Microsoft announces AI Platform for developers coming to Windows 10

As part of its latest Developer Day event, Microsoft announced a new AI platform coming in the next version of Windows 10. While Microsoft already uses AI in a number of smaller ways across Windows, the company says its AI platform will give developers the tools to easily take advantage of AI and machine learning with their apps.

The AI platform will allow developers to tap into pre-trained machine learning models to bring AI smarts to their apps using the new Windows ML API. Further, the platform allows developers to move AI processing to be performed locally, rather than shifting the workload to the cloud. This will allow for real-time analysis using the local device's own hardware, which could cut down on latency, as well as server costs and bandwidth.

Windows ML will eventually be enabled across all Windows 10 versions, and it will work with Universal Windows Platform and Win32 apps, Microsoft says. Additionally, Windows ML will be supported across a range of device families and types, including PCs, HoloLens, servers, and eventually even Xbox One. Microsoft's AI acceleration efforts are bolstered by partnerships with hardware makers, including Intel, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and AMD. In particular, Intel says it is working with Microsoft to enable Windows ML support for its Movidius Myriad X Vision Processing Unit (VPU), a system-on-chip built specifically to handle AI and deep learning tasks.

"Our ML model evaluation is tuned for efficiency across the diverse silicon that runs Windows," said Kam VedBrat, Group Program Manager for the Windows AI Team. "By using instruction set optimizations on modern CPUs, hardware acceleration on GPUs that support DirectX 12, and a driver model for purpose-built AI processors in the future, we deliver performance and efficiency on the broadest range of form factors."

In addition to the Windows AI Platform, Microsoft says that Open Neural Network Exchange (ONNX), an open format for machine learning models, will get added support with Visual Studio. With Visual Studio Preview 15.7, developers can now load ONNX files in UWP projects, allowing it to automatically generate a model for the project.

For more, from the latest Developer Day, you can follow along with Microsoft's live stream.

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