Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation, works to democratize AI and invests in clean energy data centers — Weekend Reading: Nov. 18 edition

Nov 18, 2016   |   Thomas Kohnstamm

This week at Microsoft was packed with big aspirations and big announcements. From data centers entirely powered by wind farms to AI partnerships with Elon Musk and the company’s ever-deeper involvement in open source (yes, you read that correctly), nothing was business as usual. And, as happens every November, much of the news came out of the main event: Connect(); 2016 developer conference in New York City.

Welcome to this edition of Weekend Reading. Give us a few minutes of your time and we’ll get you up to speed on all of the excitement.

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Connect(); 2016 kicked off on Wednesday with the announcement of a series of products and partnerships that strengthen the company’s Azure cloud platform. The goal is to make it easier for more developers to create intelligent apps and services with the power to transform business.

Scott Guthrie, Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise executive vice president, detailed significant steps Microsoft is taking to give developers greater choice in the tools they use, including joining the Linux Foundation to better collaborate with the open source community, welcoming Google to the independent .NET Foundation and working with Samsung to enable .NET developers to build apps for more than 50 million Samsung devices worldwide. 

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Microsoft announced a new partnership with OpenAI, a nonprofit artificial intelligence research organization co-founded by Elon Musk, Sam Altman and others. The OpenAI partnership is “focused on making significant contributions to advance the field of AI, while also furthering our mutual goal of using AI to tackle some of the world’s most challenging problems,” wrote Harry Shum, Microsoft AI and Research Group executive vice president.

The company also introduced Azure Bot Service that will enable developers to accelerate the development of bots with the Microsoft Bot Framework and “easily deploy and manage them in a serverless environment on Azure,” said Shum.

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It is predicted that data centers will rank among the largest users of electrical power on the planet by the middle of the next decade. Currently, about 44 percent of Microsoft’s data centers are powered by wind, solar and hydropower sources. The company aims to up that number to 50 percent by 2018 and then 60 percent early in the next decade, with the ultimate goal of achieving 100 percent in future years.

Microsoft took another step toward the 50percent goal with the acquisition of two new green power sources, the 59-megawatt Happy Jack and Silver Sage wind farms in Wyoming and a 178-megawatt wind project in neighboring Kansas.

Reigning world chess champion Magnus Carlsen is known as “the Mozart of chess.” Like other top players, he has a global support team of experts who help him prepare and strategize. Microsoft supports Team Carlsen with secure communication and collaboration tools using Office 365 and other Microsoft technologies, in addition to providing extra computing power in Azure to help the team analyze large amounts of data.

Vibeke Hansen, communications lead in Microsoft Norway, said Team Carlsen’s Azure access is “encrypted from end-to-end. Cloud services provides secure identification of both the people and the devices they use to gain access,” with team members securely using Skype, email and document sharing.

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Can the supervillains of “Suicide Squad” prevent an apocalypse? Watch how the worst heroes ever try to save the world in the extended cut of the movie, now available for $19.99 in the Windows Store. Also check out “Jason Bourne.” Matt Damon is back in action in the latest installment of the hit Bourne franchise for $14.99.

Find both blockbusters in the Movies & TV section of the Windows Store. Also, keep up with what’s hot, new and trending in the Windows Store on Twitter and Facebook.

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This week on Microsoft’s FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages, we highlighted New York-based entrepreneur Ariela Suster who grew up in El Salvador during the country’s civil war. She wanted to help those affected by extreme violence, so she founded her handmade jewelry and accessories company, Sequence, in 2011. Using creativity, personal passion and Microsoft technology, she now employs at-risk youth to help break the cycle of long-standing violence in her home country.

We hope you enjoyed this high-speed journey through all-things-Microsoft and hope to see you again next week.

Thomas Kohnstamm
Microsoft News Center Staff