Renault-Nissan teams with Microsoft for connected cars

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Renault-Nissan teams with Microsoft for connected cars

Also boosts cloud, AI and security offerings.

Renault-Nissan has joined forces with Microsoft to build a new range of connected, self-driving cars, with services provided via the Azure cloud.

Microsoft will contribute Azure-based services that include navigation, predictive maintenance, remote monitoring including anti-theft measures such as tracking and notifications, and over-the-air (OTA) software updates for the vehicles.

Former Nokia boss Ogi Redzic is in charge of the car maker's drive to launch several autonomous cars by 2020. 

Renault-Nissan bought French Salesforce and Heroku developer Sylpheo last week to develop the new services, which will include car pooling and ride hailing.

The announcement was made at Microsoft's Ignite conference in Atlanta overnight, which also saw the software giant declare October general availability for its upcoming Windows Server 2016 hybrid cloud operating system and the System Centre 2016 management solution for data centres.

Microsoft also released a second technical preview of its Azure Stack hybrid public-private cloud platform.

Azure Stack now comes with queue storage for application messaging and a key vault for managing program secrets, with an app service to be added in the coming weeks, Microsoft said.

The hybrid cloud product requires Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 certified hardware, with a recommended configuration of 128 gigabytes of RAM, four solid state or standard hard drives of 250 GB each, and an operating system disk with a minimum 200 GB system partition; Microsoft recommends a server with two processors for a total of 16 physical cores to go with Azure Stack.

Artificial intelligence boost for Cortana

The Cortana personal digital assistant that debuted in Microsoft's Windows Phone devices and which has since moved to Windows 10 will get new skills such as health insights and reminders.

Microsoft is also rolling out what it said is the largest deployment of custom field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) in 15 countries across five continents to accelerate artificial intelligence to near real-time. 

The company believes the FPGA acceleration could make Azure the foundation of the world's first AI supercomputer.

Microsoft's United States support centres have had an AI-enabled virtual agent deployed to improve customer experience, the company said.

Windows and Office get improved security

Next month will see Microsoft release a range of security features for its Windows 10 operating system and the Office 365 productivity suite.

These include the Windows Defender Application Guard for the Edge web browser, which uses isolated containers built into hardware to prevent malicious code from spreading across employee devices and corporate networks.

Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business will get Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection, with immediate delivery of emails while attachments are being scanned, and URL detonation analysis in real time to identify unknown, malicious links.

Office 365 ATP and its Windows Defender equivalent now share threat intelligence across Windows 10 and Office 365 to improve enterprise security. 

Microsoft also launched the Enterprise Mobility + Security E5 offering at Ignite, available from next month, that expands security to assist with the transition to mobility and cloud, and includes Azure Information Protection to classify and protect sensitive data.

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