Some parts of Windows 10 already include artificial intelligence/machine learning to things like letting Cortana and Bing Search answer your questions and recognize your voice, allowing Windows Hello recognize your face, and enabling Windows understand your handwritten input.
But this spring Microsoft will include a brand new API that lets third-party apps leverage your computer’s hardware for machine learning-related tasks. It’s called Windows ML, and it’ll ship with the next major Windows 10 Update, which is expected to be the Redstone 4 release coming this spring.
In a nutshell, Windows ML is a set of tools that lets developers to add pre-trained machine learning models to their apps using visual studio and allow them to run locally on a PC by leveraging a computer’s CPU and GPU resources.
Microsoft may also eventually add support for specialized chips such as Intel’s Movidius hardware, which is designed specifically for machine learning.
Among other things, this could enable apps to use machine learning for things like computer vision. In fact, all of Microsoft’s sample apps for Windows ML are related to computer vision, with examples that use a camera feed to:
- interpret a number drawn by a user
- classify an image
- detect a circuit board defect by examining pictures or real-time camera feeds
There’s nothing stopping developers from coming up with their own ways of integrating AI into their apps, but Microsoft says that using Windows ML enables low-latency, real-time results and integration with Microsoft’s cloud solutions for a combination of on-device and cloud processing.
In a blog post announcing the new AI platform, Microsoft includes quotes from AMD, NVIDIA, and Qualcomm, who are all partnering with the company to ensure the Windows ML platform can use their CPUs and GPUs for hardware-accelerated machine learning.