Microsoft adds intelligence to industry, Horvitz wins an AI award and Skype celebrates a big milestone – Weekend Reading: April 29 edition

| Susanna Ray

Wurst and beer were on the minds – and in the stomachs – of many in the tech world this week, as tens of thousands descended on Hannover, Germany, for the world’s largest industrial technology fair. Grab a tasty snack or beverage yourself as you sit back and enjoy this Weekend Reading overview.

At the Hannover Messe, Microsoft and its partners demonstrated intelligent aircraft engines, street lights, buildings, factories, refrigerators and machines, showing how the digital transformation is remaking companies and their factories and bringing the intersection of manufacturing and technology even closer.

The convergence of IT and OT – information technology and operations technology – “is pervasive” and can have an impact on all industries and walks of life, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella said Sunday in his keynote address at the fair.


Raise that tasty beverage in your hand to toast Microsoft researcher Eric Horvitz, whose groundbreaking contributions in artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction won him some impressive recognition this week. Horvitz, a technical fellow and managing director of Microsoft’s research lab in Redmond, Washington, received the ACM – AAAI Allen Newell Award, honoring his substantial theoretical efforts and persistent focus in using the discoveries in ways that make our lives easier and more productive.

Horvitz has worked on everything from systems that help determine what’s funny or surprising to those that know when to help us remember what we need to do at work. His research has had an “immeasurable” impact on countless projects and commercial products, ranging from systems that help make our commutes easier to ones that seek to prevent hospital readmissions, according to Jeannette M. Wing, the corporate vice president overseeing Microsoft’s core research labs.


Microsoft has helped more than three times more developers than ever in its history as a company get started building great apps with Xamarin – and that was just in the first two weeks after the Build developers conference last month. The enthusiasm has been tangible since Xamarin, a leading platform for mobile app development, joined Microsoft in March and was added to all editions of Visual Studio at no additional charge.

“If we’re able to deliver all of this for you in just six weeks, imagine what you’ll be able to do in six months with Xamarin and Microsoft,” Nat Friedman, corporate vice president of mobile developer tools, enthused in a blog post.


It’ll be easier for you to share photos of that tasty snack you’re eating, with the new Facebook, Messenger and Instagram apps that rolled out this week.

Facebook and Messenger apps are available now for Windows 10 PCs and tablets, featuring desktop notifications so that you never miss an important message or a friend’s birthday. And Live Tiles lets you quickly see new posts and photos right from your home screen, meaning you don’t have to waste valuable work time clicking anywhere else for your social needs.

The new Instagram app for Windows 10 mobile includes direct messaging, and you can pin the app to your home screen for notifications right there.


You’ve probably finished your tasty beverage by now, so set it down and reach out to give a high-five to Skype, which is celebrating the huge milestone of one billion mobile downloads this week.

“Wherever you are, from the US and Russia, to the Cocos Islands and Pitcairn (guess how many people use Skype in Pitcairn #SkypeTrivia), you’ve all helped Skype grow from just a few users in Tallinn, Estonia, to hundreds of millions in every corner of the earth,” the Skype Team wrote in a super happy and grateful blog post.


In apps this week, besides the Facebook and Instagram ones we already told you about, “Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition” debuted Wednesday on Windows 10, bringing the mysterious forest of Nibel and its orphaned guardian spirit, Ori, to PC gamers. Go to Xbox Wire for more information and install “Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition” from the Windows Store.

If you missed the first round of the NFL draft last night, hurry up and install NFL on Windows 10 for free to enjoy the rest. Plus, then you’ll already be set with an ultimate live game day companion for this fall, helping you track your favorite teams and fantasy players, get personalized notifications for big plays, and see in-game highlights from around the league, all on-demand.

And if you’re bummed about your football team’s draft picks, spend the weekend shopping away your sorrows on the Zulily app. It offers daily deals from curated collections of fashion, home, toy and gift items, all at up to 70 percent off retail prices in sales lasting 72 hours.


This week on the Microsoft Facebook and Tumblr channels, we met the employees, organizations and workplaces of tomorrow. With profound changes in digital connectivity and information technology, companies must adapt to the future of work.


And now it’s time for this edition of Weekend Reading to say “Auf Wiedersehen” and log off in search of more snacks and beverages. We recommend you do the same, and we’ll look forward to seeing you back for next week’s roundup.

Posted by Susanna Ray
Microsoft News Center Staff

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