You only need two simple letters to accurately convey the major shift in the technology space this year: A and I. Beyond those letters, however, is a complex, evolving and exciting way in which we work, communicate and collaborate. As you will see, artificial intelligence is a common thread as we embark on Microsoft Build, our annual flagship event for developers.
It’s already been a landmark year for the industry, starting in January with the announcement of an extension of our partnership with OpenAI to accelerate AI breakthroughs and to ensure these benefits are broadly shared with the world. And in February, Microsoft announced an all-new, AI-powered Bing search engine and Edge browser to transform the largest software category in the world – search.
Since then, developments have accelerated at a rapid pace, with several key milestones along the way, including:
- Greater availability of Azure OpenAI Service with added support for ChatGPT and OpenAI’s groundbreaking GPT-4 model.
- Copilots across a wide range of users, including Dynamics 365 Copilot, Microsoft 365 Copilot and Copilot for Power Platform.
- Expansion of a new AI-powered Bing to the Windows 11 taskbar, mobile and Skype; Bing Image Creator to chat; and a full open preview of the platform, no waitlist required.
This is just the beginning of the new era of AI. That’s why Microsoft Build is so important. During this event, we’ll be showcasing how AI is redefining what and how developers build, as well as how AI is changing the future of work.
Before we get into the news, let’s talk about two concepts we are discussing at length during Microsoft Build: copilots and plugins.
A copilot is an application that uses modern AI and large language models (LLMs) like GPT-4 to assist people with complex tasks. Microsoft first introduced the concept of a copilot nearly two years ago with GitHub Copilot, an AI pair programmer that assists developers with writing code, and we continue to release copilots across many of the company’s core businesses.
We believe the copilot represents both a new paradigm in AI-powered software and a profound shift in the way that software is built – from imagining new product scenarios, to the user experience, the architecture, the services that it uses and how to think about safety and security.
Plugins are tools first introduced for ChatGPT, and more recently Bing, which augment the capabilities of AI systems, enabling them to interact with application programming interfaces (APIs) from other software and services to retrieve real-time information, incorporate company and other business data, perform new types of computations and safely take action on the user’s behalf. Think of plugins as the connection between copilots and the rest of the digital world.
With that said, let’s focus on the news and announcements we’re unveiling during Microsoft Build.
Growing the AI plugin ecosystem
Microsoft is announcing that we will adopt the same open plugin standard that OpenAI introduced for ChatGPT, enabling interoperability across ChatGPT and the breadth of Microsoft’s copilot offerings.
Developers can now use one platform to build plugins that work across both consumer and business surfaces, including ChatGPT, Bing, Dynamics 365 Copilot and Microsoft 365 Copilot.
And if you want to develop and use your own plugins with your AI application built on Azure OpenAI Service, it will, by default, be interoperable with this same plugin standard. This means developers can build experiences that enable people to interact with their apps using the most natural user interface: the human language.
As part of this shared plugin platform, Bing is adding to its support for plugins. In addition to previously announced plugins for OpenTable and Wolfram Alpha, we will also have Expedia, Instacart, Kayak, Klarna, Redfin and Zillow, among many others in the Bing ecosystem.
In addition to the common plugin platform, Microsoft is announcing that Bing is coming to ChatGPT as the default search experience. ChatGPT will now have a world-class search engine built-in to provide more up-to-date answers with access from the web. Now, answers are grounded by search and web data and include citations so users can learn more, all directly from within chat. The new experience is rolling out to ChatGPT Plus subscribers starting today and will be available to free users soon by simply enabling a plugin.
Developers can now extend Microsoft 365 Copilot with plugins
We’re also announcing that developers can now integrate their apps and services into Microsoft 365 Copilot with plugins.
Plugins for Microsoft 365 Copilot include ChatGPT and Bing plugins, as well as Teams message extensions and Power Platform connectors – enabling developers to leverage their existing investments. And developers will be able to easily build new plugins for Microsoft 365 Copilot with the Microsoft Teams Toolkit for Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio. Developers can also extend Microsoft 365 Copilot by bringing their data into the Microsoft Graph, contextualizing relevant and actionable information with the recently announced Semantic Index for Copilot.
More than 50 plugins from partners will be available for customers as part of the early access program, including Atlassian, Adobe, ServiceNow, Thomson Reuters, Moveworks and Mural, with thousands more available by the general availability of Microsoft 365 Copilot.
New Azure AI tooling to help developers build, operationalize deploy their own next-generation AI apps
It starts with our new Azure AI Studio. We’re making it simple to integrate external data sources into Azure OpenAI Service. In addition, we’re excited to introduce Azure Machine Learning prompt flow to make it easier for developers to construct prompts while taking advantage of popular open-source prompt orchestration solutions like Semantic Kernel.
In Azure OpenAI Service, which brings together advanced models including ChatGPT and GPT-4, with the enterprise capabilities of Azure, we’re announcing updates to enable developers to deploy the most cutting-edge AI models using their own data; a Provisioned Throughput SKU that offers dedicated capacity; and plugins that simplify integrating other external data sources into a customer’s use of Azure OpenAI Service. We now have more than 4,500 customers using Azure OpenAI Service.
Building responsibly together
At Microsoft, we’ve been committed to developing AI technology that has a beneficial impact and earns trust, while also sharing our own learnings and building new tools and innovations that help developers and businesses implement responsible AI practices in their own work and organizations. At Build, we’re introducing several new updates, including Azure AI Content Safety, a new Azure AI service to help businesses create safer online environments and communities. As part of Microsoft’s commitment to building responsible AI systems, Azure AI Content Safety will be integrated across Microsoft products, including Azure OpenAI Service and Azure Machine Learning.
We’re also introducing new tools to Azure Machine Learning, including expanding Responsible AI dashboard support for text and image data, in preview, enabling users to evaluate large models built with unstructured data during the model building, training and/or evaluation stage. This helps users identify model errors, fairness issues and model explanations before models are deployed, for more performant and fair computer vision and natural language processing (NLP) models. And prompt flow, in preview soon, provides a streamlined experience for prompting, evaluating and tuning large language models. Users can quickly create prompt workflows that connect to various language models and data sources and assess the quality of their workflows with measurements such as groundedness to choose the best prompt for their use case. Prompt flow also integrates Azure AI Content Safety to help users detect and remove harmful content directly in their flow of work.
In addition, Microsoft announced new media provenance capabilities coming to Microsoft Designer and Bing Image Creator in the coming months that will enable users to verify whether an image or video was generated by AI. The technology uses cryptographic methods to mark and sign AI-generated content with metadata about its origin.
Introducing Microsoft Fabric, a new unified platform for analytics
Today’s world is awash with data, constantly streaming from the devices we use, the applications we build and the interactions we have. And now, as we enter a new era defined by AI, this data is becoming even more important. Powering organization-specific AI experiences requires a constant supply of clean data from a well-managed and highly integrated analytics system. But most organizations’ analytics systems are a labyrinth of specialized and disconnected services.
Microsoft Fabric is a unified platform for analytics that includes data engineering, data integration, data warehousing, data science, real-time analytics, applied observability and business intelligence, all connected to a single data repository called OneLake.
It enables customers of all technical levels to experience capabilities in a single, unified experience. It is infused with Azure OpenAI Service at every layer to help customers unlock the full potential of their data, enabling developers to leverage the power of generative AI to find insights in their data.
With Copilot in Microsoft Fabric in every data experience, customers can use conversational language to create dataflows and data pipelines, generate code and entire functions, build machine learning models or visualize results. Customers can even create their own conversational language experiences that combine Azure OpenAI Service models and their data and publish them as plugins.
Accelerating an AI-powered future through partners
Our customers benefit from our partner collaborations, such as with NVIDIA, that enable organizations to design, develop, deploy and manage applications with the scale and security of Azure. NVIDIA will accelerate enterprise-ready generative AI with NVIDIA AI Enterprise Integration with Azure Machine Learning. Omniverse Cloud, only available on Azure, enables organizations to aggregate data into massive, high-performance models, connect their domain-specific software tools and enable multi-user live collaboration across factory locations. NVIDIA GPUs leveraging ONNX Runtime & Olive toolchain will support the implementation of accelerating AI models without needing a deeper knowledge of the hardware.
New capabilities for Microsoft Dev Box
Microsoft Dev Box, an Azure service that gives developers access to ready-to-code, project-specific dev boxes that are preconfigured and centrally managed, is introducing several new capabilities to enhance the developer experience and boost productivity. While in preview, we’ve seen many customers experimenting with Dev Box, and we’ve migrated more than 9,000 developers internally to the service for day-to-day software development.
Now, we’ve added additional features and capabilities, including customization using configuration-as-code and new starter developer images in Azure Marketplace that provide dev teams with ready-to-use images that can be customized further for specific dev team needs. Additionally, developers can now manage custom environments from a specialized developer portal, Azure Deployment Environments. Dev Box general availability will begin in July.
Unveiling a new home for developers on Windows 11 with Dev Home
Dev Home will launch at Microsoft Build in preview as a new Windows experience developers can get from the Microsoft Store.
Dev Home makes it easy to connect to GitHub and configure cloud development environments like Microsoft Dev Box and GitHub Codespaces. Dev Home is open source and fully extensible, enabling developers to enhance their experience with a customizable dashboard and the tools they need to be successful.
Introducing Windows Copilot for Windows 11
Last fall at our Windows and Surface launch, Chief Product Officer Panos Panay talked about the power of AI to unlock new interaction models on the PC with Windows Studio Effects and DALL-E 2 in Microsoft Designer, and at CES he talked about how AI is going to reinvent the way people get things done on Windows.
This brings us to Windows Copilot.
Windows will be the first PC platform to centralize AI assistance with the introduction of Windows Copilot. Together, with Bing Chat and first- and third-party plugins, users can focus on bringing their ideas to life, completing complex projects and collaborating instead of spending energy finding, launching and working across multiple applications.
This builds on the integration we released into Windows 11 back in February that brought the new AI-powered Bing to the taskbar.
A preview of Windows Copilot will start to become available for Windows 11 in June.
As you can see, it’s going to be a busy time at Microsoft Build. To give you a sense of what developers are going to experience at the event, we’re expecting approximately 200,000 registered attendees, with 350 sessions and more than 125 hours of content over two days. In total, we’ll announce more than 50 new products and features.
For more information, make sure to watch keynotes on demand from Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella, Kevin Scott and Scott Guthrie on Day 1. On Day 2, watch the keynotes anchored by Rajesh Jha and Panos Panay. Additionally, you can explore all the news and announcements in the Book of News and read more stories and news about products from Microsoft Build here:
Watch Microsoft Build keynotes and view videos and photos
Microsoft outlines framework for building AI apps and copilots; expands AI plugin ecosystem
Bing at Microsoft Build 2023: Continuing the Transformation of Search
Empowering every developer with plugins for Microsoft 365 Copilot
Bringing the power of AI to Windows 11 – unlocking a new era of productivity for customers and developers with Windows Copilot and Dev Home
Build next-generation, AI-powered applications on Microsoft Azure
Introducing Microsoft Fabric: Data analytics for the era of AI
Tags: AI, Azure AI Content Safety, Azure OpenAI Service, Bing, copilots, developers, Microsoft 365 Copilot, Microsoft Build, plugins, Windows 11