Tech News and Opinions (by Paul Spain)

Microsoft Build – Bots, Inking, Cortana, Windows 10 now installed on 270+ million PCs

, posted: 31-Mar-2016 11:29


This morning Microsoft Build kicked off in San Francisco and I’m there and will be sharing some of my impressions – both here on my blog, and also via twitter (You can follow my updates @paulspain).

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella started the keynote asking many questions – such as whether technology helps our hinders our values, whether technology is good or bad from a privacy perspective. And he answered those questions positively highlighting Microsoft’s mission to “Empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more”.

“We live in a mobile first and cloud first world” states Satya – “it’s about the mobility of people across all their devices. Cloud is a new form of computing that enables this mobility.”

Nadella highlighted numbers – such as Microsoft Azure Active Directory being used by over 5-million businesses and Windows 10 now being installed on over 270-million users.

Terry Myerson showed off improvements in ‘inking’ (drawing and writing on a tablet with a stylus) that are coming with the upcoming ‘Anniversary Update’ coming to Windows 10 as a free update in the Southern hemisphere’s Winter (Summer in the Northern Hemisphere). Demonstrations showed inking capabilities in Word, PowerPoint, Adobe Illustrator.

Other areas that attracted attention during the keynote:

  • Linux components such as the Bash shell is coming to Windows 10 (via Ubuntu) – and more shells coming soon
  • A converter to bring existing Windows applications and their installers to world of Universal Windows apps
  • The Universal Windows Platform means developers writing games can have the same code run on both Windows and Xbox One
  • Developers can convert their retail Xbox to a dev machine so they can test and run Universal Windows apps they are developing on their Xbox
  • Cortana and background music are amongst features coming to Xbox One in the upcoming Anniversary Update
  • Bots are becoming the new apps – and chat bots like the new browser
  • Cortana is the personal digital assist that is focussed on the user – not about a device – so it will work any device (Windows, iOS, Android), though as yet only in 13 countries. A demo was shown where the user asked Cortana to find the presentation they were working on last night and to send it to a colleague – something the next Cortana update can do. 
  • The Windows 10 Anniversary Update improves Cortana – for instance developers can produce proactive ’Experts for Cortana’
  • Skype now has 300-million users and over 3-billions minutes of calls per month – and integration with external services and bots is now coming up – including integrations with Cortana, Slack, video text transcription (using the tech from Skype Translator), and things such as automated proactive suggestions (offer to add an event you’ve discussed into your calendar, offer to book you a hotel for a trip and automating the process, and offer to connect you with a close friend in a city you’re visiting).
  • Skype video bots will be coming with the new Skype Bot Software Developers Kit (SDK)
  • Skype for Hololens has been announced as a real product that is coming – it won’t just be a demo. It’s worth noting thought that a release date for Hololens has not been announced and Microsoft have very limited supply of Hololens developer kits and can’t keep up with demand.
  • Microsoft is launching ‘Cortana Intelligence Suite’ – a bot framework offering cognitive services and machine learning – to integrate with Cortana, Skype, Slack, Line
  • Microsoft has announced the Microsoft Bot framework – setup to integrate with integrate with systems such as Slack and Skype – and with Node.js or C#
  • Microsoft are making Cognitive Services available to developers – for instance advanced image recognition and voice recognition capabilities

(This blog will update – please refresh for further updates and also follow me on Twitter: @paulspain)

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NZ Tech Podcast 263: Laura Butler – Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft
NZ Tech Podcast: Tokyo drone netting, Lumia 950 PC/phone, Vic Crone for Mayor, Solar vs North Carolina

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