Tag Archives: vision

Microsoft advances Microsoft Software & Systems Academy expansion goals with Quantico ribbon-cutting ceremony – Microsoft on the Issues

Microsoft set a vision to empower transitioning military service members and the veteran community with the opportunity to receive relevant training that could lead to meaningful careers. On Monday, the company held its ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA) on Marine Corps Base Quantico. With the program’s growing availability, service members from coast to coast will be able to participate in technical training and career development. MSSA Quantico will focus specifically on meeting the growing demand for cybersecurity professionals.

The ceremony, which was held at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, started with welcoming remarks from Col. Joseph M. Murray, Commander, Marine Corps Installations National Capital Region – Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. Other speakers included U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman; Dr. Barry Butler, president of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU); Marc Langlois, senior director, Department of Navy at Microsoft; and Brig. Gen. Kurt W. Stein, director of Marine and Family programs, Headquarters Marine Corps.

Barry Butler, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University president, delivers remarks at Quantico
Dr. Barry Butler, president of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, delivers remarks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA) at Quantico on Jan. 8, 2018.

“Your courage. Your dedication to others. Your ability to work together as a tight knit team. Your adaptability and accountability – these are qualities you have developed in the most challenging of environments,” said Marc Langlois, senior director, Department of Navy at Microsoft, speaking to the first cohort of students for MSSA Quantico.

“MSSA Quantico Cohort A, we don’t just think you are ready to learn. We know you are ready.”

Rep. Wittman also spoke to the group about the importance of programs like MSSA to train our transitioning service members and veterans.

“What a great combination of innovation and creation from the private side to the public side, who are putting that together for the betterment of our nation… [MSSA] is the first step of many steps of developing this skill set that exists here in the Marine Corps.”

The Quantico campus is the first of four scheduled MSSA launches in early 2018 on the Eastern Seaboard, and will complete Microsoft’s 2015 goal of opening nine regions servicing 14 bases. In the months ahead, Microsoft will open MSSA programs at Camp Lejeune, Naval Station Norfolk, and the Jacksonville Community Campus (near Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport).

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Ronald Green speaks with Rep. Rob Wittman
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Ronald Green, left, speaks with Rep. Rob Wittman following the ribbon-cutting ceremony for MSSA at Quantico on Jan. 8, 2018.

Since launching MSSA in November 2013 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the state of Washington, Microsoft has worked with education partners ERAU and St. Martin’s University to create a successful and proven model for reskilling our nation’s heroes and preparing them for meaningful careers in technology. This cornerstone of the DoD Skillbridge program helps the industry overall, helps veterans and helps our country build a stronger workforce to compete on the world stage. In the past four years, the company has grown its hiring partner network to more than 240 companies, including Dell, Expedia, Accenture, Capgemeni and the Department of Defense, with an average starting salary of $70,000.

To learn more about MSSA at Quantico, visit military.microsoft.com/mssa.

Marine Corps Base Quantico ceremonial platoon presents the colors
The Marine Corps Base Quantico ceremonial platoon presents the colors during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for MSSA at Quantico on Jan. 8, 2018.

Tags: Education and Jobs, military, MSSA, veterans

Intelligent Communications takes the next step with calling in Teams

In September, we introduced a new vision for intelligent communications including plans to evolve Microsoft Teams into the primary client for calling and meetings in Office 365. As part of this, we are bringing comprehensive calling and meetings capabilities into Microsoft Teams, along with data and insights from the Microsoft Graph, and a strong roadmap of innovation to empower teams to achieve more.

  Easily view your calling historyToday we are releasing new calling capabilities in Teams, providing full featured dialing capabilities, complete with call history, hold/resume, speed dial, transfer, forwarding, caller ID masking, extension dialing, multi-call handling, simultaneous ringing, voicemail, and text telephone (TTY) support. You can expect this to roll out over the next few hours and should come soon to your tenant.

To add calling in Teams for your users, the first thing you need is Phone System (formerly Cloud PBX), which is included with Office 365 E5 and available as an add-on to other Office 365 plans. From there, you can subscribe to a Calling Plan (formerly known as PSTN Calling) for any number of users in your organization.

Together, a Calling Plan and Phone System in Office 365 create a phone system for your organization, giving each user a primary phone number and letting them make and receive phone calls to and from outside of your organization. This solution also allows your organization to shift away from expensive telephony hardware and simplifying by centralizing the management of your phone system.

With the addition of calling, Teams is an even more robust hub for teamwork — the single place for your content, contacts and communications including chat, meetings and calling in a modern, collaboration experience.

Getting started with calling in Teams
To get started with calling in Teams, please review our quick start guide. You can learn more about geographic availability of Calling Plans here.  We also invite you to join us live December 18, at 9 AM PDT on Teams On Air to hear guest Marc Pottier, Principal Program Manager discuss and demo calling plans in Microsoft Teams in more detail.

IT Nation 2017: ConnectWise sets sights on a ‘connected ecosystem’

ORLANDO — ConnectWise has revealed a vision for a broad and connected ecosystem of third-party technology vendors that will plug into its PSA software.

At its IT Nation 2017 conference this week, the professional services automation (PSA) software provider discussed its push to bring a seemingly infinite variety of vendor integrations to ConnectWise partners through an upcoming Developer Kit. ConnectWise also highlighted its recent partnership with Cisco to make it easier for partners to use several Cisco technologies within its PSA software. ConnectWise currently integrates with about 200 vendors.

“The whole message [of IT Nation 2017] is really that of choices in the ecosystem, and then, ‘Let’s do more of that. Let’s connect the entire ecosystem,'” said Arnie Bellini, co-founder and CEO of ConnectWise.

Cisco integration

At last week’s Cisco Partner Summit, ConnectWise unveiled the pilot program for ConnectWise Unite, a new offering that lets Cisco partners use Cisco Spark, Meraki, Umbrella and Stealthwatch through the ConnectWise management console. In addition to Amazon Web Services, ConnectWise previously integrated with Microsoft Office 365 and Azure through its CloudConsole product, which Bellini said will be merged with Unite in the first quarter of 2018.

Cisco technologies available under Unite will eventually expand, according to Nirav Sheth, vice president of solutions, architectures and engineering for the global partner organization at Cisco. “We definitely have some cloud-managed assets that we are also exploring to continue to evolve and have more offers enabled by the Unite platform,” he said.

Additionally, ConnectWise Unite will expand with other vendors, including Google, which Bellini said “is a perfect additional integration that we think will help drive more value for Cisco.” Google and Cisco announced a partnership around hybrid cloud at the Cisco Partner Summit.

The Cisco-ConnectWise partnership serves a means for Cisco to grow its market share in the small and medium-sized business (SMB) space, Sheth said, noting that Cisco is trying to change the perception that it is a vendor focused solely on the enterprise segment. This means working more closely with ConnectWise partners such as managed services providers (MSPs) that generally target SMB customers.

Cisco and ConnectWise plan to roll out MSP University, an enablement program for Cisco value-added resellers to expand into managed services. “We have committed to working with Cisco to create an amazing university that helps get Cisco partners started down the path of managed services,” Bellini said. He added that all ConnectWise partners will have access to MSP University as well.

Integrations ahead: The Developer Kit

ConnectWise has several releases on the integration front slated for 2018, the company revealed. Among these is the Developer Kit, a tool for development teams to connect products to the ConnectWise platform. The Developer Kit has a tentative launch date for the second quarter of 2018.

“The idea on the ConnectWise Developer Kit is … [to] make every solution available to our partners and … put it in one pane of glass … so they can manage it and monitor it and bill it,” Bellini said.

Bellini noted the company has put together a $10 million fund to support the Developer Kit initiative. Using the fund, which is provided through ConnectWise Capital, ConnectWise will act as an “angel investor,” investing in ideas that further connect the ecosystem, Bellini said. ConnectWise is looking to increase that fund to $25 million, he said.

Another unique feature of the Devloper Kit is that it allows channel partners to build their own integrations and customize their own experience in the ConnectWise platform without the need of development expertise. “If you want to develop with SDKs and APIs, we still have that, but we are making it easier,” said Craig Fulton, chief product officer at ConnectWise.

Gavin Gamber, vice president of channel sales and alliances, said ecosystem expansion has become a major initiative for ConnectWise leadership, driven by partner demand. Partners “are our best gauges on where we should be heading. … That’s how a lot of these integration partners pop up.”

He added that there are virtually no limits on how large the ConnectWise ecosystem could grow. “The ecosystem is just getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” he said. With a large ecosystem of integrated partners to balance, he said there are “certainly sensitivities” pertaining to ConnectWise’s competing vendor partners, but “it all boils down to who has got the best solutions for the partner and fits their needs the best at a price that they like and is affordable.”

ConnectWise software enhancements

At the IT Nation 2017 keynote presentation, ConnectWise showcased upcoming features of the ConnectWise suite, often to the applause of conference attendees.

ConnectWise Automate, the company’s automating tool, is being moved to the web and more tightly integrated with ConnectWise Manage. New web-based functions will include a computer management function and network map feature, slated for availability in the first quarter of 2018.

ConnectWise Automate “has been a tool you need to install on a Windows machine. Now we’re taking it to the web so you can now use it from any browser,” Fulton said.

Adding to remote control functionality, ConnectWise Perspective will provide a smartphone video connection between customers and technicians, available in the second quarter of 2018. Using the feature, customers can send a live video feed from their smartphones to technicians, creating an additional layer to a partner’s service delivery capabilities. Perspective will contain features for auto-scanning barcodes, recording session time and adding workstation information into tickets, ConnectWise said.

After Fulton demonstrated Perspective onstage during his IT Nation 2017 keynote presentation, he said he was surprised by the audience response to the upcoming feature. “I wasn’t sure how that was going to go, but man, that was the biggest applause. A lot of people approached me and said … ‘Now I can see what [customers] are seeing.'”

Inclusion in action: Veronica scores 100% with Sway magnified to 225%

Today, we’re excited to introduce you to Veronica, a college student with low vision who uses accessibility capabilities in Microsoft Office 365 and Windows 10 to excel academically. Veronica is the third of six individuals featured in our Inclusion in Action series announced last month, highlighting how accessible technologies enable transformative change.

Here’s her story.

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When you meet Veronica Lewis, it does not take long to figure out that this 21-year-old junior at George Mason University is going places. She plays clarinet in the school band, maintains high grades as an IT major and runs a blog called Veroniiiica – Veronica With Four Eyes that has captured the attention of some of our nation’s most powerful leaders.

When she was younger, Veronica’s mother often said she was “blazing a trail for other students in the future.” Little did Veronica know how true that would be.

Veronica has low vision, which she describes in simple terms: “I can’t see things smaller than size 22-point font, more than 15 feet away or more than about six inches on either side of me.”

When Veronica was younger, her school district did not have many resources for providing accessible materials.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m the dumbest kid in the room because I will look down at a paper and not be able to figure out what is on there at all.”

She and her family soon learned to advocate for her best interests, and during her junior year of high school, they transferred to a district with more resources. Her new school had a program allowing students to earn Microsoft Office Specialist Certifications, which Veronica eagerly embraced.

“I was able to receive my Word, Word Expert, Excel, Excel Expert, and PowerPoint certifications to become a Microsoft Office Master Specialist.”

Veronica mastered the use of Microsoft’s built-in accessibility tools and her grades skyrocketed. In 2015, she graduated from high school with a 3.8 grade point average.  She’s continued this academic excellence in college and technology continues to play an important role in her life.

Veronica notes, “Technology just doesn’t make things easier for people with disabilities. It makes things possible.”

The ‘things’ she mentions include everything from homework to band practice to her blog. She makes her classwork accessible using Word. During class, she takes notes in OneNote. If she needs to read a blackboard or whiteboard, she can take a photograph of it. Together, Optical Character Recognition in Office Lens and OneNote enables her to search for text within the picture. To learn and practice her latest music assignments for band, she uses technology to enlarge her sheet music view to 225 percent.

One of her favorite features is Word’s built-in accessibility checker, which allows users to determine if a document is accessible and offers tips on how to improve accessibility.

“I’ve introduced that function to a lot of my professors when creating accessible materials, and showing them that it takes less than a minute to make a document accessible. Why wouldn’t you do it?”

Large screen

Veronica Lewis is a college student who uses accessibility capabilities in Office 365 to excel academically.

Another tool that Veronica found especially empowering is Sway. It has an accessibility view, which is compatible with screen readers, and easily lets you add alt-text for people with low vision.

“Every presentation that I’ve created with Sway has gotten 100 percent. A lot of my professors are just amazed because they didn’t know this existed, and it’s so easy to use.”

Veronica also uses Sway for her blog. She says she created the blog as a resource for students, parents, teachers and professionals to show how easy it is to accommodate for low vision.

“I’ve been able to contribute to websites like Perkins School for the Blind’s Paths to Technology, and The Mighty, and it’s been amazing just to see how many people are relating to what I write about.”

As her audience has grown, so has the focus of her blog. She now addresses disability and accessibility issues, and uses the blog as a platform to advocate for disability rights.

“I was able to start my blog and really reach out to people all around the world and teach them all about low vision. I’ve also been able to talk to many U.S. Senators and members of Congress about issues related to healthcare and disability.”

Veronica plans to continue to leverage her studies in IT and Assistive Technology to spread her message.

“To any other students who are in the same position as me, just remember you’re not the only one who went through these experiences. You belong.”

Visit aka.ms/InclusionInAction to discover more stories of people pushing the boundaries of productivity and inclusion with Microsoft technologies.

For Sale – Nvidia 3D Vision

Selling a Nvidia 3D Vision USB dongle from Nvidia 3D vision kit.

Use to unlock stereoscopic 3D mode on Nvidia cards.
Glasses not included – just usb cable and dongle, you must have your own 3D glasses and 3DTV.

Will upload photo shortly…

Price and currency: 35.00
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: PPG or BT
Location: Worcestershire
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

For Sale – Nvidia 3D usb

Selling a Nvidia 3D USB emitter from Nvidia 3D vision kit.

Use to unlock stereoscopic 3D mode on Nvidia cards.
Glasses not included – just usb cable and emitter, you must have your own 3D glasses and 3DTV.

Will upload photo shortly…

Price and currency: 35.00
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: PPG or BT
Location: Worcestershire
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

One year later, Microsoft AI and Research grows to 8k people in massive bet on artificial intelligence

Computer vision expert Harry Shum leads Microsoft’s artificial intelligence initiatives as the executive vice president of the company’s AI and Research group. (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop)

Microsoft’s first mission statement envisioned a computer on every desk and in every home, but Bill Gates also had another goal: that computers would someday be able to see, hear, communicate and understand humans and their environment.

More than 25 years and two CEOs later, Microsoft is betting its future on it.

“We truly believe AI is this disruptive force, even though it’s not new,” said Harry Shum, the executive vice president in charge of Microsoft’s AI and Research group, in an interview with GeekWire. “The recent progress is just enormous. We certainly have seen that through our own products and engagement with customers. We also feel we have a very strong point of view about how we take AI to the next step.”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella formed the Microsoft AI and Research group one year ago this month as a fourth engineering division at the company, alongside the Office, Windows and Cloud & Enterprise divisions. The move reflects Nadella’s belief in “democratizing AI,” making it available to any person or company, and radically changing the way computers interact with and work on behalf of humans.

One way to measure Microsoft’s AI bet: In its first year of operation, the AI and Research group has grown by 60 percent — from 5,000 people originally to nearly 8,000 people today — through hiring and acquisitions, and by bringing aboard additional teams from other parts of the company.

Bill Gates and Satya Nadella. (Microsoft Photo)

The creation of Microsoft AI and Research also underscores the intense competition in artificial intelligence. Microsoft is gearing up to compete against the likes of Google, Amazon, Salesforce, Apple, and countless AI startups and research groups, all of them looking to lead the tech industry in this new era of artificial intelligence.

Microsoft wants to show that it’s leading and not falling behind in artificial intelligence, but competitors are also moving aggressively, said Rob Sanfilippo, research vice president at the independent Directions on Microsoft research firm.

“Microsoft has made advances, but so have IBM, Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and others,” he said. “Arguably, in the consumer space, Amazon leads in AI mindshare — more people are acquainted with Alexa than Cortana. Microsoft is looking to avoid missing giant opportunities as it did with mobile and social media, so it is giving its AI strategy a lot of attention and resources.”

Microsoft has advantages and disadvantages in this quest. For example, the company’s Windows Phone business hasn’t come close to competing with iPhone and Android, which means its virtual assistant Cortana is relegated to third-party app status on the most popular smartphone platforms. However, Cortana is native to Windows 10, which is now on more than 500 million devices.

The company also has the advantage of large amounts of data, the raw material of machine learning, through its Bing search engine and, more recently, its $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn, the largest deal in Microsoft’s history. Products such as Office 365 also provide a unique distribution channel for Microsoft’s AI features.

Lili Cheng, corporate vice president in the AI and Research group, with Irving Kwong, lead program manager for Microsoft Cognitive Services. (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop)

Then there’s Microsoft Research, founded more than 25 years ago based on Gates’ original vision. It’s stocked with computer scientists and engineers who have spent years pursuing breakthroughs in areas such as deep neural networks, computer vision, machine translation and other fundamental underpinnings of artificial intelligence.

The idea behind AI and Research is to get those researchers working side-by-side with product teams to move artificial intelligence advances — some of them in the works for years or decades — out of the labs and into new and existing products.

People inside the group point to early progress from this approach. In one example, a researcher’s new method for getting computers to recognize human emotion was released as an API for Microsoft cloud customers in a matter of weeks rather than languishing for months or longer after the publication of an academic paper.

“We’ve had this dream for a long time — that systems could be smarter and model the way you think,” said Lili Cheng, a longtime Microsoft researcher and engineer who now leads the company’s AI developer platform as a corporate vice president in the AI and Research group. The company’s leaders believe that aligning the researchers and product groups will allow that to happen faster.

Microsoft changed the vision statement in its annual report this year to read, in part, “We believe a new technology paradigm is emerging that manifests itself through an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge where computing is more distributed, AI drives insights and acts on the user’s behalf, and user experiences span devices with a user’s available data and information.”

Artificial intelligence is one of the key topics of Nadella’s upcoming book, Hit Refresh. We’ll also be asking Nadella about AI as part of his upcoming appearance at the GeekWire Summit.

Flurry of AI activity

During the past year, Microsoft has introduced new artificial intelligence and machine learning features and services in products including Office, Bing, Azure and programmable AI chips for the company’s data centers. The company has also released standalone AI programs, such as a Seeing AI app that helps visually impaired people better sense and understand the world around them.

After early triumphs and struggles with chatbots, Microsoft has been rolling them out around the world. Shum says the goal is to have a bot in every country with more than 100 million people.

Microsoft Photo

And in a surprise move that reflects Nadella’s pragmatic approach, Microsoft announced a deal with rival Amazon to connect Cortana and Alexa, their voice-activated AI assistants. The news also illustrated their respective strengths: Amazon in consumer technology, and Microsoft in enterprise technology.

Shum hinted that the initial announcement between Microsoft and Cortana might not be the end of the AI collaboration between the Seattle-area tech giants, saying that he sees more opportunities for them to work together. “The world is so big,” he said. “This is the beginning with Alexa and Cortana.”

Microsoft is pushing to incorporate AI more deeply into Office with features such as PowerPoint Designer, which analyzes the content placed on a slide to suggest an optimal layout. Another project called Presentation Translator presents subtitles of the presenter’s live speech, translated into 60 languages, with the ability to create a custom speech model for better accuracy by analyzing the text of the PowerPoint slides.

Microsoft’s Custom Vision Service running in Core ML on Apple’s iOS 11, using a custom data model to automatically recognize a pineapple. (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop)

Another major AI initiative is Microsoft Cognitive Services, which offers APIs for developers to put elements of artificial intelligence into their apps — a key part of the company’s plan to “democratize” artificial intelligence.

Examples include a new feature, released just last week, which allows developers to export a custom data model to work offline with Apple’s iOS 11 Core ML machine learning framework, letting apps use Microsoft’s Custom Vision Service to recognize images even when not online.

“We actually export into Core ML and then you can download it into whatever app you have and then you can actually start using AI models at the device level, not connected to the cloud,” explained Irving Kwong, lead program manager for Microsoft Cognitive Services, showing how to use the technology to recognize pineapples during a demo last week inside a Microsoft office tower in Bellevue, Wash.

More artificial-intelligence announcements are expected from Microsoft next week at the company’s Ignite conference in Orlando, where Nadella is delivering the keynote address on Monday morning.

More challenges ahead

Even with all the activity, Microsoft and the field of AI have a long way to go.

“While this is very exciting, I think people might get confused that most AI problems are solved. That’s definitely not true. I want to caution everyone — we’re still very early in this AI thing,” Shum told the audience at the recent opening of the GIX U.S.-China tech institution. “Computers today can perform specific tasks very well, but when it comes to general tasks, AI cannot compete with a human child.”

Talking with GeekWire in his Microsoft office last week, Shum acknowledged that parts of the company’s artificial intelligence business are still very nascent, as well. “With many of those applications today, we are not overly thinking about making money (or) being profitable too soon,” he said. “We think we’re still early in terms of the right user experience. I think the next couple of years will be very important for us.”

After starting out with teams such as Bing, Cortana, Microsoft’s Information Platform Group, ambient computing and robotics, Microsoft AI and Research has continued to grow. Internal additions include the Azure Machine Learning team, headed by Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud AI Platform, which previously was in Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise Division, reporting to Scott Guthrie.

Microsoft has also built up its AI capabilities with strategic acquisitions, including the natural language scheduling startup Genee and deep learning startup Maluuba. Deep learning expert Yoshua Bengio, who leads the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms and was a Maluuba adviser, is now an adviser to Microsoft and Shum.

Eric Horvitz leads Microsoft Research AI. (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop)

This summer, the company formed a new team inside Shum’s organization called Microsoft Research AI, led by longtime artificial intelligence researcher Eric Horvitz, to bring together the company’s top talent in core areas such as machine perception, learning, reasoning and natural language.

“We’ve largely built what I would call wedges of competency — a great speech recognition system, a great vision and captioning system, great object recognition system,” said Horvitz, who is known for projects such as the virtual animated assistant that greets visitors at his door. “We’ve managed to do incredible work with those wedges.”

But now the company is looking to bring all of that together in a quest for the elusive goal of general machine intelligence. “We really want to pursue the understanding of the mysteries of the human intellect,” Horvitz said.

Addressing another major issue facing AI, Microsoft has formed an internal group called “Aether,” which stands for AI and ethics in engineering and research. The group includes a representative from each Microsoft division, reporting to Nadella and the senior leadership team. Horvitz, who is part of the group, said it has been meeting about every two weeks to help the company form standards and best practices for artificial intelligence.

One of the issues the company will grapple with: leveraging the huge amounts of data available through Bing and LinkedIn. Shum acknowledged the limits to how Microsoft can use and present the connections among that data.

“When you think about the Microsoft Graph and Office Graph, now augmented with the LinkedIn Graph, it’s just amazing. It will take some good product sense to bring those things together,” Shum said. “We have to think through the rights to the data, whether it belongs to a company or an individual, and what the user shared and what the company would like to keep. Those things are good product design questions. But we’re very excited about LinkedIn and we are already working very closely.”

If the company can figure out those issues, it could be in unique position, said Samir Diwan, a former Microsoft senior program manager who is now CEO of the startup Polly, which makes chatbots for polls and surveys in Slack, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts Chat.

“When we think of research getting closer to product, we frequently think that product teams will be able to take better advantage of the research to deliver more compelling products,” Diwan said. “This might be the first time in history where things are inverted — a strong objective for bringing research closer to product is for research to take advantage of the large amounts of data being generated through product usage.”

Diwan explained, “That’s why I think to a large degree, the true wins at Microsoft of bringing research and product teams closer are years down the line. Over time, that research ideally feeds back into products creating a nice symbiotic relationship between the two.”

As we walked out of his office last week, Shum assessed Microsoft’s prospects in AI. “The new platform is emerging. It will take a little time, but directionally, I think many people see that,” he said. Now, the question is whether Microsoft “can really execute with differentiation,” he said, concluding, “We feel pretty good about our chances here.”