In March, when Microsoft’s Tay.ai chatbot debuted, the Internet was different. For a few hours, maybe a day, Tay’s forced Millennial edginess made her the butt of jokes, and that was okay.
The tone changed rather quickly when white supremacists taught Tay to repeat anything they said. In retrospect, Microsoft’s Tay.ai was as good a metaphor for 2016’s Internet as you’re likely to find: an innocent device corrupted by the alt-right, transformed into a tool for misogyny and hatred. Microsoft promised to bring Tay back when Microsoft could fix her “vulnerability,” but that hasn’t happened. Instead, Microsoft tried again with a chatbot named Zo, smartly keeping politics out of the discussion.
To sum up: we’d say that 2016 was the year that the market judged Microsoft’s 2015 promise of a ubiquitous Windows ecosysem—and judged it rather harshly, in places. But we’re still seeing strong signals from Redmond that it plans to lead in both consumer gaming and in its Surface tablets during 2017, with services sealing up any gaps left in the device landscape.