Every year, Microsoft holds an event for developers called ‘Build’; last week in San Franscisco it was time for ‘Build 2016’. Microsoft has been in top gear for the last year or so, spewing a host of products; with the exception of the Windows Phone, most of them have clicked with customers. It definitely has a winner with Windows 10, its robust personal assistant Cortana, the envy-evincing Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book, as well a wild future to look forward to with HoloLens.
Delivering his keynote address at the Build 2016 conference, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that there are now 270 million computers running Windows 10, the latest version of Windows operating system that was launched last summer. Microsoft also revealed updates to digital assistant Cortana, which can now interact on behalf of the user with other social bots —automated programs that can chat with users in a humanlike way.
However, most of the interest at Build 2016 centered on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) with the company unveiling what it called the Microsoft Bot Framework — a set of tools that will let anyone create a bot that they, and their customers, can chat to, in the hope that these programs might replace web and app interfaces. Piquing the interest of developers at the gathering, Microsoft then assembled a chatbot on stage for Domino's Pizza, showing how a conversational interface could replace the standard online ordering forms that allow you to, for example, select a pizza topping from drop down menu.
"We want to build intelligence that augments human abilities and experiences," Mr. Nadella told the audience in San Francisco. "You'll soon be able to use Skype to books trips, shop, and plan your schedule, just by chatting with Cortana,” said the CEO. Essentially, Skype will know which company or service you want to talk to, bring a new bot into your chat to help out, and then get rid of the bot when you're done.
Microsoft also launched last week its experimental version of a teleporter, called ‘holoportation’, which was designed to transmit 3D models of people anywhere in the world. Holoportation, which leverages camera arrays for scanning, compresses, transmits and reconstructs the 3D scans to Microsoft's HoloLens and other head-mounted displays. The tech allows wearers of augmented and virtual reality headsets to see and interact with remote users in 3D as if they were in the same space, according to Microsoft.