​Google I/O vs Microsoft Build: Dueling yet similar visions for developers

Google and Microsoft outline their roadmaps and advances for developers. Don't be surprised if the two tech giants' AI-infused visions rhyme.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Welcome to the week of courting developers, preaching to the base, and rolling out product and strategic visions from two of tech's giants.

Google I/O and Microsoft Build overlap this week and form a string of keynotes that will feature talks on artificial intelligence, cloud, mobility, and platforms. The most obvious overlap between Microsoft and Google revolve around AI and machine learning.

Read also: Build 2018: Livestream, start time, what to expect (CNET)

Here are some common threads between the two tech giants:

  • Cloud as an AI delivery mechanism (Google Cloud Platform vs. Microsoft Azure)
  • The ability to connect dots between applications on their respective platforms
  • UX via Google's Material Design and Microsoft's Fluent Design principles
  • Software developer kits for IoT and augmented reality
  • Progressive Web applications with different names
  • Operating systems via Microsoft's Windows as a way to hook native developer apps and Google's Android
  • Android: Google will outline Android P, and Microsoft will talk a bit of Android and iOS for its Office and products that go across platforms.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will court developers with a heavy dose of AI and tools.

For the enterprise, the Google and Microsoft events are going to garner more interest than Facebook's F8 last week. Why? Google and Microsoft are both key enterprise vendors. Companies have both G Suite and Office in the house and may even have multi-cloud strategies. Microsoft and Google also both have AI and machine learning platforms that will be utilized by enterprises.

Microsoft touts Microsoft Graph as a way to link its applications and platforms together and give developers more options. You can almost take the Microsoft Graph and connect it to a Google Graph. Going forward, developers will possibly mix and match these two formerly disparate worlds that are increasingly overlapping.

Microsoft's core themes

Microsoft kicked off its Build conference with a heavy emphasis on AI as well as edge computing. Microsoft also outlined Azure and where it fits in with Microsoft 365 and its graph of applications. One core theme from CEO Satya Nadella: "We are committed to commoditizing AI."

During his keynote, Nadella told developers that the company was focused on giving them the tools to put AI everywhere and develop use cases for the industries they work in.

Here's a rundown of where Microsoft is headed on the developer front:

  1. Microsoft's Visual Studio Live Share collaboration service available to testers
  2. Microsoft delivers new edge-computing tools that use its speech, camera, AI technologies
  3. Microsoft opens its 'BrainWave' AI-on-FPGA service to external testers
  4. Build 2018: Microsoft embraces Android and iOS, extends Timeline feature
  5. Microsoft looks to Cortana, Teams, ambient intelligence for smarter meetings
  6. Microsoft Build goes gaga for AI: Azure Machine Learning and beyond
  7. Microsoft to show off Your Phone app for Windows 10 at Build (CNET)
  8. Microsoft's Nadella thinks AI can improve tech for people with disabilities (CNET)

Nadella's North Star went like this:

The one thing that I think about as a platform company, as a tools company, is in some sense, who cares about breakthroughs we achieve? What matters is can we translate these into frameworks, tools, and services, and put them in your hands as developers so that you can take AI and have impact in every industry in every application? That's what's important. We truly are committed to, in some sense, commoditizing AI. We have to go from sort of talking about AI being in the hands of a few companies, to being a place where AI is everywhere. It's in the hands of every developer and every organization. That's the next real shift.

And that requires us to be able to scale, first of all, AI across both the cloud and the edge, we need to have the most productive tool chain to be able to create AI and customize AI.

And then you need openness when it comes to frameworks and infrastructure. They can't be locked in.

Google's core themes

Not surprisingly, Google outlined a series of AI advancements, renamed its research unit, and unveiled Duplex, a system that enables Google Assistant to call humans, converse, and book appointments. Consider Duplex a first effort in ultimately enabling Google Assistant to be a personal digital twin.


CEO Sundar Pichai also outlined a bevy of AI-infused developments as well as Android P, which has a screen-time wellness bent, too. Gmail can now write replies for you, too. Here's the roundup:

  1. Google Maps updated to work with Camera, offer smart recommendations
  2. Google Assistant auditions to be your personal digital twin via Duplex
  3. Google makes it easier to incorporate machine learning into mobile apps
  4. Google preps TPU 3.0 for AI, machine learning, model training
  5. Android P: New features, release date, and everything you need to know
  6. Google Assistant is about to get much smarter
  7. Two important words you didn't hear during Google I/O
  8. Google's Duplex could make Assistant the most lifelike AI yet (CNET)
  9. Duplex, Android P and Assistant: Everything important from Google I/O (CNET)

Pichai didn't go into a big platform speech like Microsoft's Nadella did. However, it's safe to say that everything from TPU 3.0 to Duplex will ultimately be a cloud service on Google Cloud Platform. As for its custom TPU chips, Pichai said:

"These chips are so powerful that for the first time we had to introduce liquid cooling to our data centers," said Pichai. "TPU 3.0 can handle up to 100 petaflops."

Android received a good bit of play, but the platform argument was shelved for snazzier demonstrations. Google is clearly a consumer, ad-driven company with an enterprise business. Microsoft is all enterprise with a dash of consumer.

Android P: All the new features and tools announced (so far)

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