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Microsoft adds machine learning to Azure to bolster analytics

Watch out Watson
Tue Jun 17 2014, 14:42
A single cloud floating in a clear blue sky

MICROSOFT HAS UNVEILED a machine learning platform to rival IBM's Watson supercomputer, with an eye to bringing supercomputing to larger audiences.

Azure ML is a cloud-based service designed to bring predictive analytics to big data, using the algorithms designed for other services such as Bing and Xbox.

The service has been in private preview for around 100 external clients and Microsoft departments, and is expected to roll out in a public preview next month, with a full release soon.

Microsoft is hoping to make Azure ML more affordable than its rivals. Eron Kelly, general manager for Microsoft's Data Platform told our sister site V3, "Watson is an IBM Global Services project, it's about 'open up your cheque book' because it's going to be a pretty expensive arrangement, whereas this is a cloud-based service where with a credit card you can fire up the service and start to get the power of machine learning very easily."

Azure will be provided with the ability to use application programming interface (API) calls to connect their systems to the Azure Cloud.

Customers will be able to select from a range of predetermined algorithms or use the R programming language to create their own.

With IBM's Watson having already proved its gameshow credentials through its triumphant appearance on Jeopardyin the US, we look forward to the first all-supercomputer gameshow faceoff. We wonder how the two would fare on finding the least popular correct answers on the BBC show Pointless.

Microsoft recently bought Greenbutton, a company specialising in creating cloud applications without recoding, to bolster the Azure service. µ


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