Microsoft’s New Cloud Service With AI Tools Targets IoT Use

Microsoft’s Build 2017 conference in Seattle showcased Azure cloud services for the Internet of Things, using multiple sensors and small computing devices to track data analyzed by Microsoft’s combo of cloud and AI tools. The new Azure IoT Edge speeds up the process because computing can now take place on-site. The first use cases will be industrial applications. Among its 29 AI services, Microsoft also now has automatic language translation for PowerPoint and video indexing by sight or tag when a word or phrase is spoken. Continue reading Microsoft’s New Cloud Service With AI Tools Targets IoT Use

Microsoft Targets Education Market with New Surface Laptop

Microsoft debuted its new $999 Surface Laptop, targeted to compete with Apple’s MacBook Air in the classroom. The new Surface, available in four colors, is 2.76-pounds, a bit lighter and thinner than Air and offers a 14.5-hour battery life, slightly longer than the Air’s. On the less expensive end, Microsoft partners Acer, Lenovo and HP unveiled laptops, also running Windows 10 S, for the education market starting at $189. Windows 10 S, touted as more secure, can run apps from Microsoft’s Windows Store. Continue reading Microsoft Targets Education Market with New Surface Laptop

Slack Faces Off Against Bigger Competitors, Tweaks Software

Slack came to life three years ago, out of a failed video game, and, as messaging software, combines rich data on how people use a product with information on how people feel about using it. When it debuted in 2014, word of mouth catapulted Slack to a value of $4 billion. Now, the private company has attracted competition from Microsoft, which last fall unveiled Teams, free to 85 million users of Office 365, and Facebook with its free collaboration tool Workplace. A smaller company, Atlassian, has also had success. Continue reading Slack Faces Off Against Bigger Competitors, Tweaks Software

Slack’s Workplace Messaging App Targets Large Companies

Slack Technologies, launched in 2014, just introduced a new version of its workplace-centric messaging app, with the goal of gaining large corporate contracts. The new Slack Enterprise Grid is built to handle the group messaging needs of very large companies, with thousands or more employees, and includes security tools and regulatory compliance required for such companies’ IT departments to sign off. The original group messaging app is already in play at a few big companies, including Electronic Arts and Samsung Electronics. Continue reading Slack’s Workplace Messaging App Targets Large Companies

Microsoft Brings Cortana to Nissan, Amazon Signs Ford Deal

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn delivered a CES keynote that addressed the company’s goal to integrate Microsoft tech into its automobiles. Nissan’s connected vehicles will use Microsoft programs including the Cortana voice assistant, Dynamics, Office 365, Power BI and Skype for Business. Microsoft is launching a new Connected Vehicle Platform based on its Azure cloud platform, and the Renault-Nissan alliance will be the first automotive partner for the tech giant’s new initiative. The move comes during increased competition in automotive tech; Amazon, for example, is looking to get its virtual assistant Alexa into cars and just announced a deal with Ford. Continue reading Microsoft Brings Cortana to Nissan, Amazon Signs Ford Deal

Group Chat, Chatbots Gain Traction as Business Applications

Chat is the latest significant tool in enterprise, as evidenced by Facebook’s introduction of Workplace by Facebook, a version of its social network for organizations, and Microsoft’s new Office 365 productivity tool Microsoft Teams. More such chat tools come from HipChat and Slack Technologies, the latter of which counts four million daily active users and is valued at $3.8 billion. Facebook also opened Messenger for businesses to build virtual assistants, and developers have already built more than 33,000 so-called chatbots. Continue reading Group Chat, Chatbots Gain Traction as Business Applications

Microsoft Debuts its ‘Teams’ Office Chat Tool, Similar to Slack

Microsoft introduced its first major addition in years to Office 365, the company’s $23 billion/year software, by debuting Microsoft Teams, which allows workers to gather with colleagues in private chat rooms. Similar to Slack, the new feature was brought to fruition by Microsoft co-founder/now technology adviser Bill Gates. Office 365’s suite of tools includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint and is delivered over the Internet. Microsoft Teams will be bundled for free with the business version of Office 365. Continue reading Microsoft Debuts its ‘Teams’ Office Chat Tool, Similar to Slack

Facebook Debuts Workplace After Two Years of Development

After two years of development and testing in London, Facebook rolled out Workplace by Facebook, modeled after the company’s internal network and aimed at the corporate environment. Workplace by Facebook (formerly Facebook at Work) allows workers, even in different companies, to communicate and collaborate, for a monthly fee of $1 to $3 per user. By entering the enterprise communication space, Facebook will compete with Slack, Microsoft’s Yammer (accessible via Office 365), and Jive Software’s Jive among other solutions. Continue reading Facebook Debuts Workplace After Two Years of Development

Microsoft Speeds Up AI with New Programmable FPGA Chips

In 2012, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer and computer chip researcher Doug Burger believed they had found the future of computing: chips that could be programmed for specific tasks, dubbed field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). Project Catapult, as it was called, was intended to shift the underlying technology of all Microsoft servers in that direction. FPGAs now form the basis of Bing. Soon, the specialized chips will be capable of artificial intelligence at a tremendous speed — 23 milliseconds versus four seconds. Continue reading Microsoft Speeds Up AI with New Programmable FPGA Chips

Apple Rolls Out 2TB iCloud Storage Tier Ahead of New iPhone

Apple fans now have more choice when it comes to storing their photos, videos and documents. One week before the company is expected to unveil its new iPhone, Apple is introducing a new top-tier option for iCloud, offering up to 2 terabytes of cloud storage for $20/month. The new “macOS Sierra is about to be released with iCloud Drive support built in, so it’s entirely possible that the new 2TB tier was released in anticipation of users wanting more than the previous 1TB option,” notes Digital Trends. In addition, the company is reportedly planning “to unveil a 256GB iPhone option, an amount of storage that might previously have been a little too much for those with 1TB limits, especially when all of a computer’s files are added into the mix.” Continue reading Apple Rolls Out 2TB iCloud Storage Tier Ahead of New iPhone

With Smart App Genee, Microsoft Aims to Boost Cortana’s AI

Microsoft acquired Genee, a smart scheduling app that can help improve the company’s virtual assistant Cortana. Currently, Cortana can track packages and set reminders based on location among other tasks but, with Genee, it could also automatically set business meetings simply by recognizing key phrases in emails. That’s just one of the many tasks that an AI-enhanced Cortana would be able to do, all based on Genee’s ability to interpret language. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Continue reading With Smart App Genee, Microsoft Aims to Boost Cortana’s AI

Microsoft Stream Offers Familiar Video Tools for Businesses

Microsoft introduced Stream, a service that will allow businesses the ability to share internal video easily and securely. Now available as a free preview, Stream offers the same easy-to-use, flexible tools as YouTube, but with security tools for enterprise content. Office 365 already has a Video tool, and Microsoft’s idea is to eventually and seamlessly merge the two services. Unlike Office 365, Stream will make use of tools — including likes, comments, and recommendations — found in consumer platforms such as Vimeo and YouTube. Continue reading Microsoft Stream Offers Familiar Video Tools for Businesses

Microsoft Announces Deal to Purchase LinkedIn for $26 Billion

Microsoft just announced that it plans to acquire professional social network LinkedIn for $26.2 billion ($196 per share) in an all-cash deal expected to close this year. The merger will enable Microsoft to offer services to LinkedIn’s 433 million users. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner is slated to remain head of the LinkedIn unit and join the new parent company’s senior leadership team. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the deal will be “key to our bold ambition to reinvent productivity and business processes” as the tech giant continues its push toward becoming a vital enterprise hub. Continue reading Microsoft Announces Deal to Purchase LinkedIn for $26 Billion

Amazon, Microsoft Lead Boom in Cloud Services for Enterprise

As big companies such as General Electric and Netflix close down their data centers and move operations to the cloud, Amazon and Microsoft are enjoying rising revenues in their cloud operations — and increasing competition between each other. In the process, they’re also gaining dominance over rivals including Google and IBM. Recently, GE has reported whittling down its reliance on data centers from 34 to four. Netflix closed its last data center at the end of last summer. Continue reading Amazon, Microsoft Lead Boom in Cloud Services for Enterprise

The Public Cloud is Inevitable, and Amazon Stands to Win Big

The public cloud for software-as-a-service offerings, including back-end business services is catching fire, and Amazon and Google, which already run extensive public clouds, are well positioned to dominate in the arena. That’s despite Dell’s recent purchase of EMC, say the experts, because the two companies under EMC — VMware and Pivotal — although they are cloud computing companies, are not big players in the public cloud. Cloud platform services are expected to become a $44 billion market by 2020. Continue reading The Public Cloud is Inevitable, and Amazon Stands to Win Big

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