Microsoft has unveiled a new cloud-based machine learning platform called Azure ML, which enables companies to use cloud to build applications based on big data and predict future events.
Aimed at acquiring more customers in the 'hot' field of machine-learning, Azure ML had been in a trial period for about a year.
The product is designed to enable companies to launch predictive applications much more quickly than traditional development methods. It also allows customers to publish APIs and web services on top of the Azure ML platform.
Microsoft is touting the product's ability to build big data applications to predict, forecast and change future outcomes as a gamechanger.
Joseph Sirosh, Microsoft corporate vice president, said, "Traditional data analysis let you predict the future. Machine learning lets you change the future."
Sirosh cites few examples such as users will be able to forecast demand, predict disease outbreaks, and even predict and prevent crime, which sounds straight out of sci-fi movie scenarios.
Microsoft has banked on the cloud as the big change agent as it offers scalability and takes care of most of the groundwork required to be done by companies if the work is done in-house in a data center.
"The cloud solves the last mile problem. Before a service like this, you needed data scientists to identify the data set, then have IT build an application to support that. This last part often took weeks or months to code and engineer at scale," Sirosh added.
The product also supports more than 300 packages from the open source project R used by many data scientists. Microsoft is hoping that more people will use the platform to generate more APIs.
The firm cited few examples where Azure ML is being used such as Max 451, which is working with large retailers to help predict which products customers are most likely to purchase; and Carnegie Mellon University which is hoping to reduce energy costs in campus buildings by predicting and mitigating activities.
Microsoft will offer a public preview of the service, which was code-named Project Passau, in July.
IBM launched Watson as a cloud service last winter for similar types of machine learning application building. A startup called Ersatz Labs also launched a deep learning artificial intelligence cloud platform last week, reports techcrunch.com.