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AI Platform for Windows Developers

At Microsoft, we’re making huge investments in AI and Machine Learning across the company. AI capabilities in Office 365 help subscribers with productivity at work, intelligent features in the Photos app for Windows 10 make it easier for people to create videos and search through massive photo collections, and Windows Hello uses AI to recognize your face and get you quickly logged in to your Windows devices. We also use AI to answer your questions when using Bing Search and Cortana, to enable advertisers build deeper connections with customers, and to help security professionals safeguard businesses against modern threats. Microsoft Research continues to drive the state of the art with speech recognition, machine reading and comprehension, computer vision. We’ve scaled AI to tiny devices, and even built AI that can draw!

“Intel’s Movidius VPU technology will deliver increasingly sophisticated AI experiences for the hundreds of millions of Microsoft users worldwide,” said Intel’s Remi El-Ouazzane, Vice President and General Manager of Movidius.
With the next major update to Windows 10, we begin to deliver the advances that have been built into our apps and services as part of the Windows 10 platform. Every developer that builds apps on Windows 10 will be able to use AI to deliver more powerful and engaging experiences.

“AI acceleration on Window 10 PCs is the latest evidence of how artificial intelligence is becoming ubiquitous in our everyday lives,” said Ian Buck, vice president and general manager, Accelerated Computing, at NVIDIA. “NVIDIA is delighted to be partnering with Microsoft to enhance the PC experience for users worldwide.”
The AI platform in Windows 10 enables developers to use pre-trained machine learning models in their Apps on Windows devices. This offers developers a number of benefits:
Low latency, real-time results. Windows can perform AI evaluation tasks using the local processing capabilities of the PC, enabling real-time analysis of large local data such as images and video. Results can be delivered quickly and efficiently for use in performance intensive workloads like game engines, or background tasks such as indexing for search.
Reduced operational costs. Together with Microsoft’s Cloud AI platform, developers can build affordable, end-to-end AI solutions that combine training models in Azure with deployment to Windows devices for evaluation. Significant savings can be realized by reducing or eliminating costs associated with bandwidth due to ingestion of large data sets, such as camera footage or sensor telemetry. Complex workloads can be processed in real-time on the edge, with minimal sample data sent to the cloud for improved training on observations.
Flexibility. Developers can choose to perform AI tasks on device or in the cloud based on what their customers & scenarios need. AI processing can happen on the device if it becomes disconnected, or in scenarios where data cannot be sent to the cloud due to cost, size, policy or customer preference. 

“We’re excited to be collaborating with Microsoft on the Windows ML platform, and helping developers accelerate on-device AI performance on Windows laptops with the Snapdragon 835 AI Engine.” Gary Brotman, Director of Product Management – AI and Machine Learning, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
Our ML model evaluation is tuned for efficiency across the diverse silicon that runs Windows. By using instruction set optimizations on modern CPUs, hardware acceleration on GPUs that support DirectX 12, and a driver model for purpose-built AI processors in the future, we deliver performance and efficiency on the broadest range of form factors. With the update, developers can use the AI platform across the Windows device family, including IoT edge devices, HoloLens, 2-in-1s and desktop PCs, workstations, servers and in data centers.

“We’re excited to work with Microsoft on Windows ML as a part of taking advantage of the high-performance capabilities of AMD CPUs and GPUs to bring AI acceleration to Windows 10 PCs.” – Andre Zdravkovic, CVP Software, AMD
Windows supports ONNX, an industry standard format for ML models that is driven by Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon Web Services, and supported by Windows IHVs including NVIDIA, Intel, Qualcomm and AMD. Data scientists can train and deliver ONNX models for use by Windows developers using Azure Machine Learning Workbench, and coming soon, the Azure Custom Vision Service will also support creating ONNX models for Windows.
We’ve also invested in delivering a great development experience for AI developers on Windows. Starting with Visual Studio Preview 15.7, adding an ONNX file to a UWP project will automatically generate a model interfaces in your project. For prior versions of Visual Studio, developers can use the MLGen tool to generate the code interface and then manually add it to their projects. This capability will be coming soon to Visual Studio tools for AI as well.
For consumers, this is just the beginning! You’ll see more intelligence in every day experiences on Windows devices. Developers can build AI powered apps that help you inspire and communicate in 3d, keep track of tasks and commitments more easily, and listen to music from playlists made just right for you.
You can learn more about our AI journey at Windows Developer Day on March 7, and at //build 2018.

New Map Control features in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

The Maps team has been busy making improvements and adding new features to the Maps platform for the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. In addition to performance and visual improvements to the 3D engine, we are introducing features requested by users, like the ability to import 3D models into the map and support for layering and binding for map elements. We also are making enhancements to the styling API to allow clients to specify base map styles and visual states for their own map elements. Finally, we are announcing a places API to see relevant information of a place right within the current context of the calling app.
Without further ado, please see the highlights below and keep your feedback coming!
3D Buildings
You might recall that some 3D buildings were missing in the previous release. We have been working hard since then to bring them back (and improve the ones that didn’t look correct) with this update.  Keep an eye out for more 3D buildings in the next few months!

3D Objects
We are adding a new MapElement called MapElement3D. Along with MapModel3D, this new API can be used to import and display 3D objects with ease. Think about fancy 3D push pins, cars, planes, etc.  The possibilities are endless!
Here are some great examples of MapElement3D displaying 3D models at a specific location, orientation and scale on the Windows 10 Map Control:

Map Layering APIs
We also are adding a new MapLayer class, the first derivation of which is MapElementsLayer. Unlike the existing MapControl.MapElements API, this can be used to manipulate groups of elements independently as a unit or to designate a joint purpose.
Bind your data to the map using MapControl.Layers
You can bind elements on the map to your own custom collections of business objects with the Map Control.Layers API.
See How To: Display points of interest (POI) on a map.
Map Styling APIs extensions
We are extending the current set of Map Styling APIs for Windows 10 Map Control. In the previous release, we added the MapStylesheet API to allow you to dynamically change the look and feel of the map in real-time. In this release, we are adding support for two new properties on MapElement: MapStyleSheetEntry and MapStyleSheetEntryState, which can be used to more deeply customize the appearance of your map elements using one of the default style entries and states or custom ones.
See How To: Customize Your Map Elements
Here are some examples of the customization that can be done of map elements using the new styling extensions on the Windows 10 Map Control:
Integrate your elements better with the base map using MapStyleSheetEntry
You can make your map elements look like they are part of the base map by setting their style to an existing entry in the map style sheet such as Water. See MapStyleSheetEntry for the full list of entries you can chose from.

Bing logo is rendered by the Windows 10 Map Control through changing the map polygon’s MapStyleSheetEntry property to Water.
Implement states on your map elements using MapStyleSheetEntryState
You can further modify the appearance of your map elements by leveraging default states like Hover and Selected in the map style sheet, or override them to create your own. See MapStyleSheetEntriesStates for the full list of states you can chose from.

Bellevue Square, City Center and Meydenbauer POIs are rendered by the Windows 10 Map Control through overriding the scale of the existing UserPoint entry and changing the map icon’s MapStyleSheetEntryState property to a custom state that extends the existing Hover and Selected entry states.
Place Info
Finally, we are happy to announce the new PlaceInfo API that allows you to see rich relevant information of a place without the need of switching context, in a pop-up UI, right within your own app.
API Updates and Additions
For a list of the APIs added since Windows 10 Creators Update, please see here the following resources:
MapElement: MapStyleSheetEntry, MapStyleSheetEntryState and Tag properties
For more details on all new APIs go to MSDN.

The UWP Community Toolkit v2.0

Today, the UWP Community Toolkit graduates to version 2.0 and sets the stage for future releases.
There have been seven releases since the UWP Community Toolkit was first introduced exactly one year ago and version 2.0 is the first major and largest update to date. The developer community has worked enthusiastically to build something that is used by thousands of developers every month. Today, there are over 100 contributors, and developers have downloaded the packages over 250,000 times. This would not be possible without the strength of the community – Thank You!
For developers, and designers alike
Beginning with the v2.0 release, the UWP Community Toolkit is making efforts to align with the latest Windows 10 Fall Creators Update to enable developers to take advantage of the new APIs and the new Fluent Design System.
The Fluent Design System defines several foundational elements that will make new designs perform beautifully across devices, inputs and dimensions. To prepare for the general availability of the Fall Creators Update later this year, the community has committed to update all UWP Community Toolkit controls to adopt Fluent Design. Over the coming months, new and existing controls will be updated to support light, depth, material, motion and scale. The sample app will also be updated to take full advantage of the new foundational elements to demonstrate what is possible.

Updating the Sample App
The UWP Community Toolkit Sample App showcases toolkit features for developers by providing tools to get started using the toolkit in their apps, and it continues to get better. In the largest update since the initial release, developers can now edit XAML directly in the sample app and instantaneously view the results side by side. This is a very powerful addition that allows developers to get started with development immediately by simply downloading the app from the store.
But that’s not all. Taking inspiration from the Fall Creators Update, the sample app has been updated to use an improved and redesigned navigation model. The navigation has moved to the top and it’s now much easier to get to any sample. In addition, a new landing page has been added to make it easier to find what is new and keep track of favorite samples.

Beyond UWP
The UWP Community Toolkit has received feedback about the importance of supporting cross-platform development to enable developers to share more of their code across platforms. Version 2.0 introduces two new packages: Microsoft.Toolkit and Microsoft.Toolkit.Services with the commitment to support more cross platform APIs in future releases. These packages are built with .NET Standard and support any platform with .NET Standard 1.4 and above. The Bing Service is the first API to go cross-platform and there is currently work underway to move more services to the new packages.
What else is new?
As with every release, the community has worked together to share their ideas, build new controls and helpers libraries and improve the UWP Community Toolkit for everyone. This release is no different.
There are several large additions and updates to highlight here, but make sure to visit our release notes for all additions and improvements:
Added InAppNotification control – a control to show local notifications in app
Added TextToolbar control – text editing control that enables easy rich text and Markdown formatting
Updated Expander to support all orientations and added LayoutTranformControl from the WinRT XAML Toolkit
Updated Menu to support underline characters, orientation and many other improvements
This is just the start
We learned a lot in the past year, and the community has worked together to make toolkit APIs as easy and flexible as possible. Few APIs and packages have been restructured to make them more convenient for developers and allowed more flexibility for future additions and updates. For example, the Microsoft.Toolkit.UWP.Connectivity package was added to unify all connectivity APIs such as Bluetooth and networking. Likewise, all extensions and helpers are now unified under a single namespace and are consistent across API.
As a reminder, although most of the development efforts and usage of the UWP Community Toolkit is for Desktop apps, it also works great on Xbox One, Mobile, HoloLens, IoT and Surface Hub devices. You can get started by following this tutorial, or preview the latest features by installing the UWP Community Toolkit Sample App from the Windows Store.
If you would like to contribute, please join us on GitHub! To join the conversation on Twitter, use the #uwptoolkit hashtag.