Microsoft is building a new foundational layer on top of SharePoint, the Office 365 substrate, Azure, Microsoft's machine-learning infrastructure in order to improve users' experiences when using its productivity cloud.
Microsoft refers to its online 365 set of solutions as a "productivity cloud", and is positioning Office 365 as a layer called the "substrate," which is Microsoft's customer data platform.
Microsoft is now trying to create a large-scale distributed platform, or foundation on top of SharePoint, the Office 365 substrate, Azure, Microsoft's machine-learning infrastructure and more.
MeTAOS, also known by abbreviation 'Taos', according to Mary Jo Foley, is Microsoft's attempt to advance the substrate vision and messaging by emphasizing how its AI technology will make it more useful across all of the platforms where Office 365 apps currently work.
MeTAOS is not an operating system like Windows or Linux. It is actually a layer that Microsoft wants to develop to leverage user data in the underlay to make user experience and user-centric applications smarter and more proactive.
A few of Microsoft's job vacancies reveal some details about this new foundation layer.
A job description for a Principal Engineering Manager for Taos mentions the foundational layer:
"We aspire to create a platform on top of that foundation - one oriented around people and the work they want to do rather than our devices, apps, and technologies. This vision has the potential to define the future of Microsoft 365 and make a dramatic impact on the entire industry."
A related SharePoint/MeTA job description adds some additional context:
"We are excited about transforming our customers into 'AI natives,' where technology augments their ability to achieve more with the files, web pages, news, and other content that people need to get their task done efficiently by providing them timely and actionable notifications that understands their intents, context and adapts to their work habits."
In short, MeTAOS could be the next step along the Office 365 substrate path. MeTAOS is about making available more broadly the "intelligence" into Microsoft's intelligent substrate via a new foundational layer that builds on top of the substrate and other core Microsoft technologies. Also, it would provide extension options for third-party developers, that allow them to integrate their solutions with Office 365, which is now exclusvely built around Microsoft's own solutions like Bing, OneDrive, and Outlook.
Finally, MeTAOS may be connected with a new Fuild framework, a new technology that allows integrating ready-to-use app components that receive updates independently. Its document model will allow authors and creators to "deconstruct content into collaborative building blocks." In turn, these building blocks can be used across applications and combined into new and more flexible kinds of documents. The Fluid Framework also will allow content authors to work with intelligent agents, which can perform tasks like translating text, fetching content, suggesting edits and more
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