Microsoft Build 2019, the annual developer conference of Redmond-based tech giant, was held in Seattle for the third straight year yesterday. The company, which has transformed itself into a leading cloud services provider, announced new features that centered around Azure, its cloud platform. While many expected Azure and Windows to take the center stage, the showstopper turned out to be Microsoft Edge, the web browser that is being re-engineered using Chromium OS, same as the rendering engine used on Google Chrome. Here is a look at every major announcement from Build 2019:
Microsoft Edge for macOS
Microsoft announced Edge based on Chromium engine for Windows last month. The web browser is available in the form of beta, canary and developer builds and shows Microsoft’s approach towards turning its browser into a formidable competitor to Google Chrome. At Build 2019, Microsoft teased its plan to bring the browser to macOS, where it could have a good opportunity to win new customers. The browser will be an alternative to Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox and will appeal to those who already use Microsoft services.
Internet Explorer inside Edge
At Build 2019, Microsoft announced that the next version of Edge built on Chromium OS will address the fundamental reason behind the failure of original Edge. The Edge was launched as a lightweight browser alternative that worked alongside Internet Explorer, which is a legacy browser used at a number of banking and workplace situations. With Edge on Chromium, Microsoft is changing that approach and will offer Internet Explorer as a mode inside the main browser. The company says this will address more than 60 percent of businesses using multiple browsers and IE mode will allow businesses to run legacy IE-based apps in a modern browser.
Microsoft Edge gets new privacy controls and Collections
Microsoft is not just building Edge on Chromium but it is also revamping the experience to compete with Google Chrome. One such introduction at Build 2019 is called Collections, which will allow users to collect, organize, share and export content more efficiently and with Office integration. There are also new privacy controls with an option to choose between three levels of privacy: Unrestricted, Balanced and Strict. Depending upon your selection, Microsoft Edge will adjust how third parties track your activities across the web.
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Under Satya Nadella, Microsoft has been taking a revised approach towards a design that aims to compete with the likes of Facebook and Google on the web. At Build 2019, it introduced Fluid Framework as a new web-based platform that will allow users to create together and enable content to be deconstructed and reconstructed into modular components. It also envisions intelligent assistants being able to work alongside people to co-author, provide photo suggestions, translate data, among other functions. Rajesh Jha, Executive Vice President, Microsoft Experiences and Devices, said that the first experiences will support multi-person coauthoring on the web and the company demonstrated documentation of content at a speed unlike anything else in the market.
Semantic Machines to power Intelligent Agents
Microsoft introduced Cortana as its rival to popular digital assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Siri. While Cortana sits inside over 700 million Windows 10 devices, the use of the assistant remains limited. This is mainly because of the limited use cases for the voice assistant. At Build 2019, Microsoft showed its vision for intelligent agents that leverages breakthrough achieved by the company in areas like conversational AI and machine learning powered by Semantic Machines, which was acquired in May 2018.
Satya Nadella has always pitched Microsoft as an AI company and at Build 2019, the company showed how it is building AI into its products and services with privacy at the core of the design. It showed everyday uses of AI in Microsoft 365 and Office 365 aimed at improving productivity and announced the general availability of Microsoft Graph data connect. The announcement precedes the introduction of Azure Blockchain Service, which is already deployed by JP Morgan Chase.