Nadella at Microsoft Build: AI’s 'Democratization' in Full Swing

“[W]hat stands out for me as I look back at this past year is how you all, as developers, have taken all of these capabilities and applied them, quite frankly, to change the world around us," Nadella said.

Kelly Teal, Contributing Editor

May 21, 2024

4 Min Read
Satya Nadella at Microsoft Build 2024
CEO Satya Nadella on stage at Microsoft Build 2024, Seattle, May 21.Microsoft

MICROSOFT BUILD — Satya Nadella took to the stage Tuesday at Redmond’s annual developer conference and, as expected, spent his short keynote touting the company’s advancements in artificial intelligence.

Much of the news Nadella discussed served as recaps of the announcements Channel Futures published earlier. And, surprisingly, he spent only a little time addressing May 20’s big, invite-only reveal around Copilot + PCs. That’s Microsoft’s initiative around reinvigorating its flagging devices business.

To accomplish that, the company is launching Windows PCs and Surface tablets built with AI-first capabilities. There are a lot of arcane details around fast chips, and large memory and storage, and digs at rival Apple’s M1 chip. For Microsoft channel partners, the key takeaway lies in how the AI features might help enterprise users save time and boost efficiency. Nadella, for his part, appears optimistic that buyers will latch onto the new Copilot + PCs model. He said that he expects Microsoft to sell 50 million units before the end of this year, according to Fast Company.

In terms of other announcements, Nadella, again, touched on little new beyond what Microsoft already has shared. He was, though, enthusiastic about all the new versions of Copilot — in GitHub, Teams, Studio and more.

“It puts knowledge and expertise at your fingertips, helps you act on it, and we build the Copilot stack so that you can build your AI applications and solutions and experiences,” Nadella said.

And the momentum is coming swiftly, more quickly than ever, he noted.

“One of the questions I always ask myself is, ‘OK, this is great, this is maybe the golden age of systems — what’s really driving it?’ I always come back to the scaling laws. Just like Moore's Law helped drive the information revolution, the scaling laws of [deep neural networks] are really … driving this intelligence revolution. You could say Moore's Law was probably more stable in the sense that it was scaling at maybe 15 months, 18 months. We now have these things that are scaling every six months or doubling every six months.”

All of that, of course, translates into new ways of performing everyday, and other, tasks. But there’s something more powerful that speaks to Nadella when it comes to AI and its promise.

“[W]hat stands out for me as I look back at this past year is how you all, as developers, have taken all of these capabilities and applied them, quite frankly, to change the world around us," he said.

‘Great to See the Democratization’ of AI

From there, Nadella shared examples of two people he met in India and Thailand who are using Microsoft’s AI to improve their work. One is a farmer; one is a developer.

“It's just great to see the democratization,” Nadella said. “To witness it has just been something. And this is, quite frankly, the impact of why we are in this industry and it's what gives us I would say that deep meaning.”

After that, Nadella addressed other developments coming out of Microsoft Build. Here are the highlights:

  • Announcing expansions to Microsoft's AI infrastructure and partnerships with companies including Nvidia, AMD, Hugging Face and OpenAI, all around ramping up performance and availability.

  • Introducing new capabilities for Azure, including PyTorch support, custom AI models, and real-time intelligence in Microsoft Fabric. 

  • Emphasizing tools to help developers like GitHub Copilot, which is bringing AI-powered coding capabilities to more people.

  • Discussing the vision for Copilot to automate tasks and business processes through configurable agents.

  • Underscoring Microsoft's commitment to responsible innovation, security and using AI to empower everyone.

“I want to go back to, I think, the core of … why you chose to be in this industry and why we come to work every day as developers, which is the mission, ultimately, of empowering every person in every organization,” Nadella said as he wrapped up his Microsoft Build keynote. “At the end of the day, it's not about innovation that is only useful for a few. It’s about really being able to empower … everyone … For us, it's never, never about celebrating tech for tech’s sake. It's about celebrating what we can do to create magical experience, make a difference in our countries, in our companies, in our communities.”

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About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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