Advancing AI on several fronts, building the next world graph with mapping companies and making the perfect match for your new 4K TV — Weekend Reading: Dec. 16 edition

Dec 16, 2016   |   Athima Chansanchai

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We’re getting closer to the end of the year, but the news has yet to slow down at Microsoft. In this edition of Weekend Reading, we share big developments in artificial intelligence, a new ecosystem of intelligent location-based services and how compatible Xbox One S is with 4K TV.

On Tuesday, Microsoft introduced Zo, the next evolution in chatbots; shared how Cortana, in partnership with Harman Kardon, will be present in a new way in your home; and announced that more than 67,000 developers are now using Microsoft’s Bot Framework and Cognitive Services.

“We’re really moving from a world where we have to understand computers to a world where they will understand us and our intent, from machine-centric to human-centric, from perceptive to cognitive and from rational to emotional,” Harry Shum, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence and Research group, said at a small gathering on AI in San Francisco, where a new tool, the Microsoft Translator live feature, also debuted.

Skype conversational innovation with bots continues, with new partners introduced Tuesday, including Expedia.com, UPS and online event-ticketing giant StubHub. Businesses and governments looking to take advantage of these new capabilities can find significant value in using intelligent bots to transform business processes such as customer services, helpdesks and even factory floor operations.

Company leaders speak from the stage
From left to right: Ashish Pandya, director of corporate strategy at HERE; Pieter Gillegot-Vergauwen, vice president of TomTom product management and maps; Heather Blatchford, director of global alliances at Esri; and Chris Pendleton, Microsoft principal program manager of Azure location-based services at the Microsoft Technology Center in Detroit.

Location is essential in understanding the world around us, and making sense of complex location data has enormous potential to transform lives, cities and industries. The journey starts with an ecosystem that leverages the heritage and first-class expertise and technologies of our partners.

As a step in this direction, TomTomHERE and Esri — all titans in mapping technologyjoined Microsoft in Detroit on Wednesday to share the goal of pioneering intelligent location-based services across Microsoft services and technologies. A new partnership with TomTom, an expanded agreement with HERE and continuing collaboration with Esri will be part of the ecosystem.

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The Xbox One S is the only console with a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player and with High Dynamic Range capabilities. Read all about the Xbox One S and 4K TV, which many households are purchasing for the holidays, on the Microsoft News Center.

Xbox will also be the first game console to feature Dolby Atmos. Also making news: The Blizzard Mountain Expansion for “Forza Horizon 3” is available now in the Microsoft Store as either a standalone purchase, or included as part of the “Forza Horizon 3” Expansion Pass.

Surface Book with Performance Base has had strong momentum in the U.S. and Canada, and it is now available in in Australia and New Zealand. Early in 2017, it will be available in Austria, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Switzerland and the U.K. Surface Hub, which continues to change how organizations collaborate and create, is also now available for customers worldwide. Microsoft will be introducing a Surface Hub Try-and-Buy Program. The Microsoft Devices Blog has all the details on this expansion.

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We also saw the start of the Winter Sale 2016 in the Movies & TV section of the Windows Store, which runs through Dec. 19, the latest update to Microsoft Photos in Windows 10, new events in “Microsoft Solitaire Collection” and an Adobe Photoshop Elements 15 sale.

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This week on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we featured Nitish Kumar Meena, an outdoor enthusiast, photographer and user-experience designer for Microsoft Flow. He has combined his love for the outdoors and photography with his day job at Microsoft by snapping elaborate product photo shoots and countless employee headshots – an opportunity he says that he would not have at another company.

That’s it for our round-up. See you next Friday for another Weekend Reading!

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

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