Microsoft unveils new cloud services, AI and blockchain tools

Software behemoth Microsoft Corp has unveiled artificial intelligence and blockchain driven software tools which can contribute positively for businesses. The unveiling is not limited to just software but hardware as well. It has released a developer edition of its HoloLens 2 headset as well.

In a significant development, Microsoft Corp announced the release of a set to tools which aim to make the adoption of artificial intelligence and blockchain easier for businesses.

The release of the tools come ahead of its software developer conference next week in Seattle.

While once Microsoft’s top revenue earner was its operating system for personal computers, revenues from cloud-based computing and software services sold to businesses are now its growth engines.

In terms of revenue generation from these streams, Microsoft continues to trail cloud computing leader Amazon.com Inc’s Amazon Web Services. The software behemoth has taken a different approach than Amazon’s and has designed many of its services to run in either Azure data centers, or its customers private data centers, or a combination of the two.

In contrast, Amazon had at first asked customers shift their data to its own servers; however of late, it has also adopted Microsoft’s “hybrid” strategy.

Microsoft also unveiled a new service that helps online retailers recommend products based on the user’s shopping history; the tool can be combined with a retailer’s existing recommendation engine, said Scott Guthrie, who heads Microsoft’s cloud and artificial intelligence division.

“They’re using ours in addition to the existing system they had and seeing some tremendous wins in terms of productivity as part of it,” said Guthrie. “I don’t think it’s going to be necessarily always a winner takes all.”

Significantly, Microsoft is also releasing tools that allows users to make artificial intelligence models without having to write the underlying code. These models can be “trained” using the business owner’s data in Microsoft’s cloud.

Microsoft also released a cloud-based blockchain service. It is collaborating with JP Morgan Chase & Co so that the bank can use the service for it’s Quorum offering.

Apart from the financial industry, Microsoft is also using blockchain in other industries as well. For example, it helped Starbucks Corp build a system which tracks coffee as it moves from farms to stores to a customer’s cup.

“That enables them, from a quality control perspective, to dramatically improve the end-to-end supply chain and deliver a better product,” said Guthrie.

Microsoft also stated, it is releasing a developer edition of its HoloLens 2 headset. The device, aimed at businesses, comes at a price tag of $3,500. It will be particularly helpful for businesses which require safety training and complex repair work.

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