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Microsoft peppers Ignite keynote with Cortana, security updates

CloudSecurity & Privacy

At its Ignite 2016 event in Atlanta, Microsoft Corp. announced it’s putting its AI intelligence Cortana to work in more areas – integrating it with several of its popular productivity tools, and in its own support centres.

A key cog in the growing Microsoft cloud-based machine is the Cortana Intelligence Suite. Microsoft aims to make use of Cortana to help users better understand the growing amounts of data being collected.

“Cortana is more than just a voice assistant. By learning about me, she can help me keep on top of things that matter most to me,” said Laura Jones, senior product marketing manager of the Cortana team at Microsoft.

With new skills such as health insights and reminders based off of your activity added to her arsenal, Cortana continues to grow as a user’s personal assistant. The new Relationship Assistant, included in the new Dynamics 365 for Sales, targets companies seeking better customer engagement by collecting and analyzing data in real-time to provide back to the sales agent as a portfolio.

Examples of companies already using Cortana Intelligence Suite are Lowe’s, which uses it to deliver a digitally enhanced kitchen remodel experience, and Uber, which uses Microsoft Cognitive Services for its real-time ID check security features to improve rider and driver security.

Microsoft boosts security across several apps

Also at Ignite on Monday, Microsoft announced new security technology that will provide more protection against cyber threats, with a goal to ease the minds of corporate offices nervous in the wake of events such as the Sony hack.

Microsoft Edge leads that charge with a new protection technology called Windows Defender Application Guard (WDAG). It looks to prevent harmful code from moving into employee devices, and across corporate networks. It’s expected to be available to Windows 10 Enterprise customers next year.

Microsoft announced several other security boosts to its software as well:

  • Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (WDATP) and Office 365 ATP now share intelligence mutually across both services, helping IT pros to investigate and respond to security threats across Windows 10 and Office 365 more quickly and efficiently.
  • Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection will be extended to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business. Other enhancements include dynamic delivery, which enables users to receive email immediately with a placeholder attachment while the actual attachment undergoes scanning, and URL detonation, which analyzes links in real time to identify unknown malicious URLs.
  • Office 365 Threat Intelligence provides alerts and information on the origination of specific attacks, integrates with existing security incident event management (SIEM) systems, and enables customers to deploy dynamic policies based on the nature of the threat.
  • Outlook for iOS and Android is now fully powered by the Microsoft Cloud for Office 365 commercial users, supporting Exchange Online mailboxes natively so that no mailbox data is cached outside Office 365.

Microsoft and Adobe also announced a new cloud platform partnership at Ignite on Monday.