Microsoft’s Office 365 suite just got smarter by freeing Genee from its bottle

Outlook.com Office 365
Microsoft’s Rajesh Jha, Corporate Vice President of Outlook and Office 365, said on Monday that the company has acquired scheduling service Genee. Powered by artificial intelligence, this service is expected to make Office 365 more streamlined and intelligent when it comes to scheduling and rescheduling meetings. This is due to Genee’s algorithms that are fine-tuned for decision-making and natural language processing.

Co-founders Ben Cheung and Charles Lee launched Genee in 2014. The service allows users to simply describe what kind of meeting they want, when it should take place, and who should attend. Genee “does the rest,” generating the best time and place to have the meeting, and then inform everyone who is involved. If there’s a conflict with the schedule, Genee will provide a “seamless and simple” way to reschedule a meeting.

Prior to Microsoft’s acquisition, the service supported scheduling through Facebook, Twitter, Skype, email, and messaging chatbots via SMS. For instance, the user may want to schedule a 90-minute lunch with a friend or co-worker next week in his/her office. This individual would issue an overall command to “schedule” the lunch date. This command would also use the “lunch” meeting type as well as a 90-minute “duration,” a “timing” of next week, and a “location” described as the individual’s office.

As the example shows, Genee understands five basic descriptors. If setting up the lunch date through email, the user would load up his email client, add the recipient on the “To” field, and send a carbon copy to Genee. The email would provide the recipient with the user’s intention to set up a lunch meeting next week along with the actual command statement to Genee. In this case, the message to Genee would be “Genee, schedule lunch for 90 minutes with Charles at my office next week.”

Once the email is sent, the recipient will get an email from Genee with options for setting up the ideal time and day for the proposed meeting. All of this can even be set up if the individual is replying to a previous email: he/she can simply add a command in the message body and place Genee’s email address in the carbon copy field.

“With today’s news, I’m excited to welcome the Genee team to Microsoft. As we continue to build new Office 365 productivity capabilities and services our customers value, I’m confident the Genee team will help us further our ambition to bring intelligence into every digital experience,” Jha said on Monday.

Genee’s Charles Lee added that after two and a half years, the Genee servers will be shut down on September 1, 2016. Because of this, users will no longer receive “useful reminders and agendas” from Genee. However, all existing entries created with the Genee calendar will remain intact.

“We thank all of you who participated in Genee’s private and public betas,” Lee said in a recent blog post. “The Genee team will take the valuable experiences and lessons that you taught us to Microsoft, where we’ll continue to build amazing next generation intelligent experiences.”

According to Jha, the entire Genee team is now a part of Microsoft. The scheduling service will be incorporated into Office 365, Microsoft’s subscription-based version of this popular Office suite. A timeline regarding as  to when the acquired scheduling technology will roll out to customers is unknown right now.

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