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Microsoft sheds four key executives in company shake-up

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New York: Four top executives are leaving tech giant Microsoft, including former Clinton advisor Mark Penn and ex-director of Nokia Stephen Elop, in a leadership shuffle announced by the firm’s CEO Satya Nadella, Efe news agency reported.

The leadership changes constitute the biggest switch so far during Nadella’s tenure at the helm of Microsoft, which will be divided into three big departments — “Windows and devices,” to be headed by Terry Myerson, “Cloud and enterprise”, which will be overseen by Scott Guthrie, and “Applications and services”, with Qi Lu as its chief.

In an email to company employees on Wednesday to inform them of the changes in top personnel, Nadella said that the larger changes in the firm’s structure required Microsoft to examine its leadership and the result was that several veteran team leaders will be leaving the company.

According to Nadella, Penn, who worked on both Bill and Hillary Clinton’s election campaigns, had announced last September his intention to leave the company to form his own investment fund.

With regard to Elop, whose duties fell in the area that Myerson now occupies, the Microsoft chief said that they had come to a joint decision and he lamented the loss of leadership his departure meant for the company.

Joining Penn and Elop in their move out the door are Eric Rudder, who had been with the firm for more than 25 years, and Kirill Tatarinov, under whose direction the firm’s Dynamics business grew into a $2-billion operation.

After the announcement of the changes, shares of Microsoft -one of the 30 Dow Jones components – fell 0.2 percent on the Nasdaq exchange. (IANS)

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Microsoft To Acquire Conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The acquisition of Semantic Machines in May brought a revolutionary new approach to conversational AI

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Microsoft acquires conversational AI and bot development firm. Pixabay

Microsoft has announced to acquire a conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI) and bot development company XOXCO for an undisclosed sum.

Texas-based XOXCO has been paving the way in conversational AI since 2013 and was responsible for the creation of Howdy, the first commercially available bot for Slack that helps schedule meetings.

“It also developed Botkit which provides the development tools used by hundreds of thousands of developers on GitHub. Over the years, we have partnered with XOXCO and have been inspired by this work,” said Lili Cheng, Corporate Vice President, Conversational AI at Microsoft on Thursday.

Conversational AI is quickly becoming a way in which businesses engage with employees and customers — from creating virtual assistants and redesigning customer interactions to using conversational assistants to help employees communicate and work better together.

According to Gartner, “by 2020, conversational artificial intelligence will be a supported user experience for more than 50 percent of large, consumer-centric enterprises”.

The Microsoft Bot Framework, available as a service in Azure and on GitHub, today supports over 360,000 developers.

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A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge. VOA

“With this acquisition, we are continuing to realise our approach of democratising AI development, conversation and dialog, and integrating conversational experiences where people communicate,” said Cheng.

Over the last six months, Microsoft has made several strategic acquisitions to accelerate the pace of AI development.

The acquisition of Semantic Machines in May brought a revolutionary new approach to conversational AI.

In July, it acquired Bonsai to help reduce the barriers to AI development by combining machine teaching, reinforcement learning and simulation.

Also Read- YouTube Premium Service Expands to 7 New Countries

In September, Microsoft acquired Lobe, a company that has created a simple visual interface empowering anyone to develop and apply deep learning and AI models quickly, without writing code.

“The acquisition of GitHub in October demonstrates our belief in the power of communities to help fuel the next wave of bot development,” Microsoft said. (IANS)