Microsoft Execs Tout Strength of Company’s Cloud, Gaming, Security Initiatives

Microsoft’s cloud, cybersecurity and interactive gaming initiatives are firing on all cylinders as the company continues to benefit from the increasing strength of software and cloud services, according to company executives speaking at three separate conferences Dec. 4-5.

“We now live in a world that runs on software: A world where code drives the experiences we interact with on a day-to-day basis — not just in our phones or on the web, but with everything,” Scott Guthrie, EVP of Microsoft’s Cloud + AI Platform, said Dec. 4 during a keynote called “Stay Productive with Azure and Visual Studio” at the Microsoft Azure + AI Conference that was held in conjunction with the Microsoft Connect conference in Las Vegas.

“Our cars, our homes and our work environments now run pretty much entirely using software,” Guthrie said. And that, he said, is “what makes it such an exciting time to be a developer right now and to be able to build apps and solutions that can have an amazing impact on people’s lives.”

More than 95% of Fortune 500 companies are now using Azure cloud services, he told attendees. Customers include BMW, Ford, General Electric, Honeywell, Mazda, Samsung, Toyota and Walmart, according to Microsoft. Azure now has 54 data centers globally, Guthrie noted.

During the conference, Microsoft announced the availability of Azure Machine Learning, a cloud service that, it said, “enables developers and data scientists to quickly and easily build, train, and deploy machine learning models.” Using the service, companies can, among other things, “build models faster with automated machine learning,” it said.

Providing an update on Microsoft Visual Studio, the company’s integrated development environment that’s used to create computer programs, apps, websites and services, Guthrie said, “we now have over 12 million active developers using these tools on a monthly basis.” He added: “We’re regularly improving all these tools with frequent updates and releases.”

On the latter front, he announced Microsoft’s making available the first preview of Visual Studio 19 and releasing it simultaneously for Windows and Mac. It’s “our next major update of the Visual Studio ID and includes a ton of great new capabilities,” including improved code editing through the use of artificial intelligence, he said.

Gaming, meanwhile, “really fits into our intelligent edge/intelligent cloud strategy” at Microsoft, Phil Spencer, its EVP of gaming, said Dec. 5 at the Barclays Global Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference in San Francisco. After all, he said: “Almost all games that are built today rely on an intelligent cloud in some way to deliver the services to their customers across all devices.

And “games are probably the number one form of entertainment on any edge device that a consumer owns – whether it’s a phone, whether it’s a PC, obviously whether it’s a game console,” he said. The size of the game market is enormous, with more than 2 billion gamers globally, he noted, adding that “half of the connected world plays video games,” he said. The game business also accounts for $150 billion a year in revenue and that’s “growing double digits,” he said.

Microsoft has “largely accomplished’ its original “mission,” which was to make sure there’s “a PC on every desk and in every home,” Ron Markezich, corporate VP of Microsoft 365 Commercial, said a day earlier at the Wells Fargo Tech Summit in Park City, Utah.

The company’s mission later shifted to “help every person, help every organization on the planet achieve more,” he said, adding Microsoft today “runs on trust, especially as we move to cloud services.”
When it comes to customers using Microsoft Cloud services now, “it’s not a question of whether they’ll go there or not – it’s a question of when,” he told attendees. What’s helped drive that has been increased comfort with security in the cloud, he said, explaining: “In the past, 10 years ago, customers” often said they were reluctant to sacrifice security by moving to the cloud.

But, “now they say, ‘I’ve got to move to the cloud to get the secure environment I need.’ The mindset certainly has changed.” That shift in thinking came after several high-profile hacks 5-6 years ago, he said.