Tag Archives: Machine Learning

Microsoft grants help kids learn computer science, Earth Day is celebrated and influential engineer is honored — Weekend Reading: April 22 edition

From a huge effort to help kids realize their potential to a celebration of our dear old planet, this week brought plenty of interesting and inspiring news around Microsoft. We’ve rounded up some of the highlights in this latest edition of Weekend Reading.

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced grants to 100 nonprofit partners in 55 countries as part of YouthSpark, a global initiative to increase access for young people to learn computer science. In turn, these nonprofit partners — such as Laboratoria, CoderDojo and City Year — will use the power of local schools, businesses and community organizations to empower students to achieve more for themselves, their families and their communities.

The nonprofits will build upon the work that Microsoft already has underway through programs like Hour of Code with Code.org, BBC micro:bit and TEALS.

Every young person should have an opportunity, a spark, to realize a more promising future,” Mary Snapp, corporate vice president and head of Microsoft Philanthropies, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. “Together with our nonprofit partners, we are excited to take a bold step toward that goal today.”

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Wondering what the next wave of breakthrough technology will be? Harry Shum, executive vice president of Microsoft Technology and Research, calls it an “invisible revolution,” and it’s transforming farming, allowing people from different cultures to communicate, helping people breathe healthier air, preventing disease outbreaks and much more.

“We are on the cusp of creating a world in which technology is increasingly pervasive but is also increasingly invisible,” Shum said.

This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we joined the invisible revolution to preview the latest, most cutting-edge developments in artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud computing. The possibilities are endless.

Invisible revolution GIF

Computer industry luminaries honored Dave Cutler, a Microsoft senior technical fellow whose impressive body of work spans five decades, as a Computer History Museum Fellow. The 74-year-old has shaped entire eras. He worked to develop the VMS operating system for Digital Equipment Corporation in the late 1970s, had a central role in the development of Windows NT — the basis for all major versions of Windows since 1993 — and helped develop the Microsoft Azure cloud operating system and the hypervisor for Xbox One that allows the console to be more than just for gaming.

“The Fellow awards recognize people who’ve had a tremendous impact on our lives, on our culture, on the way we work, exchange information and live,” said John Hollar, the museum’s president and CEO. “People like Dave Cutler, who probably influences the computing experiences of more than 2 billion people, yet isn’t known in a way he deserves to be, in proportion to the impact he’s had on the world.”

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Microsoft Philanthropies sponsored the annual We Day, supporting exciting events Wednesday in Seattle and earlier this month in Los Angeles. Nearly 30,000 attended the shows, which celebrate young people who are making a difference.

In supporting We Day, Microsoft aims to help young people drive the change they would like to see in their neighborhoods, schools and communities. Our photo gallery captures the highlights, famous faces and young people who were involved in this year’s events.

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In advance of Earth Day on Friday, Microsoft kicked off this week with inspiration and information about the company’s sustainability programs and initiatives, including ways you can take part in the efforts. The  brand new Environmental Sustainability at Microsoft website details how Microsoft’s company-wide carbon fee have financed significant investments in renewable energy to power its data centers, improved building efficiency and reached more than 6 million people through the purchase of carbon offsets from community projects around the world.

Microsoft, which has been a carbon-neutral company since 2012, is continually finding ways to make its products and their lifecycles more earth-friendly. Learn more about how Microsoft is commemorating Earth Day on the Microsoft Green Blog.

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Microsoft is also constantly working to help students achieve more. Some all-new education features coming in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update are specifically inspired by teachers and focused on students. A “Set Up School PCs” app lets teachers set up a device themselves in mere minutes, and a new “Take a Test” provides simple and secure standardized testing for classrooms or entire schools.

Learning will also get a big boost with Microsoft Classroom and Microsoft Forms, a OneNote Class Notebook that now has Learning Management System (LMS) integration and — perhaps most exciting to students — the dawn of “Minecraft: Education Edition.” Educators will be able to give it a test run in the summer months and provide feedback and suggestions.

In apps this week, the powerful mobile photo-editing app PicsArt is marking Earth Day by offering a series of green- and outdoorsy-themed photo frame and clip art packages. Several are exclusive to Windows customers. The PicsArt app is free in the Windows Store.

Need a little help juggling projects, priorities and other moving parts in your busy life? The Todoist Windows 10 app can help you stay organized, collaborate with colleagues and even empty your inbox by turning important emails into tasks.

Or for a little fun this weekend, go way beyond retro to prehistoric days in “Age of Cavemen.” In this multiplayer strategy game, you’re the village chief in a dangerous world, and you need to keep your people safe. Build an army, create alliances and destroy your opponents in a wild and wooly free-for-all.

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And that’s a wrap for this edition of Weekend Reading. See you here next week for the latest roundup.

Posted by Tracy Ith
Microsoft News Center Staff

The post Microsoft grants help kids learn computer science, Earth Day is celebrated and influential engineer is honored — Weekend Reading: April 22 edition appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Welcome to the invisible revolution

Think of your favorite pieces of technology. These are the things that you use every day for work and play, and pretty much can’t live without.

Chances are, at least one of them is a gadget – your phone, maybe, or your gaming console.

But if you really think about it, chances also are good that many of your most beloved technologies are no longer made of plastic, metal and glass.

Maybe it’s a streaming video service you use to binge watch “Game of Thrones” on or an app that lets you track your steps and calories so you can fit into those jeans you wore back in high school. Maybe it’s a virtual assistant that helps you remember where your meetings are and when you need to take your medicine, or an e-reader that lets you get lost in your favorite book via your phone, tablet or even car speakers.

Perhaps, quietly and without even realizing it, your most beloved technologies have gone from being things you hold to services you rely on, and that exist everywhere and nowhere. Instead of the gadgets themselves, they are tools that you expect to be able to use on any type of gadget: Your phone, your PC, maybe even your TV.

They are part of what Harry Shum, executive vice president in charge of Microsoft’s Technology and Research division, refers to as an “invisible revolution.”

“We are on the cusp of creating a world in which technology is increasingly pervasive but is also increasingly invisible,” Shum said.

Read the full story.

The post Welcome to the invisible revolution appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Microsoft partner Easydom is bringing smart homes to the masses

Sergio Tucci was vacationing in the little Italian seaside town of Alba Adriatica in 2004 when he had the vision of controlling his home from his smartphone. Wireless access and smartphones were just beginning to reach the masses.

“He was on the beach reading a technology magazine, and he said, ‘Why can’t I manage and control my home from my cellphone or with a PC connected to the Internet?’” recalls Romina Panella, Tucci’s wife. “From that moment, his vision was clear, and all the work was focused on finding a way to manage the home from anywhere in an easy way.”

Tucci, an electrician who already worked in the field of building automation, returned home to Milan and started tinkering in a garage with software programs that could speak to automation hardware.

“I was in this field, and I knew it could be adapted to houses,” Tucci said. “I thought, ‘Why not make it accessible to everyone worldwide?’”

Soon, Easydom was born.Easy Dom Graphic 1

A combination of “easy” and “domotics” (home automation), Easydom has been installing home automation systems across Italy since 2011. The company has become a European leader in the growing world of ubiquitous computing, also known as the Internet of Things. This month, it prepares to launch its first wireless solution, Easydom Next. Subscribers will be able to control their home’s security system, climate, lighting and just about everything else, on nearly any device and platform, from the comfort of beach chairs anywhere in the world. For this, Easydom was named an innovation award honoree at CES 2015 in Las Vegas in software and mobile apps. The company of 11 employees is preparing for its reach to extend dramatically and beyond its mostly Italian market as it shifts from business-to-business to business-to-customer.

Read the full story.

Microsoft Business Predictions for 2015: IoT matures, cybersecurity bulks up, and machine learning gives businesses a big advantage

During my career I’ve been fortunate to work with organizations in both the public and private sector as they adopt cloud technologies to transform, become more responsive and achieve measurable business results.  Today companies in every industry and geography, including 80 percent of the Fortune 500, are utilizing Microsoft’s cloud to become more competitive and deliver greater impact. As we look at the key business drivers for 2015, we’re predicting greater growth and agility, from technologies that evolve from the Internet of Things, cybersecurity and machine learning.

Internet of Things will go mainstream

IoT continues to mature across a range of industry sectors, and companies are focused on the actionable potential IoT holds for businesses today. People are eager to understand and implement IoT in their businesses, a trend that’s reinforced by a 430 percent increase in searches for IoT on Bing in the last 12 months.

IoT is not just about connecting “things” anymore; this proliferation of sensors and cloud computing has given businesses access to nearly unlimited amounts of data – which is IoT’s payoff. The challenge for successful companies in the coming year will be to harness this data to act on key insights, improve customer service, reduce time to market, enable new innovation in product and services development, and ultimately transform themselves with new business models and revenue streams.

Rockwell Automation is a prime example of the transformative power of IoT – in this instance not only transforming their business, but an entire industry. Rockwell is building new forms of intelligence to transform the petroleum supply chain by providing managed monitoring and support for its products across the globe. This includes cloud-based solutions that use software, sensors and devices to predict equipment failures along the vast oil and gas supply chain, track performance in real time, and help refine designs and processes to prevent failures in the future – all to ensure your local gas station has fuel when you need it.

From this oil and gas industry example, to the coupons you receive on your smartphone when shopping at a favorite home store, the Internet of Things moved from concept to reality in 2014 and we expect it to go mainstream in 2015.

Businesses will strengthen cybersecurity

In 2014, big-name companies in nearly every industry fell victim to cyber-attacks, prompting FBI Director James Corney to say “There are two kinds of big companies in the United States. There are those who’ve been hacked…and those who don’t know they’ve been hacked.”

A recent survey by the Ponemon Institute showed the average cost of cybercrime for U.S. retail stores more than doubled from 2013 to an annual average of $8.6 million per company in 2014, and greatly increased in the financial services, technology, and communications sector as well.

It’s clear that businesses need to do more to fight the increasing threat of hackers, do more to protect their businesses and prevent huge losses. We’re seeing policy and technology developments that will help businesses beef up security on premises, in the cloud and across mobile devices.

One of the big changes we’ll see is a migration to Europay MasterCard and Visa (EMV), a new technology to protect consumers and reduce the costs of fraud. EMV is a global standard for cards equipped with computer chips and the technology used to authenticate chip-card transactions. Coming in October 2015, merchants using non-EMV compliant devices that choose to accept transactions made with EMV-compliant cards assume liability for transactions that are found to be fraudulent. In 2015, we expect this compliance requirement to drive a massive move to modern card technology and modern points-of-sale devices. That translates to better security for banks, merchants and consumers.

Machine learning will give businesses a leg up on the competition

As we reinvent productivity at Microsoft we’re building tools that are more predictive, personal and helpful. In 2015, businesses will begin to fully make use of big data services in the cloud and we expect machine learning to grow exponentially across the retail, manufacturing and health care sectors, in particular.

This growth will be driven by three factors: broader access to machine learning, massive computing power connecting systems and services, and the explosion of online data. These developments create more opportunities for organizations to use machine learning for data-driven decision making.

Pier 1 Imports is an example of a company leveraging machine learning to deliver business impact. Using Azure Machine Learning with partner MAX451, Pier 1 Imports can determine—with 56 percent accuracy—what category of product a customer is most likely to purchase next. They can also predict the likelihood of a customer purchasing a product from any of their merchandise categories, based on e-commerce data as well as brick and mortar store data.

Last year, I shared what I saw as the top enterprise technology trends in 2014 based on the conversations I had with customers around the globe. Looking back on 2014, it’s exciting to see how widely those trends were embraced and the business results they helped our customers achieve. While we’ve engaged with our customers about IoT, security and machine learning in the past, we’re predicting 2015 will see a dramatic uptick in the maturation and adoption of these technologies, offering businesses of all sizes unique growth opportunities and competitive edge.

Azure boasts new machine learning capabilities and Microsoft reveals details of Ignite conference — Weekend Reading: Oct. 17th Edition

Greetings, Weekend Reading warriors. Whether your head’s in the clouds, or you’ve got boots on the ground, we’ve got news for you. Read on.

At the big data event Strata + Hadoop World in New York, Microsoft announced Wednesday the expansion of Azure data services, including support of real-time analytics for Apache Hadoop in Azure HDInsight and new machine learning capabilities in the Azure Marketplace.


Hang onto your collective hats. Microsoft is scrapping some of its annual individual events in favor of a massive, unified enterprise technology conference in May. Held in Chicago, Microsoft Ignite will include a keynote address by Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella and appearances by a who’s who of the company’s technical and business leaders.


Did we say boots on the ground? Microsoft and salesforce.com unveiled new joint solutions — designed to empower individuals and organizations to be more productive — during Dreamforce 2014, this week in San Francisco. The software includes: Salesforce1 for Windows, Salesforce for Office, Power BI for Office 365 and Excel integrations with Salesforce.

Speaking of strategic partnerships, Microsoft and Docker Inc., the company behind the Docker open platform for distributed applications, announced on Wednesday that a future release of Windows Server will support Docker’s new container technologies. The goal is to drive productivity by enabling virtual real-time change to application code.

Make your Skype time more productive, and more fun, with Skype Qik, a new messaging app that provides ongoing video chats so you can capture moments, share laughs and chat with groups of friends. Or, use a Qik Flik to record five-second videos when you want to reply to a message but are pressed for time. Available on Android and iPhone and coming to Windows Phone.


In apps this week: Xim, from Microsoft Research, takes real-time photo sharing to a whole new level and Facebook for Windows Phone gets prettier and more versatile. Never leave the couch again! The Roku app, available from the Windows and the Windows Phone Store, allows you to wirelessly duplicate what’s on your Miracast-enabled Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices to your TV screen.


This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we introduced the first-ever 3D-printed, Lumia-powered robotic space observatory.


Enjoy the weekend — whether that means soaring or staying grounded. See you back here, next week.

Posted by Aimee Riordan
Microsoft News Center Staff

Azure adds real-time analytics for Hadoop and new machine learning capabilities

Today at Strata + Hadoop World in New York, one of the industry’s premier big data events, we’re announcing the expansion of our Azure data services. These announcements and our participation in the event are part of our commitment to bring big data to everyone by leveraging the power, flexibility and scale of the cloud.

We’re announcing support of real-time analytics for Apache Hadoop in Azure HDInsight and new machine learning capabilities in the Azure Marketplace. Our partner and Hadoop vendor Hortonworks also announced how they are integrating with Microsoft Azure with the latest release of the Hortonworks Data Platform. On Friday, my colleague Corporate Vice President of Machine Learning Joseph Sirosh, will give a keynote at the conference where he will discuss how removing the barriers to broad adoption of advanced analytics creates new opportunities for our customers and data scientists.

Big data, including Hadoop and advanced analytics, is changing the way our customers do business. As they collect and store more data than ever before, they expect more from their data and want more insights from it, including being able to do real-time analytics over streams of data to complement their existing Hadoop deployments. Microsoft’s approach is to make it easier for our customers to work with data of any type and size — using the tools, languages and frameworks they want — in a trusted cloud environment.

To do this, we are delivering a comprehensive set of cloud solutions — from Azure Machine Learning, Azure HDInsight and our other Azure data services — to managed data services from our partners. We’re committed to supporting the broadest data platform so our customers find real value in the cloud, on their terms. With our big data and cloud solutions, customers like MediaCom, Pier 1 Imports and ThyssenKrupp Elevator have more options to enable new scenarios to gain deeper insight from their data and improve the way they deliver services and products to their customers.

Azure HDInsight combines the best of Hadoop open source technology with the elasticity and manageability enterprises require. Available in preview today, we are supporting Apache Storm in HDInsight, allowing our customers to process millions of items of Hadoop data from their Internet of Things devices in near real time using a fully managed Hadoop service. By bringing real-time analytics capabilities to HDInsight, we are opening up new customer scenarios such as the ability to analyze operational data in real time for predictive maintenance.


On Wednesday, Microsoft introduced Apache Storm for real-time analytics for Hadoop.

The preview availability of Storm in HDInsight continues Microsoft’s investment in the Hadoop ecosystem and HDInsight. Recently, we announced support for HBase clusters and the availability of HDInsight as the first global Hadoop big data service in China. And together with Hortonworks, we continue to contribute code and engineering hours to many Hadoop projects.

As part of their integration with the Azure platform, Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) has achieved Azure Certification. In the next version of HDP, Hortonworks is also delivering hybrid data connectors so customers can extend their on-premise Hadoop deployments to Azure and leverage the cloud for backup, scale and testing.


Announced Wednesday, Hortonworks HDP 2.2 includes hybrid connectors to move data to Microsoft Azure. It will be available in November.

Introduced this summer and available now in preview, Microsoft Azure Machine Learning helps customers and partners rapidly design, test, automate and manage predictive analytics solutions in the cloud. For example, search engines, online product recommendations, credit card fraud prevention systems, GPS traffic directions and mobile phone personal assistants all use the power of machine learning to provide people with valuable insight.

Today, we are introducing new machine learning capabilities in the Azure Marketplace enabling customers and partners to access machine learning capabilities as Web services. These include a recommendation engine for adding product recommendations to a website, an anomaly detection service for predictive maintenance or fraud detection and a set of R packages, a popular programming language used by data scientists. These new capabilities will be available as finished examples for anyone to try.

On Thursday, Joseph Sirosh will share more about these new capabilities on the machine learning blog. To find out more about how Microsoft’s data platform is helping customers create new solutions that bring together big data insights, predictive analytics and powerful visualizations, go here.