“Microsoft Monday” is a weekly column that focuses on all things Microsoft. This week, Microsoft Monday includes details about LinkedIn launching new marketing tools, AI for helping people with disabilities, the Xbox One digital game gifting launch, a pair programming tool, Azure Databricks being rolled out soon and much more!
Microsoft Launches Several AI Tools To Help People With Disabilities
According to ZDNet, Microsoft announced several AI tools last week to help people with disabilities such as an application called Seeing AI. Seeing AI is a mobile app that helps people with visual impairments by describing what it “sees.” And it can also describe images in other apps and recognize faces. The Seeing AI product was demonstrated by Kenny Johar Singh, a cloud solutions architect at Microsoft who lost 75% of his vision due to a degenerative retinal condition.
Microsoft also recently launched an eye tracking feature in Windows 10 known as Eye Control. That program helps people with motor neurone disease (MND). This service helps people with MND by predictively typing words as they look at the first and last letters of a word.
LinkedIn Launches Lead Gen Forms For Sponsored InMail Campaigns
Last week, LinkedIn announced a new service allowing marketers to use Lead Gen Forms on their Sponsored InMail campaigns. This is a follow up from the launch of LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms for Sponsored Content service earlier this year.
“Marketers have seen strong campaign performance with Lead Gen Forms, reducing their average cost per lead by more than 20%. With such strong ROI, we decided to expand our lead gen capabilities to more LinkedIn products, including Sponsored InMail and Dynamic Ads,” said LinkedIn in a blog post. “Lead gen marketers use Sponsored InMail to reach members with personalized, one-to-one messages on LinkedIn. While open rates are commonly above 40%, we noticed that some prospects dropped off because of the extra step required to fill out a form on the advertiser’s landing page.”
Lead Gen Forms for Sponsored InMail helps advertisers improve conversion rates of Sponsored InMail campaigns as they collect quality lead data at scale such as prospect’s name, email address, job title, company name, and select other fields from their LinkedIn profile. In beta tests, advertisers saw mobile conversion rates increase an average of 3x.
Microsoft Unveils Pair-Programming Tool
Pair programming is a way for developers to collaborate back and forth on code — which can be especially useful if a person leaves the company. When programming in pairs, it might become easier to spot and remove bugs.
Microsoft’s new pair programming tool is called Visual Studio Live Share and developers can use their own text editors while working together. They can also install the GitHub Teletype package to use with GitHub’s new open-source Atom text editor.
A preview of Visual Studio Live Share will not be available until early 2018.
Microsoft To Roll Out Azure Databricks Soon
Microsoft Azure cloud customers that are looking into crunching massive amounts of data will soon have access to Azure Databricks. This service was built in conjunction with a big data San Francisco-based startup called Databricks. Azure Databricks can be used for modeling “real-time data patterns” like measuring how hotel guests walk around a lobby to determine how to place the furniture. Azure Databricks is going to be integrated into other Azure data services like Azure Cosmos DB, Azure SQL Data Warehouse and Azure Active Directory.
LinkedIn Launches Career Advice Program
Last week, LinkedIn is launching a peer-to-peer mentorship program called Career Advice. The Career Advice feature can be accessed from within the LinkedIn dashboard. Once you open the feature, then it allows you to customize preferences about the type of advice you would like to receive or provide. This program will be available in the U.S., U.K., Australia and India. It will be expanding in more locations in the next few months.
Microsoft Is Planning A 75% Reduction In Carbon Emissions By 2030
Microsoft is planning to cut its carbon emissions by 75% in 2030 compared to its 2013 numbers. If this goal is met, then the company will be on track for compliance with the Paris Climate Agreement. Microsoft’s current average performance is largely attributed to the energy consumption necessary for cloud computing services.
Having already cut the energy consumption at the Redmond campus by about 20%, Microsoft is looking to buy its own clean energy based on the market rates. And the Puget Sound campus will be 100% carbon-free soon.
Microsoft Previews Skype Professional Account
Last week, Microsoft announced a preview of the Skype Professional Account desktop client. Skype Professional Account makes it easier to book meetings, take notes and make payments. However, there are a limited number of spaces available for people that want to try out the preview and you can sign up for it on the Skype Professional Account website.
Xbox One Digital Game Gifting Officially Launches
Just in time for the holidays, digital game gifting on the Xbox One is officially available for everyone. This was previously only available for users with Xbox Live. The digital games are sent as an invitation through email. You simply have to select “Buy as gift” on a game page and that person that you send the title to will receive a code for downloading it. However, pre-orders cannot be gifted.
Microsoft Monday includes seven days worth of updates from the Redmond-based software giant. What are your thoughts about the “Microsoft Monday” news from this week? Please leave a comment!
MORE FROMAmit Chowdhry, Contributor