremely simple components, train the systems to complete those tasks, then work on combining them.
Microsoft is adding GPU app support and hardware acceleratin to the Windows Subsystem for Linux, letting users run GUI Linux apps rather than just CLI apps. This is enabled without using X11 forwarding, and should allow for developers to run Linux IDEs seemlessly in Windows.
Microsoft announced Azure Synapse Link, which uses “hybrid transaction/analytical processing”, letting organizatons use the same database system for analytical and transactional workloads on a single system, without overprovisioning. This builds off of Azure Synapse Analytics, Microsoft’s SQL Data Warehouse, and lets organizations get insight from data without having to build a extract, transform, load pipeline.
There were a lot of announcements from Microsoft Build, but one bit of Microsoft news came from a talked hosted by MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab. At the virtual event, Microsoft President Brad Smith said that Microsoft “was on the wrong side of history when open source exploded at the beginning of the century.” While Microsoft is a far cry from where it was in the 90s and early 2000s, former CEO Steve Ballmer did call Linux “a cancer” and tried to sue it out of existence.
Sony recently announced the IMX500, a new image sensor designed for industrial use that includes an onboard AI processing engine for machine learning tasks. Sony claims it can run a basic image recognition algorithm on a frame of video in 3 milliseconds, meaning it could essentially do real time image recognition on chip. Microsoft has now announced it will embed Microsoft Azure AI capabilities onto the chip to power that image processing. The companies announced they will release a smart camera managed app powered by Azure IoT and cognitive services to support the integraton, and provide additional analytics. Sony wll also allow software vendors to load the chip with their own machine learning models.
Microsoft detailed a new type of Office doc called Fluid, which provides a Lego block like framework of resources that can be edited in real time by anyone in the app. The idea is you could put these Fluid pieces in emails, chats or other apps, and they would update along with the source. Microsoft will also open source the Fluid Framework to foster its adoption in other apps. MS plans to roll this out slowly to Office.com and Outlook on the web in the next few months, Microsoft Teams by the end of the year, and desktop apps next year. The idea is to create “atomic units of productivity” that can be tied to wherever they’re needed, rather than locking them into a specific file format and finding ways to share that.
Microsoft announced a public preview of Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes, which allows its users to configure and manage Kubernetes clusters across their data centers, edge location and public clouds, including GCP and Azure. This allows organization not just to manage containerized workloads from Arc, but also bring services like Azure SQL Database to other platforms, built on a similar backend to Azure Stack.
The Gestalt IT Rundown is a live weekly look at the IT news of the week. It broadcasts live on YouTube every Wednesday at 12:30pm ET. Be sure to subscribe to Gestalt IT on YouTube for the show each week.