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Microsoft acquires Genee to boost Office scheduling features


Microsoft will soon be beefing up the scheduling capabilities of Office 365. The company signed an agreement this week to acquire Genee, an AI-powered scheduling service that a Microsoft blog noted is useful for large groups.

With the acquisition, Genee co-founders Ben Cheung and Charles Lee will join the Microsoft team. Founded in 2014, Genee was designed to simplify scheduling and rescheduling efforts by applying artificial intelligence to the process. One way Genee customers currently use the service is to set up meetings even when they don’t have access to someone’s calendar.

As noted by Rajesh Jha, corporate vice president for Outlook and Office 365 at Microsoft, Genee uses natural language processing and optimized decision-making algorithms to make interacting with the Genee virtual assistant almost like dealing with a human one.

For instance, a user could tell Genee to find a time for a coffee meeting next week with a particular contact. Genee takes a look at the user’s calendar, chooses a few appropriate times and emails the contact to see which option might work best. After the contact selects an option, it will schedule the meeting and send out invites to all parties involved.

The acquisition will add new capabilities channel partners can show off to their customers. Once integrated with Outlook and Office 365, Genee will present increased value to customers. The acquisition will put an end to Genee as a standalone service, though.

According to a Venture Beat article, Microsoft will shut the Genee service down on September 1, which doesn’t give existing users much time to prepare for the end. It’s not a lot of time to migrate off the service, but the Venture Beat article noted that users’ existing scheduling information will not disappear. Those hoping to continue making use of Genee in the future will need to become Office 365 customers.