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Microsoft doubles down on artificial intelligence in engineering reorganization

30 March 2018

After dropping the bombshell that head of Windows development will be departing from Microsoft, the Windows team manages to keep the wheels of progress greased and running as they seed build 17634 to Skip Ahead Insider participants. The new setup aims to leverage Microsoft's strongest businesses, like its Azure cloud service and Office 365 subscription software, while Windows gets deemphasized. The goal of the the newly created "Windows and Devices Group" was, in the CEO's words, to "propel the Windows ecosystem forward" and "drive Windows as a service across devices of all types" to increase hardware sales. Nadella has selected Rajesh Jha, executive vice president of the Office 365 group, to lead it.

A few years ago when Satya Nadella first took over Microsoft, the company went through a major internal shakeup and formed the Windows and Devices Group, just ahead of the launch for Windows 10. A couple of units that are now part of Microsoft's AI + Research group are going to be moving into Guthrie's new organization. Microsoft wouldn't say how many people work on AI + Research today.

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That move, said Patrick Moorhead, an independent analyst, is Microsoft's effort to show it is "serious about the broader implications of A.I." at a time of rising concern about the technology's influence on people's behavior and as a threat to jobs. That division is also taking responsibility for some of Microsoft's virtual reality and augmented reality development and products. Last year, Microsoft laid the groundwork created to make Windows part of a recurring subscription business via Microsoft 365, which is a bundle of Windows 10, Office 365, and elements of the Enterprise Security + Mobility service.

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This has pushed Microsoft to focus on the Internet cloud, Artificial Intelligence, and services for connected "Internet of Things" devices. He will continue to work on the HoloLens while also leading a new team called AI Perception & Mixed Reality Services, which will be part of Guthrie's organization.

On Thursday, Nadella unveiled his latest overhaul of Microsoft's organizational structure with several key themes emerging from the changes. Cloud AI Platform Corporate VP Joseph Sirosh will join this new group, as well.

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Microsoft doubles down on artificial intelligence in engineering reorganization