Microsoft gets into the prediction game

Microsoft will soon offer a service aimed at making machine-learning technology more widely usable which will mean that it can stick its foot in the door of predictive technology.

Apparently the prediction game has gone beyond slicing open a ram while facing the Alban hills but for computer programming to do it, the developers need skills in machine learning.

Eron Kelly, Microsoft corporate vice president and director SQL Server marketing, said Microsoft Azure Machine Learning will be launched in beta in July.

“The line of business owners and the marketing teams really want to use data to get ahead, but data volumes are getting so large that it is difficult for businesses to sift through it all,” Kelly said.

Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence, and it uses algorithms so that computers recognise behaviour in large and streaming data sets. It can be superior to traditional forms of business intelligence in that it offers a way to predict future events and behaviour based on past actions.

The technology has caught on for business uses such as credit card fraud detection. Microsoft uses the technology to refine its Cortana personal phone assistant, as well as to plan how much hardware it will need to continue to build its Azure hosted computer services.

Microsoft’s goal is to simplify the process of using machine learning, so it can be easily used by a wider set of developers, business analysts and data scientists. The service is aimed at “combining the power of machine learning with the simplicity of the cloud,” Kelly said.

Vole wants to provide it as a service which will mean companies will not have to buy expensive hardware to give the project a try. The company has also worked to simplify the process of deploying machine-learning algorithms and associated tools.

The service will also have a software development kit for integrators and third-party software developers who wish to build their own services and applications from Azure ML.

Azure ML has been in private beta for the past year with select customers. With the help of Microsoft systems builder Max 451, one large retail firm has used the service to predict what individual customers will likely buy next.