Yesterday was the annual Microsoft Build Developer keynote where the tech firm lays out its plans for Windows (and other tech/platforms) and one of the more interesting features announced was the depth and scope of Windows 10 and just how much emphasis the company is placing upon Cortana. One of Microsoft’s key focus points was the development of bots – automated software that works with Cortana to allow you to quickly use or access services that might otherwise take a bit of time to use.
Skype integration with the web was also big on Microsoft’s hit list and the lack of Windows Phone usage at the event seems to state something that we all know already know. That Windows Phone is dead.
Bots and Pizza
Bots were by far the order of the day for Microsoft and CEO Satya Nadella referred to the current state of technology as a ‘frontier’ and, as we have seen with recent AI advancements from corporations like Google and Facebook it is not so far from the truth. Nadella’s statement said: “As an industry, we are on the cusp of a new frontier that pairs the power of natural human language with advanced machine intelligence,” before going on to say how important Cortana and Skype can and likely will become for our internet lives.
This was perhaps best explained through the medium of Dominoes. That is Dominoes the take-away pizza chain and not the game. Say you are working away at your computer and the pangs of hunger strike, usually you would have to stop what you are doing and use an app on your phone or else go to a separate website to order some food, a pizza perhaps. However with Microsoft’s Bot technology and the lovely Cortana you can simply talk to your computer and order a pizza.
Yes it is commercial and yes it is ‘just ordering a pizza’ but the potentials for human and AI interatction are entering into realms that really we only have seen in sci-fi films. Microsoft is clearly at the forefront of turning these virtual and imagined realms into a reality and a practical one at that.
As Dave Lee at BBC Tech put it “Microsoft is exciting again.” And it is hard to argue when clearly under Nadella the company seems to have its act together and is intent in pushing boundaries and not endless software releases.
Windows 10 – A Natural Update
A key speaker of the evening was Terry Myerson who is Microsoft’s executive vice president of Windows and Devices Group who was keen to stress the idea that Windows is a platform with truly extensive reach. There are apparently now 270 million active Windows 10 users and that amount is steadily growing. The platform is receiving a new ‘natural’ update which aims to push voice technology (Cortana) further and further.
Myerson was also keen to highlight the importance of developers to Windows and the architecture as a whole, something the company soundly failed on with Windows Phone. He said that: “We are dedicated to making Windows the most productive development environment for all developers, with all-new capabilities for the Universal Windows Platform and all-new tools for bringing apps to Windows 10 from any platform.”
He also went on to further delve into the benefits of the platform for developers, the advancements of the cloud and even Skype working with the company’s HoloLens technology.
There is certainly more to be seen from the company that most certainly is exciting again and, more importantly, relevant.