Microsoft Build 2017: Open Source and interoperability

The last week I joined Microsoft Build 2017 in Seattle together with some members of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG).

I would like to share some of the good points for developers and the Enterprise field in terms of how Microsoft is continuing to adopt Open Source and Open Standards in different ways.

TAG Team pre-day activities

This experience was a great introduction to understand in a deeper way some of the different areas where Microsoft is involved and how they are moving for bringing innovation and more security for users and companies.

Before the event Microsoft invited us to join some pre-day activities, the first one was a visit of their Cyber Defence Operation Center inside the Microsoft Campus in Redmond.

Cyber Security demonstration

It was very interesting to talk with them and see how they work in specific groups coordinated and involved in every critical task following their internal policy. The main topic during this demonstration was about ransomware and we all know that during this last month a lot of users and companies have been attacked by this specific type of malware.

Smarthouse demonstration

The next activity was related to demonstrate how technologies will make easier for everyone the interaction and the communication inside our houses: the smarthouse approach. Imagine to have an authentication mechanism on your house for identifying you while entering at home, this will allow you to enter in the house without using a key in the door.

The house (in this specific case with the voice of Cortana) can recognize you and she can open the door when you are in front of the house. When you are in the house, Cortana can notify you when a friend is approaching and you can ask to Cortana to open the door.

Another impressive demo was related to how our kitchens can be improved with the use of smart technologies to help and guiding us with recipes while cooking. Cortana can see what we are doing with ingredients and she can suggest changes in the process or she can simply confirm what we do.

Cortana can advise you on different topics depending on your interests, for example she can suggest about a new show in your city and you can simply ask her to book tickets for you.

The intelligent system behind Cortana can find the ticket service and book your tickets without the need to use a laptop or any other device.  Our living room can be trasformed in a complete experience with the use of the TV extension letting us for example to explore a map or a scenario using all the walls around you.

HoloLens demonstration

The last demonstration of the day was related to HoloLens and I have to confess that it was impressive. First of all the HoloLens SDK is completely Open Source and it can be used or extended as you with for adding new features or simply to integrate any other external system as a source of contents / data.

The experience that can be given to users is fully immersive and even if you are walking on Mars or you are working on 3D objects with any CAD application or again you are playing a videogame, the benefit in terms of interaction, browsing and editing is huge.

The mixed reality experience can bring a lot of awesome good points and improvements in some areas such as learning, 3d modeling, entertainment, monitoring and all the industry in general. In the future we could have our walls in the room as screens and all our informations will have different aspect without the need to push all in a unique screen. 

Each piece of data of our contents can have different layouts and we could see any information not only profiled but also in the right context without the need for users to learn interfaces, protocols or workflows.  Actually we have 2D interfaces, workflows, wizards and dialogs on our applications and users interact using touch, click and some gestures.

Using HoloLens this paradigm can be changed bringing a real natural way for making easier for everyone to be part of a process immediately.

Open Source involvement

Let's start to say that the introduction of Linux subsystems inside Windows is a very important feature to evolve the interoperability aspect inside the operating system provided by Microsoft. They would like to let Windows works with any device and technology based on Open Source and making life easier for any developers.

The availability of the most well known and adopted Linux distributions such as Fedora, Suse and Ubuntu directly from the Windows Store will bring more openness to the Microsoft ecosystem. Even if these are not real virtual machines, the use of these sandboxes can help a lot developers for testing and developing software on different environments.

There were also announced other improvements for developers such as the following:

  • Visual Studio for Mac now is released in GA
  • Visual Studio supports snapshot debugging for Azure
  • Introduction of XAML Standard 1.0 for building UI for cross-platform solutions
  • Azure Cloud Shell: the Azure Cli now is available directly from the Azure Portal
  • Zipkin-Azure is released in Open Source as an extension of AppInsights

Roundtables and Hackaton

I’m involved in the Cloud SDK group of the TAG Team and it was great to join the brainstorming session during the event together with other TAG members. 

The opportunity to share our opinions and our suggestions on how we could be involved in a better way in the Azure development was brilliant. Specifically in the Cloud SDK Team we met Kamaljit Bath, Asir Vedamuthu Selvasingh and Brian Benz and it was very important for me and all the TAG members have a chat with them.

Another important point was also the final hackaton that we have done at the end of the event about Azure Content Services. In this occasion we had the opportunity to work together with Ross Gardler that is also the Executive Vice President at the Apache Software Foundation.

Inside the Apache Community project I exchanged some emails with Ross but I have to confess that working together with him and meet him in person it was great!

The perception of the Microsoft development ecosystem has drastically changed for me in a positive way, after our direct involvement at this event and meeting all the key person in flesh and bones. 

There is a lot of opportunities to contribute in the Microsoft field and all these Open Source projects have a transparent approach for improve the project.

I hope that my contribution as a TAG member will bring innovation and more interoperability in terms of Open Source and Open Standards adoption.

I have some ideas to apply in the Azure Java SDK and for extending Azure CosmosDB, stay tuned ;) 

I would like to personally thank Kamaljit, Asir, Brian and Ross for giving me the opportunity to contribute in this important area of Microsoft. Hope this helps :)

Photo gallery

You can also take a look at some good hints and photos by the TAG Team on Twitter.