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Microsoft empowers Azure, Office developers

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Microsoft Azure services and the Office platform can empower developers to more easily leverage advanced analytics, machine learning, emerging cloud development models and the Internet of Things (IoT) to build their intelligent apps.

Scott Guthrie, executive vice-president of the Cloud and Enterprise Group, and Qi Lu, executive vice-president of the Applications and Services Group, demonstrated these features at Thursday Build conference in San Francisco.

Microsoft also announced new free development tools to help every developer more easily scale their apps for every platform and reach the largest possible number of customers. Steven Guggenheimer, corporate vice-president of Developer eXperience, delivered the final Build keynote address to showcase how partners are innovating using Azure, Office and Windows.

“Microsoft is the only cloud vendor that supports the diverse needs of every organization and developer – from core infrastructure services to platform services and tools to software-as-a-service – for any language, across any platform,” Guthrie says. “With 30 regions worldwide – more than every major cloud provider combined – Azure’s massive scale means developers and businesses alike can focus on creating the next generation of amazing applications, not their underlying cloud infrastructure. This makes our cloud the de facto choice for enterprises of today and tomorrow – and today, more than 85 percent of the Fortune 500 agree.”

“In terms of reach, Office is one of the few platforms in the world that provides developers with access to over a billion users across a variety of devices,” Lu adds. “The opportunity to build on the Office platform has never been greater. With new extensions and new connections to the Microsoft Graph – an intelligent fabric that applies machine learning to map the connections between people, content and interactions across Office 365 – developers are empowered to build intelligent apps that can transform the landscape of work.”

Guthrie announced yesterday that Microsoft is helping developers more easily build native cross-platform mobile applications by including Xamarin’s capabilities in Visual Studio Community and also making Xamarin Studio for OS X free as a community edition. In addition, Visual Studio Enterprise subscribers will now have access to Xamarin’s advanced enterprise capabilities at no additional cost. The company also announced a commitment to open source the Xamarin SDK, including its runtime, libraries and command line tools, as part of the .NET Foundation in the coming months.

With these announcements, Microsoft extends its commitment to offering choice and flexibility to every customer across every platform and device – merging the .NET and Xamarin ecosystems together to provide an unmatched mobile development and DevOps experience. Now developers can deliver fully native cross-platform mobile app experiences to all major devices, including iOS, Android and Windows.

Guthrie also announced several new Azure services designed to help developers address today’s operational realities and take advantage of tomorrow’s emerging trends, such as the Internet of Things and microservices.

These new capabilities are designed to make Azure the best platform to build the next intelligent app – on Linux or Windows using any language:

* The general availability of Azure Service Fabric, a microservices application platform developers can use to design apps and services that are available 24×7 at cloud scale. Battle-tested supporting Microsoft cloud services, Service Fabric seamlessly handles application lifecycle management for constant uptime and easy application scaling. Also today, Microsoft announced previews of Service Fabric for Windows Server, for deploying on-premises and other clouds, and Service Fabric for Linux and Java APIs, and said it would open-source the programming frameworks of Service Fabric for Linux later this year.

* A preview of Azure Functions that extends Azure’s market-leading platform services to serverless compute for event-driven solutions. Functions lets developers easily handle tasks that respond to events common in Web and mobile applications, IoT, and big data scenarios. Functions works with Azure and third-party services, automatically scaling out to meet demand and only charging for the time functions run. With an open source runtime, developers will be able host Functions anywhere — on Azure, in their data centre or on other clouds.

* New Azure IoT Starter Kits available for purchase Thursday. These kits allow anyone with Windows or Linux experience to quickly build IoT prototypes that leverage all Azure’s IoT offerings, for just $50 to $160. In addition, early adopters can now use the Azure IoT Gateway SDK, which enables legacy devices and sensors to connect to the Internet without having to replace existing infrastructure, as well as device management in Azure IoT Hub to maintain and manage IoT devices at cloud scale.

* A preview of Power BI Embedded, which allows developers to embed fully interactive reports and visualizations in any application, on any device. Guthrie also disclosed that applications can now easily communicate with the fully managed Azure DocumentDB NoSQL service, using existing Apache License MongoDB APIs and drivers.