Microsoft Build, the company's big conference for developers, will bring more than 6,000 people to downtown Seattle this week.
Seattle will add several thousand software developers to its downtown core early next week – but just for a few days.
Microsoft’s annual Build developers conference will be held Monday through Wednesday at the Washington State Convention Center, and it’s expected to draw more than 6,000 techies.
The big technology conference is a yearly opportunity for Microsoft to connect with the thousands of developers who create applications for Microsoft products, and to introduce new tools and features to keep them coming back.
This year the conference, marking its second consecutive year in Seattle, is expected to put a heavy emphasis on the company’s cloud technologies and the artificial intelligence features within them.
Microsoft announced a sweeping reorganization of its teams in March — the biggest under CEO Satya Nadella — that solidified the shift in the company’s focus from Windows to cloud computing.
Windows, the company’s stalwart operating system, will have a more “subdued” presence at Build this year, said Rob Sanfilippo, an analyst at independent research firm Directions on Microsoft and a former employee of the Redmond company.
“Generally, Microsoft’s strategy under Nadella is less about Windows being the primary offering and more about cloud services,” he said.
Even the keynote from Windows leader Joe Belfiore scheduled for Tuesday morning is titled “Microsoft 365 Application Development,” underscoring Microsoft’s commitment to spotlight its subscription cloud offerings. Belfiore will take to the stage in the place of longtime Build orator Terry Myerson, who announced he would leave the company as part of the latest reorganization.
Windows 10 is part of Microsoft 365, a subscription service that includes Office 365 and Outlook 365, and analysts expect Belfiore’s speech and announcements will emphasize Windows as part of the larger cloud offering.
Microsoft’s cloud computing product Azure, which allows companies to rent computing resources from the tech giant with its huge data center footprint, will again be a focal point of the conference, as it was last spring. Sanfilippo expects developers will hear about new artificial intelligence capabilities Microsoft has incorporated into Azure — everything from image detection to language translation — that makes it easier for developers to build applications in the cloud.
The cloud will hang over everything at the conference. Put another way: “It’ll be about something you can subscribe to rather than buy once,” said Directions on Microsoft analyst Jim Gaynor.
Microsoft has done a good job in the last several years to appeal to and work with developers, said Alex Miller, general manager of online developer community Stack Overflow, which counts Microsoft among its business customers.
“The barrier of entry to trying out new technologies has come down so much thanks to all the investment that the large cloud providers like Microsoft have made in these services,” he said, pointing especially to AI capabilities like those in Azure.
Still, Microsoft will have to compete for developers’ attention even during its conference. Google I/O, the internet giant’s own developer event, starts May 8 in Mountain View, California, and overlaps with Build by two days.