Above: Microsoft’s Satya Nadella demonstrates assistive technologies onstage at Moscone Center in San Francisco. Phot by Brian Smale, courtesy Microsoft.
Wednesday at Build 2016, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Windows and Devices Group, talked to thousands of developers about the work Microsoft Corp. is doing to help them embrace the new era of conversational intelligence and create more personal computing for every customer, industry and business.
Nadella showcased improvements to Cortana and announced previews of new cloud services and toolkits designed to understand the world around us and create intelligent bots. Myerson announced the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which will deliver significant new innovations for consumers and developers for the Universal Windows Platform.
“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.”
“With Windows 10 now running on over 270 million active devices, we’re celebrating with our fans by delivering the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. 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,” Myerson said.
“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.”
Cloud services that understand, interactive bots and the Cortana Intelligence Suite
The Cortana Intelligence Suite, formerly known as the Cortana Analytics Suite, is powered by cutting-edge research into big data, machine learning, perception, analytics and intelligent bots. Built on Microsoft Azure, these capabilities can be used by developers and businesses to create intelligent end-to-end solutions, including new apps that learn about our world and bots and agents that interact with people in personalized, intelligent ways.
Wednesday, Microsoft announced new additions to the Cortana Intelligence Suite, both in preview. The first, Microsoft Cognitive Services, is a collection of intelligence APIs that allows systems to see, hear, speak, understand and interpret our needs using natural methods of communication.
The second, the Microsoft Bot Framework, can be used by developers — programming in any language — 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 Web and more.
Microsoft demonstrated how developers can use services, like those found in the Cortana Intelligence Suite, to transform not only businesses but people’s lives. Seeing AI, a research project under development, shows how these new capabilities can help people who are visually impaired or blind better understand who and what is around them.
Wednesday, Microsoft also released the Skype Bot Platform, which includes the SDK, API and Workflows all in the new Skype Bot Portal. With this platform, developers can build bots that leverage Skype’s multiple forms of communication, including text, voice, video and 3-D interactive characters. Customers can get started with Skype Bots by downloading the latest Skype apps for Windows, Android and iOS. Developers can start building Skype Bots today using the Skype Bot Platform and reach hundreds of millions of Skype users.
Those interested can learn more about Cortana Intelligence Suite and the new previews here, sign up to learn more about Seeing AI here, download the new Skype client here and sign up for the Skype Bot Platform.
New Windows 10 innovations deliver for developers
Windows 10 was designed to deliver more personal computing, with experiences that are more natural, more trusted and extend across devices. With features such as Cortana and Windows Hello, Windows 10 began to deliver on this vision. Today, Windows 10 is off to the fastest start in Windows history with over 270 million active devices, outpacing Windows 7 by 145 percent. And, customers have spent more time in Windows 10 than ever before — over 75 billion hours since its launch.
As a result of this rapidly growing base, Microsoft is seeing new universal apps from Twitter, Uber, King, Disney, Wargaming, Square Enix, Yahoo and WWE; with new apps on the way from Bank of America, Starbucks, Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. The Windows Store has seen over 5 billion visits as Windows fans are discovering apps for Windows 10, including nearly 1,000 Cortana apps.
At Build on Wednesday, Microsoft shared the next chapter in its more personal computing vision — with an all-new Windows 10 Anniversary Update featuring innovations for Windows Ink, Cortana, Windows Hello and gaming. Windows Ink is a new experience, putting the power of Windows in the tip of your pen. With Windows Ink, you can write on your device as you do on paper, create sticky notes, draw on a whiteboard and easily share your analog thoughts in the digital world.
New Cortana features enable you to receive proactive guidance from Cortana throughout the day and speak with Cortana, even while your device is locked1, without logging in. New Windows Hello features extend the security of Windows 10 to multiple devices and to Microsoft Edge, so you can log into your devices and websites with enterprise-grade security. These are just a few of the many features that will become available this summer when the Windows 10 Anniversary Update becomes broadly available.
Microsoft also shipped Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition for the first time, extending the Windows experience to holograms and allowing developers to begin helping build the future of holographic computing. Microsoft highlighted commercial customers in several industries that are using HoloLens today, including Case Western Reserve University and NASA. Developers can use the Universal Windows Platform to create new mixed reality with holograms.
For over 30 years, Windows has been an open ecosystem, welcoming the contributions of hardware and software partners and developers around the world. The Universal Windows Platform extends this commitment, combining the openness of the history of Windows with the best of today’s modern application platform. On Wednesday, Microsoft shared all-new capabilities for the Universal Windows Platform.
They include full access to Cortana’s proactive intelligence and the Windows 10 Anniversary SDK, which offers all-new APIs and tools to integrate the latest Windows 10 innovations into apps, including Windows Ink and Windows Hello. And with the Xbox Dev Mode, any Xbox One can be a developer kit, enabling anyone to develop for the living room.
Microsoft also shared all-new tools for bringing apps to Windows 10 from any platform.
- Web developers, including American Express, BBC Sport, Yahoo Mail, zulily and more, have seen great success with Windows 10 Hosted Web Apps. And now, Windows 10 has support for native Bash with access to the Windows file system and the universe of open source command line tools.
- Microsoft shared its new desktop app converter for Project Centennial, which will enable Win32 and .NET developers to easily bring more than 16 million apps to the Universal Windows Platform. Developers can extend their applications with Universal Windows Platform capabilities and distribute their apps in the Windows Store.
- Xamarin will help make it possible for .NET developers to more easily share common app code across Windows, iOS and Android apps while still delivering fully native experiences for each platform.
Those who want to try the new innovations coming in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update can join the Windows Insider program and install the latest build. Starting today, developers in the Windows Insider Program can access the Windows Anniversary SDK Preview to explore the new features.