Satya Nadella: Microsoft building the 'ultimate mobile device'

Sadella-Melbourne

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has again reaffirmed the company's commitment to developing smartphones. Unfazed by its market share dropping beneath 1 percent, Nadella said Microsoft is planning a revolutionary "ultimate mobile device."

Nadella made the comments during an interview with the Australian Financial Review. He visited Sydney last week to address a local developers conference about Microsoft's cognitive computing systems and Azure cloud services.

Nadella outlined his plans for Microsoft's future involvement with smartphones. He suggested the company has stopped trying to rival the established leaders in the field. Instead, Microsoft is working on something for the future that it thinks will give it the upper-hand in the long term.

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Nadella hinted at an "ultimate mobile device" that could give Microsoft a credible presence in the industry. The company seems keen to develop a product with unique capabilities that aren't replicated by its rivals. A key feature that already fits this description is the company's Continuum tech, Windows 10 Mobile's ability to transform itself into a desktop PC at a moment's notice.

"We will continue to be in the phone market not as defined by today's market leaders, but by what it is that we can uniquely do in what is the most ultimate mobile device," Nadella said. "Therefore [with Nokia assets], we stopped doing things that were me-too and started doing things, even if they are today very sub-scale, to be very focused on a specific set of customers who need a specific set of capabilities that are differentiated and that we can do a good job of."

Microsoft's multipronged strategy for bringing speech to IoT devices

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Microsoft has been stepping up its game around connecting its Azure cloud services to Internet of Things (IoT) devices. But few may realize the company also is simultaneously working to bring its various speech capabilities to IoT devices, too.

Microsoft provides IoT developers with various tools for integrating speech with their devices. There are built-in Windows 10 speech application programming interfaces (APIs) for tasks like dictating a simple message and Web search. There are natural-language services -- known as Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS) -- that are part of Microsoft Research's Oxford API set, and are available for non-Windows platforms, too. There's Bing Translate. And there's Cortana, Microsoft's personal digital assistant.

Figuring out which of these tools is best for which kinds of tasks seemingly can be a bit tricky. Company officials provided a framework for guidance during WinHEC, listing some potential scenarios, like controlling a sous-vide machine by voice (using a combination of LUIS with Windows 10 or Oxford Speech APIs), and controlling a robot using voice (using Windows 10 local speech APIs).

In the home automation/device control example, Microsoft showed how a user could check whether her/his garage door is closed with voice queries without having to use a phone or tablet.

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