MICROSOFT HAS JOINED FORCES with retail giant Walmart in a bid to better rival shared rival Amazon.
The two companies have signed a five-year agreement, which will see Walmart use Microsoft's cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, in order to make shopping "faster and easier" for its customers.
The partnership brings together Amazon's main rivals in retail and cloud computing and reinforces Walmart's decision to commit to e-commerce.
Walmart, a traditional bricks-and-mortar retailer, has recently warmed to working with technology companies as it works to defend itself against Amazon. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that this shared rivalry was "absolutely core" to the new agreement.
Engineers from both firms will work together to move hundreds of existing applications to a cloud-native environment, as well as migrating a 'significant portion' of Walmart's walmart.com and samsclub.com websites to Azure.
Walmart already uses Microsoft services for several applications and workloads. Through the partnership, it will expand this to new projects that include machine learning, AI and data platform solutions for both customer-facing services and internal business applications.
The retailer is already building a worldwide IoT platform on Azure, which will run devices including air conditioners and refrigerators. It will also use machine learning on several projects, such as routing vehicles in the supply chain.
News of Microsoft and Walmart's partnership comes just weeks after rumours claimed the two companies could be working together in a bid to emulate Amazon's successful cashierless 'Amazon Go' model.
Reports claim Microsoft has already sought a patent and is in discussions with retail giant Walmart, along with other retailers, about a potential collaboration. Redmond's team is said to include a former Amazon Go developer who is working on a way of using the shopping trolley as a camera mount for watching the products being picked up. µ
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