Ah, the allure of a tech conference. I can still recall the days when these gatherings were all about exploring new programming paradigms, delving into the depths of coding tools, and crafting apps that could change the world. I can vividly recall my first Microsoft conference – an experience I had to pay for myself since my employer, at the time, decided it wasn’t worth their dime. So, I took the plunge. I splurged on the ticket and used my vacation days to attend. Expensive? Absolutely. But worth every penny? You bet.
One of the most rewarding experiences of my life unfolded at that conference. I was introduced to the cutting-edge tooling Microsoft had on offer, soaked up best practices, and even got to flex my skills in a mini-hackathon. It was an absolute treasure trove of learning, a haven for us developers.
Flash forward to today, the inaugural day of MS Build 2023, the selfsame Microsoft ‘developer’ conference I attended years ago. This was the first in-person MS Build since the pandemic, and to say I was buzzing with anticipation would be an understatement. The added thrill? I was now attending not just as a participant, but as a Seattle local.
The conference is run like a well-oiled machine. Everyone is on their A-game, eager to lend a hand and answer any questions with a smile. However, I couldn’t help but notice a shift in focus. The keynote, along with most of the sessions, seemed to be more of a commercial than a conclave for developers. The star of the show was AI, particularly ChatGPT – a marvel of technology we’re all familiar with.
What I hoped to glean from this year’s MS Build was insight into OpenAI, an understanding of how we developers can harness the immense power of large learning models (LLMs), and perhaps another mini-hackathon for good measure. After all, isn’t this conference supposed to be for those of us itching to create, to build, to innovate?
As I pen this reflection on day one, I can’t help but hope the coming days will prove my initial impressions wrong. The keynote was a spectacle, peppered with dazzling announcements and jaw-dropping demos. Case in point, the integration of Windows with GPT, aptly named Windows Copilot, was nothing short of spectacular. But here’s the rub: it’s a product for consumers, not a tool for developers. Look at it yourself, these are the top announcements at MS Build from today’s keynote according to the Verge:
- Windows 11 is getting an AI Copilot.
- Microsoft 365 Copilot now supports plug-ins.
- Microsoft Edge will soon come with a 365 Copilot integration.
- Windows Terminal gets an AI upgrade.
I did manage to find a session discussing how to create your own copilot or chatbot, but it was tucked away in a small room, far from the spotlight. I couldn’t shake the feeling: isn’t this supposed to be a developer’s conference?
I found myself in a similar situation at an Amazon AWS conference last year, and again at Google’s IO developer conference just a few weeks ago. Both events showcased an array of products that anyone could use at home, but developer-specific content seemed to be scarce.
I’ve been dabbling with Swift recently and have started to explore the latest version of Xcode. With Apple’s developer conference on the horizon, I’m keen to see how it compares. The seamless integration of Xcode, the App Store, and Apple’s operating systems has piqued my interest, and I’m eager to delve deeper.
So, as we wrap up day one of MS Build 2023, I’m left with a mix of excitement and trepidation. I can only hope that the coming days will bring more of what we developers crave: the tools, the knowledge, and the opportunities to build. But for now, I leave you with these first impressions of Microsoft’s developer conference – a developer’s perspective on an event that seems to be gradually drifting.
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