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9.30.2020

Our Top Announcements and News from Microsoft Build 2020

At Green House Data, we help deliver a wide range of technology solutions for our customers, including many as a Microsoft partner and MSP. It’s vital for us to understand the strategic direction at Microsoft and the direction of the overall industry, so we naturally were paying close attention to see which announcement at Build 2020 might be relevant.

Like many other technology conferences in the shadow of COVID-19, Microsoft decided to go all-digital for this year’s edition of Build, the company’s massive annual developer-focused conference. The affect of COVID-19 on Build 2020 couldn’t have been more obvious than the “work from home”-style keynote that Scott Hanselman and friends did.

This year was the 10th edition of Build and due to the digital nature was even entirely free to attend. 48-hours of sessions were peppered with news about Azure, .NET, Windows, Microsoft 365, GitHub, and more, alongside educational content in the form of Q&As and tutorials.

Read on to discover our top picks from Build 2020.
 

.NET & Visual Studio

.NET version 5 is coming to general availability this year and several of announcements tied into that release. Others are available today, including ASP.NET Blazor WebAssembly. This allows full-stack .NET development in an open-source, component-based web UI. Blazor can generate single-page apps that replace JavaScript, allowing client-side hosting with a WebAssembly-based .NET runtime.

Project Tye is intended to simplify local development debugging along with deployment of Kubernetes apps without creating Dockerfiles or Helm charts. Containers continue to grow in popularity so we’ll be exploring this tool to help improve the microservices development experience.

.NET MAUI (or Multi-Platform App UI) is also quite exciting as it is the next evolution of Xamarin Forms and intended to provide a single development stack for mobile that can publish Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows platforms. With MAUI you can get all the way to the publish stage without ever needing a Mac for your development. MAUI will release for preview this year with general availability targeting .NET 6 in 2021.

Finally, Visual Studio is also receiving some updates. Visual Studio Codespaces is the new name for Visual Studio Online and provides new features as a lower cost. Codespaces is also available from GitHub. Codespaces enables developers to work in fully configured cloud-hosted development environments that can be created in minutes eliminating those day developer machine configurations.
 

GitHub

Speaking of GitHub, there were several cool announcements for the development platform that Microsoft acquired in 2018. A new Discussions area has been added to the repo for chatting with the community, complete with easy to parse conversation threads. Code scanning and secret scanning has been added for public and private repos. Private, fully managed instances (GitHub Private Instances) are now available for enterprises. And GitHub Actions for Azure are integrated with VS Code and the Azure Portal, so it is growing ever more seamless to deploy repos directly your Azure environment.
 

Azure

We’re always keyed in on Azure news and this year’s Build was no disappointment. One interesting product is Azure Synapse Link, which is intended to use transactional databases to provide insights to other applications without additional system overhead. It uses HTAP (hybrid transactional analytical processing) and will first launch as part of Azure Cosmos DB before reaching general availability throughout Azure.

On the topic of Cosmos DB, several new capabilities were introduced, including autoscaling throughput, customer-managed encryption-at-rest keys, Azure Private Link capabilities, and upcoming previews of a serverless version and point-in-time restore.

It was also a big week for AI and machine learning within Azure, with Microsoft announcing what it calls one of the most powerful AI supercomputers in the world. New Azure Machine Learning tools have been made available in Azure as well, alongside the release of their source code on GitHub, with the goal of helping developers understand and control their machine learning lifecycles, including an emphasis on data privacy.

Lastly, Azure Static Web Apps are the Azure side of the GitHub Actions for Azure mentioned above, enabling a single workflow to deploy full-stack web apps directly from GitHub to Azure.
 

Windows and 365

In the Windows realm, Project Reunion promises to unify Windows desktop and UWP applications, hopefully ending the development effort involved to release multiple versions of one app across different Windows platforms and devices. This preview included a new Windows SDK .NET package and .NET interop for Windows WinRT APIs.

Another Windows feature of interest is the Windows Package Manager, which consists of a command-line utility and service to distribute software packages across your organization.

Within Microsoft 365, we’ve already described the cool new ideas behind the Fluid Framework and how it will work on its limited launch, but we’re also looking forward to the integrations of Project Cortex, which will use AI and Microsoft Graph to generate an organization-specific “knowledge graph.” Think of it as a global search and information surfacing tool that can act in real-time based on your enterprise 365 environment and each user’s activity.

To wrap up the 365 news we also have a VS Code extension that allows third-party development within Microsoft Teams, meaning we could have some interesting unofficial additions or modifications in 365’s collaboration and chat tool.

 

If you want to catch any of the Build sessions yourself, they're available for free on-demand at the Microsoft Build website.

As a whole, Build 2020 reflected a reinvigorated focus on developers and open-source from Microsoft, with many features and announcements zeroing in on the goals of streamlined software delivery and community collaboration. While the digital version of the conference was overall quite successful, we look forward to attending in person once again in the future to catch up with our colleagues and enjoy the excitement that only a show floor can produce.

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