Microsoft shifts focus to emerging technologies and services…

Microsoft

Since Satya Nadella took over as CEO of Microsoft in 2014, he has consistently emphasized Microsoft’s dedication to thriving in a mobile- and cloud-based world.

This strategy has been very successful for the tech giant in recent years. Microsoft has excelled by collaborating with other companies and platforms to deliver its products and services. This change in strategy has helped the company’s stock increase by more than 275% since 2014.

However, last year, Microsoft announced a new focus.

In Microsoft’s 2017 annual report, the company stated that its mission “is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more,” and to accomplish this mission, Microsoft’s strategy “is to build best-in-class platforms and productivity services for an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge infused with artificial intelligence.”

While Microsoft is still working on the continued development of Azure, its commercial cloud segment, the company has made it clear that it is shifting its focus away from mobile technologies and toward AI.

Microsoft Hires Apple’s Former Head of Siri

In a move that emphasizes its dedication to AI, Microsoft hired Bill Stasior, the former head of Siri at Apple.

The hiring was announced via an update to Stasior’s resume, which can be found on his personal website. His official title is Corporate Vice President of Technology.

Per CNBC, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the hiring. The spokesperson wrote, “Starting in August, he will work to help align technology strategies across the company.”

According to Stasior’s resume, he was the VP of AI at Apple. During his time there, he led the team responsible for Siri, from 70 to over 1,100 people, and helped bring modern machine learning to Apple and Siri. Under Stasior’s direction, Siri grew from five languages and one platform to seven platforms and more than 30 languages.

Though neither Microsoft nor Stasior has made a statement on the hiring, it’s likely that Microsoft will utilize Stasior’s expertise to improve its own AI technologies like Cortana, the company’s own virtual assistant.

Focusing on AI

This hiring is only one of many moves Microsoft has made as part of its efforts to focus on AI.

Over the past year, Microsoft has made a number of AI-related acquisitions, including Bonsai, Lobe, and Semantic Machines. Each of which can help Microsoft advance the current state of AI development.

And more recently, Microsoft invested in and partnered with Elon Musk’s OpenAI project.

In a press release, OpenAI stated, “Microsoft is investing $1 billion in OpenAI to support us building artificial general intelligence (AGI) with widely distributed economic benefits.” The company continued, “We’re partnering to develop a hardware and software platform within Microsoft Azure which will scale to AGI. We’ll jointly develop new Azure AI supercomputing technologies, and Microsoft will become our exclusive cloud provider.”

The two companies believe that, together, they’ll be able to develop technology that is much more complex and powerful than current artificial intelligence.

Through hirings, acquisitions, and partnerships like these, it seems that Microsoft’s current priority is to be at the forefront of the future technology landscape.

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