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After the failure of mobile, Microsoft tries to impose itself on the technologies of the future

San Francisco (AFP) – After missing the turn of mobile, Microsoft is trying to anticipate and convince of the role it can still play in future technologies such as artificial intelligence or augmented reality.

The Us computer group on Wednesday began shipping its HoloLens augmented reality glasses to developers and companies wishing to design applications for the device. At the first day of its annual conference for app developers, Build, he demonstrated its potential uses.

The HoloLens, a prototype of which Microsoft unveiled last year, let you see the real world but enriching it with virtual elements like holograms. This is a little different from virtual reality, for which Oculus (a subsidiary of Facebook), precisely began Monday to deliver its first headset, the Rift, intended for now especially for video game lovers.

Microsoft especially puts forward productive uses for HoloLens. Nasa is already using them to virtually transport its scientists to Mars. And Pamela Davis, dean of the school of medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland (Ohio), showed on Wednesday how HoloLens can enrich courses: in a demonstration, students saw through the glasses a three-dimensional model of the interior of the human body and the digestive system, or holograms of the face and hand of a professor signaling them details of a photograph of the brain.

– Smarter computing –

Microsoft also talked a lot Wednesday about its virtual assistant Cortana, which is positioned on another niche interesting many today the technology sector, that of artificial intelligence.

Microsoft Chief executive Satya Nadella displayed in front of the developers the ambition “to infuse intelligence in computing”. This involves, for example, integrating Cortana into the future version of Skype, the group’s messaging service, in order to “make the conversation more predictive and fluid,” explained Lilian Rincon, a team member working on Skype.

She asked Cortana to block dates in her calendar for a conference. The virtual assistant not only recalled that the event had already been mentioned during a Skype message exchange, automatically retrieving the corresponding details; he also offered to book a hotel room in the city where the conference was held. And the operation was carried out directly from Skype, Cortana serving as an intermediary to communicate with a robotic application (“bot”) of a hotel chain integrated with messaging.

Microsoft has announced that developers will be provided with a kit that allows them to integrate similar “bots” for other types of services into Skype, and several tools to add voice recognition features, objects, their applications. He also showed how this type of feature could for example integrate with glasses or a smartphone to “see” instead of a blind person and describe the people around him and their reactions, or the menu of a restaurant.

In the near future, Microsoft has given some details about an update that this summer will mark the first anniversary of its latest operating system, Windows 10. Improvements will include Cortana, biometric identification, or the possibilities of using a stylus. Windows 10 will also arrive on this occasion on the Xbox video game console.

– 270 million devices running Windows 10 –

Eight months after its release, Windows 10 “is activated and used by more than 270 million people,” said Terry Myerson, vice president of software and devices. Microsoft claims that no previous version of Windows had been adopted as quickly by consumers as by businesses.

Windows 10 is supposed to fix the errors of the predecessor Windows 8, with which Microsoft has failed to revive on smartphones where it has lagged behind Apple and Google.

Microsoft speaks especially today of mobility in the broadest sense and the continuity of use that Windows 10 and its services allow when the user passes from one device to another.

Satya Nadella certainly continues to repeat his credo of putting “mobile and cloud first”, but clarifies: “for us, mobile first, it is not the mobility of a single device, it is the mobility of the human experience through all the devices and all the computing in our lives”.

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