Microsoft showcased improvements to Cortana, previewed new cloud services, the Windows 10 Anniversary Update and the Universal Windows Platform at Build in San Francisco, California on 30 March.
In addition to shipping the Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition for the first time, Microsoft released the Skype Bot Platform, which enables developers to build bots that leverage Skype’s communication, including text, voice, video and 3D interactive characters.
The company also demonstrated two new additions to the Azure-based Cortana Intelligence Suite (formerly Cortana Analytics Suite). Available in preview, the first is Microsoft Cognitive Services, a collection of intelligence APIs that allows systems to see, hear, speak, understand and interpret users’ needs by leveraging natural methods of communication. The second, the Microsoft Bot Framework, can be used by developers to build intelligent bots that enable customers to chat using natural language on a wide variety of platforms including text/SMS, Office 365, Skype, Slack, the internet and more.
“As an industry, we are on the cusp of a new frontier that pairs the power of natural human language with advanced machine intelligence,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “At Microsoft, we call this Conversations as a Platform, and it builds on and extends the power of the Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Windows platforms to empower developers everywhere.”
Building on its vision for more personal computing, Microsoft previewed the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which offers new features and will be generally available this summer. While the new Windows Ink experience allows users to create sticky notes, draw on a whiteboard and write on their device as on paper, the updated Windows Hello extends enterprise-grade security to multiple devices and Microsoft Edge. New Cortana features enable users to receive proactive guidance from Cortana throughout the day and speak with personal assistant without logging into their device, even if it is locked.
“With Windows 10 now running on more than 270 million active devices, we’re celebrating with our fans by delivering the Windows 10 Anniversary Update,” said Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group. “This significant update will help you interact with your Windows 10 devices as naturally as you interact with the world around you – using your pen, presence and voice. 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.”
Microsoft also introduced new capabilities for the Universal Windows Platform, including full access to Cortana’s proactive intelligence and the Windows 10 Anniversary software development kit. Windows 10 now has support for native Bash with access to the Windows file system and the universe of open source command line tools, enabling developers to migrate apps from any platform.
Meanwhile, Win32 and .NET developers can use the new desktop app converter for Project Centennial to bring more than 16 million apps to the Universal Windows Platform and distribute them in the Windows Store.
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