EU Antitrust Fined Microsoft $731M for IE9 BCO; Win Free Office 365 via Hunt for Office

TechForum lifts the veil on Microsoft's vision of Future Technology. Kinect powered brain scan augmented reality for neurosurgeons. EU fined $731m for BCO non-compliance. NFC-enabled Office 365 "Hunt for Office" challenge.

Microsoft recently was finded $731 million by the European Commission for failing to provide a Browser Choice Screen to Windows 7 --stating that Microsoft had broken its promise to offer Internet Explorer alternatives between May 2011 and July 2012.

"Legally binding commitments reached in antitrust decisions play a very important role in our enforcement policy because they allow for rapid solutions to competition problems," Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia was quoted as saying by Reuters.

"Of course, such decisions require strict compliance. A failure to comply is a very serious infringement that must be sanctioned accordingly," he added.

Microsoft in a press release said that it take full responsibility for the technical error that caused this problem and have apologized for it.

"We provided the Commission with a complete and candid assessment of the situation, and we have taken steps to strengthen our software development and other processes to help avoid this mistake - or anything similar - in the future," the company wrote.

In other news, at the TechFest 2013, Microsoft's strategic and technical vision for the future was discussed, and the demos reveal the new world of "Intelligent Technology."

The annual event is hosted by Craig Mundie, senior advisor to the CEO, and Eric Rudder, Microsoft's chief technical strategy officer.

In the video below Mundie is at Microsoft's brand-new Envisioning Center:

This year's focus is on designing better data analytics and visualization tools, and there was an amazing example of this on display called "SketchInsight," an interactive whiteboard system, for example "is an evolution of Sketch Vis whiteboarding and data analysis project that has been updated to include incorporation of touch and pen NUI input."

Check the video below:

Finally, "Hunt for Office," a new Microsoft Australia's campaign showing off 34 NFC-enabled Office 365 digital ad screens located in major shopping centers.

The challenge has 70 free "hidden" one-year subscriptions copies of Office 365 Home Premium subscription valued at $119 for you to find.

Their exact location within each facility is not disclosed--participants will have to hunt the ad on their own. Once the ad has been located, the first five people of each day over the two-week campaign who either tap the NFC tag or scan the QR code and complete the registration form will instantly win an Office 365 subscription sent to their email.

Windows Office 365 Home Premium via Hunt for Office in Australia

According to a new study commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by IDC reveals that the pirated softwares infected with malwares "costs consumers to spend 1.5 billion hours and US$22 billion identifying, repairing and recovering from the impact of malware," while global enterprises will spend US$114 billion to deal with the impact of a malware-induced cyberattack.

Update 03/08: Microsoft Research demostrated FetchClimate, a browser-based tool that lets you access and visualize all sorts of climate and atmospheric data from around the world in a Bing Maps interface.

In another project, a prototype for a browser-based probability engine that could use all of that climate data to make predictions about weather patterns, forest fires and other atmospheric conditions--is developed by Drew Purves and Vassily Lyutsarev.

Watch the video below:

Also, demostrated is the Kinect Fusion tool that pulls depth data generated by the Kinect for Windows sensor and, from the sequence of frames, constructs a highly detailed 3-D map of objects or environments. It averages readings over hundreds or even thousands of frames to create a rich level of detail.

"The amazing thing about this solution is how you can take an off-the-shelf Kinect for Windows sensor and create 3-D models rapidly," said Shahram Izadi, senior researcher at MSR Cambridge. "Normally when you think of Kinect, you think of a static sensor in a living room. But with Kinect Fusion, we allow the user to hold the camera, explore their space, and rapidly scan the world around them."

When scanning smaller objects, you also have the option to simply move the object instead of the sensor.

Kinect Fusion
Kinect Fusion, shown during TechFest 2013, enables high-quality scanning and reconstruction of 3-D models using just a handheld Kinect for Windows sensor and the Kinect for Windows SDK.

You can download Kinect for Windows SDK.

Update 03/11: According to a report Microsoft is working on a medical technology based on Kinect Fusion, and that could be used by neurosurgeons to look inside a patient's brain and thus locate tumors before stepping into the operating room.

At TechFest, Ben Glocker demoed a prototype system that "would allow neurosurgeons to prepare for surgery by looking inside a patient's brain before they cut it open. Doctors could see the skeleton, brain, blood vessels, and the targeted tumor on a tablet--which they can move around the patient's head--helping them to plot the best brain surgery path," reveals reports.

Of course, Surface tablets would be used to analyze the generated data and see the skeleton, brain, blood vessels and the tumors, which would give doctors more time to outline their approach before the surgery.