& cplSiteName &

Microsoft Bets Big on AI Future

Mitch Wagner
9/29/2016
50%
50%

Microsoft has missed out on a few Next Big Things in recent years. It's not missing out on the next one.

After humiliating defeats to competitors, including Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Facebook on search, mobile and social, Microsoft has moved on. Under Satya Nadella, named CEO in February 2014, Microsoft has finally regained its industry leadership by betting big on the cloud and making Microsoft Azure a leader in platform-as-a-service -- second place to Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), but making a respectable showing.

Now Microsoft is making a big investment in an emerging technology that lives in the cloud -- artificial intelligence. Microsoft is looking "democratize AI and to make it accessible and valuable to everyone," according to a blog post by Harry Shum, executive vice president of the Microsoft AI and research group.

To that end, Microsoft on Thursday launched a new group led by Shum that will include Microsoft Research, its Information Platform Group, Bing and Cortana product groups, Ambient Computing and Robotics teams -- 5,000 computer scientists and engineers. (See Microsoft Launches AI & Research Group.)

The business unit will be charged with "building an AI stack spanning infrastructure, services, apps, and agent," reaching, consumers, enterprises and developers, Shunn says.

Shum has worked at Microsoft for 20 years, with leadership roles in Microsoft Research and Bing Engineering.

The new group will encompass AI product engineering, basic and applied research and new experiences and technologies (which Microsoft abbreviates as "NExT," not to be confused with NeXT).

Microsoft will take a four-front approach to AI: developing agents such as its digital assistant Cortana; adding intelligence to applications such as phone photo apps, Skype and Office 365; providing AI-as-a-service for application developers; and building an AI infrastructure, including an Azure supercomputer, available to anyone.


Want to know more about the cloud? Visit Light Reading Enterprise Cloud.


Microsoft's competitors and partners are also aggressively in AI. Salesforce has an AI project it calls Einstein; Amazon and Google offer machine learning-as-a-service, along with intelligent personal assistants; and Apple has Siri.

Meanwhile, Microsoft veteran Qi Lu is leaving, following medical problems that arose from a bicycle accident several months ago, according to Recode and other reports. He headed Microsoft's applications and services unit. Many of Lu's duties will be taken over by Rajesh Jha, a corporate VP who has led Outlook and Office 365. Microsoft declined to comment on the reports of Lu's departure.

Related posts:

— Mitch Wagner, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor, Light Reading Enterprise Cloud

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
kq4ym
50%
50%
kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/8/2016 | 2:32:16 PM
Re: AI predicts future
Following up some success while "betting big on the cloud and making Microsoft Azure a leader in platform-as-a-service," it does seem AI would be a logical niche to move forward a bit more as well. Although I've not used Cortana much other than a curiosity so far on my personal computers, I have noticed a continuing promotional stance Microsoft seems to be making to find ways for users to think more about it's use.
Michelle
50%
50%
Michelle,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/30/2016 | 9:52:34 PM
Re: AI predicts future
I'm glad for them. It's always good to see companies catch up after missing so many times in a row.
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
9/30/2016 | 5:58:11 PM
Re: AI predicts future
Michelle - That's key -- getting in early. 

Microsoft succeeded by being a fast follower. It failed in the 2000s and early 2010s by being a slow follower. 

They seem to actually be a leader in AI.
Michelle
50%
50%
Michelle,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/30/2016 | 4:32:44 PM
AI predicts future
At least Microsoft is betting early. As you said, they have been behind in many respects over the years. AI is the future from where we are now -- I wonder what that future will be like at Microsoft. 
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading is spending much of this year digging into the details of how automation technology will impact the comms market, but let's take a moment to also look at how automation is set to overturn the current world order by the middle of the century.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue – London
November 10, 2017, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
November 16, 2017, ExCel Centre, London
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
May 14-17, 2018, Austin Convention Center
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Is US Lurching Back to Monopoly Status?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 10/16/2017
Muni Policies Stymie Edge Computing
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 10/17/2017
'Brutal' Automation & the Looming Workforce Cull
Iain Morris, News Editor, 10/18/2017
Pai's FCC Raises Alarms at Competitive Carriers
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 10/16/2017
Worried About Bandwidth for 4K? Here Comes 8K!
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 10/17/2017
Animals with Phones
Selfie Game Strong Click Here
Latest Comment
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Partner Perspectives - content from our sponsors
The Mobile Broadband Road Ahead
By Kevin Taylor, for Huawei
All Partner Perspectives