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Introducing our 2019 Keystone Sponsor: Microsoft!

Our top sponsors — companies who step forward to make the biggest investment in PyCon and its community — not only use Python for their own development but also offer Python as a crucial tool for their own customers. That is certainly true of PyCon’s Keystone Sponsor this year.

I recently caught up with the Python Team at Microsoft to talk about how they're using Python and was excited to hear what they had to say.

Q: Is your organization using Python in any surprising ways?
Yes, and in many surprising ways! To mention just three examples:

  • We have large swaths of data scientists whose jobs rely around Jupyter Notebooks. This includes our security analysis team, which is constantly working to identify new security threats and protecting literally billions of users of Windows, Office, and our cloud services for consumers and businesses—every day.
  • Python is an important part of the CI/CD pipelines that are executed thousands of times every day to build and test Azure, Windows, and Office products and services.
  • Many of our products and services are written in Python, including the Azure command-line tools (which come with an interesting story), and Azure Notebooks.
Python has an incredibly productive language design, with a powerful set of packages and capabilities across scripting and automation, data science, and web development. This allows our engineers working in each of these scenarios to move faster and get more done.

Q: What is your organization most excited to share with the Python community at PyCon 2019?
We are excited about sharing all the improvements for Python developers in our tools and services since PyCon 2018 last year. In Visual Studio Code we have continued to push out our monthly updates to the Python extension, adding features like the new Test Explorer and the Python Interactive window with support for importing Jupyter notebooks. With Python in Azure Pipelines, we’ve enabled developers to get cross-platform builds of Python packages  (for Mac, Windows and Linux) and publish them to PyPI or their own hosted private package feeds. In Azure we’ve released native Python support in Azure App Service on Linux, making it easy to deploy your Django and Flask web apps to the cloud, and for those interested in serverless we’ve added support for Python in Azure Functions on Linux.

Another exciting thing is that Python is now available in the Windows Store, and in the next major release of Windows you’ll be able to type “python” in the command prompt to install Python from the Store. This makes it possible for developers, especially in schools and enterprises, to start using Python without following complex install steps or needing admin privileges on their machine.

We are also planning to announce some new things at PyCon 2019, which we cannot share right now because they are top secret, so be sure to follow our Python blog and come by the Microsoft booth to find out what’s new!

Q: What is your organization most excited to learn more about at PyCon 2019?

We love learning more about what problems and pain points Python developers currently have and how we can help solve those problems with our tools, services, and CPython contributions.
The conversations we have at PyCon, during sessions, at our booth, or just in the hallways, help inform where we focus our engineering efforts for the next year (for real!).

Q: What is the most valuable thing about sponsoring PyCon to your team?
This is our second time as Keystone sponsors for PyCon, and we're excited to have the opportunity to show our appreciation and support for the work the Python developer community and the Python Software Foundation are doing. Our engineering team is coming to PyCon to connect with Python developers and to understand how we can offer better tools and services to help them write better apps, faster.

Additionally, Microsoft is helping maintain the CPython interpreter on Windows, and we want to learn from developers how we can design a better experience for them, whether they're expert programmers or students who are just starting.

Q: What does the future of Python look like from Microsoft’s vantage point? What sorts of things do you see for the community as a whole as well as Python within Microsoft itself?
Python is rapidly becoming the programming language of choice for people working in roles that have not traditionally involved writing code: we already see it spreading into fields as diverse as finance, biology, humanitarianism, and linguistics. As access to computation becomes universal, the Python community gets to empower people from all roles and backgrounds to achieve whatever is important to them.

As workloads diversify and the need to process large amounts of data increases, we see a future where Python is the great equalizer: the ideal language for anyone to write code that runs anywhere, flexible enough to take advantage of the intelligent cloud, lightweight enough to drive the intelligent edge, and rich enough to support developers in all fields and of all skills and experience level.

At Microsoft, we’re seeing dramatic growth in Python usage internally, and support for using our platforms and products with Python. It didn't use to be the case. After many years building an open source culture within a huge company, we are very much enjoying getting to use our favorite tools at work. For everything for open-source developers from GitHub through to Python, the future at Microsoft looks bright!

Q: We’re thrilled that Microsoft has stepped forward again this year to make such a big investment in Python and its community. What would you like attendees to take away from your presence at PyCon?
Microsoft has had a long history with Python and we are deeply committed to continue building tools and services for Python developers just as we have been doing for years. We also want attendees to know that we have comprehensive support for Python across our developer tools and cloud services, and not just on Windows!

Our Visual Studio Code editor, which runs on macOS, Linux and Windows, is now the most popular free and open source editor among Python developers, according to the PSF’s 2018 Python developer survey.

On our Azure application platform, developers can run Python web apps on a managed Kubernetes service or on Azure App Service; and it also offers a rich set of features for users working with Machine Learning and AI, including free Jupyter Notebooks and Azure Machine Learning Studio. Lastly, Python developers can run CI/CD jobs for Linux, macOS and Windows on Azure Pipelines, which offers unlimited build minutes for open source projects.