As it turns out, Microsoft did not oversell its replacement for Internet Explorer. The Microsoft Edge browser has recently been found to live up to its tagline as the “faster, safer browser for Windows 10.” In fact, the relatively new program from the Redmond giant was found to be the safest browser when compared to its biggest rivals, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. 

NSS Labs, the leading information security company in the world, published a report about web browsers this week. The report focused on how malware could penetrate computers through the program. As such, the company emphasized how the web browser should serve as the first line of defense against malware. The study was conducted in a span of 14 days — from Sept. 26, 2016 to Oct. 9, 2016. The main goal was to identify the competency of the web browser’s security. 

Based on the report, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox were all subjected to the same set of malware. The study involved the use of 304 unique suspicious samples. Out of the three, Microsoft Edge managed to block 99 percent of the suspicious samples. Google Chrome came next after blocking 85.8 percent of malware, while Firefox finished last by blocking 78.3 percent of malware. 

According to How To Geek, the main reason why the Edge browser did better was thanks to its SmartScreen feature. The feature was first introduced to consumers in Internet Explorer 7. Previously, it was referred to as “Phishing Filter.” It is responsible for showing users a red page that notifies users about the threat of accessing a website with malware. 

When time or the readiness of a web browser to counter the threat is considered, Microsoft Edge still remained triumphant. NSS Labs stated in the report that Microsoft’s browser block the malware in less than ten minutes on average. Following behind is Chrome with two hours and 39 minutes. As for Firefox, it took more than three hours and 45 minutes for it to block malware.

Despite the positive news, users are still advised to obtain a good antivirus program if they want to boost their line of defense against attacks and malware. After all, having a safe browser is not enough at a time when online attacks have become rampant. 



Source : http://www.ibtimes.com/how-safe-microsoft-edge-compared-google-chrome-mozilla-firefox-2481680

Categorized in How to

Microsoft's Windows 10 has been criticized a lot in three key areas during its 18 month existence.

The first was the year long aggressive free upgrade campaign to get users moving from Windows 7/8.1 to Windows 10.  In fact, Chris Capossela Microsoft's Executive VP and Chief Marketing Officer, recently admitted the company just pushed too hard to get users to upgrade for free during that program. Of course, this is now a mute point because the free offer has now expired.

Secondly, its reliability and the fast pace release of updates under the premise of Windows as a Service (WaaS) has been a constant point of contention for many users and bad updates have resulted in some system level issues for some users however, just as many Windows 10 users have told me they have systems that perform reliably despite this new updating process.


The third and final issue is one that has likely generated the most written words over the last 18 months and that is privacy and Windows 10. Microsoft collects telemetry from Windows 10 and other user information for many reasons and that is all detailed in their commitment to privacy statement and policies. The biggest issue many had from a consumer perspective is that telemetry collection could not be turned off completely unlike higher SKUs of Windows 10 like Professional, Education and Enterprise which can turn that feature off using Group Policies.

I have looked at the Privacy Settings in Windows 10 on a few different occasions and they are extensive and very granular. That allows the end user to exercise a tremendous amount of control over what information is shared with Microsoft and apps on their Windows 10 systems.

Well this week Microsoft has taken another step in reinforcing their commitment to privacy by unveiling a new centralized portal under each users Microsoft Account page that provides the ability to delete any information Microsoft has collected from their usage of Microsoft products and services.

This new privacy controls page allows users to review and/or delete information in the following areas:

  • Browsing history
  • Search history
  • Location history
  • Cortana's Notebook
  • Health activity

Now, there has always been other locations that this information could be dealt with but by bringing it all under the Microsoft Account it is now in one place for quick and easy access.

In addition to providing controls to delete this data, Microsoft is also using this portal to explain to end users the value added nature of Microsoft knowing the data collected in each area.

Browsing history

If browsing history in Cortana is turned on, your Microsoft Edge browsing history is sent to Microsoft so that Microsoft features and services may use this data to provide you with timely and intelligent answers, proactive personalized suggestions, or to complete tasks for you.

Search history

Like other search engines, Bing uses your search history to give you better results, including personalization and autosuggest. Cortana also uses that data to give you timely, intelligent answers, personalized suggestions, and complete other tasks for you.

Location history

To give you directions to the places you want to go, and show you data relevant to where you are, we use locations that you provide or that we've detected using technologies like GPS.

Cortana's Notebook

To help you avoid traffic, remember anniversaries, text the right “Jennifer” in your contact list, and in general do more, Cortana needs to know what you’re interested in, what’s on your calendar, and who you might want to do things with. The Notebook is where Cortana keeps track of your interests. When you don’t want to reach for a keyboard, Cortana can use your speech and handwriting patterns to help translate what you say or write into documents and text messages.


Health activity

Microsoft Health, HealthVault, and devices like Microsoft Band can help you collect, understand, and manage your health data. Your data can include activity and fitness data like heart rate and daily steps taken. It can also include any health records you store in HealthVault and HealthVault gives you the ability to share health records with caregivers.

In addition to providing direct access to these areas of information, the new Privacy Portal in your Microsoft Account also has a collection of direct links to other parts of the Microsoft ecosystem for managing privacy and data.

Those include:

  • Windows Privacy Settings
  • Xbox Privacy and Online Safety
  • Skype Privacy Settings
  • Apps and Services
  • Office
  • Advertising Preferences
  • Marketing Preferences

One last area that Microsoft is making some changes when it comes to privacy is the Out of Box Experience, aka OOBE, when installing the upcoming Creators Update release that is expected in April of this year. During that installation process, you will be offered the following privacy options:

  • Location
  • Speech recognition
  • Diagnostic (Full or Basic)
  • Tailored experiences with diagnostic data
  • Relevant ads

Of course, even with this new clarity and control options there will still be some who are not happy with the collection of telemetry and other information and that is simply reality.

However, Microsoft does provide an extensive collection of controls that help you manage that information. When you combine that with the explanations on why that information is useful and enhances the user experience in Windows 10 and other parts of the Microsoft user environment/services it really should help the user decide what they leave turned on or off when it relates to privacy.

But, wait...there's probably more so be sure to follow me on Twitter and Google+.

Author : Richard Hay

Source : http://winsupersite.com/microsoft/microsofts-new-privacy-dashboard-helps-users-control-their-personal-data#slide-3-field_images-81611

Categorized in Internet Privacy

VIRTUAL and augmented reality headsets will soon be as thin as your everyday spectacles.

And when that day comes, Microsoft is primed to end that loathsome human trait — forgetfulness.

Several years ago it patented the marvellous tech for “object tracking” in which virtual reality-style glasses can record and analyse their environment.

The tech firm seems certain of a dystopian future where we all wear headsets day-to-day, as the software works by keeping track of all the objects in the wearer’s surroundings.

These newfangled glasses — which may be later generations of the Hololens — could soon be saving time spent blindly searching for our keys, debit cards or phones.

Lost your wallet? Ask Microsoft’s voice assistant Cortana.

Not sure if there’s milk in the fridge? Ask Cortana to bring up the recording from the last time you opened it.


The tech company wrote in its patent application: “For example, searching for misplaced car keys, wallets, mobile devices, and the like may cause people to lose productive time.

Your glasses will be able to find all the items you need.

“Likewise, forgetting that the milk carton in the home refrigerator is almost empty may lead to an extra trip to the store that could have been avoided had the shopper remembered the state of the milk carton.

“In some instances, such objects may be moved, emptied, etc. by a person other than the owner, thereby complicating the task of tracking.”


It revealed plans for a mobile device like a “see-through display worn by a user” with image sensors that observe the environment.

This opens a whole host of privacy concerns, but could prove to be a very useful tool.

Microsoft will store video recordings of your home and will use an alert system triggered by a request or alarm you set.

It could be used by more than one person — so if you share a household with someone they will also be made aware that you are shopping or search their video recording to see where a missing item could be.

Microsoft added: “In this manner, a user may be able to discover a most recent location of lost keys, may be provided with a reminder to buy more milk while browsing the dairy section at a grocery store, and/or may track and recall other object state information in any suitable manner.”

Author: Margi Murphy
Source: http://www.news.com.au/technology/gadgets/wearables/microsoft-invents-hololens-glasses-that-can-find-missing-items-and-remind-you-to-buy-milk-when-the-fridge-is-empty/news-story/822316019b7394fe12665bb1439f3fc1

Categorized in Internet Technology

FEI-FEI LI IS a big deal in the world of AI. As the director of the Artificial Intelligence and Vision labs at Stanford University, she oversaw the creation of ImageNet, a vast database of images designed to accelerate the development of AI that can “see.” And, well, it worked, helping to drive the creation of deep learning systems that can recognize objects, animals, people, and even entire scenes in photos—technology that has become commonplace on the world’s biggest photo-sharing sites. Now, Fei-Fei will help run a brand new AI group inside Google, a move that reflects just how aggressively the world’s biggest tech companies are remaking themselves around this breed of artificial intelligence.

Alongside a former Stanford researcher—Jia Li, who more recently ran research for the social networking service Snapchat—the China-born Fei-Fei will lead a team inside Google’s cloud computing operation, building online services that any coder or company can use to build their own AI. This new Cloud Machine Learning Group is the latest example of AI not only re-shaping the technology that Google uses, but also changing how the company organizes and operates its business.

Google is not alone in this rapid re-orientation. Amazon is building a similar group cloud computing group for AI. Facebook and Twitter have created internal groups akin to Google Brain, the team responsible for infusing the search giant’s own tech with AI. And in recent weeks, Microsoft reorganized much of its operation around its existing machine learning work, creating a new AI and research group under executive vice president Harry Shum, who began his career as a computer vision researcher.

Oren Etzioni, CEO of the not-for-profit Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, says that these changes are partly about marketing—efforts to ride the AI hype wave. Google, for example, is focusing public attention on Fei-Fei’s new group because that’s good for the company’s cloud computing business. But Etzioni says this is also part of very real shift inside these companies, with AI poised to play an increasingly large role in our future. “This isn’t just window dressing,” he says.


The New Cloud

Fei-Fei’s group is an effort to solidify Google’s position on a new front in the AI wars. The company is challenging rivals like Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM in building cloud computing services specifically designed for artificial intelligence work. This includes services not just for image recognition, but speech recognition, machine-driven translation, natural language understanding, and more.

Cloud computing doesn’t always get the same attention as consumer apps and phones, but it could come to dominate the balance sheet at these giant companies. Even Amazon and Google, known for their consumer-oriented services, believe that cloud computing could eventually become their primary source of revenue. And in the years to come, AI services will play right into the trend, providing tools that allow of a world of businesses to build machine learning services they couldn’t build on their own. Iddo Gino, CEO of RapidAPI, a company that helps businesses use such services, says they have already reached thousands of developers, with image recognition services leading the way.

When it announced Fei-Fei’s appointment last week, Google unveiled new versions of cloud services that offer image and speech recognition as well as machine-driven translation. And the company said it will soon offer a service that allows others to access to vast farms of GPU processors, the chips that are essential to running deep neural networks. This came just weeks after Amazon hired a notable Carnegie Mellon researcher to run its own cloud computing group for AI—and just a day after Microsoft formally unveiled new services for building “chatbots” and announced a deal to provide GPU services to OpenAI, the AI lab established by Tesla founder Elon Musk and Y Combinator president Sam Altman.

The New Microsoft

Even as they move to provide AI to others, these big internet players are looking to significantly accelerate the progress of artificial intelligence across their own organizations. In late September, Microsoft announced the formation of a new group under Shum called the Microsoft AI and Research Group. Shum will oversee more than 5,000 computer scientists and engineers focused on efforts to push AI into the company’s products, including the Bing search engine, the Cortana digital assistant, and Microsoft’s forays into robotics.


The company had already reorganized its research group to move quickly into new technologies into products. With AI, Shum says, the company aims to move even quicker. In recent months, Microsoft pushed its chatbot work out of research and into live products—though not quite successfully. Still, it’s the path from research to product the company hopes to accelerate in the years to come.

“With AI, we don’t really know what the customer expectation is,” Shum says. By moving research closer to the team that actually builds the products, the company believes it can develop a better understanding of how AI can do things customers truly want.

The New Brains

In similar fashion, Google, Facebook, and Twitter have already formed central AI teams designed to spread artificial intelligence throughout their companies. The Google Brain team began as a project inside the Google X lab under another former Stanford computer science professor, Andrew Ng, now chief scientist at Baidu. The team provides well-known services such as image recognition for Google Photos and speech recognition for Android. But it also works with potentially any group at Google, such as the company’s security teams, which are looking for ways to identify security bugs and malware through machine learning.

Facebook, meanwhile, runs its own AI research lab as well as a Brain-like team known as the Applied Machine Learning Group. Its mission is to push AI across the entire family of Facebook products, and according chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer, it’s already working: one in five Facebook engineers now make use of machine learning. Schroepfer calls the tools built by Facebook’s Applied ML group “a big flywheel that has changed everything” inside the company. “When they build a new model or build a new technique, it immediately gets used by thousands of people working on products that serve billions of people,” he says. Twitter has built a similar team, called Cortex, after acquiring several AI startups.

The New Education

The trouble for all of these companies is that finding that talent needed to drive all this AI work can be difficult. Given the deep neural networking has only recently entered the mainstream, only so many Fei-Fei Lis exist to go around. Everyday coders won’t do. Deep neural networking is a very different way of building computer services. Rather than coding software to behave a certain way, engineers coax results from vast amounts of data—more like a coach than a player.

As a result, these big companies are also working to retrain their employees in this new way of doing things. As it revealed last spring, Google is now running internal classes in the art of deep learning, and Facebook offers machine learning instruction to all engineers inside the company alongside a formal program that allows employees to become full-time AI researchers.

Yes, artificial intelligence is all the buzz in the tech industry right now, which can make it feel like a passing fad. But inside Google and Microsoft and Amazon, it’s certainly not. And these companies are intent on pushing it across the rest of the tech world too.

Update: This story has been updated to clarify Fei-Fei Li’s move to Google. She will remain on the faculty at Stanford after joining Google.

Author:  Cade Metz

Source:  https://www.wired.com

Categorized in News & Politics

At an event in Redmond, Microsoft shared its vision of the future in which Bing is at the heart of day-to-day experiences without users even realizing it.

In a day of high-level presentations that included Microsoft’s global branding initiatives, HoloLens and the future of an algorithm-driven economy, Bing Ads executives conveyed the strengthening embrace of Bing across Microsoft. No longer a sideline money loser, Bing is now a revenue-positive, rich data source for the company. Bing has been bundled into flagship Microsoft products like Office and Xbox and is being positioned at the forefront of the machine learning and artificial intelligence developments Microsoft is betting on.

At the fourth annual Bing Ads Next event in Redmond on Thursday, Rik van der Kooi, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Advertising Business Group, built on his declaration last year that Microsoft was “all in on search.” Calling Bing an “intelligence fabric” that is now woven into Windows 10, Xbox, Cortana and other products, van der Kooi said “Bing is going to be pervasive.” Beyond the Microsoft ecosystem, Bing is also the search engine for Apple’s Siri and Amazon assistant devices, and more partnerships are expected to come. There will be integrations with LinkedIn after the acquisition deal by Microsoft closes next year.

The future of search

“When we think about the future, search is going to change pretty dramatically,” said van der Kooi, adding, “We are going to collectively define with our customers what the new business models are when people talk to their devices and we go beyond 10 blue links on a page.”


Gurpeet Singh Pall, partner director of program management for Bing and Cortana, said, “The future of Bing is going beyond the search box to a personal, pervasive and predictive experience in which it might not be obvious users are even interacting with the search engine. Consider product search on the Hololens in which users test couches from a product catalog looks in their living rooms, for example.”

Current initiatives

While most of the corporate presentations focused on the somewhat-near-future rather than present-day feature development for Bing Ads, the company did touch on a few current initiatives:

Dynamic native ads pilot: Bing Ads introduced native ads on MSN.com inventory over a year ago. A pilot for dynamic native ads is now running with a small set of advertisers and publishers. The aim is to build what the company is calling an Intent Network to differentiate it from standard display networks — and more specifically, the expansive Google Display Network. Bing’s focus is on developing a curated network of sites around key commercial verticals such as automotive and financial services. The company is planning to make more announcements about the intent network in the beginning of next year. Ads are matched using a variety of dynamic signals from publishers and advertisers and Microsoft data that users opt in to share.”

Growing mobile share: According to comScore data, the Bing Network has grown  to 31.9 percent of US search share on desktop. On mobile, however, Bing’s share is minuscule. Bing Ads executives acknowledge they can’t grow mobile share on the backs of Microsoft’s first-party platforms alone. “We think of it first in terms of partnerships like Apple and think about Bing in those kinds of partnerships for mobile supply opportunities,” said Steve Sirich, general manager, marketing for search advertising. “We will continue to build experiences like the Cortana apps and Bing apps, but the first priority is on building the third-party supply chain and partnerships.”


Machine Learning & AI Will Underlie Everything

From a vision-of-the-future perspective, Microsoft shared updates on several products that are further away in terms of having direct practical applications for advertisers:

Decision Service: Microsoft introduced its testing and optimization product called Decision Service to the audience. Currently, it is only being deployed with a small set of customers in Azure, but Decision Service has use cases for content optimization, ad optimization, product recommendation optimization, pricing optimization and so on. From an ads standpoint, Decision Service could be layered on top of an ad server or eventually integrate directly with Bing Ads.

Cortana & Conversation As a Platform (CAP): This is where Microsoft sees the new opportunity for developers, where bots are the monetization drivers for developers, not apps. “You can interact more naturally and search without searching” because bots surface information to you in a predictive manner, said Singh Pall. Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, is on Skype, Office, Outlook and Windows 10 and is powered by Bing. Microsoft says Cortana now has 133 million monthly users. The Cortana SDK is being released soon, and the developer focus will be on improving personal productivity. Singh Pall spoke of Bing and Cortana integrations with third-party APIs, noting 2,000 developers have signed up to use Microsoft’s augmented services.

“What we are aiming for with Cortana is native skills that will continue to grow, but the third parties are going to be integrating skills into it,” said Singh Pall. “When it comes to work productivity, Microsoft has the context that a lot of others don’t have. We will bring more into the fold to enhance that and grow the life aspect of it.”

HoloLens: Margeau Veenstra, who oversees HoloLens commercial strategy and Windows experiences at Microsoft, said that consumer applications for the augmented reality device are not far off. “It will rapidly become the expected way to engage with content and become part of our everyday device experience,” she expects. For example, Microsoft is working with Houzz to help users see how furniture options can look in their homes.

A new vision for digital success

In this new framework in which bots replace apps, machine learning powers our engagement with technology (and that includes ad management and optimization) and artificial intelligence fulfills its promise to increase productivity, the days when businesses base their digital presence on a website are numbered. The question now, says Microsoft, is: How do you take what you’ve already invested in — apps, websites — and shift? Businesses need to meet customers anywhere and cannot expect users to leave wherever they are to go to your website.

“Going forward, it is going to be about whether you are helping me be more productive. Consumers don’t mind paying when there is convenience included in the process,” said Singh Pall in discussing the new paradigm of customer engagement.


Gurpreet Singh Pall discusses changing methods of customer engagement.

This vision is reflected in Bing’s own plans. When asked about  driving mobile share and engagement, David Pann, general manager for search advertising, explained in an interview on Thursday, “Our strategy is we have to be everywhere and have a multi-pronged approach instead of just a singular focus of getting the default on devices. We also realize mobile experiences are going to dramatically evolve over the next three to five years to the extent that consumer intent won’t be typed in — it may be location-based, it may be understanding what’s on your schedule. The notion of search could move to a more passive approach. We don’t know, so our strategy is we have to try it all … We believe that this multi-pronged approach will be a way to aggregate sufficient mobile supply that is interesting and will provide great sticky experiences for consumers and great experiences for advertisers.”


Given Microsoft’s “be everywhere and reward productivity first” viewpoint and the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence, one can begin to envision a significantly more complex ad auction that can ingest and react to a wide ranging and ever-changing set of signals. This is the future in which humans efforts at optimization can’t possibly keep up. Microsoft wants to make sure we don’t have to. Bing Ads itself was conspicuously missing from most of these discussions, however. The platform has come a long way, but it still has challenges that keep more advertisers from adopting it and current advertisers from spending more with it. This vision seems to demand more than block-and-tackle improvements — instead, a wholesale rebuilding of the Bing Ads platform that puts it on the leading edge of this new near-future.

Source :  searchengineland.com

Categorized in Search Engine
build or buy? Microsoft has faced that choice with each new fad in software, from spreadsheets to search engines.

The Redmond company has 37,000 employees who work in research and development. It's also sitting on $137 billion in cash and short-term investments, at last count.

As Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella [pictured above] has put it, that kind of firepower means Microsoft can go after virtually any market it wants to.

In the realm of chat-based workplace collaboration led by highflying startup Slack, Microsoft decided to build, introducing Microsoft Teams, a would-be Slack killer.

Here are some of Microsoft's decisions in other popular applications:

Chat: Microsoft-built MSN Messenger went head to head against AOL during that company's heyday. With the advent of voice and video chat, Microsoft went shopping, scooping up Skype for $8.5 billion. The jury is still out on the impact of that deal.


Some within Microsoft reportedly pushed for the company to buy Slack, too, but the company ultimately decided to spend 18 months building a competitor in the form of Microsoft Teams.

Office: When it comes to major applications, Microsoft has often opted to build its own, rolling out note-taking app OneNote, business analytics tool PowerBI, and presentation and web-publishing tool Sway.

But when it comes to single-feature tools, particularly on mobile devices, Microsoft has leaned toward acquisitions, buying the startups behind Acompli, Sunrise, Wunderlist and SwiftKey in the past few years.

Search: Microsoft's effort to compete with Google in search initially relied on technology borrowed from other companies, and an effort to buy Yahoo.

Eventually, Microsoft went all-in on building its own search engine. That path ultimately took years longer, and cost billions of dollars more, than Microsoft had anticipated.


In the time it took the company to work out the kinks in the technology that became Bing, Google was a household name. Bing, thanks in part to a deal to provide search results to Yahoo, has a foothold among desktop users in the U.S. but remains a minor player in a Google-dominated global market.

Social networking: Microsoft was among the suitors who tried to buy Facebook, offering $24 billion when the company was "itsy bitsy," in the words of former Chief Executive Steve Ballmer. Mark Zuckerberg said no.

Instead, Microsoft bought Yammer, a corporate-focused social network, for $1.2 billion. Yammer still exists as a bundle with Office tools but isn't widely known outside of technology circles.

Microsoft is taking another stab at buying its way into business social networking with its pending $26.2 billion deal to acquire LinkedIn.

Source : toptechnews

Categorized in Internet Technology

Microsoft made a slew of announcements at its New York City event Wednesday, focusing on the idea of user as creator.

Among its new offerings:

  • The Surface Studio, an all-in-one desktop computer with a touchscreen that's 12.5mm thick;
  • The Surface Dial, a new input device that provides haptic feedback;
  • The Surface Book i7;
  • VR headsets for Windows 10 that use the same Windows Holographic platform as its HoloLens;
  • A revamped Paint app with 3D capability; and
  • Creator's Update, an upcoming Windows 10 refresh providing 3D creation tools, live streaming, and custom Xbox app tournaments

"Ultimately, technology is just a tool in the hands of humanity," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said at the event. It's "a tool that helps amplify our ingenuity and creativity. New computing medias do not take shape by technology alone."

The Surface Studio took center stage at the event.

"The Surface Studio is my favorite simply based on looks and the way it's aimed at graphical productivity," said Michael Jude, a program manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan.

"It would be ideal for desktop publishing integrating graphics," he told TechNewsWorld. "This makes productivity through graphical manipulation practical."


The Surface Studio's 4.5K ultra HD touchscreen stood out for Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

"All the OEMs buy screens based on price and yield," he told TechNewsWorld. "Microsoft specified a screen that was matched to what Windows can do, which means this one product will work better with Windows than anything currently in, or coming to, market."

The only other firm that has done that is Apple, Enderle noted.

Surface Studio Specs

The Surface Studio's screen delivers 63 percent more pixels than a state-of-the-art 4K TV, said Terry Myerson, EVP of Microsoft's Windows and Devices Group.

It works beautifully with a stylus pen, touch and the new Surface Dial, he noted.z


Surface Studio desktop

The Surface Studio comes in various configurations built around an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, starting at US$3,000.

"It replaces a high-end digitizer, lets users work vertically or horizontally, is appealing to the eye, and the screen is uniquely accurate," Enderle said.

The price tag "may be seen as a bargain," he pointed out, because the "very well-defined group of users and executives" who will want it "will generally buy the best tool, and often have stations costing over $5,000."

The Surface Studio will be available Dec. 15.

The New Surface Book

The new Surface Book has an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor and comes in several configurations. Battery life is up to 16 hours, and it ranges in price from $1,500 to $2,800.

Surface Book detach

The new version is an incremental upgrade to the Surface 2-in-1 line that "gives OEMs breathing room to incorporate new tech like Intel's Kaby Lake processors into their models before Microsoft fully upgrades Surface Pro and Surface Book next year," said Eric Smith, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics.

VR for the Masses

HP, Dell, Lenovo, ASUS and Acer will ship the first VR headsets capable of mixed reality with the coming Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft's Myerson announced. They will start at $300 and "work with affordable laptops and PCs."

Windows 10 VR devices

Reaction from consumers to VR and AR technologies "is fairly positive," according to Frost's Jude, and this move "will provide [Microsoft] an entry point for the consumer market, especially for e-gaming."

Microsoft's offering "should be far more acceptable in both price and ease of use" than the Oculus and HTC VR systems, which are "expensive and difficult to set up with the needed two cameras," Enderle observed.

However, the VR dev kit "requires 8 GB or more of RAM," Strategy Analytics' Smith pointed out.


"If this remains the minimum requirement, it's going to be a very exclusive group of first adopters compared to other AR/VR headsets," he told TechNewsWorld. Still, "this was a very smart move by Microsoft in showing off deeper platform integration in consumer environments following its acquisition of Minecraft." 

Source : technewsworld


Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.




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Yes - Twitter is too valuable to let terrorists and trolls take over.
Yes - Bullying and online harassment are dangerous.
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Categorized in Internet Technology

Microsoft announced its Creators Update during its press event earlier this week, and a fast-paced video has highlighted a number of new changes. While we're expecting to see features like better trackpad gesture control, blue light reduction (like F.lux), and Windows Holographic integration, Microsoft has a whole lot more planned. Brad Sams over at Thurrott.com has surfaced all of the big additions in the Windows 10 Creators Update, and it's safe to say there are some surprising changes.

Action Center

Action Center Windows 10 update

Microsoft is making changes to its notifications center (Action Center) in the Windows 10 Creators Update. Some of the quick actions have been refreshed, but the big change is sliders for both volume and screen brightness. Windows 10 users will welcome this change,

as you'll now finally be able to adjust these in smaller increments than the 25 percent levels that are currently offered as quick actions.

Custom Accent colors

Accent colors Windows 10

If you use a custom color for the Windows taskbar and other UI elements then you're about to get a lot more options. While Windows 10 offers a number of custom accent colors right now, Microsoft is going to provide a picker with advanced options and the ability to preview what your crazy color might look like throughout Windows. It's a nice change that will help people even further customize the look of Windows 10 to match a particular wallpaper or preference. Microsoft also appears to be adding video help manuals into the settings pages of Windows 10.

Themes for Windows 10 in the Store

Windows 10 themes in Store

Microsoft is going to start selling themes for Windows 10 in the Windows Store. As part of the custom accent color options, the software maker is adding a "personalization" section to the Windows Store, complete with collections of themes that are designed to change the appearance of Windows 10. Some of the collections include Minecraft and League of Legends themes, and it's possible these custom themes could extend over to the dashboard for Xbox One consoles.


The People bar

Windows 10 people bar

Microsoft demonstrated its new people integration into the Windows 10 taskbar, but this extends into little widgets that let you quickly send Skype or emails to your favorite friends. You'll be able to switch between Skype and Email within the same window, and it will be interesting to see if Microsoft extends this type of app integration to third-party app developers.

Groove Music Maker

Groove Music Maker

Microsoft appears to be working on a separate Groove Music Maker app. It looks a little like Microsoft's Surface Music Kit Remix apps for the Surface cover that it never released broadly. It's clearly a simple-to-use music creation tool that's designed with touch in mind. Judging by the brief demonstration, you'll be able to select riffs from a library, add sounds from different instruments, and alter the BPM and length of tracks easily. It's another example of Microsoft aiming Windows 10 at creators.


Full pen support in Microsoft Word

Office pen Windows 10

Based on Microsoft's video, it looks like the company is finally bringing full pen support to Word. Microsoft teased better pen support for Word during its Windows Ink introduction earlier this year, and it looks like it's finally arriving with the Creators Update. You'll be able to manipulate and delete text a lot more easily in apps like Word, and even leave comments on documents in just ink.

Microsoft Edge tab browsing

Microsoft Edge tab browsing

Microsoft appears to be making some changes to its Edge browser with the Creator Update. Edge has a tab browser option which lets you navigate current tabs by expanding the page-preview option. Microsoft also appears to be working on a session manager for Edge, allowing you to restore tabs from before you rebooted or closed Edge. This will include tabs that were open days or weeks ago.


Windows Defender update

Windows Defender

Microsoft is also updating Windows Defender in the Creators Update. Windows Defender currently exists as a classic win32 desktop app in Windows 10, but Microsoft's video appears to show a Defender app that looks a lot like a universal app. If Microsoft does move Defender to the universal platform then it's one more step from preventing the jarring process of having to shift between these modern apps and the old desktop ones for basic settings in Windows 10.

Source : theverge

Categorized in Internet Technology

This year, we’ve watched Apple, Google, Facebook, Samsung, Microsoft, and many other tech giants make acquisitions or launch products to get into the bot business.

They’re building bot ecosystems around their chat app platforms — in SMS, web pages, and elsewhere — but they’re still facing one of the biggest problems in this age of artificial intelligence: How do you find the very best bots?

Microsoft wants to expand its bot directory, Lili Cheng, general manager of FUSE Labs at Microsoft Research, told VentureBeat in an interview Wednesday, and the company wants to do it with the help of developers and other chat app platforms.

“My hope is that we can do something more like search does with web pages, rather than a very closed directory that just Microsoft owns, and we kind of lean that way anyway because we support all these channels,” Cheng said.

No prospective launch date has been set for an expanded Microsoft bot directory, but Cheng said Microsoft wants to work with the bot developer community and other platforms to create a directory that includes names like Skype, Facebook Messenger, Kik, and Slack — some of the biggest chat app platforms in the world.

If Microsoft and other chat platforms work together to create a common search engine to help people find bots, it could mean that someday we see the emergence of something like a Bing for bots.

Cheng’s team is one of the most influential groups in the short history of bots on chat platforms. Her team at Microsoft Research led efforts to create Xiaoice, a bot with 40 million users in China, and Tay, the infamous Twitter bot that turned into a racist anti-Semite less than 24 hours after launch.


Microsoft Research also created the Microsoft Bot Framework, a tool kit for making bots that connects with half a dozen other platforms currently being used by more than 45,000 developers.

Cheng said she doesn’t want a bot directory for Microsoft bots alone, and that she doesn’t even want to create a directory of bots made with the bot framework alone.

A lack of discovery can create a problem for developers and businesses who want their work seen and adopted. It’s too early for the walled gardens of chat app platforms to become silos, Cheng said.

“We have this vision that bots and conversational experiences work across platforms better,” Cheng said. “We are very much in the camp of ‘Let’s share learnings and technologies and try to make these things interoperate’.”

Microsoft has thus far proven to be pretty agnostic about which platforms you can create bots for using its framework. Since its launch in April, the Microsoft Bot Framework has grown to include integrations with Facebook Messenger, Kik, and, as of two weeks ago, Slack.

Microsoft has embraced a cross-platform strategy, Cheng said, because requiring developers to build for individual platforms reduces companies’ willingness to experiment and can stifle innovation.

“You want the innovation to be in the bot you’re creating, not in figuring out how to make it work across all these different systems, so my dream would be that we could work with a lot of the other people and say, ‘Let’s standardize the way we do cards, or the way we’re understanding buttons, or the way we’re thinking about authentication mechanisms or identification’, just so people don’t have to worry so much about that.”

Sites like Product Hunt and startups like Botlist have made their own forms of bot discovery, but look at the owners of the platforms — companies like KikMicrosoft, and Facebook — and each features a few dozen bots, most often in partnership with consumer-facing corporations. Tens of thousands of bots have already been made for each of the platforms.

In the Microsoft Bot Directory, you can find roughly 50 bots of varying skills, mostly a mashup of artificial intelligence available through Microsoft Cognitive Services, but Microsoft wants the directory to grow and extend to various platforms, not just Skype.


In informal surveys of bot developers, Microsoft confirmed that discovery is a big problem:

“One of the top issues people have is like, ‘Hey I made this bot. How am I going to get it promoted? How are people going to know? Is there some directory or categorization?’” Cheng said. “So keep pushing us, because I think that’s an opportunity for us.”

Before being acquired by Google, API.ai had easy integration into more than a dozen chat platforms. Google has not elaborated on how it wants to grow its Actions on Google platform scheduled to debut in December.

It’s true that new mediums can find new forms of discovery. Not many of us use phone books anymore; you probably use an app on a mobile device or a search engine on the web instead. Hopefully, we’ll begin to see better discovery for bots, as well, because it’s tough to expect mass adoption of bots if we can’t find them.

Source : venturebeat

Categorized in Search Engine

Microsoft has received ample criticism over the past year for introducing features which could compromise user security and to some extent, we agree that the company crossed the line on some occasions — especially with the EEF criticism. But Microsoft’s response to accusations of collecting unnecessary user data hasn’t convinced anyone of any other behavior. In the end, it looks like Microsoft will receive even more customer criticism if its latest patent filing feature is fired up.

The company refers to their patent filing software product as a “Query Formulation Via Task Continuum” and claims that it is going to make sharing in real-time between apps easier and more convenient, which would allow users to make more informed decisions while making searches. For instance, searching could be improved if sufficient information regarding a user’s objective is available. 


Microsoft elaborated with an example: if someone is working on a dance-related project, to collect related data from the browser they’d have to type in what their requirements are into the search bar without the browser itself having no instinct or involuntary suggestion whatsoever.

Microsoft supports its idea by saying that in their current software model, applications are confined in their own silos, something which ultimately damages productivity and growth.

The first application does not provide the browser implicit hints as to what the user might be seeking when there is a switch from the first application to the second application.

The user perceives tasks in the totality. However, since applications are typically disconnected, and not mediated in any way by the operating system, the computing system has no idea as to the overall goal of the user.

According to Microsoft, a possible solution for this problem is to have a neutral third party arbitrator to monitor and learn user behavior and intent through a word processing mechanism, a PDF reader, the comparison and analysis of recently interacted images, the identification of sounds and music, the logging of frequently marked location and other related contextual data. And after gathering this real-time data, the mediator can stockpile it all, removing any identifying information and providing relevant information to Bing, producing automated, accurate and focused results.

The patent notes:

The disclosed architecture comprises a mediation component (e.g., an API (application program interface) as part of the operating system (OS)) that identifies engaged applications—applications the user is interacting with for task completion (in contrast to dormant applications—applications the user is not interacting with for task completion), and gathers and actively monitors information from the engaged applications (e.g., text displayed directly to the user, text embedded in photos, fingerprint of songs, etc.) to infer the working context of a user. The inferred context can then be handed over to one of the applications, such as a browser (the inferred context in a form which does not cross the privacy barrier) to provide improved ranking for the suggested queries through the preferred search provider. Since the context is inferred into concepts, no PII (personally-identifiable information) is communicated without user consent—only very high-level contextual concepts are provided to the search engines.
The architecture enables the capture of signals (e.g., plain text displayed to the user, text recognized from images, audio from a currently playing song, and so on), and clusters these signals into contextual concepts. These signals are high-level data (e.g., words) that help identify what the user is doing. This act of capturing signals is temporal, in that it can be constantly changing (e.g., similar to running average of contextual concepts). The signals can be continuously changing based on what the user is doing at time T (and what the user did from T-10 up to time T).



When using the browser application as the application that uses the captured signals, the browser broadcasts and receives (e.g., continuously, periodically, on-demand, etc.) with the mediation component through a mediation API of the mediation component to fetch the latest contextual concepts.

When the user eventually interacts with, or is anticipated to interact with, the browser (as may be computed as occurring frequently and/or based on a history of sequential user actions that results in the user interacting with the browser next), the contextual concepts are sent to the search provider together with the query prefix. The search engine (e.g., Bing™ and Cortana™ (an intelligent personal digital speech recognition assistant) by Microsoft Corporation) uses contextual rankers to adjust the default ranking of the default suggested queries to produce more relevant suggested queries for the point in time.The operating system, comprising the function of mediation component, tracks all textual data displayed to the user by any application, and then performs clustering to determine the user intent (contextually).


The inferred user intent sent as a signal to search providers to improve ranking of query suggestions, enables a corresponding improvement in user experience as the query suggestions are more relevant to what the user is actually trying to achieve. The architecture is not restricted to text, but can utilize recognized text in displayed photos as well as the geo-location information (e.g., global positioning system (GPS)) provided as part of the photo metadata. Similarly, another signal can be the audio fingerprint of a currently playing song.

As indicated, query disambiguation is resolved due to the contextual and shared cache which can be utilized by various applications to improve search relevance, privacy is maintained since only a minimally sufficient amount of information is sent from one application to the another application, and the inferred user context can be shared across applications, components, and devices.

The mediation component can be part of the OS, and/or a separate module or component in communication with the OS, for example. As part of the OS, the mediation component identifies engaged non-OS applications on the device and, gathers and actively monitors information from the engaged applications to infer the working context of the user. The inferred context can then be passed to one of the applications, such as the browser in a secure way to provide improved ranking for the suggested queries through the preferred search provider.



Of course, the major concern for users is the threat of compromised information, something no amount of assurance from Microsoft’s can relieve. The idea of the patent is somewhat similar to Google’s Now on Tap or Screen Search, a tool that scrapes the working screen for contextual information and launches a Google search in response — though the latest idea is far more autonomous.


The company says it could introduce this Mediator as either a built-in feature or as an optional module that can be installed to Windows 10. If it’s the latter case, then this platform could revolutionize automated searches and potentially be a powerful tool for contextually aware computing. But then again if a built-in feature is introduced, the OS would run obsolete from a personal level and most users would be looking for a way out of the functionality.

Source : windowsreport

Categorized in Search Engine
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