Sometime around the first anniversary of Windows 10 this summer, Microsoft plans to roll out a "significant" update of the operating system, company executive Terry Myerson announced today during the kickoff keynote for the Microsoft Build 2016 Developer Conference. Among the new features expected in that update are Windows Ink, a new platform that will enable users to use a pen to write on their devices and then share those notes, scribbles and sketches digitally.
During the keynote, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella also unveiled a number of other new Windows 10 features on the way, including an improved Cortana intelligent digital assistant, along with a new cloud-based Cortana Intelligence Suite, and "Conversations as a Platform," which applies human language understanding, intelligence and context into computing.
Microsoft also revealed that Windows 10, which launched late last July, has now been downloaded onto more than 270 million devices, making it the most rapidly adopted Windows OS in the company's history. To date, Windows 10 users have clocked more than 75 billion hours on the system, the company said.
Update Is 'Next Wave of Innovations'
Following Nadella's introduction on the Build stage, Myerson -- who is executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group -- said the Windows 10 anniversary update will usher in the "next wave of innovations from Microsoft." The update will be made available free to all Windows 10 customers, he added.
The coming update will bring expanded support for biometric authentication, both through apps and Microsoft's Edge browser, Myerson said. It will also turn the Xbox One gaming device into a Windows dev kit, he said, and enable more natural, manual note-taking and drawing through Windows Ink.
Such added features will introduce "incredibly new ways to get stuff done," Myerson said.
A new Cortana Collection launching today in the Windows Store will make it easier for users to find what they're looking for among the nearly 1,000 Cortana-enabled apps that are currently available, Myerson noted. And, starting in select markets, the summer Windows update will allow Cortana to "proactively make suggestions" -- such as arranging transportation -- for users throughout the day.
New Toolkits for Better Bots
Today's Build presentation also saw the introduction of the Microsoft Bot Framework, a toolkit designed to "understand the world around us and create intelligent bots," as well as the Skype Bot Platform that enables developers to create Skype-based bots.
By the time of today's announcement, one of Microsoft's bots -- a chatbot named Tay -- had already achieved notoriety and had its plug pulled shortly after its debut. Aimed at online users in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 24, Tay quickly "learned" from the Internet's troll community how to spout a range of racist, sexist and other offensive commentary on Twitter.
Nadella said today that Microsoft's goal is to create bot technology that "gets the best of humanity, not the worst." He acknowledged that Tay's first appearance online was "not up to this mark."
Today's keynote ended with Nadella's introduction of Saqib Shaikh, a UK-based Microsoft software engineer who is blind and works on developing apps and back-end algorithms for accessibility. A video showed Shaikh using some of the software he helped design to identify facial expressions on people in meetings, read aloud items on a restaurant menu, and describe street scenes such as a youth riding a skateboard on the sidewalk.
The Microsoft Build Developer Conference runs March 30 through April 1 at the the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California.
Image credit: Product shots by Microsoft.
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Posted: 2016-04-02 @ 1:38am PT
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