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News from Microsoft Ignite Bot Framework, AI, Azure and more_870x220

Let's examine the key developer announcements from Ignite: Microsoft Bot Framework v4, AI for Humanitarian Action, Azure SignalR Service, Microsoft Quantum Update and more.

Microsoft Ignite is Microsoft’s flagship technology conference and it was held this week in Orlando, FL. While it is not dedicated entirely to developers (you will want to attend Build for that) they still do have plenty of content and sessions for devs. During the event, they made some interesting announcements for developers.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the news that was most interesting to me. Did you hear something else that you found noteworthy? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

Microsoft Bot Framework v4

Launched for public preview at Build in May of this year, Microsoft announced that the Microsoft Bot Framework v4 SDK is now generally available. It contains rich, multilanguage tools for building and connecting intelligent bots using C#, Java, Python and JavaScript. The latest version simplifies your first bot experience, with a modular, extensible architecture that allows you to pick components and services you need and leverage a rich ecosystem of pluggable extensions. Remember, our Conversational UI controls work well with the Microsoft Bot Framework – give them both a try.

Azure Cognitive Services Update – Speech Service General Availability

Microsoft announced its new Speech Service, which was released to preview in May at Build, is now generally available. The solution bundle combines several AI speech capabilities into a single service and provides improved models for speech recognition, capabilities for speech translation and the ability to customize models to create a unique voice.  Along the same lines, Microsoft also made available a preview of Human Parity Text to Speech. This uses Natural Text to Speech to make the machines sound more natural.

New Azure Machine Learning Capabilities – Automated AI Development 

Microsoft announced major updates to the Azure Machine Learning service to include automated machine learning to identify the most efficient algorithms and optimize model performance, additional hardware-accelerated models for FPGAs, and a Python SDK that makes Azure Machine Learning services accessible from popular IDEs and notebooks. Read more about it in John Roach’s blog post.

AI for Humanitarian Action 

Microsoft is launching AI for Humanitarian Action, a new $40 million, five-year program that will harness the power of artificial intelligence for disaster recovery, helping children, protecting refugees and displaced people, and promoting respect for human rights. The company will partner with nongovernmental organizations through grants and investments of technology and expertise. AI for Humanitarian Action is part of Microsoft’s AI for Good initiative, a $115 million commitment to empowering people and organizations to solve global challenges with access to game-changing AI technology and educational opportunities, launched in July 2017. You can learn more about the AI for Humanitarian Action program here.

Azure SignalR Service General Availability 

As we have seen with other announcements, the Azure SignalR Service that was release in preview at Build is now generally available. The service enables developers to build apps that support real-time experiences such as chat, stock tickers and live dashboards without worrying about capacity provisioning, scaling or persistent connections. With about 3 million downloads to date, SignalR is a popular ASP.NET library that makes it simple to add real-time functionality to web applications. John Montgomery summarizes what is available today in his blog post. It’s probably worth mentioning that our ASP.NET Core controls support SignalR. Take a look Telerik UI for ASP.NET Core.

Azure Functions 2.0 runtime availability and other updates 

Microsoft announced the general availability of Azure Functions 2.0 runtime. Runtime allows you to now use your crossplatform .NET Core assets within your Functions apps. Updates also include support for Python development and a consumption plan for Functions built on top of Linux OS. Azure Functions also now shows HTTP dependencies on the Application Insights App Map, enabling support for Function triggers and any HTTP connections for richer monitoring experience. Eduardo Laureano shares on the details in his blog post.

Microsoft Quantum to add chemical simulation library for tackling real-world challenges 

Well, because quantum computing is just cool, I wanted to throw this one in here as well. Microsoft announced that later this year they will release an update to the Microsoft Quantum Development Kit that adds a new chemical simulation library in collaboration with computational chemistry leader Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The library will enable developers and organizations to create quantum-inspired solutions that can be simulated on classical computers today and quantum computers in the future — helping them tackle big chemistry challenges in such fields as agriculture and climate. Learn more about it here.

As I mentioned, there was more that came out of Ignite than these seven announcements. Let me know what piqued your interest, what you thought you might hear about but didn't, and what you think might be coming next for Microsoft developers! 

Happy coding!

Sara Faatz
About the Author

Sara Faatz

Sara Faatz leads the Telerik and Kendo UI developer relations team at Progress. She has spent the majority of her career in the developer space building community, producing events, creating marketing programs, and more. When she's not working, she likes diving with sharks, running, and watching hockey.

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