Strongly typed documents, move aside—Microsoft Fluid is coming
Microsoft is getting ready to make some extremely big changes in Office. Ars spoke Monday with Rob Howard, VP of the Microsoft 365 Foundation team at the Ignite conference in Orlando, and he gave us some pretty eye-opening demonstrations.
The first thing Howard showed us was Microsoft’s new collaborative technology framework, Fluid. Fluid is a low-level platform available to developers who want to create extremely low-latency (under 20ms, network connection permitting) collaborative experiences that scale to hundreds or even thousands of simultaneous collaborators. Instead of just seeing a cursor hopping sporadically around a page and entire sentences appearing or disappearing every few seconds, one collaborator can see another typing into a document in real time, letter by letter.
It’s reasonable to wonder why you’d want such a collaborative platform to scale to thousands of users, and Howard posed exactly that hypothetical question. The idea of document-based performance art immediately sprang to mind—but Howard had a different answer. This kind of massive scale makes it easy for AI to collaborate directly alongside humans, in many of the same ways that humans might—and he showed us a demo of typing into a Word document, with AI routines translating the text in real time into eight different languages simultaneously.