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June 14, 2018updated 21 Jul 2022 9:08am

Microsoft Pushing Into Retail Tech

Microsoft's Office 365 updates will be rolled out over the next several months.

By Umar Hassan

Microsoft is developing systems that track what shoppers add to their carts, showcasing technology to retailers globally, and has held talks with Walmart about potential collaboration, those close to the project have told Reuters.

The move would pit the software giant against Amazon and a range of rapidly growing retail technology firms like Trax, which uses machine learning and image recognition to track stock and place on shelf for manufacturers and retailers.

Chip giant Intel has also invested heavily in retail technology.

Microsoft’s efforts thus far have fallen under its Business AI team, with 10 to 15 people  working on a wide range of retail store technologies that have been presented to CEO Satya Nadella, sources told the wire agency.

Questions remain about the extent to which consumers would favour a checkout-free store, like that piloted by Amazon in Seattle.

Research conducted by online payments specialists Paysafe in April 2018, found that 59% of UK consumers consider checkout-free stores too risky. Just 11 percent said they would welcome till-less stores.

Also New from Microsoft

While the automated shop technology may be some way from market, the company this week also rolled out a host of updates to Office 365.

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These included:

Simplifying the Ribbon

Most users have come to expect with Office the familiar three-line ribbon on top of Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

Microsoft is updating the ribbon from three-lines to one line in which Microsoft said in a blog post yesterday is helping “users focus on their work and collaborate naturally with others”.

Users will have the option to revert to the classic Office ribbon with one click if they need to dedicate more screen space to interacting with the commands.

Recently, the web version of Word is the first app to have the new experience rolled out with Outlook receiving a simplified ribbon by July.

Microsoft Word Web version

Credit: Microsoft

Colours and Icons with added Search

Alongside the simplified ribbon users have come to expect, apps across Office 365 will be able to new colours and icons being built as “scalable graphics”.

The web version of Word will be incorporating this into with select insiders receiving the new colours and icons in Word, Excel and PowerPoint later on in June.

Search will be an important part of the Microsoft Office 365 experience with “zero-query search”.

Zero-query search allows users to place a cursor in the search box, which brings up recommendations powered by AI and Microsoft Graph.

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