Along with the announcements about big data and insights, Microsoft today released the preview of a powerful new Azure service: Microsoft Azure Automation. With Azure Automation, Microoft has combined the scalability, reliability, and availability of the Azure platform with the management capabilities of System Center. Azure Automation looks and functions similarly online in Azure as SMA does on-prem in the Windows Azure Pack – but it has been built specifically for cloud-based app/workload management. This means that you can automate the management of your public cloud resources using PowerShell, without an on-prem connection at any point in the process. And because Azure Automation operates as a service, there’s no installation, configuration, or maintenance of the service necessary to get (and stay) up and running. Azure Automation allows for powerful integration, automation, and orchestration that has until now been nearly impossible to do at scale: Integrate: Build new and import existing Windows ...

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Back in January, Microsoft announced the purchase of home automation startup R2 Studios and they absorbed some of the talent of the startup into their management. R2 Studios had several important home automation patents, and their technology was expected to be integrated into products at Microsoft’s Xbox Division at that time. Earlier this month, lots of information on Microsoft’s upcoming Cortana personal assistant leaked online. First, it was reported that Cortana will be the personal AI agent on Windows Phone devices that will come with Windows Phone Blue. Later, Mary Jo Foley from ZDNet reported that Cortana is more than a Windows Phone app. Cortana will be a shell that will be found on future Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox One operating systems. Cortana will be more than just an app that lets users interact with their phones more naturally using voice commands. Cortana is core to the makeover of the entire “shell” — the core services ...

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