Tag Archives: innovations

Microsoft Build highlights new opportunity for developers, at the edge and in the cloud

Announcing new innovations that help developers build AI and multidevice, multisense experiences, and new $25M AI for Accessibility program

REDMOND, Wash. — May 7, 2018 — Monday at Microsoft Build 2018, Microsoft Corp.’s annual developer conference, Microsoft leaders showcased new technologies to help every developer be an AI developer, on Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and across any platform. Building for AI is more important to developers than ever, as technology continues to change the way people live and work every day, across the cloud and across edge devices.

“The era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge is upon us,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “These advancements create incredible developer opportunity and also come with a responsibility to ensure the technology we build is trusted and benefits all.”

As part of Microsoft’s commitment to trusted, responsible AI products and practices, the company also today announced AI for Accessibility, a new $25 million, five-year program aimed at harnessing the power of AI to amplify human capabilities for more than 1 billion people around the world with disabilities. The program comprises grants, technology investments and expertise, and will also incorporate AI for Accessibility innovations into Microsoft Cloud services. It builds on the success of the similar AI for Earth initiative.

Advancements in the intelligent edge and intelligent cloud

Smart devices are proliferating in homes and businesses across the globe, with more than 20 billion expected by 2020. These devices are so smart, in fact, they are powering advanced ways to see, listen, reason and predict, without constant connectivity to the cloud. That is the intelligent edge, and it is opening opportunities for consumers, businesses and entire industries, from the operating room to the factory floor. Today Microsoft is announcing new capabilities for developers to extend to the edge:

  • Microsoft is open sourcing the Azure IoT Edge Runtime, allowing customers to modify, debug and have more transparency and control for edge applications.
  • Custom Vision will now run on Azure IoT Edge, enabling devices such as drones and industrial equipment to take critical action quickly without requiring cloud connectivity. This is the first Azure Cognitive Service to support edge deployment, with more coming to Azure IoT Edge over the next several months.
  • DJI, the world’s biggest drone company, is partnering with Microsoft to create a new SDK for Windows 10 PCs, and it has also selected Azure as its preferred cloud provider to further its commercial drone and SaaS solutions. The SDK will bring full flight control and real-time data transfer capabilities to nearly 700M Windows 10 connected devices globally. As part of the commercial partnership, DJI and Microsoft will co-develop solutions leveraging Azure IoT Edge and Microsoft’s AI services to enable new scenarios across agriculture, construction, public safety and more.
  • Microsoft announced a joint effort with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. to create a vision AI developer kit running Azure IoT Edge. This solution makes available the key hardware and software required to develop camera-based IoT solutions. Developers can create solutions that use Azure Machine Learning services and take advantage of the hardware acceleration available via the Qualcomm® Vision Intelligence Platform and Qualcomm® AI Engine. The camera can also power advanced Azure services, such as machine learning, stream analytics and cognitive services, that can be downloaded from the cloud to run locally on the edge.

Data and AI development for a new era

Using data, machine learning and cognitive intelligence, developers can build and manage AI-rich solutions that transform the ways people work, collaborate and live:

  • Microsoft announced Project Kinect for Azure, a package of sensors, including our next-generation depth camera, with onboard compute designed for AI on the Edge. Building on Kinect’s legacy that has lived on through HoloLens, Project Kinect for Azure empowers new scenarios for developers working with ambient intelligence. Combining Microsoft’s industry-defining Time of Flight sensor with additional sensors all in a small, power-efficient form factor, Project Kinect for Azure will leverage the richness of Azure AI to dramatically improve insights and operations. It can input fully articulated hand tracking and high-fidelity spatial mapping, enabling a new level of precision solutions.
  • A Speech Devices SDK announced today delivers superior audio processing from multichannel sources for more accurate speech recognition, including noise cancellation, far-field voice and more. With this, developers can build a variety of voice-enabled scenarios like drive-thru ordering systems, in-car or in-home assistants, smart speakers, and other digital assistants.
  • Azure Cosmos DB updates include new and differentiated multimaster at global scale capabilities, designed to support both the cloud and the edge, along with the VNET general availability for increased security. With these new updates, Cosmos DB delivers even greater cost-effectiveness and global scale, further cementing it as the fastest-growing database service in the world.
  • A preview of Project Brainwave, an architecture for deep neural net processing, is now available on Azure and on the edge. Project Brainwave makes Azure the fastest cloud to run real-time AI and is now fully integrated with Azure Machine Learning. It also supports Intel FPGA hardware and ResNet50-based neural networks.
  • New Azure Cognitive Services updates include a unified Speech service with improved speech recognition and text-to-speech, which support customized voice models and translation. Along with Custom Vision, these updates make it easier for any developer to add intelligence to their applications.
  • Microsoft is making Azure the best place to develop conversational AI experiences integrated with any agent. New updates to Bot Framework and Cognitive Services will power the next generation of conversational bots enabling richer dialogs, and full personality and voice customization to match the company’s brand identity.
  • A preview of Azure Search with Cognitive Services integration. This new feature combines AI with indexing technologies so it’s possible to quickly find information and insights, whether via text or images.

Multisense and multidevice experiences

Microsoft also demonstrated mixed-reality capabilities to enable richer experiences that understand the context surrounding people, the things they use, their activities and relationships:

  • A new initiative, Project Kinect for Azure — a package of sensors from Microsoft that contains our unmatched time of flight depth camera, with onboard compute, in a small, power-efficient form factor — designed for AI on the Edge. Project Kinect for Azure brings together this leading hardware technology with Azure AI to empower developers with new scenarios for working with ambient intelligence.
  • With Microsoft Remote Assist, customers can collaborate remotely with heads-up, hands-free video calling, image sharing, and mixed-reality annotations. Firstline Workers can share what they see with any expert on Microsoft Teams, while staying hands on to solve problems and complete tasks together, faster.
  • With Microsoft Layout, customers can design spaces in context with mixed reality. Import 3-D models to create room layouts in real-world scale, experience designs as high-quality holograms in physical space or in virtual reality, and share and edit with stakeholders in real time.

Modern tooling and experiences for any platform in any language

Microsoft is empowering developers to build for the new era of the intelligent edge, across Azure, Microsoft 365 and other platforms, using the languages and frameworks of their choice:

  • With Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), developers can drastically simplify how they build and run container-based solutions without deep Kubernetes experience. Generally available in the coming weeks, AKS integrates with developer tools and workspaces, DevOps capabilities, networking, monitoring tools, and more in the Azure portal, so developers can write code, not stitch services together. In addition, Microsoft is now offering Kubernetes support for Azure IoT Edge devices.
  • Visual Studio IntelliCode is a new capability that enhances everyday software development with the power of AI. IntelliCode provides intelligent suggestions to improve code quality and productivity and is available in preview today in Visual Studio.
  • Visual Studio Live Share, now in preview, lets developers easily and securely collaborate in real time with team members who can edit and debug directly from their existing tools like Visual Studio 2017 and VS Code. Developers can use Live Share with any language for any scenario, including serverless, cloud-native and IoT development.
  • Building on our shared commitment to developers and open source, Microsoft announced a new partnership with GitHub that brings the power of Azure DevOps services to GitHub customers. Today, we released the integration of Visual Studio App Center and GitHub, which provides GitHub developers building apps for iOS and Android devices to seamlessly automate DevOps processes right from within the GitHub experience.
  • Available today, the new Microsoft Azure Blockchain Workbench makes it easier to develop blockchain applications by stitching together an Azure-supported blockchain network with cloud services like Azure Active Directory, Key Vault and SQL Database, reducing proof-of-concept development time dramatically.

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications, (425) 638-7777, rrt@we-worldwide.com

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

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Intelligent Retail: Top Tech Trends for 2018 and Beyond – Microsoft Enterprise

Today’s innovations in technology are opening new doors for retailers. The ability to infuse data and intelligence in all areas of a business has the potential to completely reinvent retail. Here’s a visual look at the top technologies we see enabling this transformation in 2018 and beyond, and where they’ll have the greatest impact.

2018 the year of intelligent retail- infographic

Introducing the Outlook.com beta

Today, we’re launching the Outlook.com beta, an opt-in web experience where you can try out new product innovations and let us know what you think. Recent advances in programming, design, and artificial intelligence have enabled our engineers and designers to improve the Outlook.com web experience in several areas—and we’re eager to get your feedback. If you enjoy being a part of what’s next, just click the Try the beta toggle, rolling out to all users in the next few weeks. You can test drive our new experience and switch back to the regular web experience any time.

Here’s a look at what’s new:

A faster experience

We’re implementing a more responsive web development framework that delivers an upgraded search feature, a fresher look with a modern conversation style and a new design to let you see, read, and attach files and photos faster.

Image showing the Outlook beta inbox, with the search feature displaying suggested contacts.

A new look with upgraded search that previews files and photos right in your conversation list.

A smarter inbox

Your inbox now shows you Quick Suggestions as you type—so you can easily add information about restaurants, flights, or your favorite teams’ schedules to your conversations. An improved photo experience puts all the pictures sent or received in your email in one place and makes it easier to share them with others. The new modern conversation style makes it easier to manage and preview photos and attachments.

Image showing an email, with the Quick Suggestions feature adding the details of a place to meet for coffee to the email.

Get Quick Suggestions for places as you type, so you can easily add details to your emails.

Better personalization

You can personalize your inbox with your favorite people and folders to make it easier to find the friends, files, and conversations that matter to you and give your communications a personal touch with an easier way to access tons of expressions, including popular emojis and GIFs right inside Outlook.

Image showing an email, with the Expressions pane displayed that allows users to add an Emoji or GIF to their email.

A variety of emojis and GIFs are available to add personality to your messages.

Additional enhancements will be rolled out over the next few months, including updates to Calendar and People. Based on your feedback, we’ll iterate, improve, refine, or discard them. At the end of the beta, we’ll bring the best innovations into Outlook.com.

How do I get started?

Today, we started rolling out the Try the beta toggle. You can access the Outlook.com beta as soon as you see the toggle switch appear on the top right corner of your inbox. If you don’t see it now, you’ll see it in the next few weeks. It’s easy to move between the beta and the regular Outlook.com experience by switching the toggle back and forth.

Image of the Try the beta toggle button and a dialog prompting user to try it now.

Find the Try the beta toggle on the top right of your inbox.

If you want to be a part of the evolution of Outlook.com, this is your chance. Just switch the toggle on the top right corner of your inbox and join us. We will be posting updates on new and updated features in our Outlook.com beta support article, so check it regularly to stay up-to-date with the latest changes.

We read every piece of feedback that we receive, so please send us your thoughts through UserVoice.

—The Outlook team

Frequently asked questions

Q. Why don’t I see the beta toggle?

A. We are rolling out the beta and it could take some time to reach all our users. If you are an Outlook.com Premium customer, please read the Learn about the Outlook.com beta support article.

Q. Who can join the beta?

A. Any Outlook.com user who sees the Outlook beta toggle in their inbox can join.

Q. Where can I learn more about the beta and keep up with updates?

A. You can get all the details in the Outlook.com beta support article.

Q. Can I switch back from the beta?

A. Yes. You can always switch back to the regular Outlook.com web experience by switching back the Try the beta toggle.

Q. I don’t see some of my favorite features in the beta. Will you be adding features later?

A. Yes, we’ll continue to add more features in the beta over time—stay tuned.

Q. Why can’t I see add-ins?

A. We are working to bring add-ins to the beta. The Outlook.com beta update history article will keep you up-to-date on what is new.

Q. How long will the beta last?

A. We’re not sure! We’ll try new things, get your feedback, and keep iterating. When the beta has served its purpose, we’ll wind it down.

Q. How do I opt in?

A. Switch the toggle located on the top right corner of your inbox. Read Learn about the Outlook.com beta for details.

Q. Will this impact any of my data or how Outlook.com synchronizes with my phone?

A. No. The Outlook.com beta is focused on new UI and web features; the way your phone syncs up is unchanged.

Q. Will there be new Calendar and People experiences in the beta?

A. Yes. We’ll roll out new experiences to those areas in the coming months.

Q. I have issues with the beta.

A. Please see Get help with the Outlook.com beta, and if your issue isn’t mentioned there, let us know. Remember, you can always switch back to the regular Outlook.com web experience by switching back the Try the beta toggle.

AI innovations are nothing for EUC IT pros to be scared of

IT experts are excited about future AI innovations and aren’t scared of it taking their jobs.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a hot topic lately as some of the biggest names in tech debate its future. Tesla CEO Elon Musk worries AI could grow out of control and lead to killer robots. Andrew Ng, former AI lead at Chinese search engine Baidu, thinks it could cause job displacement. And Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the negatives of AI are overblown.

In the end-user computing (EUC) market, AI innovations will help IT professionals do their jobs more than it will threaten their livelihoods, experts said.

“It’s not going to take people’s jobs, but it will change the way they do it,” said Jim Davies, director of IT at Ongweoweh Corp., a pallet and packing management company in Ithaca, N.Y. “Organizations can embrace it or not, but I really feel those that don’t will be left behind.”

AI will progress over time and get smarter and have more capabilities.
Jack Goldfounder and principal analyst, J. Gold Associates

Some EUC products already take advantage of AI innovations to enforce policies around users’ access to corporate data, and it will be interesting to see how these evolve. For example, Citrix’s new Analytics Service tracks user activity on a corporate network and recognizes patterns. If the AI technology catches unusual activity, it can block a user from accessing a document or enforce multifactor authentication without the help of an IT person.

If AI evolves a step further and can onboard new users, implement appropriate policies and enforce those policies on its own, it would take some responsibilities off IT pros’ plates. But AI won’t take their jobs; it will simply change the way they work, said Jack Gold, founder and principal analyst at J. Gold Associates, an analyst firm in Northborough, Mass.

“AI will progress over time and get smarter and have more capabilities,” Gold said. “IT people will find different things they need to do that AI isn’t good at yet.”

Willem Bagchus, messaging and collaboration specialist at United Bank in Parkersburg, W.Va., agreed.

“People have been terrified of AI forever from all these horrific movies,” Bagchus said. “I don’t quite believe that it will ever become anywhere near a complete replacement for human intelligence. But for monitoring and automating simple tasks, it could do very well.” 

Machine learning capabilities also continue to grow in end-user applications as well, with AI-based features in Box, Microsoft Office 365 and more.

“AI ultimately will be embedded in most aspects of EUC, from security to management to deployments,” Gold said. “It will ultimately make things more efficient and effective for users, and that’s what you want.”

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