Microsoft Build 2023, the annual developer conference, has just wrapped up with more than 50 updates for developers across various platforms and services. The focus of this year’s keynote delivered by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was one thing – AI. He talked about the ChatGPT experience and how it has changed the course of technology. Nadella also made some key announcements, including Azure AI Studio for businesses to develop their own models and Microsoft Fabric, which the CEO termed the biggest AI product of the company. We will dig deeper into the Fabric announcement but first, other notable announcements were:
Microsoft is adding an AI Copilot to Windows 11
Microsoft is keeping up with its promise of bringing AI to all of its products. The Copilot assistant will be integrated directly into Windows 11 and can help users accomplish various tasks. Users will be able to open and use the Windows 11 Copilot directly from the taskbar across all apps and programs.
Windows 11 Copilot is a ‘personal assistant’
The Windows 11 Copilot looks like the dialog box in Bing Chat, so users will be able to ask it questions. Microsoft considers the Windows Copilot a “personal assistant,” which means it can do tasks on behalf of users. For instance, it will be able to adjust settings or perform other actions on the PC. Users can even add plugins to the Copilot.
ChatGPT will use Bing to provide up-to-date information
Microsoft announced that ChatGPT is getting Bing as its default search experience. This means ChatGPT will be able to provide the latest information about everything. ChatGPT’s Bing-powered web data will have citation links.
One of the biggest announcements in my opinion that was discussed was Microsoft Fabric.
Microsoft Fabric: A New Data Analytics Platform for the Enterprise
Microsoft Fabric, now in preview is an end-to-end analytics platform centered around Microsoft’s OneLake data lake. Microsoft Fabric combines the power of Azure Synapse Analytics, Azure Purview, Azure Data Lake Storage, and Power BI to provide a comprehensive solution for data ingestion, storage, processing, analysis, and visualization. Fabric also leverages AI to automate data discovery, quality, governance, and security. It also offers a no-code developer experience to monitor data and trigger actions.
Microsoft’s OneLake is a main feature of the Fabric service. OneLake is a single, logical data lake that stores all the data of a Fabric tenant across multiple clouds. OneLake provides open access to the data through existing ADLS Gen2 APIs and SDKs, and enables users to create Lakehouses with Fabric. Specifically, OneLake is designed to improve collaboration and performance over data analytics projects. A key capability of OneLake is “Shortcuts.” OneLake allows easy sharing of data between users and applications without having to move and duplicate information unnecessarily. Shortcuts allow OneLake to virtualize data lake storage in ADLSg2, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), and Google Storage (coming soon), enabling developers to compose and analyze data across clouds.
In addition to OneLake, there were a couple of new terms that need some defining:
Microsoft’s Lakehouse is a data architecture platform that allows storing, managing, and analyzing structured and unstructured data in a single location. It uses Delta tables to provide ACID transactions, data versioning, and indexing on top of cloud object storage. It also creates a SQL endpoint and a default dataset for querying the data in the lake. It supports automatic table discovery and registration for Delta tables. It integrates with other data management and analytics tools to provide a comprehensive solution for data engineering and analytics .
Delta lake is a type of table format that stores data in parquet files and maintains transaction logs for reliability and performance. Delta lakes enable users to work with structured and unstructured data in a single location, and to access it seamlessly across different compute engines, such as Power BI, SQL, Spark, and others. The benefits of using delta lakes in the fabric service are faster and less expensive data analytics, improved data quality and governance, and easier integration with AI services.
Every analytics project has multiple subsystems. Every subsystem needs a different array of capabilities, often requiring products from multiple vendors. Integrating these products can be a complex, fragile, and expensive endeavor and this is where the benefits of Fabric really shine.
Fabric comes with seven core workloads:
- Data Factory(preview) provides more than 150 connectors to cloud and on-premises data sources, drag-and-drop experiences for data transformation, and the ability to orchestrate data pipelines.
- Synapse Data Engineering (preview)enables great authoring experiences for Spark, instant start with live pools, and the ability to collaborate.
- Synapse Data Science (preview)provides an end-to-end workflow for data scientists to build sophisticated AI models, collaborate easily, and train, deploy, and manage machine learning models.
- Synapse Data Warehousing(preview) provides a converged lake house and data warehouse experience with industry-leading SQL performance on open data formats.
- Synapse Real-Time Analytics(preview) enables developers to work with data streaming in from the Internet of Things (IoT) devices, telemetry, logs, and more, and analyze massive volumes of semi-structured data with high performance and low latency.
- Power BI in Fabric provides industry-leading visualization and AI-driven analytics that enable business analysts and business users to gain insights from data. The Power BI experience is also deeply integrated into Microsoft 365, providing relevant insights where business users already work.
- Data Activator(coming soon) provides real-time detection and monitoring of data and can trigger notifications and actions when it finds specified patterns in data—all in a no-code experience.
Below are some examples of how you can use Microsoft Fabric to analyze organizational data from multiple sources.
You can start by creating a new workspace in Microsoft Fabric and connecting your data sources such as SQL databases or CSV files. Then you can use Azure Synapse Analytics to run SQL queries or Spark jobs on your data lake. Next you can use Azure Purview to catalog your data assets and apply policies for access control and compliance. Finally you can use Power BI to create interactive dashboards and reports that show key metrics and trends.
Another example is using Microsoft Fabric to analyze customer feedback from social media platforms. You can start by creating a new workspace in Microsoft Fabric and connecting your data sources such as Twitter or Facebook APIs. Then you can use Azure Synapse Analytics to run sentiment analysis or topic modeling on your text data. Next you can use Azure Purview to track the lineage and origin of your data sources and outputs. Finally you can use Power BI to create visualizations and insights that show customer satisfaction and preferences.
With Fabric, organizations can use a single product with a unified experience and architecture that provides all the capabilities required for a developer to extract insights from data and present it to the business user. And by delivering the experience as software as a service (SaaS), everything is automatically integrated and optimized, and users can sign up within seconds and get real business value within minutes.
These are just some of the big announcements from Microsoft Build 2023. To learn more about these and other updates for developers, you can check out the Microsoft Build Book of News or watch the keynotes and sessions on demand.