Microsoft did not fail to amaze at this year's build conference. They showed an advanced version of the HoloLens with a clear vision and portfolio. They also continued to impress with very interesting additions to the windows platform. Developers will most likely find their integrating of the Bourne-again shell (Bash) very handy. Users will love the new capabilities of Cortana.
Cortana will also play a crucial role in Microsoft's idea of a bot network. Developers can now provide web based services to be coupled to networks such as Skype or Telegram. These endpoints are then used to have natural interactions. Instead of going to the website of our favorite restaurant to order some food or make a reservation, we'll just have a chat with the restaurant's bot. Even better, Cortana might initiate that chat or provide useful information such that I can focus on the more important stuff.
The previously released Project Oxford plays a crucial role in all of this. Microsoft's leadership in computer vision and neural networks pays off. The whole library is now part of the Cognitive Services, which can be used to process messages within our bots. This should give them some intelligence. This is the magic that gives these programs some abilities the ancient tele terminals are still missing. Users do not need to know previously defined phrases, they only need to communicate their wishes.
The ability to use Microsoft's services also becomes super important regarding simple things such as translation or preserving state. Both abilities exist out of the box and give us a huge boost in our bot development.
One thing that was missing was anything related to Windows Phone. The only conclusion is that Windows Phone is indeed dead and we'll not see it again on Microsoft's agenda. Sometimes being right hurts more than it satisfies. Also the build bot refused to tell me anything related to Windows Phone.