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
John Chambers is still as passionate about business and innovation as he ever was at Cisco, finds Steve Saunders.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
June 26, 2018, Nice, France
September 12, 2018, Los Angeles, CA
September 24-26, 2018, Westin Westminster, Denver
October 9, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
October 17, 2018, Chicago, Illinois
October 23, 2018, Georgia World Congress Centre, Atlanta, GA
November 7-8, 2018, London, United Kingdom
November 8, 2018, The Montcalm by Marble Arch, London
November 15, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
December 4-6, 2018, Lisbon, Portugal
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
NFV Is Down but Not Out
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/22/2018
What VeloCloud Cost VMware
Phil Harvey, US News Editor, 5/21/2018
Trump Denies ZTE Deal, Faces Senate Backlash
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/22/2018
5G in the USA: A Post-BCE Update
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/23/2018
Here Comes DOCSIS 4.0
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 5/22/2018
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

A CSP's digital transformation involves so much more than technology. Crucial – and often most challenging – is the cultural transformation that goes along with it. As Sigma's Chief Technology Officer, Catherine Michel has extensive experience with technology as she leads the company's entire product portfolio and strategy. But she's also no stranger to merging technology and culture, having taken a company — Tribold — from inception to acquisition (by Sigma in 2013), and she continues to advise service providers on how to drive their own transformations. This impressive female leader and vocal advocate for other women in the industry will join Women in Comms for a live radio show to discuss all things digital transformation, including the cultural transformation that goes along with it.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed