Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) annual Build developers' conference came at a pivotal time for the company when it's preparing to not only launch its latest version of the Windows operating system, but when the very core of how people use computers is rapidly changing.
"In 40 years, a lot has changed," said CEO Satya Nadella as he kicked off the event. "A lot of technologies have come and gone, but what has remained constant is that core that we are a developer company and a platform company first."
The CEO defined the company's mission as "helping every person and organization on the planet to achieve more." That starts, he explained to the audience of developers in the room, by "empowering every developer on the planet."
Microsoft sees a broader world
Nadella said early in his remarks that this is the "broadest lens in which we've viewed developers, development, and platforms." He cited all levels of developers, from students to professionals, and people working on mobile projects and in virtual reality. The CEO specifically explained the company saw a world well beyond its desktop roots and that it envisioned technology enabling development across programming languages on Microsoft's platforms.
"We also want to make sure that we build bridges for you," he said. "We want you to be able to bring your skills, your technology choices, your languages, to our platforms and then build from there new and great things."
Nadella said that approach is going to be "deeply ingrained" in all the company's platforms, and it's certainly thematically in line with his efforts to bring Microsoft products to all devices, not only those running Windows.
Visual Studio is coming to Macs
While talking about the Azure cloud platform, Microsoft's Scott Hanselman, who works for the company's Web platform and tools team, said that when using an Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Mac he "often found himself wishing that there was a member of the Visual Studios family" that he could somehow run. "And now there is," he said before launching Visual Studio Code on the Mac he was demoing on.
The new software is "a code-optimized development tool that runs natively on WIndows, Mac, and Linux," he said. "It supports dozens of language out of the box. It's a great application for all kinds of things that you are going to do that are code-focused."
Hanselman was careful to note that the new software is not just a simple editor, but "it has deep insights into what's going on."
Overall, the company showed off a full suite of Visual Studios tools that work across platforms and operating systems integrating with Microsoft's Azure cloud computing environment.
Office is going to be more open
"We want to move far beyond individual applications and their APIs to building a rich graph of data as a platform," said Nadella as he displayed the company's Office platform."We want you to be able to build that graph and extend that graph."
He explained that this is about delivering experiences that enhance what "billions of Office users do in Office." Nadella described it as a fundamental change to Office and invited Rob Lefferts from the Office team to show how "were moving from Office from us to Office with partners."
Lefferts opening by showing a a product from DocuSign that integrates directly into Word. "They've integrated the power of their service directly into Office using a new modern, web framework," he said. Lefferts showed a number of other add-ons that now work in Office, including an app from Uber.
This is a huge change for Microsoft and opens up Office to all sorts of new development and easy integration with new and existing software. The new Office works not only in Windows but on Android and Apple devices, and these add-ons will travel along with the software no matter then OS.
Azure has more locations than AWS and Google combined
While Amazon.com's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Amazon Web Services cloud services division has received much attention lately, Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's executive vice president for the cloud, opened his remarks by pointing out that his company had more "regions" than AWS and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Cloud combined. He said having 19 geographically unique centers for Azure "enables you to run your applications closer to your customers."
Guthrie also said Azure manages more than 1 million servers
"This enables you to build apps without having to worry about your cloud platform's capacity," he said. "It enables you to scale your solution to any size."
Project Spartan has a real name
Though the company has been calling its new browser Project Spartan, that was always meant as a placeholder name and not the one the finished browser will carry. The product, the replacement for Explorer, will actually be called Microsoft Edge.
The company introduced the name formally in a video toward to end of the presentation. Edge replaces Explorer in Windows 10 across all Windows devices, though the older browser will still ship with the new OS and will be supported (at least for a while).