For the second year in a row, Microsoft Build was an all-digital event. The annual event for developers and software engineers who work with Microsoft products produced a lot of news for developers in the realms of AI (artificial intelligence), cloud, edge, and more. During the event’s keynote address, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella also hinted at big changes coming for the next version of Windows. Nadella said the update will “unlock greater opportunity for developers and creators.” While a tease was all attendees got about the so-called “next generation of Windows,” tons of updates were announced at the 2021 Build event, along with some important industry-enhancing collaborations.

Azure AI got some important updates that will help developers achieve value more quickly. For instance, Microsoft announced enhancements such as a new integrated development experience for Azure Bot Service, which allows developers to create sophisticated bots. The company also announced general availability for Azure Metrics Advisor, which ingests time-series data, uses machine learning to find anomalies, and provides diagnostics insights. The company says the service helps customers like Samsung and Chevron detect and diagnose issues and trigger alert notifications in their mission-critical workloads.

Azure Metrics Advisor, along with the Azure Bot Service, Azure Form Recognizer, Azure Cognitive Search, Azure Immersive Reader, and a new service called Azure Video Analyzer are all being wrapped up into a new product category within Azure AI called Azure Applied AI Services. Microsoft’s goal here is to build on top of Azure Cognitive Services to help accelerate the development of AI solutions and solve specific business problems, including automation, accessibility, and scalability problems.

At Build 2021, Microsoft also announced new offers in Azure Marketplace for Java EE (Enterprise Edition) and Jakarta EE, allowing developers more choice and flexibility to run these workloads in the cloud. There are updates to Azure Arc, new capabilities for Azure Stack HCI (Microsoft’s cloud-connected, hyperconverged infrastructure operating system), and even the Developer Velocity Lab. This joint research initiative between Microsoft and GitHub aims to empower developers by focusing on their wellbeing. The lab investigates ways to measure and improve developer productivity, ways to build developer communities, and ways to improve developers’ overall happiness and satisfaction.

This year’s event also had some updates for Azure IoT—a collection of services and capabilities including security and operating systems for devices and equipment, as well as data and analytics for IoT (Internet of Things) applications. One such update in Azure IoT Edge includes new nesting capabilities for industrial customers, allowing them to secure critical assets through network isolation. Microsoft also made Azure IoT Edge for Linux on Windows generally available. With this offering, customers needn’t choose between Windows and Linux; they can use each one for different purposes.

Along with other updates relevant to developers, Microsoft—alongside GitHub, Accenture, and ThoughtWorks—launched a nonprofit called the Green Software Foundation aimed at improving sustainability in the software-development space. Part of the foundation’s mission is to help reduce software emissions by 45% by 2030. Updates are expected and exciting in their own right, but industry-enhancing collaborations like the Green Software Foundation and the Developer Velocity Lab really stood out at this year’s Build event.

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