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

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

Microsoft Q1 Revenues Rise in Part Due to Azure Cloud Unit

Microsoft’s sales rose 12 percent to $37.2 billion, with a net profit of $13.9 billion for Q1 of its fiscal year, exceeding Wall Street expectations. Its cloud unit Azure’s revenue jumped 48 percent from the same quarter last year, driving the quarter’s results, said chief financial officer Amy Hood. Much of the dramatic leap in Azure’s use can be attributed to online demands created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, the company’s gaming content business showed a 30 percent increase in sales from last year. Continue reading Microsoft Q1 Revenues Rise in Part Due to Azure Cloud Unit

Microsoft Inks Deal With OpenAI for Exclusive GPT-3 License

Microsoft struck a deal with AI startup OpenAI to be the exclusive licensee of language comprehension model GPT-3. According to Microsoft EVP Kevin Scott, the deal is an “incredible opportunity to expand our Azure-powered AI platform in a way that democratizes AI technology.” Among potential uses are “aiding human creativity and ingenuity in areas like writing and composition, describing and summarizing large blocks of long-form data (including code), converting natural language to another language.” Continue reading Microsoft Inks Deal With OpenAI for Exclusive GPT-3 License

Amazon and Microsoft Boosting Cloud Services With Startups

San Francisco-based startup Abnormal Security is moving its AI-driven email security software to Microsoft’s Azure Marketplace, in exchange for Microsoft’s promise to sell Abnormal’s services to its enterprise clients. This is the first such deal for Microsoft, which is battling Amazon for cloud computing dominance. Amazon has already inked similar deals; in a January agreement, cloud-cost management software company Apptio expanded its use of Amazon Web Services in exchange for Amazon’s help to sell Apptio’s services to its clients. Continue reading Amazon and Microsoft Boosting Cloud Services With Startups

Microsoft Cloud Service Revenues Skyrocket Past $50 Billion

Microsoft reported that sales rose 13 percent to $38 billion in its fiscal Q4, for a net profit of $11.2 billion. Largely due to continued demand for its Azure cloud-computing services, both figures exceeded Wall Street expectations. Microsoft’s revenue from the commercial cloud division “surpassed $50 billion for the first time ever in the latest fiscal year.” The company is also the target of a complaint Slack filed with the European Commission, accusing it of using its market power to crush rivals. Continue reading Microsoft Cloud Service Revenues Skyrocket Past $50 Billion

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