Walmart unveils new generative AI-powered capabilities for shoppers and associates

Walmart unveils new generative AI-powered capabilities for shoppers and associates

Walmart and Microsoft logosTime and money are two of the most valuable resources people have. And one of the most popular ways for Americans to save on both, is shopping online. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, American families spend six hours per week on household planning and shopping. Many of those families do so digitally at Walmart. The world’s largest retailer, famous for its low prices, generated over $82 billion in e-commerce sales in fiscal year 2023 and is steadily growing its active digital customers.

In 2024, the company is further improving the digital shopping experience, building generative AI into its search function to deliver customers a helpful and intuitive browsing experience. Using a combination of Walmart proprietary data and technology and large language models, including those available in Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service, as well as retail-specific models built by Walmart, the new design serves up a curated list of the personalized items a shopper is looking for.

At CES 2024, Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon and Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella introduced the new AI innovations to benefit Walmart customers.

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Study after study shows that AI is driving impact and value across businesses.

  • McKinsey reports AI will create $400-660 billion in value for the retail and consumer goods industry.
  • FTI Consulting data shows nearly 80% of online shoppers believe AI personalization can enhance their online experience.
  • An IDC study commissioned by Microsoft found that for every $1 a retail and consumer packaged goods company invests in AI, it is seeing a return of $3.45.

Generative AI-powered search

Walmart app on phone
Walmart’s new generative AI-powered search function will be available across iOS, Android and the company’s website. Photo courtesy of Walmart.

Walmart built an all-new generative AI-powered search function across iOS, Android and its own website. The new capability is specifically designed to understand the context of a customer’s query and generate personalized responses. Soon, customers will have a more interactive and conversational experience, get answers to specific questions, and receive personalized product suggestions.

For example, a parent planning a birthday party for a child that loves unicorns. Instead of multiple searches for unicorn-themed balloons, napkins, streamers, etc., the parent can simply ask the question “Help me plan a unicorn-themed party for my daughter.”

One of the reasons why Walmart and other leading retailers are choosing Azure OpenAI Service is the ability to access the most advanced AI models in the world while backed by the enterprise-grade capabilities found in Microsoft Azure including security, compliance and regional availability. Generative AI in retail is particularly exciting as it can help usher in a new way of shopping; shifting from “scroll searching” to “goal searching,” which makes the digital shopping experience more seamless and intuitive.

Don’t forget about the associates!

Smartphone text conversation
Walmart’s generative AI-powered “My Assistant” app helps associates with a range of tasks, from summarizing long documents to assisting in the creation of new content. Photo courtesy of Walmart.

Both Walmart and Microsoft share an aligned vision around how AI can help organizations and their people be more productive, more satisfied in their work and go on to solve the most pressing problems.

Over the summer, Walmart launched a new tool, giving its 50,000 non-store associates access to its new “My Assistant” app, which was created and built by Walmart and leverages a unique build of Walmart proprietary data, technology and large language models in Azure OpenAI Service. In just a few months, the app has already made a big impact for associates, assisting with a range of tasks, from summarizing long documents to assisting in the creation of new content.

A history of success
This is just the latest evolution in the Walmart and Microsoft relationship.

In 2018, the companies established a strategic partnership to drive Walmart’s digital transformation. As one of Walmart’s preferred and strategic cloud providers, Microsoft has supported Walmart on a variety of different cloud projects. From powering access to electronic health records at its in-store clinics to centralizing, democratizing and optimizing data, the companies have and will continue to collaborate to accelerate innovation.

Other ways to AI
While Walmart’s approach to generative AI uses a combination of large language models, retail-specific models, and their own proprietary data built on top of Azure OpenAI Service, other retailers may have different scenarios that require an alternative approach. That’s why Microsoft offers a broad portfolio of prebuilt, low-code and pro-code solutions that can benefit all retailers and shoppers, no matter where they are on their respective journey.

Visit the Microsoft Cloud for Retail page to learn more.

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Source: The Official Microsoft Blog






Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty now generally available, opening new pathways for government innovation

Today, we’re announcing general availability of Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty across all Azure regions. Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty helps governments meet their compliance, security, and policy requirements while utilizing the cloud to provide superior value to their citizens.

Governments around the world must meet a wide range of national and regional compliance requirements for applications and workloads, including governance, security controls, privacy, and in some cases data residency and sovereign protections. Until now, most solutions for addressing these regulatory requirements have relied upon private cloud and on-premises environments, creating a lag in adoption of scalable, secure and resilient cloud capabilities.

Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty — offering governance, security, transparency and sovereign technology — supports the digital transformation of government customers unlike any other cloud provider in the world. Customers gain automation of best practices to address regulatory requirements while benefiting from the rapid pace of innovation in the hyperscale cloud.

Advancing conversations about sovereignty in the hyperscale cloud

When we talk with government customers, we hear common questions in terms of achieving data sovereignty in the cloud. These often include questions around (1) residency, security and compliance of the hyperscale cloud; (2) controls for data access; and (3) the complexity of addressing regulations that vary by country.

First, Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty is built on the foundation of more than 60 cloud regions, providing industry-leading cybersecurity along with the broadest compliance coverage. Microsoft offers the most regions of any cloud provider. Customers can implement policies to contain their data and applications within their preferred geographic boundary, in alignment with national or regional data residency requirements.

Second, Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty provides sovereign controls to protect and encrypt sensitive data and control access to that data, enabled by sovereign landing zones and Azure Confidential Computing.

A sovereign landing zone is a type of Azure landing zone designed for organizations that need government-regulated privacy, security and sovereign controls. Organizations can leverage landing zones as a repeatable best-practice for secure and consistent development and deployment of cloud services. As many government organizations face a complex and layered regulatory landscape, utilizing sovereign landing zones makes it much easier to design, develop, deploy and audit solutions while enforcing compliance with defined policies.

Customers can also leverage Azure Confidential Computing to secure sensitive and regulated data even while it’s being processed in the cloud. Azure Confidential Computing protects data in memory in hardware-based trusted execution environments, helping prevent unwanted data access by the cloud provider, administrators and users. Customers can benefit from this capability on Azure without having to change existing applications.

Third, customers can adopt specific, sovereignty-focused Azure policy initiatives to address the complexity of compliance with national and regional regulatory requirements. These help customers create cloud guardrails and enforce specific regulations more easily. Customers can layer these policy initiatives to form a complete solution for their specific needs, and use deployment automation to ensure consistency, best practices and save time.

For example, our customers typically start with Azure Cloud Security Benchmark then layer the new Sovereignty Policy Baseline to ensure best practices for digital sovereignty. Then, customers can leverage a regional specific layer, such as Baseline informatiebeveiliging overheid (BIO), a foundational standards framework for information security within the Netherlands government, or the strategic guidelines for migration to the cloud of data and digital services of the Italian Public Administration National Cybersecurity Agency (ACN).

Additionally, the new Cloud Security Alliance Cloud Controls Matrix (CSA CCM v4) policy initiative is oriented toward a global standard that many other regional standards build upon.

Customer and partner collaborations delivering local solutions

Through our product development lifecycle, we’ve had the privilege of collaborating with customers around the world and their trusted partners. These collaborations continue to inform both our technical roadmap as well as solution design and delivery.

In the Netherlands, the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC-NL) has achieved significant traction in their work to establish a cloud center of excellence, deploying Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty to accelerate innovation in the cloud while still managing sovereign controls. Arnoud van Petersen, CIO & Head of IT Services at NCSC-NL, explains: “Our innovation teams are exploring ways to use advanced data and AI capabilities to reduce the time required to interpret signal data and produce advisories from days to minutes, delivering an EU leading rapid response and information sharing in a dynamic cyber threat landscape.”

The municipality of Amsterdam is partnering with InSpark (a subsidiary of Royal KPN) to bring on-premises datacenter workloads to the cloud in compliance with the relevant classification within the Dutch BIO regulation. Patrick Scholte, Director Platforms & Development, shares: “Municipality of Amsterdam opted for Cloud for Sovereignty primarily due to privacy considerations, specifically in compliance with GDPR. Beyond its effective implementation of innovative security technologies, Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty plays a crucial role in facilitating significant internal advancement for us.

“As an organization, it is imperative for us to address the establishment of processes, policies, and guidelines, as an addition to the use of innovative technologies that pertain to data sovereignty,” Scholte adds. “These measures are essential in mitigating evolving risks, and the use of Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty allows us to encode and audit them effectively.”

In Italy, Leonardo is now migrating their public and private customers to a secure public cloud service on the new Italy North Azure region, leveraging sovereign landing zones and advanced technologies such as Azure Confidential Computing. “We have chosen Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty to deliver solutions for our customers in compliance with digital sovereignty attributes and regulations, leveraging the economies of scale, security levels and pace of innovation that today are only available with hyperscale clouds,” says Massimo Tedeschi, Senior Vice President Cyber & Security Engineering, Leonardo.

In Belgium, Proximus has selected Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty in its work with customers across Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands to deliver cloud capabilities along with advanced security layers and sovereignty controls to protect sensitive data in the cloud.

“Our customers expect us to provide them with the highest data protection and sovereignty, says Anne-Sophie Lotgering, Enterprise Market Lead at Proximus. “That is exactly why we collaborate with Microsoft to offer advanced cloud capabilities together with the highest security and privacy controls to our Benelux customers.”

Driving a rapid pace of innovation

As the Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty enters general availability today, we’re also announcing new capabilities in preview. These solutions underscore our continued investment in a rapid pace of innovation to advance sovereignty in the hyperscale cloud:

  • Drift analysis capabilities: Ongoing administration and maintenance can potentially introduce changes that don’t comply with policies, resulting in the deployment beginning to drift out of compliance over time. The new drift analysis tool inspects your deployment and generates a list of non-compliant settings, as well as a severity rating, making it easier to identify any discrepancies to remediate and verify the compliance of specific environments.
  • Transparency logs: Gives eligible customers visibility into the instances where Microsoft engineers have accessed customer resources through Just-In-Time (JIT) access, most commonly in response to a customer support request. With this update, customers can now request access to the preview feature via the Azure portal.
  • New configuration tools in the Azure portal: Allows customers to create a new tailored sovereign landing zone in two simple steps using a guided experience.

Learn more and get started today

Get started with Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty today to advance government innovation in the cloud.

Visit microsoft.com/sovereignty for the latest news, visit Microsoft Learn, and reach out to your Microsoft representative to learn more.

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Source: The Official Microsoft Blog






Celebrating the first year of Copilot with significant new innovations

Celebrating the first year of Copilot with significant new innovations

This year will be remembered as the moment that we, as individuals, began to harness the power of AI in our daily lives. The last 10 months reflect years of AI research, close partnerships, and breakthrough innovations coming together. This culmination is now unifying our product vision to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

We started with the introduction of Bing Chat, and the feedback was incredible! Right away, people began to change how they search on the Internet, shop, code, prepare for job interviews, improve their gaming skills, and create beautiful documents and images. We proceeded to incorporate these capabilities into Microsoft 365, Microsoft Edge and Windows, unlocking new scenarios with ever greater context and intelligence for people.

Two weeks ago, we took the significant step to bring together all of this under one brand and one experience that we call Microsoft Copilot, launching http://copilot.microsoft.com and making it accessible to anyone on any device.

We’re thrilled by the impact it is having on the industry and, more importantly, on the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Recent survey data shows that Copilot for Microsoft 365 makes people more productive and faster overall in tasks like searching and writing.

What’s next?

As we set our sights on 2024, we’re committed to bringing more innovation and advanced capabilities to Copilot to provide you with the leading way to benefit from AI.  Here are some incredible new features that we have begun testing that you will see roll out soon:

GPT-4 Turbo – Soon, Copilot will be able to generate responses using OpenAI’s latest model, GPT-4 Turbo, enabling you to tackle more complex and longer tasks. This model is currently being tested with select users and will be widely integrated into Copilot in the coming weeks.

New DALL-E 3 Model – You can now use Copilot to create images that are even higher quality and more accurate to the prompt with an updated DALL-E 3 model. These capabilities are available to you now by visiting bing.com/create or by prompting Copilot to create an image.

Inline Compose with rewrite menu – With Copilot, Microsoft Edge users can easily write from most websites. Just select the text you want to change and ask Copilot to rewrite it for you. Coming to all Edge users soon.

Celebrating the first year of Copilot with significant new innovations
Multi-Modal with Search Grounding

Multi-Modal with Search Grounding – We are combining the power of GPT-4 with vision with Bing image search and web search data to deliver better image understanding for your queries. This new capability will be available soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Code Interpreter – We are developing a new capability that will enable you to perform complex tasks such as more accurate calculations, coding, data analysis, visualization, math and more. We are gathering feedback on these capabilities from a select set of users and plan to make it widely available soon.

code interpreter gif
Code Interpreter

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating the first year of Copilot with significant new innovations
Deep Search

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deep Search – Coming soon to Bing, Deep Search harnesses the power of GPT-4 to deliver optimized search results for complex topics. Activating Deep Search expands search queries into more comprehensive descriptions to deliver more relevant results. More information can be found on our Bing Blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To share a sense of the breadth of what Copilot can do for you, we’ve created a list of some of our favorite use cases for you to try right now – inspired* by our community of fans and preview testers.

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Try one of the prompts below and follow your curiosity. Just copy and paste into Copilot at copilot.microsoft.com, in Copilot in Bing or directly from the Copilot tab in Windows 11.

Education How can I design and improve activity plans for elementary school students to experience and learn about different plants?
Gaming What are the best methods and tools for stealth and hacking in Starfield?
Shopping Explain how to choose a mattress based on firmness level and sleeping preferences. What are the different firmness levels and how do they affect comfort and support?
Travel Plan a 4-day itinerary for visiting Paris and Amsterdam. What are the must-see attractions, activities, and restaurants in each city?
Culture & Art Analyze Michelangelo’s legacy as an artist and a person. What are the achievements and influences on Michelangelo’s art and life and how did he shape society?
Education Explain like I’m five the structure of city-states and the characteristics of civilizations throughout Mesopotamia.
History Are depictions of pirates in movies and novels accurate?
Design How can I make my living room look more open and refreshing? What are the tips and tricks for choosing and arranging furniture, colors, lighting, and accessories?
Education Identify and describe the flowers and plants that attract bees and how I can grow them in my garden. How do you pollinate a garden by hand?
Culture & Art Create an image I can use as inspiration for a tattoo. It should be minimalist in design and feature a sun, moon and golden retriever.
Jobs How can I get into the semiconductor industry and what are some related fields of study? What are the skills, qualifications, and experiences required?
Travel What advice do you have for hiking and sightseeing in Big Four Ice Caves?
Science Explain the theory of parallel universes. What is the concept and evidence of parallel universes?
Shopping Recommend some DAC (digital-to-analog converter) options for audiophiles. What are the features, benefits, and drawbacks of each option?
Culture & Art Who were some of the most influential female musicians of the 1960s and how did they impact culture?
Food Suggest some recipe ideas for a vegetarian dinner on a low-carb diet. What are the ingredients and recipes of each dish?
Health Create an upper body workout routine for beginners focused on chest and arms using body weight techniques at home. What are the exercises, sets, reps, and rest periods for each session?
Tech & Software Design an algorithm to find the majority book preference among a group of friends for a book club. What are the inputs and outputs of the algorithm?
Work Discuss how to work effectively with others in a professional work environment. What are the skills and qualities of a good team player?
Food What are the best places to eat and drink in Renton, Washington? What are the specialties, prices, and ratings of each place?
Jobs What are some tips for someone who has been out of the workforce for a few years but is looking to get back into it?
Jobs Compare and contrast the MBA and MHA degrees for a nurse executive. What are the career opportunities and outcomes of each degree?
Travel Plan a 5-day summer trip to Hawaii that includes a visit to Diamond Head.
Writing Write a congratulatory message for a small gift store’s fifth anniversary. Praise their service and atmosphere and express your gratitude and loyalty as a customer.
Writing Write a story about a cat named Babbi who escapes outside and gets scared. How does Babbi escape and how does he return home?
Shopping Research and summarize the internet’s reviews about Meta’s Quest 3. What are the features, specs, and pros and cons of the headset?
Images Create an image I can put on a holiday card featuring 10 English bulldogs.

*Prompts seen in this post showcase some of our favorite use cases of the consumer version of Copilot, formerly known as Bing Chat, since entering preview in February. All prompts seen below are inspired by popular conversation topics and were generated by Microsoft. No real user prompts are shown above.

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Source: The Official Microsoft Blog






A statement from Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella

As you saw at Microsoft Ignite this week, we’re continuing to rapidly innovate for this era of AI, with over 100 announcements across the full tech stack from AI systems, models, and tools in Azure, to Copilot. Most importantly, we’re committed to delivering all of this to our customers while building for the future. We have a long-term agreement with OpenAI with full access to everything we need to deliver on our innovation agenda and an exciting product roadmap; and remain committed to our partnership, and to Mira and the team. Together, we will continue to deliver the meaningful benefits of this technology to the world.

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Source: The Official Microsoft Blog






Microsoft Ignite 2023: AI transformation and the technology driving change

As we reach the end of 2023, nearly every industry is undergoing a collective transformation – discovering entirely new ways of working due to AI advancements.

Microsoft Ignite is a showcase of the advances being developed to help customers, partners and developers achieve the total value of Microsoft’s technology and reshape the way work is done.

As we round out the year, there are strong signals of AI’s potential to transform work. Take our latest Work Trend Index. Eight months ago, we introduced Copilot for Microsoft 365 to reduce digital debt and increase productivity so people can focus on the work that is uniquely human. What everyone wants to know now is: Will Copilot really change work, and how? Our research, using a combination of surveys and experiments, shows the productivity gains are real:

  • 70% of Copilot users said they were more productive and 68% said it improved the quality of their work; 68% say it helped jumpstart the creative process.
  • Overall, users were 29% faster at specific tasks (searching, writing and summarizing).
  • Users caught up on a missed meeting nearly 4x faster. 
  • 64% of users said Copilot helps them spend less time processing email.
  • 87% of users said Copilot makes it easier to get started on a first draft.
  • 75% of users said Copilot “saves me time by finding whatever I need in my files.”
  • 77% of users said once they use Copilot, they don’t want to give it up.

Today, we will make about 100 news announcements that touch on multiple layers of an AI-forward strategy, from adoption to productivity to security. We’ll zoom in on a few key areas of impact below.

Rethinking cloud infrastructure
Microsoft has led with groundbreaking advances like partnerships with OpenAI and the integration of ChatGPT capabilities into tools used to search, collaborate, work and learn. As we accelerate further into AI, Microsoft is rethinking cloud infrastructure to ensure optimization across every layer of the hardware and software stack.

At Ignite we are announcing new innovations across our datacenter fleet, including the latest AI optimized silicon from our industry partners and two new Microsoft-designed chips.

  • Microsoft Azure Maia, an AI Accelerator chip designed to run cloud-based training and inferencing for AI workloads such as OpenAI models, Bing, GitHub Copilot and ChatGPT.
  • Microsoft Azure Cobalt, a cloud-native chip based on Arm architecture optimized for performance, power efficiency and cost-effectiveness for general purpose workloads.
  • Additionally, we are announcing the general availability of Azure Boost, a system that makes storage and networking faster by moving those processes off the host servers onto purpose-built hardware and software.

Complementing our custom silicon, we are expanding partnerships with our silicon providers to provide infrastructure options for customers.

  • We’ll be adding AMD MI300X accelerated virtual machines (VMs) to Azure. The ND MI300 VMs are designed to accelerate the processing of AI workloads for high range AI model training and generative inferencing, and will feature AMD’s latest GPU, the AMD Instinct MI300X.
  • The preview of the new NC H100 v5 Virtual Machine Series built for NVIDIA H100 Tensor Core GPUs, offering greater performance, reliability and efficiency for mid-range AI training and generative AI inferencing. We’re also announcing plans for the ND H200 v5 Virtual Machine Series, an AI-optimized VM featuring the upcoming NVIDIA H200 Tensor Core GPU.

Extending the Microsoft Copilot experience
Over the past year we have continued to refine our vision for Microsoft Copilot, a set of tools that help people achieve more using AI. To go beyond individual productivity, we are extending Microsoft Copilot offerings across solutions to transform productivity and business processes for every role and function – from office workers and front-line workers to developers and IT professionals.

Microsoft is the Copilot company, and we believe in the future there will be a Copilot for everyone and for everything you do. Some of our Copilot-related announcements and updates include:

  • Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365: This month, Copilot for Microsoft 365 became generally available for enterprises. Already customers like Visa, BP, Honda and Pfizer and partners like Accenture, EY, KPMG, Kyndryl and PwC are using Copilot. We continue to bring new value, based on learnings from our Early Access Program and other research channels. The new Microsoft Copilot Dashboard shows customers how Copilot is impacting their organization – with insights like those found in our Work Trend Index. We’re introducing new personalization capabilities that help Copilot offer responses that are tailored to your unique preferences and role. To empower teamwork, new features for Copilot in Outlook help you prep for meetings, and during meetings, new whiteboarding and note-taking experiences for Copilot in Microsoft Teams keep everyone on the same page. And customers who need it can now use Copilot during a meeting without transcription retention. When you give Copilot a seat at the table, it goes beyond being your personal assistant to helping the entire team – check out the Microsoft 365 blog for updates across the suite including PowerPoint, Excel, Microsoft Viva and more.
  • Microsoft Copilot Studio: AI transformation begins by tapping into an organization’s unique data and workflows. Microsoft Copilot Studio is a low-code tool designed to customize Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365 by integrating business-critical data and build custom copilots for internal or external use. Copilot Studio works with connectors, plugins and GPTs, allowing IT teams to steer Copilot to the best data sources for specific queries.
  • Microsoft Copilot for Service: The newest copilot to provide role-based support helps businesses accelerate their AI transformation of customer service. Copilot for Service includes Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365 and helps extend existing contact centers with generative AI. In customer interactions, agents can ask Copilot for Service questions in natural language and receive relevant insights based on data sources from knowledge repositories, leading to faster and smarter resolutions.
  • Copilot in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guides: Combining the power of generative AI and mixed reality, this copilot helps frontline workers complete complex tasks and resolve issues faster without disrupting workflow. Available first on HoloLens 2, the hands-free copilot will help service industry professionals use natural language and human gestures to offer interactive guidance through content and holograms overlaid on the equipment.
  • Microsoft Copilot for Azure: This is an AI companion for IT that simplifies day-to-day IT administration. More than just a tool, it is a unified chat experience that understands the user’s role and goals, and enhances the ability to design, operate and troubleshoot apps and infrastructure. Copilot for Azure helps IT teams gain new insights into their workloads, unlock untapped Azure functionality and orchestrate tasks across both cloud and edge.
  • Bringing Copilot to everyone: Our efforts to simplify the user experience and make Copilot more accessible to everyone starts with Bing, our leading experience for the web. Bing Chat and Bing Chat Enterprise will now simply become Copilot. With these changes, when signed in with a Microsoft Entra ID, customers using Copilot in Bing, Edge and Windows will receive the benefit of commercial data protection. Over time, Microsoft will also expand the eligibility of Copilot with commercial data protection to even more Entra ID (formerly Azure Active Directory) users at no additional cost. Copilot (formerly Bing Chat and Bing Chat Enterprise) will be out of preview and become generally available starting Dec. 1. Learn more here.

Reinforcing the data and AI connection
AI is only as good as the data that fuels it. That’s why Microsoft is committed to creating an integrated, simplified experience to connect your data to our AI tools.

Microsoft Fabric is part of that solution. Available now, Microsoft Fabric reshapes how teams work with data by bringing everyone together on a single, AI-powered platform that unifies all those data estates on an enterprise-grade data foundation.

Copilot in Microsoft Fabric also integrates with Microsoft Office and Teams to foster a data culture to scale the power of data value creation throughout the organization. We’ve made more than 100 feature updates since Build and expanded our ecosystem with industry leading partners, and have over 25,000 customers including Milliman, Zeiss, London Stock Exchange and EY using it today.

Unlocking more value for developers with Azure AI
We continue to expand choice and flexibility in generative AI models to offer developers the most comprehensive selection. With Model-as-a-Service, a new feature in the model catalog we announced at Microsoft Build, pro developers will be able to easily integrate the latest AI models, such as Llama 2 from Meta and upcoming premium models from Mistral, and Jais from G42, as API endpoints to their applications. They can also customize these models with their own data without needing to worry about setting up and managing the GPU infrastructure, helping eliminate complexity.

With the preview of Azure AI Studio, there is now a unified and trusted platform to help organizations more easily explore, build, test and deploy AI apps – all in one place. With Azure AI Studio, you can build your own copilots, train your own, or ground other foundational and open models with data that you bring.

And Vector Search, a feature of Azure AI Search, is now generally available, so organizations can generate highly accurate experiences for every user in their generative AI applications.

The new GPT-3.5 Turbo model with a 16K token prompt length will be generally available and GPT-4 Turbo will be in public preview in Azure OpenAI Service at the end of November 2023. GPT-4 Turbo will enable customers to extend prompt length and bring even more control and efficiency to their generative AI applications.

GPT-4 Turbo with Vision is coming soon to preview and DALL·E 3 is now available in public preview in Azure OpenAI Service, helping fuel the next generation of enterprise solutions along with GPT-4, so organizations can pursue advanced functionalities with images. And when used with our Azure AI Vision service, GPT-4 Turbo with Vision even understands video for generating text outputs, furthering human creativity.

Enabling the responsible deployment of AI
Microsoft leads the industry in the safe and responsible use of AI. The company has set the standard with an industry-leading commitment to defend and indemnify commercial customers from lawsuits for copyright infringement – the Copilot Copyright Commitment (CCC).

Today, Microsoft takes its commitment one step further by announcing the expansion of the CCC to customers using Azure OpenAI Service. The new benefit will be called the Customer Copyright Commitment. As part of this expansion, Microsoft has published new documentation to help Azure OpenAI Service customers implement technical measures to mitigate the risk of infringing content. Customers will need to comply with the documentation to take advantage of the benefit.

And Azure AI Content Safety is now generally available, helping organizations detect and mitigate harmful content and create better online experiences. Customers can use Azure AI Content Safety as a built-in-safety system within Azure OpenAI Service, for open-source models as part of their prompt engineering in Azure Machine Learning, or as a standalone API service.

Introducing new experiences in Windows to empower employees, IT and developers
We continue to invest in and build Windows to empower people to navigate the platform shift to AI. We are thrilled to introduce new experiences in Windows 11 and Windows 365 for IT and employees that unlock new ways of working and make more AI accessible across any device. To further our mission of making Windows the home for developers and the best place for AI development, we announced a host of new AI and productivity tools for developers, including Windows AI Studio.

Announcing NVIDIA AI foundry service
Aimed at helping enterprises and startups supercharge the development, tuning and deployment of their own custom AI models on Microsoft Azure, NVIDIA will announce their AI foundry service running on Azure. The NVIDIA AI foundry service pulls together three elements – a collection of NVIDIA AI Foundation models, NVIDIA NeMo framework and tools, and NVIDIA DGX Cloud AI supercomputing and services – that give enterprises an end-to-end solution for creating custom generative AI models. Businesses can then deploy their models with NVIDIA AI Enterprise software on Azure to power generative AI applications, including intelligent search, summarization and content generation.

Strengthening defenses in the era of AI
The threat landscape has evolved dramatically in recent years, and at Microsoft Ignite we are introducing new technologies across Microsoft’s suite of security solutions to help defenders make the world a safer place.

Microsoft Sentinel and Microsoft Defender XDR (previously Microsoft 365 Defender) will be combined to create the industry’s first Unified Security Operations Platform, with embedded Security Copilot experiences. With built-in generative AI, it’s a single, powerful experience focused on protecting threats at machine speed and aiding defenders by simplifying the complexity of their environment.

Additionally, the expansion of Security Copilot embedded within Intune, Purview and Entra will help IT administrators, compliance units and identity teams simplify complex scenarios. In Entra, identity administrators can quickly troubleshoot identity access. In Purview, data security alerts deliver rich context to help resolve problems faster. In Intune, IT administrators can use “what if” analysis to keep business running while improving governance and compliance.

And that’s just a snapshot of what we’ll be announcing at Ignite. As a reminder, you can view keynote sessions from Satya Nadella, Rajesh Jha and Jared Spataro, Charlie Bell and Vasu Jakkal, and Scott Guthrie live or on-demand.

Plus, you can get more on all these announcements by exploring the Book of News, the official compendium of all today’s news, and the product blogs below.

RELATED:

Watch the keynotes and get all the latest photos, videos and more from Microsoft Ignite

The online event for Microsoft Ignite

With a systems approach to chips, Microsoft aims to tailor everything ‘from silicon to service’ to meet AI demand

Introducing new Copilot experiences to boost productivity and elevate customer experiences across the organization

Simplify IT management with Microsoft Copilot for Azure – save time and get answers fast

Introducing Copilot Studio and New Features in Copilot for Microsoft 365

Announcing general availability of vector search and semantic ranker in Azure AI Search

GPT-4 Turbo with Vision on Azure OpenAI Service

Azure AI Content Safety helps mitigate harmful content

Windows AI Studio helps enterprises and developers jumpstart local AI development

Making the world a safer place in the era of AI

The post Microsoft Ignite 2023: AI transformation and the technology driving change appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Source: The Official Microsoft Blog






Startups to access high-performance Azure infrastructure, accelerating AI breakthroughs

Startups to access high-performance Azure infrastructure, accelerating AI breakthroughs

Today Microsoft is updating its startup program to include a free Azure AI infrastructure option for high-end GPU virtual machine clusters, for use in training and running large language models and other deep learning models.

Y Combinator (YC) and its community of startup innovators will be the first to access this offering in private preview to a limited cohort. YC has an unmatched reputation as a pioneering startup accelerator helping launch transformative companies including Airbnb, Coinbase and Stripe. Now YC startups will have the technical resources they need to quickly prototype and bring to market cutting-edge AI innovations. Our close collaboration with YC provides valuable insights into the infrastructure needs of early-stage AI companies, ensuring our offering delivers optimal value to additional startups going forward.

“With the overwhelming infrastructure requirements needed to do AI at scale, we believe that providing startups with high-performance capabilities tailored for demanding AI workloads will empower our startups to ship faster,” said Michael Seibel, Managing Director of Y Combinator.

We are also working with M12, Microsoft’s venture fund, and the startups in M12’s portfolio which will gain access to these dedicated supercomputing resources to further empower their AI innovations.  Over time, our vision is to partner with additional startup investors and accelerators, with a goal of working with the ecosystem to lower the barrier to training and running AI models for any promising startup.

Microsoft Azure offers cloud-based scalable AI infrastructure, built for and with the world’s most sophisticated AI workloads, from delivering the largest and most complex AI models including GPT-4 and ChatGPT through Azure OpenAI Service to developers to infuse AI capabilities into many apps. Azure AI infrastructure is fueling groundbreaking innovations. Infrastructure requirements to do AI at scale are often overwhelming, but with Azure’s global infrastructure of AI-accelerated server offerings with networked graphics processing units (GPUs), startups building advanced AI systems will be able to leverage these high-performance capabilities to accelerate innovation.

On top of world-class infrastructure, we will also provide tools to simplify deployment and management through Azure Machine Learning. This enables easy low-code or code-based training of custom models and fine-tuning of frontier and open-source models, simplified deployment and optimizations like Low Rank Adaptation, DeepSpeed and ONNX Runtime (ORT).  Further, startups can deploy AI solutions with peace of mind knowing all deployments are secure and backed by Microsoft’s principles for Responsible AI.

Empowering startups to build transformative solutions powered by AI

AI is transforming industries and startups are leading that innovation, creating new business and societal value quicker than many thought possible. According to a recent KPMG survey, the near-term demand is real, with 75% of U.S. CEOs stating that generative AI is a top investment priority, 83% anticipating an increase in generative AI investment by more than 50% in the next year, and 45% saying investment will at least double. For startups, this represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring groundbreaking impact to a market hungry for change.

To help startups meet this opportunity, last year we introduced Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub – designed to help founders speed development with free access to GitHub and the Microsoft Cloud as well as unique benefits including free access to $2,500 of OpenAI credits to experiment and up to $150,000 in Azure credits that startups can apply to Azure OpenAI Service. Startups also receive 1:1 advice from Microsoft AI experts to help guide implementation. The Microsoft Pegasus Program, an extension of Founders Hub, links enterprise customers with startup solutions for immediate deployment. Seventy-five percent of Pegasus startups have landed deals with Fortune 1000 companies via increased reach across Azure Marketplace.

Startups using Azure AI to develop cutting-edge solutions for today’s problems

Whether you have a product in market or just an idea, Microsoft provides startups with the tools they need to rapidly build and scale AI solutions. Already, we are seeing the results of empowering startups to innovate with AI to improve customer support, detect and address health conditions and advance immersive gaming experiences. Here are just a few examples of the cutting-edge innovation happening now:

Commerce.AI dramatically increases call center productivity with Azure OpenAI Service
Commerce.AI uses Azure OpenAI Service and Azure AI Services to make call centers more efficient. Azure Cognitive Services uses a Commerce.AI model to transcribe interactions in real time, including into multiple languages. After the call, Azure OpenAI Service creates a summary with customer contact information, topics of conversation and embedded sentiment analysis. The system selects next steps and follow-up action items from pre-generated options, and the customer service agent exports the information to Microsoft Dynamics 365 in one quick step.

Inworld: The next-generation AI character engine for immersive gaming
Inworld, a Silicon Valley startup, is a fully integrated character engine that goes beyond language models to give users complete control over AI non-player characters (NPCs). With Inworld, users can customize their characters’ knowledge, memory, personality, emotions and narrative role. Inworld uses Azure AI technologies like Azure OpenAI Service to power its advanced natural language understanding and generation.

BeeKeeperAI is helping catch rare childhood conditions early
AI tooling company BeeKeeperAI enables AI algorithms to run in a private and compliant way in healthcare environments. The company is pioneering an effort to leverage confidential computing to train an algorithm for predicting a rare childhood condition using real patient health records. By encrypting both the data and algorithm and using Microsoft Azure’s confidential computing, the company has enabled the algorithm to analyze identifiable health information in a secure, sightless manner.

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Calling all startup founders — Start building the future todayGraphic Microsoft Startups Founders HubThe AI landscape is developing at breakneck speed, and Microsoft is ready to assist startups in seizing this opportunity. If you’re a startup founder evaluating partners, we invite you to join us at Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub and discover how we can accelerate your immediate success.

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Source: The Official Microsoft Blog






Honoring veterans and recognizing their value and contributions at Microsoft and beyond

Honoring veterans and recognizing their value and contributions at Microsoft and beyond

Group of military veterans at Microsoft
Microsoft honors service members and their families today and every day.

Since 1996, the month of November has been commemorated by presidential proclamation as National Veterans and Military Families Month in the United States with the observance of Veterans Day on the 11th as a central moment of celebration and appreciation. Throughout the month, you can expect to see American flags, camouflage and other patriotic or military decorations everywhere you look as communities celebrate one of our greatest national treasures: Our military veterans and those who make their service possible.

As a leader at Microsoft with deep personal appreciation for the military community that goes beyond my role as executive sponsor of the Military at Microsoft Employee Resource Group, I am grateful that this month is dedicated to honoring those who have answered the call to serve. The month provides an intentional reminder to step back and think about our veterans and all they contribute to our community and to our business. At Microsoft, we recognize the intrinsic value that veterans bring every day. The entrepreneurial mindset, team spirit and creativity that are cultivated out of necessity in ambiguous and often-challenging military operational environments are the same fundamental characteristics required to drive rapid innovation in technology. Across career stages and disciplines, the contributions and capabilities of our military veterans are clear.

While we are celebrating living veterans in the United States, other nations mark Nov. 11 as a moment for remembrance of those lost in war. That date in 1918 marked the end of hostilities and an initial step toward ending the First World War. In the years following the war, Armistice Day served as a moment for nations and people around the world to remember the sacrifice of their fallen service members and the heavy price that each nation paid with the hope of establishing an enduring peace. Great Britain, the Commonwealth and many countries across Europe continue to observe Nov. 11 as Remembrance Day or Poppy Day, a day dedicated to honoring fallen service members.

Honoring service past and present

At Microsoft, the week leading up to Veterans Day is filled with events focused on honoring, celebrating and expressing gratitude for veterans and military communities around the world both inside and outside of Microsoft. Along with these celebrations, I believe one of the best ways Microsoft continues to honor the service and sacrifice our veterans and their families willingly make on our behalf is to do its part — to provide the support they need to thrive while still in uniform and after they have hung up the uniform for the final time.

Meet a few of our remarkable veterans who continue to make a difference and embody Microsoft’s mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Shannon Llenza, Assistant General Counsel

Female soldier on boat
Shannon during an exercise with the Coastal Riverine Forces (now the Maritime Expeditionary Security Forces) around the Port of Djibouti. Photo courtesy of Shannon Llenza.

Shannon joined the United States Navy in March 2000 while she was in law school. Upon graduation in May 2001, she began active-duty service as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer.

After completing nearly five years of active-duty service, Shannon transitioned into the Navy Reserves in 2006 – where she continues to serve as a commander. She plans to retire in February 2024, after completing 20 years of service.

During her time in service, Shannon deployed to Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, Africa — the only permanent U.S. military base in Africa which supports a variety of missions and operations in the region.

She served as the legal advisor to the commanding officer of the base, providing legal counsel on a wide range of issues.

She shared that one highlight of the deployment was the opportunity to participate in the Grand Bara, which is a run across the Grand Bara Desert, Djibouti, with about 200 other service members.

Shannon was a full-time employee at Microsoft during her deployment to Africa. She shared that “Microsoft has a good program set up for service members who deploy and for reservists who must fulfill their commitment of drilling two weeks a year with their unit. Microsoft supports and values the contributions of its military employees, which allows them to fulfill their service without having to think about their employment while they are away.”

Female runner amid other runners
Shannon participating in the Grand Bara 15-kilometer run in Djibouti. Photo courtesy of Shannon Llenza.

She has also been involved in the Corporate, External, and Legal Affairs (CELA) Military Employee Network since she started at Microsoft.

She said, “it has been a great way to meet people in the community and the network has been instrumental in providing resources and education on all things Microsoft for its members.”

For Shannon, her experience in the military has shaped how she approaches issues in her civilian career. “The military teaches you how to get things done, how to work in ambiguous environments, and how to step out of your comfort zone.”

Chas Jeffries, Principal Product Manager

Chas joined the U.S. Air Force in 1991, retiring on Oct. 29, 2023 after 30 years of service and achieving the rank of major general.

Entering service in the computer/communications officer career field, he served for six years on active duty in the Air Force before joining Microsoft and transitioning to the Air National Guard.

Soldiers with flag in background
Chas, center, at his change of command ceremony in 2017. Photo by Airman 1st Class Timothy Tweet. The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

Chas said, “the experience I gained in the Air Force gave me a foundation in software engineering that enabled me to transition to civilian employment at a company like Microsoft.”

Joining Microsoft as a full-time employee in July 2000, Chas began serving in the Washington Air National Guard’s Information Warfare Team and continued to serve in the Air National Guard while working at Microsoft for 23 years.

Over the years, Chas experienced an incredible synergy between his roles at Microsoft and in the military. In both staff roles and in command, Chas has taken his knowledge of high-performing teams in the military and applied it to his civilian role.

Chas was part of the “start-up” team that would eventually form the foundation for Cyberspace Ops Squadrons and a Cyberspace Ops Group in the Washington Air National Guard. While serving in these units, Chas gained training and experience in information dominance and cybersecurity operations which he was able to directly apply to his work helping Microsoft build and launch sovereign clouds.

Man at a podium
Chas speaking at a 2023 cyber executive seminar. Photo by Sgt. Matthew Lucibello. The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

In addition to the experiences that he gained through leadership roles and operational roles, Chas said, “I’ve also benefited from a wealth of executive leadership training afforded to me. I’ve had the opportunity to attend Department of Defense-sponsored executive leadership courses at Harvard and MIT on topics including national cybersecurity policy and AI.”

Chas was deployed with the Air National Guard to Afghanistan in 2008 and with U.S. Forces Korea for multiple 30-day deployments between 2014 and 2017. When asked about the ways Microsoft has supported him as he continued to serve while working as a fulltime employee, Chas said that “Microsoft is an industry leader in its support of military members who chose to continue to serve.”
For Chas, the robust Military at Microsoft Employee Resource Group community has provided him with tremendous support.

He also recognizes the incredible impact of Microsoft’s Military Affairs organization which provides an invaluable resource to military veterans and current service members. Like many teams at Microsoft, Chas has benefited directly by hiring amazing veterans from the hiring and skilling programs the company supports.

Supporting the military community at Microsoft and beyond

As a company, we endeavor to honor the commitment to service that Shannon, Chas and others like them demonstrate through our commitment to train, hire and support our veterans and their families. In addition to supporting employees who continue to serve in reserve components, Microsoft also dedicates resources to help service members transition into careers in tech through mentorship, skilling programs and fellowships.

This year, the Military Affairs team at Microsoft is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA) by featuring 10 tech professionals who got their start with MSSA and continue to make an incredible impact in the industry today. MSSA is a 17-week training program for veterans and transitioning service members for high-demand careers in cloud development or cloud administration. Program participants have an opportunity to engage directly with Microsoft recruiters, connect with alumni and receive resources and education on Microsoft roles, how to apply and the overall hiring process. Historically, this program made a tremendous impact with over 3,600 graduates and 98% of those graduates are employed or pursuing continuing education. The Military Affairs team continues to look for ways to best serve the community and recently announced new benefits for alumni and a resource center for MSSA alumni as part of their 10th anniversary celebration. I look forward to seeing how MSSA and other programs Microsoft offers for the military community will grow and continue making an impact for service members and their families.

As an executive sponsor of the Military at Microsoft Employee Resource Group, I have the distinct honor of serving our incredible global military community within Microsoft. In this capacity as well as in my business leadership role, I am fortunate to work alongside members of the military community and bear witness to their incredible ongoing impact within our organizations. The unique qualities and values that compel individuals like Shannon and Chas to serve their country are the same that make them invaluable members of the Microsoft team. Selfless service is one of the most noticeable traits of the ethos that follows veterans wherever they go, and you can see it in their dedication to team and mission above self.

To our veterans: Today, and every day, thank you.

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Source: The Official Microsoft Blog