Microsoft reorganizes to concentrate on AI and the cloud

Posted Mar 30, 2018 by Ken Hanly
Microsoft announced another large reorganization today as the company will unify its Artificial Intelligence (AI) and core Windows Operating System into just one team. Terry Myerson, head of the Windows team and a 21-year company veteran is leaving.
However, overall Windows will be split into two teams. One team will be headed by Scott Guthrie who will be in charge of what is called the platform team. The AI platform work will also be part of this team's work. The second team will be headed by Harry Shum who will lead an engineering team AI + Research that will focus on tech advances that could be used in future Microsoft products.
New separate division
The new "Experiences and Devices" division will deal with Windows client releases that are seen on laptops, first party apps, Office 365, and Surface hardware. Rajesh Jha will lead this team. The team wont handle the core parts of the Windows platform but the experiences added to it. This is part of Microsoft's vision of its future: clever modes running on clever hardware.
CEO sees a bright future for Microsoft
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella claims that Microsoft has a bright future. Nadella appears to be focusing the company core Windows effort, Azure and Internet of Thins (IoT) devices into a team that would embody Artificial Intelligence into them.
Microsoft Azure is described by Wikipedia as follows: "Microsoft Azure (formerly Windows Azure) /ˈæʒər/ is a cloud computing service created by Microsoft for building, testing, deploying, and managing applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed data centers. It provides software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and supports many different programming languages, tools and frameworks, including both Microsoft-specific and third-party software and systems." Azure lists over 600 services that it provides.
Microsoft is also creating a new AI and Ethics in Engineering and Research Committee (AETHER) to handle AI issues in what the company terms " a responsible manner".
The company is to emphasize its future AI and cloud business, enterprise services and AI. The company will need to balance out this new focus on the Cloud with consumer's and enterprises' operating system needs.
CEO Satya Nadella set out the company focus in a memo to employees. Part of the memo reads: "Over the past year, we have shared our vision for how the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge will shape the next phase of innovation. First, computing is more powerful and ubiquitous from the cloud to the edge. Second, AI capabilities are rapidly advancing across perception and cognition fueled by data and knowledge of the world. Third, physical and virtual worlds are coming together to create richer experiences that understand the context surrounding people, the things they use, the places they go, and their activities and relationships."
Intelligent edge
Techopedia explains the intelligent edge as follows: "With an intelligent edge, remote or decentralized nodes of a system are empowered to do different kinds of data handling that may have traditionally been handled at a central point in a system. Specifically with IoT, a classical model of routing all of the many streams of data from IoT-connected devices into a central data warehouse or repository has several distinct disadvantages. It may be inefficient, and, if the data is not encrypted, it can also leave the system inherently more vulnerable.
In an intelligent edge setup, the edge network components or nodes can process the data intelligently, possibly bundling, refining or encrypting it for transit into the data warehouse. This can improve the agility of data-handling systems, as well as their safety. Many cloud providers and other companies knowledgeable about the structure and nature of IoT are recommending the use of an intelligent edge for these reasons."
Intelligent cloud
The intelligent cloud is discussed in great detail in a recent Forbes article. The article claims that the Intelligent Cloud is about getting more insight that will lead to more favorable business outcomes and says: "Line-of-business leaders across all industries want more from their cloud apps than they are getting today. They want the ability to gain greater insights with prescriptive and cognitive analytics. They’re also asking for new apps that give them the flexibility of changing selling behaviors quickly. In short, everyone wants to get to the orchestration layer of the maturity model, and many are stuck staring into a figurative rearview mirror, using just descriptive data to plan future strategies. The future of enterprise cloud computing is all about being able to deliver prescriptive and cognitive intelligence."
Recent updates to Windows 10
There were two big updates to Windows last year that concentrated on Mixed Reality, creating in 3D pain, and pen/touch improvements. Universal Windows Apps were supposed to be the future of Windows with the apps working across many devices. It looks now as if the future lies in its Cloud and AI efforts while the company also tries to adapt to a future in which PCs are much different than now.
Terry Merson's leaving memo to the Windows division
Merson's full memo can be read here. He supports the vision and new orientation of Microsoft under the leadership of Satya Nadella saying: "Satya’s leadership and insight in defining a Microsoft 365 experience, built on top of an intelligent edge/intelligent cloud platform is inspiring. I believe in it, and that these changes are great for Microsoft. Change can be invigorating for us all and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to work with Satya on helping define this new structure. I will be around as we work through this transition, and then I will continue to root on Satya and this team every day."
Microsoft Office 365 is the brand name Microsoft uses for a group of subscriptions that provide productivity software and related services.