Monday, May 06, 2019




MAY 6 - MAY 8, 2019

At the keynote for Microsoft Build, Satya Nadella introduced an impressive, staggering/mind-twisting/bewildering array of new, developing, and future products and services. The talk was primarily targeted at enterprise developers (in a number of ways) rather than at consumers (in contrast to most keynotes from Facebook, Google, and Apple).

Some of the ways in which enterprise developers were the target of the talk are:
1 - the products/services announced were largely for enterprise developers;
2 - the language used was full of words, names, and acronyms that would only be familiar to developers involved in that specific area;
3 - the examples and demos were drawn from enterprise applications.

The amount of technology described was staggering, and very impressive... if your goal is developing enterprise software, and you have enterprise support for training and team development, and you are targeting supported devices.  

The learning curve to just understand what Microsoft has available and how to use it is very steep. It is not clear if the training required is conveniently and generally available.  I suspect that only enterprise customers with support from Microsoft can easily get comprehensive advanced support.

However, Microsoft has always been exceptionally supportive of individual developers who look into any particular area (as opposed to comprehensive training). As an example, in a program before the keynote, student developers presented some amazing work. A project, EasyGlucose, which was awarded a grand prize in a competition (Imagine Cup) for student developers, used smart phones, Azure AI, and other tools, to monitor Glucose levels by observing changes in the eye; it is a tour-de-force of both research and technological development, by an independent student developer. -- Project presentations, by 3 finalist teams of student developers, are available from 4:35 of the Build keynote video, currently, at

Assuming the keynote was directed at developers rather than consumers, the faults in its production may be somewhat excused. However, objectively, although the technology seems terrific, reviewing both the script and the presentation of today's keynote, the quality was poor.  The script -- even, I think, for many developers -- used too many undefined and unexplained words, technical terms, and acronyms, It also did not provide clear explanations about either how to use much of the technology, or what its likely usage was.  It was too much information that went by too fast; nor did it provide a clear path to researching the information.  Although there were some canned examples of showing different pieces working together, it did not really tie all the different pieces together, neither  explaining how the pieces all worked together, nor how the different pieces were different. (For example, what is the difference between Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft 365?)

The presentation seemed insufficiently rehearsed. Everyone seemed to be reading their words, not telling us. (Of course, a teleprompter is ubiquitous; the trick is that viewers should not be aware of that.) Some people giving sidebar presentations seemed to be surprised by being on camera; others seemed to be over-prepared (as when there was a cheering section as the camera moved in to the speaker). Worst of all, the event opened with what seemed likely to be a spectacular Hololens 2 live demo... that, embarrassingly, did not work at all, getting the keynote off to a sour note. (As one of the unfortunate speakers noted, "doing a live demo is hard".  A bit of sympathy here. A bunch of super-star space tech guys were, with great fanfare, announcing a project to capture asteroids in space and bring them back to the vicinity of Earth and then mine the contents. Their highly promoted live stream did not work at all. Rocket science is easy; live streaming is hard.)

In the course of this conference, Microsoft will be discussing -- in additional keynotes, and many special technical sessions -- an important and impressive array of improvements in cloud and edge services, web browsing, AI, collaboration, and co-ordination between different products (eg Azure & Hololens 2). Many of these sessions, even if not live streamed, will be recorded and made available for video on demand.

More specific, and more leisurely, descriptions of particular products and services are likely to be available in these videos.

I hope that at least one session and/or some serious effort will be devoted to general information, and technical education for consumers, indie-developers, enterprise non-technical management, and even enterprise developers. I hope for transmedia education: video, online papers, books, live public conference presentations, and more.  

The array of products and services is growing and developing so fast, it will not help anyone (and will possibly hurt many) if the information about technology does not grow as fast or faster than the technology itself.

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