Microsoft Build 2021 | GPT-3 integration in Power Apps, Teams development tools, and more

Microsoft Build 2021, the company’s annual developer conference commenced on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: Microsoft

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Microsoft Build 2021, the company’s annual developer conference commenced on Tuesday with the keynote from CEO Satya Nadella. Like the last one, this year’s three-day event is all-virtual. The software giant made several announcements on day one that included bringing one of the most powerful language models, GPT-3, to its Power Platform; new features and tools for Teams developers; introducing PyTorch Enterprise on Azure; and teased the next generation of Windows.

GPT-3 integration in Power Apps

Last year, Microsoft received an exclusive license to use OpenAI’s GPT-3 language model in its own products and services. Now, the software firm is bringing GPT-3 to its low code app development platform – Power Apps.

The artificial intelligence (AI)-powered features in Power Apps will allow users to just describe what they want to do using natural language inputs and they will be presented with multiple Power Fx formulas that can help them build an app.

“Using an advanced AI model like this can help our low-code tools become even more widely available to an even bigger audience by truly becoming what we call no code,” Charles Lamanna, CVP for Microsoft’s low code application platform, said in a blog post. “This will allow people to query and explore data in ways they literally couldn’t do before, and that will be the magical moment.”

A user building an e-commerce app can simply describe “find products where the name starts with ‘kids.’” The GPT-3 model then presents options for transforming the command into a Power Fx formula, such as “Filter(‘BC Orders’ Left(‘Product Name’,4)=”Kids”), the software giant explained in a blog post.

Microsoft Power Fx is built on Microsoft Excel. It is an open-source programming language of the Power Platform. The company plans to infuse Power Fx into other tools within Power Platform, at which time the new natural language features powered by GPT-3 will expand into those products as well, it noted.

The AI-powered features in Power Apps will be available in preview by the end of June, Microsoft said.

New features, tools for Teams developers

Microsoft shared new features and tools for its popular communication platform, Teams, that will enable developers to “build the next generation of collaborative apps for hybrid work.” The platform, which has 145 million daily active users will get features such as shared stage integration, new meeting event APIs, Together mode extensibility, along with an enhanced Teams Toolkit for Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code, and a Developer Portal.

Developers can access the main stage in a Teams meeting using shared stage integration. This provides a new surface to enable real-time, multiuser collaboration experiences for their meetings apps, such as whiteboarding, design, and project boards, the firm said.

New meeting event APIs can help developers with the automation of meeting-related workflows through events. The feature is available in preview along with shared stage integration, Microsoft noted. Further, Together mode extensibility will allow developers to create custom scenes for Teams meetings and share them.

Enhanced Teams Toolkit for Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code make the Teams app development experience simpler by reducing the amount of code needed, providing out-of-the-box integrations with Microsoft Azure, and tapping into data from the Microsoft Graph, according to the software giant.

In addition, the new Developer Portal offers developers a dedicated app management console, available via the web or within Teams to register and configure apps.

PyTorch Enterprise on Microsoft Azure

PyTorch is an open-source deep-learning framework that is used by Microsoft to power some of its products such as Bing and Azure Cognitive Services. Now, by launching PyTorch Enterprise on Microsoft Azure, the company will be able to provide customers additional benefits, such as prioritised requests, hands-on support and solutions for hotfixes, bugs and security patches, it said in a blog post.

Azure is the first cloud to provide enterprise support for PyTorch, the firm noted and added that the latest release of PyTorch will be integrated with Azure Machine Learning, along with other PyTorch add-ons for faster inferencing.

Microsoft customers with Microsoft Premier and Unified support using PyTorch are automatically eligible for PyTorch Enterprise and can request hotfixes, according to the company.

Additionally, Azure Machine Learning managed endpoints, a new ML capability can help developers and data scientists build and deploy machine learning models rapidly, by automating the creation and management of the underlying compute infrastructure, the software firm explained.

Next generation of Windows

Talking about Windows in the keynote, Nadella said, “Across all the opportunities I’ve highlighted today, Windows is implicit. It’s never been more important.”

Since its launch over five years ago, with a free update to millions of Windows users, Windows 10 powered devices have been growing steadily. Last month, the software giant revealed that there are over 1.3 billion Windows 10 active devices.

After highlighting some of the benefits of the operating system during the keynote, Nadella stated, the company will soon share one of the “most significant updates to Windows of the past decade” that will also unlock greater economic opportunity for developers and creators.

“I’ve been self-hosting it over the past several months, and I’m incredibly excited about the next generation of Windows,” he added.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 6:24:04 PM |

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