Microsoft Build is the annual gathering of the software developer community who are focused on the Microsoft platform, held recently. An event to rival Microsoft Ignite, it also is a chance for Microsoft to make some big product announcements. For this reason, it’s worth it for IT Pros to also look at the event coverage and commentary. Here’s our thoughts on announcements from the 2018 event, held recently in Seattle.

Windows 10 Sets – This feature has been included in some Windows Insider builds of Windows, but it was pushed into the spotlight at Build. Sets let you group different applications together in a tabbed interface. If you’re writing a presentation, you could group OneNote with PowerPoint, websites with relevant info and your SharePoint doc library for marketing graphics plus Photoshop for making any image adjustments. You can minimise the whole set and once and even close it and re-open it on a different PC. Create a different set for the apps you use when your brain needs a break e.g. Spotify, Facebook and Twitter.

It’s important for IT Pros to understand upcoming interface changes. Download a Windows Insider Build 17639 of Windows 10 to get comfortable with Sets and identify how this can benefit your users. Watch Joe Belfiore’s demo of Sets at Microsoft Build: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=176&v=FBixNPV4YnY

Excel’s new features – Developers will soon be able to use JavaScript custom functions and Machine Learning functions inside Microsoft Excel. This is great news for power users and data scientists. They can also develop Custom Visuals for new charts in Excel and Power BI, using standard Open Source technologies, which can be rolled out by Office 365 administrators or added to the Microsoft Store. Excel also gets Microsoft Flow support, letting you send Excel data into other systems like Dynamics 365, email, Teams and even Twitter.  For more information, see https://dev.office.com/blogs/azure-machine-learning-javascript-custom-functions-and-power-bi-custom-visuals-further-expand-developers-capabilities-with-excel

Microsoft Teams gets new developer features – Another opportunity for developers to build the world that suits your business, Microsoft Teams gets some new capabilities. A private Microsoft Teams Line of Business app store lets Office 365 administrators make custom Teams apps available within their organization. Bots will also gain the capability of being able to send and receive files in a 1:1 chat, backed by OneDrive for maintaining security & compliance. Again, more options for software developers mean more end-user capabilities and an impact on business processes, so it’s good for the IT Pro to know what’s now possible. See the official blog post here: https://dev.office.com/blogs/microsoft-teams-developer-platform-enhancements-announced-for-build-2018

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Your Phone comes to your desktop – My phone is an integral part of my day. I find myself using its camera to take a photo, then using that photo on my desktop after it has synced to OneDrive and I’m constantly picking it up when I see notifications or iMessages. The Your Phone app on Windows 10 hopes to change all that, providing direct access to your latest photos, notifications or messages straight from your PC.  Exact features may vary between iPhone and Android and there’s no release date yet.

New ways to deploy Enterprise apps – Straight from the books of dev/IT Pro crossover is the world of application deployment. At Microsoft Build, the new MSIX Packaging for IT Pros was announced. This tool set enables packages to be distributed from the Microsoft Store or other content delivery networks. It complements the announcement that the Azure CDN is now in public preview as an option for Enterprises to deliver their own applications using Azure’s existing global content delivery network. To learn more about this, see sessions https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/events/build/content/accelerating-windows-10-enterprise-app-deployment https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/events/build/content/msix-inside-and-out and announcement https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/announcing-microsoft-s-own-cdn-network/

With the accelerated rate of change within IT as a whole, the lines between software developers and IT pros are blurring. Don’t ignore Microsoft Build just because it has a predominantly dev audience. The capabilities being offered to developers will impact what you need to deploy and what your users will be working with.

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