Announcements You Should Know About From Microsoft Build 2024

Microsoft Build is back and this year it has brought with it some interesting announcements that we think are worth highlighting. AI tools are being utilised in various applications, including education and gaming. CEO Sam Altman shared his insights and participated in discussions during the event. Copilot and Teams feature amongst these, along with a whole host of new and exciting features to get stuck into. The evolution of developer tools is playing a crucial role in building modern apps. Developers are extending Windows apps into new dimensions like 3D space and mixed reality. Integration of File Explorer with Git and other features has been highlighted. A partnership with Khan Academy aims to provide AI-based learning apps. Microsoft Fabric introduces new capabilities to the unified data platform for analytics. Development platforms for Windows apps, such as WinUI 3 and Windows App SDK, are being emphasised. Additionally, a partnership is bringing Windows Volumetric Apps to Quest headsets. So, let’s get stuck in to some of these announcements.

Microsoft Copilot

Unsurprisingly, AI and Copilot were, once again, front and centre of the new announcements.

Generative AI plays a crucial role in enhancing Copilot’s capabilities, driving major advancements in automation, customer engagement, and enterprise search. AI tools are extensively used in developing Copilot’s features, enabling it to provide real-time guidance, product recommendations, and act as an AI assistant for both enterprise and everyday users.

Team Copilot

A new AI feature will be coming to Teams, bringing with it Copilots capabilities in a new AI coworker. This expansion of Copilot for Microsoft 365 will act as a personal assistant to anything from smaller teams to whole companies.

To enhance Copilot’s features, Microsoft is leveraging the latest developer tools to provide a great developer experience, maximising joy, and minimising toil.

In announcing this, Microsoft provided examples of the sort of uses this could have:

  • Managing meetings by taking notes and tracking/pacing times
  • Summarising discussions and using this information to answer subsequent questions

By taking in the knowledge from multiple users, Copilot can then interact with those users, sometimes multiple users at once, to ensure everyone has access to all the relevant information for their meetings.

Whilst this product is not yet available for public use, Microsoft have said that “these initial experiences" are “coming in preview later this year."

The headlines to remember for this one are outlines by Microsoft themselves; this new AI feature can be a Meeting facilitator, a Group collaborator, and a Project manager.

Copilot Studio

Build also saw the announcement of new capabilities in Copilot Studio to custom copilots that act as agents. Under your direction, these can work independently to:

Additionally, Copilot Studio offers the potential to extend Windows apps into new dimensions such as 3D space and mixed reality, collaborating with developers to integrate advanced language models and AI-based learning apps into the Windows ecosystem.

The hope is that these capabilities can empower developers “to build copilots that can proactively respond to data and events, tailored to specific tasks and functions.

With this, Microsoft are looking to enhance efficiency and cost saving, and this is currently available in a limited private preview for customers, with a view to having wider availability later in the year.

Copilot Extensions

Copilot Extensions are a new announcement aimed at making it easier to customise your own copilot actions. This will also open up the opportunity to extend Copilot to your data and line of business systems to optimise business processes. These extensions can be built by developers using “either Copilot Studio or Teams Toolkit for Visual Studio.

To accompany this, Microsoft also introduced Copilot connectors in Copilot Studio, to make the process of creating extensions easier. Additionally, the integration of Microsoft Fabric with Copilot Extensions enhances the unified data platform for analytics, providing new capabilities such as Real-Time Intelligence and shortcuts in Fabric.

AI Assistant

One more feature that Microsoft demonstrated at this year’s build was the ability for Copilot to provide assistance to you by watching your screen. This was demonstrated by having Copilot walk someone through a Minecraft, helping them learn how to play. This is just an example of the continued evolution of Copilot and its wider capabilities and applications.

Microsoft Edge

Real-Time Video Translation

This new AI feature unveiled at Build will enable the translation and dubbing of selected videos. It will be able to do this in real-time to aid viewers who are hard of hearing or speak different languages to that of the original video. This will work across both Windows and non-windows platforms and, initially, will include YouTube, LinkedIn, Reuters and Coursera.

Edge for Business

Edge for business is getting a security boost, it was also announced, with IT administrators soon able to implement new policies, namely screenshot prevention policies on sensitive pages. They will also be able to monitor device update statuses using the Edge management service, ensuring better protection for sensitive information and reducing the risks brought about by outdated software.

GPT-4o and Azure AI

An interesting announcement for developers came in the form of OpenAI’s multimodal model GPT-4o now being available on Microsoft’s Azure AI and as an API. As of now, this multimodal model integrates text and vision, with a view to, in the future, also integrating audio capabilities.

Moreover, Microsoft has partnered with Khan Academy to provide U.S.-based K-12 educators free access to Khanmigo for Teachers AI agent through Azure OpenAI service, aiming to make AI-based learning apps more accessible.

Additionally, the integration of GitHub Copilot with Azure AI enhances the platform’s capabilities, making it a powerful tool for developers.

Our Vissensa Insight

Attending the Microsoft Build event virtually gave a great insight into the capabilities, potential security impacts and prospects of how AI, specifically Microsoft’s Copilot, is an ever-growing element of our industry. In our role, ensuring that the solutions and systems we provide are not only technically robust but also fundamentally secured from a variety of elements. Key sessions that I’d viewed further developed and enhanced this critical element of our work included:

  • Inside AI Security with Mark Russinovich (BRK227)
  • Data Security Considerations for AI Adoption (BRK226)
  • Remediating Cloud Risks with Microsoft Copilot for Security (BRK224)

A key technology that is being actively improved by Copilot is Defender for Cloud, a Microsoft system that allows security admins to secure cloud applications by automatically detecting potentially malicious activity and surfacing security alerts in a dashboard. With Copilot’s assistance, security administrators (like those at Vissensa) can get step-by-step guidance on what actions they need to take to remediate issues, including the ability to generate scripts on-demand.

Our team at Vissensa see that the implications of both the security and day-to-day developments are profound. The integration of AI into Microsoft’s offerings means that MSPs like Vissensa can expect to provide more intelligent and efficient services. The advancements in AI will enable predictive analytics, automation of routine tasks, and enhanced cybersecurity measures. The Copilot experience in Windows 11 and Edge will likely streamline workflows and improve end-user support.

Learning more about the different vulnerabilities and exploits that can be performed to maliciously extract corporate data, confidential information and internal processes has helped to further develop an understanding of the severity involved with securing Copilot systems. Attacks such as indirect (XPIA) and direct (PIA) prompt injection have been mitigated with Microsoft’s Prompt Shield, which actively monitor for instructions sent to Copilot to analyse if the instruction was intended for the AI, and to securely prevent that instruction from being deployed. This stops attackers from actively telling the AI to provide data that would otherwise be confidential and protected.

The main integration with securely using Copilot is Microsoft Purview and Defender. Purview empowers organizations to govern, protect, and manage their entire data estate comprehensively. It brings together data governance from Microsoft Data and AI, along with compliance and risk management from Microsoft Security. Integrating Purview with Azure security products expands visibility into the data layer. Classifications and labels applied to data resources in Purview are ingested into Microsoft Defender for Cloud, providing valuable context for protecting sensitive resources.

Alex Tapp – Infrastructure Consultant

Microsoft Build 2024 was full of announcements, with Copilot and ChatGPT at the forefront, and whilst there is plenty to explore beyond this, these highlights are particularly interesting in the wider future of, not only Microsoft, but IT as a whole industry.

At Vissensa, we offer a wide range of Microsoft 365 services that you can explore here.