From the full interview, starting with chat about Cortana and AI:
Rosoff: There was a lot of talk last week at Build about chat bots and artificial agents, and "conversation as a platform." That idea is not new, right? I think I heard Bill Gates talking about it 15 years ago. Why do you think now is the right time to make that push and make that play?
Nadella: The thing that has fundamentally changed is the ubiquity of computing that's there for us to take advantage of. At the core what we're doing is reasoning over large amounts of data continuously. First, we have that data, data about you, your preferences, your organization, and the world. And to do that on a continuous basis, you need lots and lots of computing power. That's what we get through the cloud.
Then you also need it in the devices, and they're not limited just to PCs on your desk, but you have devices from sensors to HoloLens. And the combination of that device proliferation and ubiquity as well as the compute power in the cloud are making it possible for us now to deliver that kind of experiences that we're talking about.
Rosoff: Can you give me one sort of concrete example why I should be excited about this, one particular type of thing that these kinds of artificial agents will help me with?Nadella: Take Cortana, the fact that you have a personal digital assistant that knows you, knows your preferences, has the ability, in a privacy protecting way, to go and look at your information and your organization's information, and help you with your tasks.
First of all, it's not just in one operating system, because that's not what we believe in. It's available on all your devices and all your experiences.
So I'm running late to a meeting. The personal assistant realizes that, automatically on my behalf reschedules or notifies the person because it knows my calendar. I'm not doing some texting and driving. That's one trivial example.
The ability for Cortana to proactively look at events that are happening in the real world, like whenever I look at it, every morning I look to see that Cortana is highlighting any particular meetings that are coming up, or any news articles that are relevant to the meetings that I even have, and it flags them to me.
Every day before going home, if I want to check traffic, instead of issuing another query I just say, "Cortana, what's the traffic home?" And it knows because it knows where exactly my home is, and can issue that query.
So those are everyday things that I think an intelligent agent or a personal assistant can help you with.
(On the business side), customer support is a great one - any data source that was previously available now can be brought to you. Instead of you going to 20 apps and having to do all of this in your own head, what if all the apps came to you, whether they be through bots in a conversational canvas like Skype or through a personal digital assistant?
Rosoff: So you talked a little bit about the challenge that developers have creating applications for multiple platforms. Flipping that around, there wasn't a whole lot of talk about Microsoft's own mobile platform at Build. What does Microsoft get by continuing to have and develop a mobile platform?
Nadella: First of all, I don't think of Windows for mobile differently than Windows for HoloLens, or Windows for Xbox now. We have only one Windows. We don't have multiple Windows. They run across multiple form factors, but it's one developer platform, one store, one tool chain for developers. And you adapt it for different screen sizes and different input and output.
But what we get....I'm not trying to be another phone guy with the other person's rules. What is unique about our phones is this Continuum feature. If anything, we will want to continue to build that capability out.
Just like how with Surface we were able to create a category. Three years ago most people would have said "what is a two-in-one"? And now even Apple has a two-in-one. And so three years from now, I hope that people will look and say, "oh wow, that's right, this is a phone that can also be a PC."
Take emerging markets. India for sure is a mobile-first country. But I don't think it will be a mobile-only country for all time. An emerging market will have more computing in their lives, not less computing, as there is more GDP and there is more need. As they grow they will also want computers that grow from their phone. What's the most logical thing? I would claim it's a Continuum phone, which means that it can have other forms of input beyond touch.
You can read the full interview here. It's about ten times longer than the extract above, so do grab a cup of coffee etc.
These are thoughts that we've been emphasising on AAWP for the last year or so, of course, but it's good to hear Microsoft's CEO centring in on 'One Windows'. For the umpteenth time, Windows Phone's development has indeed stopped dead, but it has evolved into Windows 10 Mobile, part of a much bigger platform, and the devices of most people reading this are fully compatible and, in fact, have probably already been upgraded.
Satya then talked about 'Continuum-capable phones' as the future. Whether this happens through a single computing platform (Windows 10) or through ever-more-integrated services remains to be seen. Hopefully the best of both will emerge to really help the digital natives of 2020 to 2030.