Some Microsoft senior leaders complained to Mr. Nadella, saying the new hands didn t have the titles or tenure to attend the two-day event at Suncadia Resort, a mountain getaway 80 miles east of Seattle.Their presence breached the protocol established by Microsoft s two former CEOs, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.The tech world has left Microsoft s desktop far behind, and the 41-year-old software giant, which has struggled against more-nimble rivals such as Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc. s Google, has to shed its not invented here bias and overwhelming focus on engineering.New voices from acquisitions adding to Microsoft s decision-making include Javier Soltero of mobile email and calendar app maker Acompli, Chad Fowler of task-management mobile app Wunderlist and Nat Friedman of Xamarin, a maker of open-source software development tools.The company s history is littered with deals that failed because the company was intent on promoting its own products instead of offering customers what they wanted.In three years, they have turned from the backwater of IT to being front and center, said Aaron Levie, CEO of cloud-storage company Box Inc., which both partners and competes with Microsoft.
When Microsoft bought the tiny startup Acompli in 2014, it didn't just get the app that would become Outlook for iPhone and Android — it got Javier Soltero, the former Acompli CEO who's now one of Microsoft's biggest agents of internal cultural change.At Microsoft, Soltero has worked to bring a more Silicon Valley mentality of adding new features and iterating on apps quickly, making him a key player in CEO Satya Nadella's master plan to reform the company's culture to stay relevant in the post-iPhone world.Not everyone at Microsoft is so receptive to that message, though.In an interview with The Wall Street Journal's Jay Greene, Soltero says that sometimes his new colleagues at the company just wouldn't accept that Microsoft needs to stay strategically nimble or risk falling behind.About a year after joining Microsoft, Soltero told The Journal, he gave an internal presentation warning that Microsoft was resting on its laurels in the email space, and that an increasing number of customers were moving away from its Exchange and Outlook programs and into web equivalents like Google's G Suite.Soltero said that without drastic action to improve its own email products, Microsoft could slide into irrelevancy like Lotus Notes, once a major player in corporate email software but now a footnote to history.At least some employees were unreceptive.Soltero says he got emails accusing him of being "disrespectful of the legacy" of Microsoft and its email business."I think the suggestion that we weren't winning was a painful one for them to hear," Soltero told The Journal.Soltero is a rising star at Microsoft.While he was originally tasked with leading Outlook on mobile devices, it took less than a year before he was put in charge of Outlook on all platforms.In November, he was promoted to oversee strategy for Microsoft Office overall.In general, and as The Journal reports in a broader sense, Nadella and his executive team have turned to the talent that Microsoft has gotten from acquisitions to bring an outside voice to insider decision-making.
Two years ago, Microsoft made a massive shift in the way it approached the email market.Outlook’s marquee functionality on mobile was a Focused Inbox that divided a user’s incoming messages by whether or not the app thought they were important — and it worked shockingly well.Staying competitive in the email market is important for Microsoft because it’s facing competition from the likes of G Suite, with its machine-learning enhanced Inbox offering.Microsoft wasn’t starting from scratch with the new Outlook mobile apps.The acquisition was spearheaded by Executive Vice President Qi Lu, who was in charge of Microsoft’s Applications and Services Group.Javier Soltero, who was the startup’s CEO, was put in charge of Outlook's mobile apps following the acquisition.
Microsoft’s AI assistant Cortana has a new boss, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat today.Javier Soltero, who previously controlled the Microsoft Office product group, will now be in charge of product for Cortana, an assistant available on 400 million devices.Now corporate vice president of Cortana product, Soltero will the team together with corporate vice president of Cortana engineering Andrew Shuman, a spokesperson said.Consumers who have to choose between assistants like Cortana, Siri, and Alexa not based on the number of voice apps they have from third parties, Soltero told Axios.“The real contest is about which company users will choose and entrust with essentially all of they information or the majority of their information,” he said.Soltero came to Microsoft in 2014 after Acompli, a company he cofounded, was acquired to bolster Office email app Outlook.
Photo by Tom Warren / The VergeMicrosoft’s Outlook for iOS and Android boss is now transitioning to a new role inside the company, overseeing the Cortana digital assistant.Javier Soltero first joined Microsoft back in December 2014 when the software maker acquired the Acompli email app that soon became Outlook for iPhone and Android.Axios reports that Soltero has moved to overseeing Cortana around three weeks ago, and will report to Harry Shum, Microsoft’s head of AI and research.Microsoft’s Outlook mobile app has become a popular option for both iOS and Android users, and the company has been continually updating it over the past few years.Cortana has debuted on both iOS and Android, but it hasn’t had the same impact as Outlook.
Remember when the idea of staying at the home of a stranger you met online used to be weird, but then Airbnb brought hundreds of millions of people into each other’s homes?Smart locks can be used to let Airbnb guests inside your property, allow deliveries to be placed inside your home, and grant access to professional services like a plumber or carpenter to finish a job when you’re away from home.And if anonymous sources are to be believed, Amazon’s been considering the sale of more large items like furniture or home appliances.Your smart camera with a speaker inside will send a notification when the delivery crew enters your home and will record the whole thing.It’s no secret Amazon wants to spread its AI assistant everywhere, and it seems likely that will include the Santa Monica-based startup’s connected security cameras, doorbells, and other products.Through the Alexa Voice Service, Alexa can now be found in a variety of appliances, from light switches to lamps, and all matter of appliances and devices in between.
Photo by Tom Warren / The VergeMicrosoft has been slowly adding more email intelligence to its Cortana digital assistant, but it has resisted integrating it directly into Outlook mobile.That’s about to change, soon.Sources familiar with Microsoft’s Outlook plans tell The Verge that the company is currently testing Cortana within Outlook on iOS and Android.The Cortana integration will allow users of the popular mobile email client to listen to and respond to emails with their voice.This will be particularly useful during car journeys, and Microsoft is testing Cortana integration directly within Outlook mobile that will work over Bluetooth and read messages aloud.
Macs have Siri built in, and Windows PCs have Cortana, so almost everyone with a laptop or desktop already has access to a voice-activated smart assistant.But that hasn't stopped other assistants from trying to get a foldhold in computers.Amazon's Alexa is coming to select laptops later in 2018, and more interestingly, Amazon and Microsoft have promised Alexa/Cortana integration, although the details on what that would look like remain vague.And they're likely to remain vague a little longer.Despite originally being promised by the end of 2017 (and announced in August, 2017), Javier Soltero, Vice President for Cortana at Microsoft, says the two companies are still working to, "provide experiences that are great," according to a recent interview with VentureBeat, adding, "but we're not just going to hurry up and ship something."Stand-alone Alexa may (or may not) be coming to PCs first, as we reported in January at CES 2018.
Microsoft today announced the introduction of the Cortana Skills Kit for Enterprise to give businesses the power to create custom voice apps for their employees as well as users.At launch, the skills kit for enterprise will only be available by invite only.Invitations for companies and developers will be made available in the future.Cortana skills for the enterprise is one of the first major updates to how Cortana works for developers since Javier Soltero joined the Cortana team to act as product lead earlier this year after running the Office product group.The goal is to make Cortana skills and conversational computing in the workplace as easy to use as smartphones are today, requiring no lengthy introduction or user manual, Soltero said in a blog post.As a proof-of-concept, Microsoft employees built an IT help desk skill for Cortana to help file tickets for employees having trouble with their computer.
Microsoft head of product for Cortana Javier Soltero is leaving the company,“We are grateful for Javier’s impact and strategic leadership over the last four years at Microsoft, and wish him well as he returns to his entrepreneurial roots.Bringing together all of our work in natural language, intelligence and assistance – including Cortana – enables us to innovate faster for developers, partners and customers,” said a statement shared with VentureBeat today.Sources familiar with the matter initially shared the news with ZDNet.1/ Some news on the work front…I've made the decision to leave Microsoft.
He has been there since 2014.Wikimedia CommonsJavier Soltero, one of Microsoft's rising stars, is leaving the company after four years, with the intention of "getting back to building new things."He came to Microsoft after his startup, Acompli, was acquired in 2014 — a move that was seen as emblematic of then-new CEO Satya Nadella's revitalized corporate strategy.Soltero had a reputation for challenging Microsoft's assumptions, and famously warned employees that they were on the brink of irrelevance without swift action.Soltero rose from leading Outlook on smartphones, to leading Outlook overall, to eventually leading the Cortana digital assistant business.Javier Soltero, currently the head of Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant, is departing the tech titan at the end of the year amid a round of reorganization to the Microsoft Office business.
Microsoft’s Javier Soltero, the company’s vice president of Cortana, will be departing by the end of the year, according to a report from ZDNet.Soltero first joined Microsoft when it scooped up his email app Acompli back in late 2014.Soltero and the Acompli team helped Microsoft vastly improve its Outlook iOS app.He later became the overall head of Outlook before taking on the Cortana chief role in March of this year, as part of the company’s massive reorganization that brought a renewed focus on artificial intelligence and the cloud, as well as the departure of Windows chief Terry Myerson.ZDNet reported last month that Microsoft is moving Cortana out of its AI research division and into its Experiences and Devices team, signaling the company’s interest in building out Cortana more as a viable productivity assistant for existing Microsoft software and less as an experimental research project.Soltero is reportedly heading back into the entrepreneurial space, but it’s unclear what his concrete plans are once he leaves Microsoft.
Cortana's corporate vice president, Javier Soltero, is leaving Microsoft after four years with the company, he tweeted on Tuesday."I've made the decision to leave Microsoft," Soltero wrote."The past 4 years have been an incredible experience.I'm humbled to have been a part of building something that 100M+ users depend on every day and grateful to have worked with some amazing people."Soltero will leave the company by the end of the year, according to ZDNet, and return to entrepreneurial work.He joined Microsoft in 2014 when the company bought email startup Acompli, which he co-founded.
Microsoft’s Cortana assistant is reportedly becoming more of an assistance aide than a standalone service, being moved from Microsoft’s AI + Research department to its Experiences & Devices Team and working with Amazon to pair it with the latter company’s Alexa technology.Now, per Engadget, Microsoft seems to be encouraging customers to just buy Alexa-powered tech like the recently released Echo Dot and regular Echo and use Cortana through it.Per Engadget, Twitter user Walking Cat and others noticed that both devices appear to be listed for sale in Microsoft’s online and retail locations.The site wrote that the tech giant appears to have conceded that most smart assistant users are going to use Alexa, not the notably less versatile Cortana, for routine purposes:Where Microsoft originally pitched Cortana as a direct competitor to other mainstream voice assistants, it has shifted the AI helper’s focus toward chatbots and behind-the-scene tasks that are more useful to the corporate crowd than home users.The VP in charge of Cortana, Javier Soltero, is reportedly leaving Microsoft as the company moves its assistant from its AI team to its Experiences and Devices group.
That might be what Microsoft is contemplating saying to its struggling digital assistant.Cortana, or at least Cortana as we know it today, could end up on the Microsoft scrap pile, next to Windows Phone.Reports this summer said that Amazon had sold 50 million smart speakers.Sales of the only smart speaker with Cortana built into it, the Harman Kardon Invoke, were too small to measure.Javier Soltero, a rising star at Microsoft who has been in charge of Cortana development, announced earlier this month he was leaving Microsoft.A few weeks before Soltero’s announcement, another important cog in the Cortana team departed as well.
Joseph Sirosh has left the buildingThe office of CTO for AI at Microsoft now has a stonking great “vacant” sign plastered on it, as previous incumbent Joseph Sirosh this week trotted off to become CTO of Compass, a New York-based real-estate outfit.Sirosh joined the gang at Redmond just over five years ago in July 2013, having worked for more than eight years with box-slinger Amazon in Seattle.At Microsoft, he served first as corporate veep for Information Management and Machine Learning, before heading up the Data Platform (and laying claim to having a hand in the likes of SQL Server on Linux as well punting big data into the cloud in the form of Azure Data Lake and its ilk).The exec then spent just under a year heading up the Cloud AI platform before putting in a few short months as veep and CTO of AI.He has now thrown in the towel in favour of a move to the decidedly less cloudy world of matching house buyers with house sellers.
Google doesn’t have the simplest diary when it involves keeping its messaging services updated, but with numerous more people performing from home, the corporate has been working to rapidly expand the capabilities of its software.Case in point: Google vice chairman Javier Soltero  that starting today, Google Meet (formerly Hangouts Meet) calls can display up to 16 participants during a grid directly, echoing a standard layout in rival Zoom.Previously Google only allowed four people to point out up during a grid, though Zoom still has the corporate beat; it can display up to 49 people during a call.To be clear, we’re talking about what percentage people are often visible on screen directly.In terms of total spectators, Meet can support up to 250 people for G Suite Enterprise users.G Suite Basic supports up to 100, while G Suite for Business supports up to 150.
True to Google’s penchant for just announcing things right after they’ve leaked, the company has unveiled a grand redesign of Gmail for G Suite business users ahead of next week’s Google Cloud conference. The app isn’t so much “Gmail” anymore as it is a unified app for all of Google’s communication platforms: Gmail, Chat, Rooms, and Meet. It will be available as an “early access preview” to G Suite customers this week and roll out to all G Suite customers later this year. As for the consumer version of Gmail, it seems as though little will change in the short term. Google says that it is “actively thinking through how and when to bring this experience to the consumers who might want it.” Javier Soltero, who rolled in to Google last... Continue reading…
Chat and Meet rolled into the inbox along with other bells and whistles Google is to shovel yet more bells and whistles into its Gmail client in an effort to demonstrate its collaborative chops in an increasingly crowded marketplace.…
Google’s gone ahead and put their efforts to bring a massive update to work-at-home tools into hyperspace. They’re packaging the tools as a sort of upgrade to G Suite, but we know better. Given the message this set of changes is delivered with, it’s clear Google’s prepared itself for what they see as the inevitable. This post-workplace work from home … Continue reading
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