IoT & AI Are Key to Microsoft's Cloud


By: R. Scott Raynovich

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) figured prominently in technology announcements from Microsoft's (MSFT) Build developers conference in Seattle this week.

Microsoft is focused on connecting all types of devices -- ranging from your car to your smartphone and connected speakers, according to Microsoft's chief marketing officer, Chris Capossela. He estimates that the number of connected devices will grow to 25 billion in the next few years.

In addition, Capossela said that AI is a key technology for the cloud. "We really believe artificial intelligence has the ability to amplify human ingenuity and we're so excited to see what the developers do with our AI to create amazing things we haven't even thought of," he told NHK World in Japan.

Microsoft is going head-to-head against Amazon in the cloud. So much of its strategy is built around building Cortana, its virtual assistant, to rival Amazon's Alexa. Microsoft's Build announcements revolved around making it easier for developers to tie in Cortana to their own AI apps and devices.

For example, Microsoft announced an expanded set of developer tools that it calls the Bot Framework, to enable developers to make use of Cortana AI technology. Microsoft announced that HP and Intel will build Cortana-enabled devices using the Bot Framework model.

Engadget points out that one of Microsoft's goals is to own the living room with AI.

But are bots and Cortana mainstream yet? An article in USA Today points out that bot uptake has been slow so far. And it's clear that Amazon's Alexa has far more visibility.

You can watch Microsoft's Build keynote here.