Microsoft strengthens its RPA portfolio with Softomotive acquisition

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced the planned acquisition of Softomotive, a UK-headquartered robotic process automation (RPA) software company with roots in Greece. With the intended purchase, Microsoft has muscled into the RPA game in a big way and, in doing so, removed any doubts that RPA has really arrived. Expect others to follow suit with a buying spree and resulting shakeout of the weaker players. Given the current recession and focus on projects that reduce cost, the timing could not be better.

Most of Softomotive’s 8,000-plus customers are single users or small work groups. Softomotive’s WinAutomation product has both attended and unattended deployment options and a solid offering that is flexible and easy to use but not exercised generally for complex use cases. Functionally, the acquisition helps in three primary areas.

Microsoft took a cloud-first approach to UI Flows. (Be patient with me here.) Power Automate, formerly

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Coles shuffles data management into the cloud

Machine learning might be high on the agenda for the data science team at Coles, but according to Richard Glew, Coles head of engineering and operations, they are currently limited by the existing on-premise environment.

“Even if we can do something, being able to do something quickly is another matter. We’ve got a lot of issues [like] where is our data, do we have the right hardware, how long does it take to get it … all the usual stuff with an on-prem environment,” he said, speaking as part of the Databricks Data and AI APAC virtual conference.

In a move to expand the possibility of enabling machine learning, advanced analytics, and data exchange, the company is currently developing an electronic data processing platform (EDP) to change the way it manages and stores data.

“Our EDP platform is designed to be a universal data repository for all the data we

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Microsoft and Sony to create smart camera solutions for AI-enabled image sensor

The IMX500 image sensor.

Image: Sony

Sony and Microsoft have joined together to create artificial intelligence-powered (AI) smart camera solutions to make it easier for enterprise customers to perform video analytics, the companies announced.

The companies will embed Microsoft Azure AI capabilities onto Sony’s AI-enabled image sensor IMX500. Announced last week, the IMX500 is the world’s first image sensor to contain a pixel chip and logic chip. The logic chip, called Sony’s digital signal processor, is dedicated to AI signal processing, along with memory for the AI model. 

“Video analytics and smart cameras can drive better business insights and outcomes across a wide range of scenarios for businesses,” said Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president and commercial chief marketing officer at Microsoft. 

“Through this partnership, we’re combining Microsoft’s expertise in providing trusted, enterprise-grade AI and analytics solutions with Sony’s established leadership in the imaging sensors market to help uncover new

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Facebook’s Zoom rival: Messenger Rooms rolls out with video chat for 50 people

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced the availability of Messenger Rooms, its video-calling service for social interactions. 

Facebook’s social take on Zoom has rolled out to the US, Canada, and Mexico and will expand across the globe next week. 

Zuckerberg announced the video-calling product last month, saying video had been especially important during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic

SEE: Working from home: Success tips for telecommuters (free PDF)    

Messenger Rooms is built around the idea of rooms, letting users share a link with friends to create a private room that supports up to 50 people. 

Alternatively, users can create a room for a group or for an event. It also lets users start a room for all friends at the top of a News Feed, allowing contacts to join if and when they want.  

A key social or non-work part of Messenger Rooms is that users don’t need to

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Buy the laptop best for you: Windows 10 or MacOS, plus 10 more things to consider

We live in an age of miracles, when machines that fit in our pockets are capable of doing tasks that would have had us charged with witchcraft in earlier times.

But those pocket-sized miracles only go so far, and sometimes even stepping up to a tablet or a Chromebook isn’t enough to accomplish a particularly demanding task. For those occasions, only an honest-to-goodness PC will do. Which is why PC makers (including Apple) continue to sell more than a hundred million portable PCs and MacBooks every year.

If you’ve shopped for a laptop lately, you know that there are hundreds, maybe thousands of options available from OEMs large and small. That much choice can be paralyzing, which is why it helps to go through the specs carefully.

When a friend or colleague asks me “Which laptop should I buy?” I won’t even think of making a recommendation until we’ve gone

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Alt Tabs: How Google and Microsoft are cleaning up crowded browsers

In my recent column on the Surface Go 2 and the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook, I positioned the challenge those devices pose to the iPad as coming down to, in part, whether prospective buyers preferred a traditional windowing environment versus the iPad’s split-screen/floating window hybrid. For years, we’ve seen Microsoft wrestle mightily with the proper balance between touch and windowing environments from Windows 8 (in earnest) to Windows 10 (which can work quite well but has seen poor adoption) and beyond to Windows 10 X, 

Google has also sought to reconcile the interface disparities of desktop and mobile interfaces. When I spoke with the company as it launched the Pixelbook Slate last year, I agreed with its assessment of having made much progress in the integration of Android apps into Chrome OS. However, it conceded that it still had much work ahead of it. Indeed, while integrating Android apps

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