Microsoft highlighted several areas of focus during its Build developers conference. Getty

Microsoft showed off its latest developments and projects for developers early Wednesday as it kicked off day one of its Build conference in Seattle. Here are several of the biggest takeaways from the conference’s inaugural day:

Microsoft’s AI Demo

Artificial intelligence has been popularized with consumers through products like Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa home assistants, but Microsoft showcased a more in-depth and commercial application for the technology with a live demo.

Read: Microsoft's Amazon Echo-Like Cortana Speaker's Features Include MS-Word Integration, Conversational AI

During the demo, Microsoft set up a mock construction workplace onstage to demonstrate how AI could be used to help encourage workplace safety. Using AI and augmented cameras, the system automatically detected where people and individual power tools were within the workspace. Microsoft said instances where the technology could be used include helping employees find tools and ensuring workers aren’t using tools for which they haven't been trained.

Cortana Support Expands

Microsoft’s Cortana is the counterpart to other home virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri, and the company looks to ramp up its functionality in the coming year. On the consumer end, Microsoft confirmed Intel and HP have joined with Microsoft to help produce devices that feature Cortana functionality.

For developers, Microsoft has also opened up extensive Cortana development options with the Cortana Skills Kit. With the Skills Kit, developers can build their own Cortana skills and publish them to Microsoft’s Bot Framework. Microsoft also featured Cortana in another onstage demo. Cortana reminded the demo speaker at home about an upcoming meeting at work and carried over to a Cortana-enabled unit in her car.

Microsoft’s User Base Is Still High

It’s minor housekeeping on Microsoft’s part, but the company touted the latest stats for its various platforms and properties. Microsoft said 500 million monthly active devices are running Windows 10 and Office 365 has 100 million commercial monthly users. More than 145 million use Cortana on a monthly basis.

Read: Microsoft Surface Chief Says That There's No Surface Pro 5


In a brief clip, Haiyan Zhang, innovation director at Microsoft Research Cambridge, showcased a device she built to help out graphic designer Emma Lawton, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Check out the video below: