News Rundown

Catching Up On Microsoft Build 2020 | Gestalt IT Rundown: May 20, 2020

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 Cloud for Healthcare

Microsoft launched a public preview of Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, the latest edition of its Industry Cloud offerings. This will include its Healthcare Bot Service to answer common patient questions, a Bookings app that allows for patient virtual visit scheduling within Teams, and support for using Dynamics 365 Marketing and Customer Service tools to create and monitor custom care plans on a per patient level.

Lists Coming for Airtable?

Microsoft is getting in on the individual CRM or DBaaS market with Lists, which lets users “track issues, assets, routines, contacts, inventory and more using customizable views and smart rules and alerts to keep everyone in sync.”. It’ll come with templates for workflows, supports setting conditional rules, and unsurprisingly it integrates with Teams, SharePoint and other MS products. It’ll launch on the web this summer, with mobile apps by the end of 2020.

Windows Package Manager

Microsoft announced that Windows Package Manager is coming to Windows 10. This will be available on the command line using the new WinGet command. Microsoft will maintain a 1st party repository with popular apps, and allow users to use third-party repositories as well. Windows Package Manager will be available in Windows 10 once it hits version 1.0, and users can get it either through Windows Insider builds or downloading from GitHub.

Project Bonsai

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.

Azure Synapse Link

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.

Microsoft “on the wrong side of history” with open source

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 and Microsoft Partner on Edge Image Recognition

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.

Fluid Framework for Office

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 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.

Azure Arc Gets Kubernetes Support

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.

About the author

Rich Stroffolino

Rich has been a tech enthusiast since he first used the speech simulator on a Magnavox Odyssey². Current areas of interest include ZFS, the false hopes of memristors, and the oral history of Transmeta.

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