Two years late, but upgrade wave finally washes a billion folk onto Windows 10 as its Android phone waits in the wings

Also: Python 3.8 comes to Azure Functions, .NET Core uninstallation made easy and happy Brazilian chatbots in Azure

Roundup While Azure wobbled and Windows was updated, the Microsoft gang continued toiling away with Python, Portuguese and Private Link for its cloud and an altogether more down to earth way uninstalling .NET.

One beeeeellion Windows 10 users

Corporate veep of Modern Life, Search & Devices at Microsoft, Yusuf Mehdi was hopping about his office with delight today as the software behemoth announced that, with NASA-esque levels of delay, Windows 10 had finally broken the billion barrier.

That means, according to Mehdi, the "One in every seven people on the planet are ... doing great things with Windows 10." Or possibly looking up the price of Macs at the Apple Store.

Mehdi also revealed that there were 17.8 million Windows Insiders - quite the army of unpaid testers.

It has taken a long, long time to get to this point. Back in 2015, before Microsoft finally threw in the towel on its Windows Mobile, it expected to get to the magic number by 2018 at worst. Dumping its mobile platform blew a hole in those plans, and while Mehdi bravely pointed to niches such as HoloLens and the moribund Mixed Reality, it is PCs that account for the lion's share of that total.

While Microsoft's latest attempt at mobile will only add to the Android usage figures (which comfortably spank the Redmondian behind with more than 2.5 billion as of last year), the firm's Windows 10X experiment could result in a surge if users and vendors buy into the company's vision in a way that they did not with Surface RT.

Microsoft crept over the 900 million mark last year, and the pulling of support for Windows 7 (and subsequent upgrade wave) has played no small part in the milestone.

Won't someone think of the disk space? .NET Uninstaller emitted

Recognising the continual upgrade cycle of Microsoft's various frameworks might make for a less than ideal situation in terms of old versions left on hard disks, the company has introduced the .NET Core Uninstall Tool for Windows (and Mac - no Linux here because the app is based on installers) to tidy things up a bit.

While Visual Studio (from 2019 version 16.3) manages SDKs and runtimes, previous incarnations would leave code in place in case it was being targeted. The result can be many unused .NET Core bits and pieces left lying around.

For those who really don't want to spend quality time in the Add / Remove screens in Windows, the command line dotnet-core-uninstall will rapidly remove multiple versions of the .NET Core SDKs in one hit, although we'd strongly recommend a dry run with the whatif or dry-run commands to see what will actually be removed. The tool also cares not a jot if you accidentally remove something global.json needs.

Heck, there's always that .NET Core archive if you've ended up with a bit more disk space and a hopelessly borked app following an overenthusiastic deletion.

Python 3.8 goes GA on Azure Functions

Microsoft serverless fans rejoice! Python 3.8 is now Generally Available for Azure Functions. Version 3.7 has been lurking around since November last year, and it was only in August 2019 that Python (then version 3.6) was unleashed thanks to the open source and cross platform Functions 2.0 runtime.

Archrival Amazon Web Services (AWS) has enjoyed Python 3.8 support in Lambda since 18 November 2019, but heck - better a bit late than never. Google's take on serverless currently runs Python 3.7 and lists 3.8 as a beta.

Microsoft has also made life a bit easier for developers tasked with building machine-learning workloads, with support for the likes of OpenCV, XGBoost and LightGBM and the ability to decouple model deployments from inferencing logic.

Azure goes Private and learns Portuguese, Brazilian-style

Private Link support for Azure Database for MariaDB, PostgreSQL and MySQL became available last week. The functionality is a handy one for cross-premises access since it effectively brings Azure services into a customer's private Virtual Network (VNet.) The PaaS services in Azure can then be accessed using a private IP address just like anything else in the VNet.

Getting set up requires a bit of thought. Private endpoints are needed, although once set up and running, tinkering with an IP-based firewall should not be required since access can be achieved through Express Route, private peering or VPN Tunnel.

The linking comes as Azure Cognitive Services had Brazilian Portuguese added to the neural Text to Speech service. The voice, pt-BR or "Francisca" for those who prefer a name to a code, will match patterns of stress and intonation of the spoken language.

In a vaguely horrifying turn of events, the voice can also speak with a "cheerful" tone. "Particularly useful in chat bot scenarios," said Microsoft. We can only apologise to those about to receive an onslaught of "Hello, we understand you were involved in an accident that was not your fault," in Brazilian Portuguese.

Francisca does not, after all, feel pity or remorse. And it absolutely will not stop, ever. Unless the Azure credits run out. ®

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