Tag Archives: Microsoft

How Do YOU Feel About Chatbots?

20 Jun

Now that chatbots have been gaining in popularity, what exactly is a chatbot and what does it do? According to Scott Carey, writing for Techworld:

“Before chatbots, there were just bots — based on software designed to automate a specific task. A chatbot is built on the same premise; however, it delivers this task around a single function, namely chat, or simulated conversation. A chatbot uses machine learning to pick up on conversational cadences, allowing it to effectively mimic human conversation and react to spoken or written prompts to deliver a service.”

“The chatbot is essentially a user interface which can be plugged into a number of data sources via APIs [application program interfaces] so it can deliver information or services on demand, such as weather forecasts or breaking news.”

As further discussed by Knowledge@Wharton:

“While chatbots have been around in various rudimentary forms for years — think of Clippy, Microsoft’s paper clip virtual assistant — they have been taking off lately as advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence make them more versatile than ever. Among the most well-known chatbots: Apple’s Siri.”

“In rapid succession over the past few months, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google have each unveiled their chatbot strategies, touting the potential for this evolving technology to aid users and corporate America with its customer-service capabilities as well as business utility features like organizing a meeting. Yahoo joined the bandwagon recently, launching its first chatbots on a chat app called Kik Messenger.”

 
Click the image to read more from Knowledge@Wharton.


 

Regulatory Issues In Europe for U.S. Tech Companies

24 Jun

For quite a while, the European Commission has been rather tough in regulating large  American companies doing business in Europe and penalizing them when their practices are deemed unacceptable — sometimes, billions of dollars in fines as well as changes in business activities.

As Kelly Couturier  recently noted for the New York Times: ” The biggest American tech companies face intensifying scrutiny by European regulators — pressure that could potentially curb their sizable profits in the region and affect how they operate around the world.”

Here are some examples from Couturier:

  • Amazon — Antitrust: “The European Commission opened an investigation in June 2015 into whether the company used its dominant position in the region’s E-books market to make it harder for rivals to offer lower prices.” Taxation: “The European Union released a preliminary finding in January 2015 that a tax deal between Amazon and Luxembourg appears to amount to unfair state aid that may have enabled the company to underpay its taxes.”
  • Apple Antitrust: “European competition officials confirmed in April 2015 that they had sent questionnaires to music labels and rival music streaming companies to gather evidence and decide whether to open an antitrust investigation into Apple’s new music service.” Taxation: “Officials opened an investigation in June 2014 into whether Ireland gave preferential tax treatment to Apple.
  • Facebook Data privacy: “French, Italian, and Spanish privacy officials announced in early April 2015 they had opened investigations into the social network’s privacy policies; similar inquiries have already been started by Dutch, Belgian, and German officials. The regulators are asking whether Facebook gained sufficient approval from users when the company gained access to their online data.”
  • Google Antitrust: “In April, the European Union’s antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, formally charged the company of abusing its dominance in Web searches, accusing it of diverting traffic from its rivals to favor its own products and services, particularly Web sites for shopping.” Right to Be Forgotten: “Europe’s highest court ruled in May 2014 that citizens have a so-called right to be forgotten, and that search engines, including Google, must honor some requests from users to delete links to personal information.”
  • Microsoft Antitrust: “In a long-running antitrust case involving Microsoft’s software and interoperability, the company paid almost €2 billion in European fines over a decade, including a penalty in 2013 for failing to adhere to an earlier settlement.”Right to Be Forgotten: Microsoft, which operates the Bing search service, signaled in July 2014 that it planned to follow the lead of Google, by creating an online form that lets individuals request removal of links to material they say violates their online privacy.”

 

 

Click the image to read Couturier’s full article.
 

Shown here: An Apple store in Berlin. Credit Adam Berry/Getty Images for Apple

 

Are Microsoft and Minecraft a Good Fit?

17 Sep

Mojang, the maker of the highly popular Minecraft video game, has reached an agreement to be acquired by Microsoft. The purchase price is $2.5 billion. The deal is important to both Mojang and Microsoft, the maker of Xbox.

As Mojang posted at its Web site:

“Yes, we’re being bought by Microsoft. Yes, the deal is real. Mojang is being bought by Microsoft. It was reassuring to see how many of your opinions mirrored those of the Mojangstas when we heard the news. Change is scary, and this is a big change for all of us. It’s going to be good though. Everything is going to be OK. Please remember that the future of Minecraft and you – the community – are extremely important to everyone involved. If you take one thing away from this post, let it be that. We can only share so much information right now, but we’ve decided that being as honest as possible is the best approach. We’re still working a lot of this stuff out. Mega-deals are serious business.”

And in this YouTube video, head of Xbox Phil Spencer discusses Microsoft’s acquisition of Minecraft and Microsoft’s respect and admiration for the Minecraft community.
 

 
But, when the acquisition  is completed, the hard part starts — blending the Mojang culture with that of Microsoft. As Evelyn M. Rusli and Shira Ovide write for the Wall Street Journal: 

News that Microsoft is acquir[ing] Swedish company Mojang AB up a clash of cultures between the corporate giant and Minecraft loyalists — spanning from middle-school children to video-game diehards. To many of its fans, Mojang’s antiestablishment swagger has always been part of Minecraft’s mystique. Mojang, which has only about 40 employees, is run by programmer Markus Persson, who has gained a cult following by publicly blasting big tech companies, including Microsoft, Electronic Arts, and Facebook.  Microsoft, pushing 40 and worth about $387 billion, is seen as the software industry’s Goliath.”

“Already, there are signs that a Minecraft game under Microsoft will be different. According to people with knowledge of the matter, Mr. Persson is expected to leave Mojang if Microsoft completes a deal. The company’s game-development office in Stockholm isn’t expected to move or close, a person familiar with the deal negotiations said. On online forums such as Reddit and Twitter, many players questioned whether a sale would destroy the game’s indie spirits. ‘Why pay $2.5 billion for something just to alienate all the fans?’ wrote a Reddit user who goes by the handle Joebovi.”

 
 What do YOU think?
 

Visualizing Big Data — A Microsoft Video

25 Aug

Microsoft has developed an interesting video overview that demonstrates the extent and value of big data.

Click the image to access the video.
 

 

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