There weren’t any major fireworks at the opening keynote of Microsoft’s Build conference on Wednesday, but the company did make some important announcements that give us some clues about where the company is headed. Below we’ll recap the most important announcements that include everything from updates to Windows 10 to new frontiers in artificial intelligence.
Windows 10 Anniversary Edition
Windows 10 has been a big hit for Microsoft and it’s now being used on 270 million devices. This summer, Microsoft will mark the one-year anniversary of its flagship OS with the release of a new update called Windows 10 Anniversary Edition. Among other things, this update will include improved stylus functionality through the new “Ink Workspace” that will enable new capabilities for pen-powered apps; extension support for Microsoft’s Edge browser; and major improvements to Cortana that will let it more deeply integrate with third-party applications.
Lots and lots of bots
Microsoft has been doing a lot of work lately with artificially intelligent bots. Most notoriously, its Tay chatbot joined Twitter last week and was quickly transformed into a crazed racist by social media trolls. That discouraging development isn’t stopping Microsoft, however, as the company said at Build that it is launching a new set of developer tools called the Microsoft Bot Framework that will let developers build their own machine learning bots that will act as digital assistants to help people complete a variety of tasks such as booking reservations or ordering products.
Microsoft also said that the next major version of its Skype software would be able to chat with bots with help from Cortana as an intermediary.
“It’s about taking the power of human language and applying it more pervasively to all of our computing,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella explained. “We need to infuse intelligence about us and our context into all of our computers and experiences.”
The HoloLens revolution starts now
HoloLens is one of the coolest products Microsoft has developed over the past several years and now it’s ready for prime time. Microsoft said that the developer edition of HoloLens is shipping out right now, although this is not something that most consumers will be able to buy for themselves. Rather, this version of the HoloLens sells for $3,000 and is targeted toward developers at businesses and government organizations who are curious about creating new applications for mixed reality platforms.
NASA announced that it will use HoloLens to help give visitors at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex a chance to take a virtual tour of Mars. We can’t wait to see some of the other amazing applications that developers create for this incredible augmented reality headset.