Microsoft to allow third party devices and apps to integrate Cortana

Microsoft is opening up Cortana to third party device makers and developers with a Cortana Skills kit and Cortana Devices SDK.

Cortana’s Skills Kit will let developers build apps that are able to use voice commands via Cortana to enable features. The Devices SDK allows third party hardware makers build devices with Cortana on board.

Currently the Skills Kit preview is available for a few partners privately such as Expedia, TalkLocal, and Capitol One. Microsoft is working wit Harman Kardon on a new device with Cortana integration, which looks a lot like the Amazon Echo.

Microsoft launches Teams Preview

Microsoft launches a video of Teams, their video conferencing and collaboration application, or as CEO Satya Nadella described it “a chat based workspace designed to facilitate real time collaboration while building up the institutional knowledge of a team.”

The application was designed to pull various tools together such as chat, a planner, meetings, and notes in order to create a single platform, or workspace. Chats are threaded to group conversations, Skype is integrated for voice and video calls, and the company has integrated Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

Microsoft has also included emojis, stickers, custom memes, and GIFs. The top dashboard can be used to switch between different apps such as notes or BI.

Microsoft also displayed the T-Bot, which is a centralized help system with crawling capabilities.

The application will launch on Windows phone but also on various platforms such as iOS and Android. Built in security offers data encryption and compliance standards.

Teams is available only as a preview right now and will be next year.

Microsoft displays newest devices to the Surface line

9.jpgMicrosoft introduced the Surface Studio, a touchscreen all-in-one desktop computer. Its 12.5mm thick, has a 18-inch PixelSense display, GeForce 980M, an Intel i7 processor, 2TB of storage, and up to 32GB of memory. It also has a “zero-gravity hinge” that allows the screen to be tilt at different angles, allowing for creative work. These tiny computers start at $2,999.

10.jpgThe Surface Dial is also a new device by Microsoft. The device provides haptic feedback and allows for twisting to select item from a menu screen. Along with the Surface Studio users can place the Dial directly onto the screen for contextual software control. The Surface Dial will be out in November at $99.99, but comes free with Surface Studio preorders,.

8Microsoft did not show off a new Surface Book, instead they upgraded its latest model to include an Intel i7 processor and a bigger battery, supposedly able to reach up to 16 hours of battery life. The Surface Book i7 will be available in November for $2,399.

Microsoft envisions everyone as being creative and this push into products that allow for creativity might just be the beginning. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella came up on stage and said that he wants to empower everyone with a new creative platform using 3D content, AR, and the integration of Windows and gaming.

Microsoft Windows 10 Creators Update

Microsoft held the Windows 10 event today and there were a few things that were unveiled in Microsofts approach to creativity and innovation using the latest technologies.

3Windows 10 is getting an update called the “Creators Update.” The update will introduce the addition of new 3D creation tools, live-streaming, and custom tournaments for the Xbox app. Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Windows and devices group said he wants windows 10 to have the effect of the Gutenberg press of the next wave of computing.

2.jpgMicrosoft has relaunched the Paint app with a push into 3D. The updated app allows users to turn photos into 3D “memories,” export three-dimensional creations from Minecraft, and turn mostly anything into an 3D object. The objects can also be used and viewed via the HoloLens. During the presentation there was an incredible amount of focus on VR and AR capabilities.

4.jpgMicrosoft is also venturing into VR in addition to its AR platform the HoloLens. The VR headsets will start selling at $299, though they will run on the same platform as the HoloLens. No date has been issued for the VR headsets release, although Microsoft has said that Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo will be making headsets.

5The creators update will have big changes to the Xbox. The Xbox app will have live broadcasting built into with the update. Players will be able to stream as a part of Xbox Live allowing players to follow Xbox Live friends. Comments and suggestions from viewers is also going to be integrated directly in-game. There is also going to be an update to its Arena platform allowing for custom tournaments and challenges. The update will also include Dolby Atmos audio support for the Xbox.

6.jpgMicrosoft is also focusing heavily on socializing and communicating with friends and family. Communicating with friends and family can be done directly in the task bar, which allow users to drag and drop content. This update will also include “taps” that let users send stickers of 3D objects.


Microsoft announces partnership with Adobe

Microsoft announced a major partnership with Adobe today at Ignite. The partnership focuses on Adobe delivering its cloud services on Microsoft Azure.

Microsoft says Adobe will now make Azure its “preferred cloud platform” for the Adobe Marketing Cloud, Creative Cloud, and Document Cloud services. Adobe will use SQL Server and Azure’s machine learning services provided in the Microsoft Cortana Intelligence Suite.

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, brought out onto the stage the CEO of Adobe, Shantanu Narayen. “Customers today expect a well-designed, personalized and consistent experience every time they engage with a brand,” said Shantanu Narayen in a statement today. “Adobe and Microsoft will bring together the cloud horsepower and end-to-end capabilities brands need to design and deliver great digital experiences.”

The partnership will make it simpler for customers to work across the two services. “Customers today expect a well-designed, personalized and consistent experience every time they engage with a brand,” said Shantanu Narayen. “Adobe and Microsoft will bring together the cloud horsepower and end-to-end capabilities brands need to design and deliver great digital experiences.”

Microsoft announces Windows Defender Application Guard for Edge browser

Microsoft announced today at Ignite that its making its Edge browser more secure for enterprise.

Microsoft explained that it will run Windows Defender Application Guard in a container that is bound directly to the hardware in order to protect Windows 10 from untrusted browser searches. The company explained that containers within other browser leave enterprises vulnerable to 90% of attacks because they don’t user hardware based protection.

Microsoft gave a demo of security breaches without the integration to the hardware. By deploying Application Guard the machine is kept safe from attacks and are locked in a container or what they call a “maximum security prison.”

Along with Application Guard Microsoft is also rolling out with new Office 365 features. The new Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection will protect usrs from malicious URLs and will cover SharePoint, One Drive for Business, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.


Microsoft Flow for Android

Microsoft Flow, a workflow management tool, has launched on Android. Flow debuted in April on the web and to iOS. It came about as an interface that lets users integrate two or more cloud services to create workflows such as alerts, data organization, messages, emails, and more.

Screenshot_20160825-144928.pngFlow looks to be a direct competitor to IFTTT and Zapier, though the two have been around longer and offer more functionality. Microsoft Flow is more focused on SharePoint, Office 365, Dynamics CRM, and other business tools and integrating those tools to other services such as Slack, Salesforce, GitHub, and others.

Some uses that were marketed were integrating twitter and automating tweets, getting a text message when you have received an email, copying files from SharePoint to OneDrive, integrating with Dropbox and Instagram, and more.

Users can start with many templates that are online. Once the app is booted it will take users to these templates.

This could help many power users connect to different services or manage data and create streamlined workflows.

Microsoft’s Word Flow Keyboard

Microsoft has come out with an upgraded predictive keyboard app called Word Flow. The app has been available with its initial launch on iOS earlier this spring, though the latest version offers more than intelligent word suggestions and support for one-handed typing. The latest release offers information from the Bing search engine that allows users to look up information on restaurants, news, video, GIFs, and more. GIFs.png

Word Flow started on Windows smartphone and desktop platforms. The app integrated the ability to text via swipe and giving users suggested words to tap on. Its strength though focused on its one-handed typing, which displayed a unique wheel like interface that is accessible from one side of the screen.

Bing ResultsIts 2.0 version of the app now includes support for Bing, GIF, and emoji searches. This was a reaction to Googles Gboard app, which integrated the Google search engine into the keyboard. The update allows users to look up information on the web such as news and weather, and can access the address book to find contacts more easily.

Users can download Microsoft’s Word Flow for free.

Microsoft tests management app called Project Sonoma

Microsoft recently launched a new productivity app called Project Sonoma, which not a lot of people know about.

The company hasn’t made any official announcement about Project Sonoma and quietly released the app on both Google Play and the iTunes App Store. The app is available to download and install, however it is not publicly available. Instead you will see that its currently in a “Private Preview.”

Project Sonoma looks to mainly be used for collaboration and management, though previews show an emphasis put on its team chat. In the apps main screen users will see My Shifts, Requests, and Messages. My Shits allows employees to track their work schedules or shifts. Requests allows employees to ask for schedule changes or swap shifts with other employees. Lastly, Messages offers team chat for employees where they can receive messages or notifications from their managers or chat with other employees.

Not much else is known about the app and Microsoft hasn’t been very vocal about it either. There’s a Project Sonoma website, though it offers no information about the app, aside from allowing users to sign up and join the wait-list.