Cortana Makes Smart Thermostat a Glas Act

Microsoft and Johnson Controls this week unveiled Glas, a smart thermostat that runs on Microsoft’s Windows 10 IoT Core, a special operating system designed specifically for smaller devices. Glas also utilizes Microsoft’s smart voice assistant Cortana and its Azure Cloud to help users save energy while monitoring air quality in the home. Heating and cooling of a residential home accounts for around 48 percent of energy use, making it the largest energy expense for most families, noted Johnson Controls, a provider of HVAC, fire and security systems, and maker of…

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CoreOS, OCI Unveil Controversial Open Container Industry Standard

CoreOS and the Open Container Initiative on Wednesday introduced image and runtime specifications largely based on Docker’s image format technology. However, OCI’s decision to model the standard on Docker’s de facto platform has raised questions. Some critics have argued for other options. Version 1.0 provides a stable standard for application containers, according to Brandon Philips, CTO at CoreOS and chair of the OCI Technical Oversight Board. Having a standard created by industry leaders should spur OCI partners to develop further standards and innovation, he said. Reaching the 1.0 mark means that the OCI…

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Microsoft Rolls Out Linux Support in SQL Server 2017

Microsoft on Monday announced the availability of its first public release candidate for SQL Server 2017, which includes full support for Windows, Linux and Docker containers. SQL Server on Linux improves on earlier previews with several key enhancements, including active directory authentication; transport layer security to encrypt data; and SQL Server Integration Services that add support for Unicode ODBC drivers. SQL Server 2017 has demonstrated faster performance than competitive databases or older SQL Server versions with new benchmarks, Microsoft said, including the world record TPC-H 1-TB non-clustered data warehousing benchmark…

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Google Gives Up Scanning Personal Gmail

Google recently announced the end of its policy of scanning user emails for targeted advertising purposes — a controversial practice that riled privacy advocates and spurred legal challenges. Gmail is the world’s most widely used email provider, with more than 1.2 billion users. Google attributed its decision to gains it has made in the enterprise. Its G Suite business over the past year has more than doubled in size to 3 million paying corporate customers, who are not subject to the scanning process. “G Suite’s Gmail is already not used…

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Microsoft Bashes NSA Following Massive Ransomware Attacks

Microsoft this weekend unleashed its wrath on the National Security Agency, alleging it was responsible for the ransomware attack that began last week and has spread to thousands of corporate, government and individual computer systems around the world. Microsoft Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith launched a blistering attack on the NSA and governments worldwide, equating the ransomware attack with the U.S. military allowing the theft of a Tomahawk missile cache. “This is an emerging pattern in 2017,” Smith wrote Sunday in an online post. “We have seen vulnerabilities stored by…

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Microsoft Partners Heed Mixed-Reality Call

Microsoft on Wednesday showcased a new series of mixed reality headsets from partner firms Acer, HP, Asus, Dell and Lenovo at Computex 2017. The preview marked the company’s commitment to establish Windows 10 as a leading driver of mixed reality capabilities, as well as to open up the market to a wider variety of price points and consumer demographics. “These devices, coming to market this holiday, use Microsoft’s platform to enable a single and consistent user interface, standardized inputs and a universal app platform for developers,” noted Peter Han, vice…

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Microsoft Open Sources AI Toolkit

Microsoft this week released an updated version of its Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit as an open source Beta. The deep learning system is used to speed advances in areas such as speech and image recognition and search relevance on CPUs and Nvidia GPUs. It also works with Microsoft’s Azure GPU offering. The Microsoft computer scientists who developed the toolkit initially were looking for a tool to speed up and improve their own research. Initially called “Microsoft/CNTK,” it morphed into an offering that Microsoft customers and flagship product groups depend on for…

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Xbox One X: More Speed

Microsoft earlier this week announced the next version of its Xbox line of gaming consoles, ahead of E3 2017, now ongoing in Los Angeles. The new Xbox One X, which goes on sale Nov. 7 for US$499, is slimmer than previous models and packed with power. With a 6-teraflop Scorpio engine, the One X has 40 percent faster graphics performance than its chief rival, Sony’s PS4 Pro. The custom Scorpio engine in the Microsoft box burns chrome at 1172 MHz — a 37 percent increase over its predecessor, Xbox One,…

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Microsoft Curbs Cortana in Windows 10 In 2017

Microsoft on Thursday announced that it was restricting its Cortana digital assistant to operating with the Edge browser and Bing search engine in Windows 10. “As Windows 10 has grown in adoption and usage, we have seen some software programs circumvent [its] design and redirect you to search providers that were not designed to work with Cortana,” said Ryan Gavin, Microsoft’s general manager of search and Cortana. “The result is a compromised experience that is less reliable and predictable,” he added. “The continuity of these types of task completion scenarios…

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Google Resurrects Embrace, Extend

This almost sounds like a plot for a novel. Microsoft creates a successful strategy called “Embrace, Extend, Extinguish” and then promptly forgets it, resulting in a string of failures. Google, which up to now seemed happy to repeat Microsoft’s mistakes, accidentally picks up a successful Microsoft practice and uses it against Apple — likely taking out a number of its Android partners in the process. I’ll share some thoughts on the impact of Google’s Pixel phone and related product strategy in the context of Embrace, Extend, Extinguish, and why this…

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Microsoft Throws the Book at Apple

Microsoft on Tuesday held an event in New York City where it unveiled a laptop, a tablet, three Lumia smartphones and a fitness band — all running Windows 10 — along with a slew of other products. It also announced new apps for Windows 10, including Box, Facebook, Instagram, Flipagram, Candy Crush Soda Saga and Uber. All of the apps will be available on the new devices. “Microsoft’s now working to showcase that it’s building out its ecosystem based on Windows 10,” said Susan Schreiner, an analyst at C4 Trends.…

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Vaio’s Phone Biz to Test Windows 10’s in Asia

Vaio on Wednesday announced Phone Biz, a Windows 10 mobile phone. The device doesn’t have a SIM, leaving users free to select their own carriers. The Phone Biz lets users easily access corporate apps, Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Exchange, as well as the Azure cloud, according to Vaio. The OS is synced with the latest version of Windows 10. Users can manage settings from the same Microsoft account as their PCs. The Phone Biz incorporates Microsoft’s Continuum feature, which lets users connect phones to TVs or monitors, if they want…

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Microsoft Debuts Smarter Cloud at Build in 2017

Microsoft executives, led by CEO Satya Nadella, introduced a series of enhancements to the company’s critical data and cloud services at the kickoff of its annual Build conference on Wednesday, demonstrating new ways to expand adoption of artificial intelligence, personal digital assistants and other innovations. Nadella told conference attendees that there will be more than 25 billion intelligent devices in the world by 2020, and the role of developers will be to extend new technologies to meet that challenge. “So, whether precision medicine or precision agriculture, whether it’s digital media or…

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Microsoft’s Mixer Could Shake Up the Streaming Game 2017

Microsoft on Thursday announced Mixer, a rebranded version of its game-streaming service previously known as “Beam.” In addition to the name change, the service will include a number of new features designed to attract more gamers. The added features will unlock new possibilities for social streaming, while also helping viewers find specific content across the service, according to Microsoft. New co-streaming functionality will allow four PC streamers to combine their respective broadcasts into a single split-screen stream. This feature soon will roll out to Xbox gamers as well. In addition,…

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The Max-Q: The Coolest Thing of Computex

I didn’t attend Computex this year, and that was sad for everything but my budget, because there was a ton of cool stuff announced at the show. Dell, HP and Lenovo showed off new designs that were both attractive and compelling. Mixed-reality headsets hit; based on Intel and Microsoft technology, they were far more affordable than the strong virtual reality stuff already in market (andsome aren’t bad looking). New core wars broke out, as AMD’s 16 Core Threadripper was challenged by Intel’s 18 core i9. It seems that gaming was…

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Microsoft Buys Hexadite to Secure Windows Security Highly

Microsoft on Thursday said it has agreed to buy a Hexadite, which incorporates artificial intelligence in its automated responses to cyberthreats. Microsoft was in talks to buy the firm for US$100 million, according to earlier published reports. However, Microsoft and Hexadite did not disclose terms of the official agreement. The acquisition will help bolster the company’s efforts to help commercial Windows 10 customers deal with advanced attacks on their networks, Microsoft said. It currently offers Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection to detect zero-day attacks, ransomware and other advanced threats, and…

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