Microsoft Acquires AI Startup Genee to Bolster Office 365 Scheduling

Today's topics include Microsoft’s plan to acquire Genee AI for Office 365, Google's withdrawal of support for Chrome apps on Windows, Linux and Mac, Intel's expansion of its partnership with AT&T to make the Xeon chip available for network speed improvements and AT&T, Alphabet, Apple and more major tech companies' joint effort to stop robocalling.

Microsoft announced on Aug. 22 that it is acquiring Genee, an artificial intelligence and virtual assistant technology startup from Mountain View, Calif., for an undisclosed amount.

Genee's technology will be used to enhance Office 365's scheduling and meetings management capabilities, Rajesh Jha, corporate vice president of Microsoft Outlook and Office 365, said in an Aug. 22 announcement.

Dovetailing with Microsoft's "Conversations as a Platform" vision, Genee enables business professionals to set reminders and carve out time for meetings, calls, dinners and other events in their calendars in much the same way a personal assistant would.

Google will end support for Chrome applications on Windows, Linux and Mac platforms over the next two years. Starting in early 2018, users of packaged and hosted Chrome apps will no longer be able to run them on these platforms.

Google will, however, continue to support all types of Chrome apps on Chrome OS for the foreseeable future, a company executive announced Aug. 19.

In a blog post, Google Vice President of Product Management Rahul Roy-Chowdhury said the decision was prompted by the fact that many of the capabilities offered by Google apps are now available natively in popular browsers.

At Intel Developer Forum 2016 Aug. 16-18, the chip maker made it clear it wants to be the provider of the basic technologies for the internet of things.

As part of the effort, Intel officials at the show announced an expanded partnership with AT&T, which will adopt Intel technology as it builds out its software-centric network.

The two companies already partner in a number of areas, including 5G networks and drones, and now Intel products will be used in the carrier's high-profile project to use technologies like software-defined networking and network-functions virtualization to make their networks more flexible and scalable.

By leveraging Intel's Xeon server chips, AT&T is hoping to take the various networking tasks that traditionally have run on specialized and expensive hardware and put them into software that can run on standard x86-based systems.

AT&T, Alphabet, Apple and 30 other technology and communications companies have joined the Federal Communications Commission in an effort to eliminate robocalls.

Described as "a scourge" by the FCC, those irritating, automated, prerecorded calls are the No. 1 consumer complaint to the FCC. Members of a newly formed Robocall Strike Force, led by AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, met for the first time Aug. 19.

"What we're going to have to do is come out of this meeting with a comprehensive playbook that we all go out and begin to execute," Stephenson told the assembled members Friday. They included carriers, device makers, OS developers, network designers, regulators and lawmakers.

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