USC Students Compete in Second ETC Metaverse Challenge

University of Southern California students were invited to participate in the second of two scheduled Metaverse Experience Challenges, hosted by ETC@USC. Making use of current and emerging tools, students were tasked with developing original ideas for compelling metaverse experiences. Ten teams started work at 1:00 pm on Friday, October 8 and presented their ideas to judges from Epic Games, Universal Pictures, Disney Studios, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud at 3:00 pm on Saturday, October 9. Each member of the winning teams — MetaversEdu and MetaMall — received a Nintendo Switch “Fortnite” Edition, courtesy of Epic Games. Continue reading USC Students Compete in Second ETC Metaverse Challenge

Google Debuts Enterprise IoT Essentials, New Analytics Apps

Google Intelligent Products Essentials is a new integrated solution designed to help enterprise clients quickly get hardware products online with a distributed Internet of Things. Intelligent Products Essentials aggregates critical components to launch distributed IoT and edge computing solutions. Essentially turn-key, Essentials does require a third-party system integrator to implement the system. As with other new offerings unveiled this week at the Google Cloud Next virtual event, Essentials is underpinned by analytics tools and designed to help organizations mine value from data for new and existing products. Continue reading Google Debuts Enterprise IoT Essentials, New Analytics Apps

Microsoft’s Windows 11 to Launch Oct. 5 as a Free Upgrade

Microsoft will begin its Windows 11 rollout October 5, marking the Seattle-based software giant’s first major operating system release in six years. In addition to AI-powered widgets, Windows 11 upgrades include cloud-based synchronization across multiple devices that allows easy access to recently viewed files, an improved desktop that uses Snap Layouts and Snap Groups to maximize multitasking and taskbar integration of chat in Microsoft Teams, Windows’ in-app videoconferencing, and enhanced sound and design. Continue reading Microsoft’s Windows 11 to Launch Oct. 5 as a Free Upgrade

Azure Drives Impressive Quarterly Sales, Profits for Microsoft

Microsoft experienced a successful quarter, due in large part to significant growth in Azure cloud services. The company reported overall Q4 sales of $46.2 billion, up about 21 percent year-over-year, for a $16.5 billion profit, an increase of 47 percent year-over-year. Similar to other Big Tech companies, Microsoft’s numbers exceeded Wall Street expectations. According to chief financial officer Amy Hood, Microsoft expects overall sales of $44.2 billion for the current quarter. Microsoft’s stock is currently up 40 percent over the last year, and its valuation is now $2+ trillion, second only to its rival Apple. Continue reading Azure Drives Impressive Quarterly Sales, Profits for Microsoft

Multi-Cloud Strategy Over a Single Provider Gains Momentum

Amazon and Microsoft dominate cloud computing but more businesses are leveraging smaller cloud rivals such as Google, Oracle and IBM. Experian, for example, launched with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2014, but is now using Microsoft, Google and Oracle, according to Experian global chief enterprise architect Mervyn Lally. At Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, executive vice president Clay Magouyrk said that more customers “adopt a multi-cloud strategy simply because some workloads run better or more cost-effectively on different clouds.” Continue reading Multi-Cloud Strategy Over a Single Provider Gains Momentum

New Initiatives Signal Advancements in Quantum Computing

Two major steps forward for large-scale quantum computing just took place. Physicists from the MIT-Harvard Center for Ultracold Atoms (CUA) and elsewhere mastered the programmable quantum simulator, which can operate with 256 quantum bits (“qubits”). The company ColdQuanta also successfully created a 100-qubit quantum processor by cooling atoms down to “near absolute zero” and then controlling them with lasers. Their system, said experts, compares with other quantum systems built by leading players in the field. Continue reading New Initiatives Signal Advancements in Quantum Computing

Google and Microsoft End Truce as Ad Tech Battle Heats Up

The five-year truce between Google and Microsoft has broken down. Sources say that neither company is interested in renewing the former alliance. Microsoft wants marketers to have equal access to search engines when they build campaigns with Google technology, but Google believes that, in fact, Microsoft sees it as a threat to Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing and Office productivity businesses. Both companies are now “handing ammo” against each other to regulators, a strategy that might backfire on both of them. Continue reading Google and Microsoft End Truce as Ad Tech Battle Heats Up

Microsoft Unveils Windows 11 with Upgraded Features, Design

Microsoft unveiled Windows 11, almost six years after the introduction of Windows 10, the world’s most widely used PC operating system with 1.3+ billion devices. Windows 11 will be offered as a free update around the holiday season. Even as Microsoft has seen major growth in its Azure cloud services, Windows still represents 10+ percent of the company’s revenue. At the Windows 11 event, Microsoft executive Panos Panay stated that, unlike Apple, its Microsoft Store app marketplace lets developers use Microsoft’s payment system for a 12 percent cut or use their own. Continue reading Microsoft Unveils Windows 11 with Upgraded Features, Design

OpenAI and Microsoft Introduce $100 Million AI Startup Fund

OpenAI unveiled a $100 million OpenAI Startup Fund to fund early-stage companies pursuing ways that AI can have a “transformative” impact on healthcare, education, climate change and other fields. OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman said the Fund will make “big, early bets” on no more than 10 such companies. OpenAI, with funding from Microsoft and others, will manage the Fund. Selected projects will get “early access” to future OpenAI systems, support from OpenAI’s team and credits for Microsoft Azure. Continue reading OpenAI and Microsoft Introduce $100 Million AI Startup Fund

Microsoft’s Q3 Sales Jump, Driving Near $2 Trillion Valuation

Microsoft quarterly numbers exceeded analysts’ expectations and drove stock up 50 percent, bringing the company close to a $2 trillion valuation, second only to Apple’s. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the shift to remote working and remote learning drove strong uptake of the company’s cloud computing services and video game units. Although chip shortages are slowing down hardware sales, chief executive Satya Nadella reported that digital adoption curves “aren’t slowing down … they’re accelerating.” Continue reading Microsoft’s Q3 Sales Jump, Driving Near $2 Trillion Valuation

Microsoft Mesh Aims to Bring VR/AR Devices, Users Together

Microsoft Mesh is a new mixed-reality platform powered by Azure that enables people in different locations to meet and collaborate as digital representations of themselves in holographic experiences across a variety of devices. To demonstrate the shared experience, Microsoft technical fellow Alex Kipman appeared at the company’s Ignite digital conference this week via holoportation, and was joined by Cirque du Soleil co-founder Guy Laliberté, filmmaker James Cameron and Niantic CEO John Hanke to discuss related initiatives. Microsoft announced two apps built on the platform — a preview version for HoloLens 2 and a new Mesh-enabled version of AltspaceVR. Continue reading Microsoft Mesh Aims to Bring VR/AR Devices, Users Together

Cloud Computing, Gaming and Laptops Drive Microsoft Sales

Microsoft reported its fiscal Q2 net income rose 30+ percent to $15.5 billion, the result of COVID-19-driven remote working, increased video game playing and cloud computing. The company has also seen increased sales of its Surface laptops, which facilitate remote working and learning. Chief executive Satya Nadella has prioritized Microsoft Teams workplace-collaboration software, dubbing this last year as “the dawn of a second wave of digital transformation sweeping every company and every industry.” Continue reading Cloud Computing, Gaming and Laptops Drive Microsoft Sales

TOMORROW: ETC Digital Town Square on Virtual Production

The Entertainment Technology Center@USC’s next Digital Town Square will examine virtual production principles and lessons learned in the second of two programs breaking down production of the live-action short “Ripple Effect.” The virtual event, co-sponsored by Microsoft Azure, is free and open to the public. In the keynote address, Isaac Campos will analyze his 12-year journey in the LED panel market and describe the latest tools and technologies. Event panels and talks will address topics such as VAD (virtual art department) development and how to build a large LED volume. Register online now for this special event, scheduled for January 20, 1:00-3:30 PST. Continue reading TOMORROW: ETC Digital Town Square on Virtual Production

CES: Microsoft Keynote on Promises, Responsibility of Tech

Microsoft president Brad Smith’s CES keynote balanced Microsoft’s global footprint with the opportunities, challenges and responsibilities of technology, government and people. Smith illustrated these themes with sections on massive data, environmental impact, cybersecurity, privacy, artificial intelligence, regulation, and a call for a 9/11-type commission to protect the future by understanding the threats of the present. Smith wrapped his remarks with the words of John F. Kennedy from 1962 when he said, “Technology has no conscience of its own. Whether it becomes a force for good or ill depends on man.” Continue reading CES: Microsoft Keynote on Promises, Responsibility of Tech

ETC Digital Town Square: Virtual Production Lessons Learned

The Entertainment Technology Center@USC’s next Digital Town Square will examine virtual production principles and lessons learned in the second of two programs breaking down production of the live-action short “Ripple Effect.” The virtual event, co-sponsored by Microsoft Azure, is free and open to the public. In the keynote address, Isaac Campos will analyze his 12-year journey in the LED panel market and describe the latest tools and technologies. Event panels and talks will address topics such as VAD (virtual art department) development and how to build a large LED volume. Register online now for this special event, scheduled for January 20, 1:00-3:30 PST. Continue reading ETC Digital Town Square: Virtual Production Lessons Learned