back to article Microsoft Build 2024 looks like it's more about AI fluff than developer stuff

Microsoft's Build 2024 conference is getting under way in Seattle. As the Copilot company makes a multitude of AI announcements, one question seems pertinent: Is Build and Microsoft's commitment to developers starting to wither? The event has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels in terms of in-person attendance. Approximately …

  1. Valeyard

    sounds boring

    Where past gatherings were used by Microsoft to show developers how to dig into the innards of Windows, the advent of low-code platforms and now Copilot and AI everywhere means it seemingly regards developers as another conduit for the company's AI vision.

    sounds like a builder who loves laying bricks so much that he's going to some fancy construction workers event and it's just builders trying to flog mobile homes or pre-fab houses to other builders who'd rather build things

    not unlike maplin moving from a components shop to a toy and phone shop and missing the point of why people went there (this comparison referencing the even rather than windows as a whole... for now)

    1. Tom Chiverton 1 Silver badge

      Re: sounds boring

      Windows, the O/S, was done many years ago. What you have now is massive inertia where Something New Is Here.

      1. Snake Silver badge

        Re: done many years ago

        I will agree with that logical statement, Windows is a very 'mature' OS, many of the basic structures have been around for many years, and therefore I would believe a large amount of their DevOps is making changes against that inertia.

        However...can't we say that about most of computing nowadays? x84 / x64 has so much inertia that it is amazing that it doesn't sink under its own weight; we've had nothing but "Something New Is Here" on the hardware front for so many years that I've pretty much become disinterested in bothering to keep up with anything they wish to hype as the 'New and Improved!'. Pretty much the same stuff just smaller, cheaper, and faster, thank you very much - won't you give us your money this year for "new" hardware??

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Feature request

    A user should be able to change Chatbot UI directly from the chat window. For example:

    - OK Chatbot. Change your UI, so it has a larger font, and does not scroll when replying to my questions.

    1. Valeyard

      Re: Feature request

      chatbot creators hate meta-anything, for good reason. otherwise you can talk the guardrails off the things

  3. jake Silver badge

    I am so glad ...

    ... that I will not have to hold the hands of friends and family while they are forced to re-learn everything about their computers in order to properly use this latest marketing exercise from Microsoft.

    All of you stuck in the illogical, ever-changing Microsoft "vision" can still opt out ... MeDearOldMum and GreatAunt have been happy Linux users for many years now. Since moving them from the world of Windows to Slackware, their support calls have fallen from several times per month for the bastard child of Redmond, to none (zero, zilch, nada, 0) for about five years now on Slack.

    Contrary to popular belief, Linux works perfectly well on user desktops, as long as the wetware of the installer understands the needs of the user.

    Another example: I have Vet clinics here in the Bay Area that I moved from AI/X and Xenix to a version of Slackware in 1999. I also had clinics who chose to stick to Windows.

    The Slackware side just keeps on trucking, with absolutely seamless updates and zero security theater. The systems never go down unless told to go down. The only calls I get from these folks is for hardware issues (PEE CEEs and attendant peripherals aren't exactly well known for their reliability, when measured in terms of many years in a high hair/fur environment). The only formal training they received was back in 1999. They have no on-site administrator, as there is no need.

    The Windows side, which I no longer support, has been nothing but trouble, especially whenever Microsoft rolls a revision out the door, and when the malware du jour strolls past their defenses. These systems are down for what totals in the weeks every year, crash fairly regularly, and need constant hand-holding by an employee who does nothing but look after the system. The only reason I know what's going on with them is because the Vets call me fairly regularly, asking if I can't PLEASE come look at their computers. I decline. I don't do Windows anymore.

    It's pretty funny, at rad-rounds the Slackware folks are all on one side of the room, and the Windows folks are on the other ... The Slackware people don't want to listen to the constant bitching about Windows from the other side of the room.

    What is mind boggling is the Vets using Windows insist that they HAVE TO "because compatibility" ... despite how that is obviously bullshit, given some of their compadres have been happily using Linux for about a quarter century now.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I am so glad ...

      I wonder what my friends who are Windows users will make of it all. They want a browser, email, maybe Word and a few of them Excel. How will they react to the rising ide of Copilot trying to force its way in everywhere.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: I am so glad ...

        For those users, grab a live CD image of your favorite distro, and cut it down to just the basics that they will use (Yes, this takes functional wetware. You have that.). This will allow them to dip a toe in the water without wiping their existing system.

        One such CD will probably work for ~90% of "your" users. Most of the other 10% will only require a couple of extra software packages.

        Set it up so the user's home directory is on a thumbdrive, so they can keep changes between reboots. Or install the OS on a bootable thumbdrive that allows persistance, LiveSlak allows this (it includes a script called iso2usb.sh, which does exactly what you think it does). Note that running a *nix on a thumbdrive isn't exactly a system built for longevity, but it'll last a few months, which should be more than enough to convert most people.

        If you decide to roll your own and start with Slackware, remember to edit /etc/inittab so it boots into a GUI ... I'd hate to see you scare the poor dears. I'm sure you can guess why I mention this. (MeDearOldMum recovered, eventually.)

        Might kill a couple weekends until it suits your personal sense of decorum and you're willing to share it, but the results are worth it.

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: I am so glad

      I absolutely *love* that there are still people in this world for whom "Slack" doesn't mean a Salesforce collaboration product.

      Slack[ware] was my Linux first love. And (to misquote Emma Thompson) you never forget your first love.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: I am so glad

        Have you tried Slackware recently? You might like it even more now than you did then.

        https://slackware.nl/slackware-live/slackware64-15.0-live/

        1. MyffyW Silver badge

          Re: I am so glad

          Looks like I've got myself a rainy weekend project - thanks Jake

    3. Sandgrounder

      Re: I am so glad ...

      Give it a rest.

      I know it is a tradition in these parts to beat on about Linux on any article that mentions Microsoft but at least try and make it entertaining. This is more tedious than a dinner party of vegans.

      Or how about a comment on the actual article? Tell us all the ways your Auntie doesn't want to use AI on her shopping lists or something.

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge

    "Copilot, could you get React OS up to Windows 7 level and then just disappear forever and never bother me again?"

  5. Jason Hindle

    I watched the keynote....

    I'm probably more positive about AI than many here, but half an hour in, I was thinking "There's only so much AI I can take."

  6. navarac Silver badge

    Fluff

    The article's title word "fluff" is being very, very polite. Crap comes to mind more naturally. There is still no compelling case for AI on a desktop computer that I can fathom.

    1. ChrisElvidge Bronze badge

      Re: Fluff

      Isn't fluffing something to do with the pron industry?

  7. Bebu Silver badge
    Windows

    "a developer hasn't gulped down their AI pills and pulled on their Copilot pants,"

    Do the faithful receive a MS branded cap with a propeller attached to the top?

    I imagine AI pills are either inspired by Roger Ramjet's Proton Energy pills or something from the Matrix.

    Copilot pants I envisage as a red and white variant of Oblix's trousers from the Asterix cartoons.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: "a developer hasn't gulped down their AI pills and pulled on their Copilot pants,"

        This is ElReg, no kink shaming.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: "a developer hasn't gulped down their AI pills and pulled on their Copilot pants,"

      "Copilot pants I envisage as a red and white variant of Oblix's trousers from the Asterix cartoons."

      HEY! Braccae are FETCHING!

  8. JT_3K

    Has anyone else been bombarded by increasingly desperate attempts to get them to engage with MS Build? I seem to have been tracked round the web with targeted advertising, hit repeatedly with targeted mail and really hammered in an attempt to get me to the local event in Manchester. I had two in short-order this morning. I can't be sure but seem to remember having a targeted ad in our 365 control panel too. The comms seem to be increasingly desperate leading me to question whether the events have been severely undersubscribed by pros who simply haven't taken up the spaces.

    I wonder how long before MS realises that the vast majority of general IT pros simply don't see much value in this AI-enhanced-everything approach. Yes, it was great to generate images with a particular feel/colour-wash for a board presentation or asking it to reword some of my whole-company comms in a more friendly and less formal way, but I don't see the point in giving it carte-blanche to my desktop through increasingly desperate and spurious land-grabs that seemingly try to get me hooked to jack up the price.

    I remember going to big OS launches or major platform launches (SQL, Exchange, etc) and getting value from them. A sneak peek at the new stuff and a chance to understand the changes. I can't see any value in the latest crop of events.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Best use case

    The ultimate use case for copilot is when it can successfully run the request "replace windows with linux".

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Best use case

      COTD

  10. Rich 2 Silver badge

    Am I living in a parallel reality?

    “The advent of generative AI is changing how developers work”

    I’m sure I’m not the only person to not recognise this AT ALL. I don’t know a single software chap/chapess (including myself) that employs any kind of “AI” (no such thing!) in any of their work. It simply doesn’t feature

    1. NiteDragon

      Re: Am I living in a parallel reality?

      I think we're supposed to get paranoid that the others are doing it (and we are not) and spaff £££ (or $$$) on it.

      I don't honestly care, if they want to make me "obsolete" by using something they don't understand the output from that's just nicking code patterns and mindlessly recycling, then I'll happily watch the explosions from somewhere very far away. I get paid to think about the code, functionality, modularity, the speed it runs at AND the interactions/security. If they want none of that stuff, I'm happy to pop off and work elsewhere.

      "How did we get hacked?" will be an interesting question to answer in some large companies in about 5 years.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Am I living in a parallel reality?

        Seems like the most common question today, without AI.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why does everything have to be over hyped?

    Is it possible to launch anything these days without a ridiculous helping of hyperbole? Whether it be Microsoft AI or Tesla's auto pilot, deciphering the actual service offered is almost impossible.

    No, there is no intelligence. No it won't revolutionise industry. No, a self programming computer is further off than nuclear fusion. No, sticking AI into the names of all your products shouldn't fool anyone into thinking you made something new.

    Having tried out copilot in visual studio, it is actually quite useful in some circumstances. It can help with producing useful boiler plate code for common tasks and speed up development. But it is light years away from being able to replace a real developer. Like every low code platform, the hardest part is working out the requirements and thinking of a solution. Dragging shapes around or typing code is the easy bit after that.

    For the short to medium term, all I see these AI tools doing is creating a new role of AI prompt writer. Previously most time was spent writing the answers to questions. Now it will be the same amount of time, but to write the necessary AI prompts to get the results which need the least effort in correcting to get closest to a half baked answer.

    Had Microsoft focused Build on how to get the best out of it's new copilot tools and not on 'look, we found another crevice to shove AI into', they may have had a lot more take up from the development / devops communities *

    * anti Microsoft lobby excluded naturally

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nadella’s Keynote and Minecraft

    Nadella’s keynote was great. He spoke at length about all the new AI chips, AI agreements, AI models, Azure AI, AI power, and how amazing AI is.

    Then he showed the most amazing of things (in his view). An AI model watching a kid playing Minecraft (the game with the worst graphics ever) and telling the kid to move left or right because there are zombies approaching. Which was clearly visible.

    Well, I thought, as useless as this is maybe he’s just showing the computational power and now he will tell us all the wonderful things AI can do.

    The next example was a dude trying to match his boots with a new hat or a camping tent. Or something equally useless.

    The next example, I thought, will surely be how AI can help cancer research, the next vaccine for the next pandemic, agriculture, global warming research, weather predictions, law enforcement, medical diagnosis, etc etc etc.

    Not a word. I get the impression that at Microsoft they have 15 year olds running marketing and development. Smart kids with zero real world experience. Anyone could have told them that using all that money and computational power to detect an idiotic zombie on a screen in a game is the apotheosis of futility.

    Didn’t get much better with the other sessions about Copilot Studio. It simply doesn’t work and the features are basically limited to 1: read some text and tell me something mostly wrong.

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