You know those moments when something happens that is so incredible and amazing that your brain has trouble processing it? I just had one of those experiences at Microsoft Build 2017 last week in Seattle. One of the get-togethers served up something so incredible that words—or even pictures—simply can not communicate how world changing it was: bacon dipped in dark chocolate!

Okay, so while the delicious combination shown above may not have actually been “world changing,” I think it’s still a great illustration of the new Microsoft. Much like bacon and chocolate, Microsoft has been busy creating new combinations and new categories of hardware and software. Significantly, Microsoft is doing it by putting developers and users center stage.

Let me explain, using a couple of examples from Build 2017:

Windows and Linux

First, Ubuntu, SUSE Linux, and Fedora are all coming to the Windows Store! The Windows subsystem for Linux has been available to Windows 10 users after the Windows 10 Anniversary update. This means that you can use, code, and debug Linux targeted applications on Linux on Windows. Watch The Future of Visual Studio talk from Build 2017 by Amanda Silver and Tim Sneath if you don’t believe me.

This mixture of technology opens the door to many different opportunities for many different types of developers. Microsoft is going to offer this in the Windows store as well, so that Windows 10s users will also have this functionality. Put simply, students should now be able to have amazing software toolsets on affordable machines. (Scott Hanselman has a great post on setting up an incredibly flexible development environment with Linux on Windows that is definitely worth a read.)

Visual Studio and accessibility

There is a developer at Microsoft who is incredibly passionate about accessibility. His name is Saqib Shaikh and he creates incredible things to help others. Last year he wrote software using Microsoft’s cognitive APIs and combined it with a pair of “smart glasses” to create the Seeing AI project, which Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella demo’d on stage at Build 2017. As a blind developer, Saqib’s goal was to help him experience and interact with the world around him. (He has a popular answer on a Stack Overflow post titled “How can you program if you’re blind,” where he describes how he does this.)

The Visual Studio team has been able to work with Saqib and others to push forward an amazing effort to use accessibility APIs everywhere possible in its products. Paying real attention to accessibility is another example of how Microsoft is not just focusing on what is obvious, but also on what is important.

A personal connection

The effort is incredibly meaningful to me, personally, because one of my daughters is blind and deaf. She pours her heart into everything she does and her creativity shows me that she is going to grow into a great maker, developer, or whatever she is driven to do. Efforts like this give me confidence that we’ll be able to enable and equip her to follow her passions in the future.

This is what I am seeing from Microsoft today. A renewed commitment to its users and a desire to hear from users and work with partners to create amazing things that reinforce social responsibility. I believe Microsoft is setting an example for the industry in this regard. Here at New Relic we’ve already teamed up with Microsoft to build incredible experiences in the Azure Portal Marketplace and with support for various Azure resources. We are excited to continue to work with Microsoft toward a future where more people can create amazing products and services that make a genuine impact in people’s lives.

Don’t miss my earlier coverage of Microsoft Build 2017:

 

Nick Floyd is a lead software engineer at New Relic. He works on the .NET Agent, Nuget packages, Azure solutions, and cloud-based services. He and his seven kids are often found contributing to open source, soldering boards, and building backyard ballistics all in the name of "nerd life." Author of Nerd Life Balance. View posts by .

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