Microsoft doubles down on cloud data with new products, makes new appeal to Amazon’s rivals

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella introduces the company’s new cloud data products. (Screenshot via webcast)

Microsoft is rolling out new cloud technologies for wrangling, protecting and analyzing large amounts of corporate data, escalating its competition with Google, Snowflake and Amazon in the $25 billion global market for data analytics and business intelligence.

Microsoft said its previously announced Azure Synapse Analytics technology is now generally available, with capabilities including data warehousing, artificial intelligence, security and compliance. The company also announced a preview of a new product, Azure Purview, which automatically discovers data across cloud platforms, on-premises servers and online applications.

Speaking via video at a virtual event, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made an apparent appeal to Amazon’s competitors, without mentioning the company by name. Nadella said it’s important to be able to trust not just a vendor’s technology capabilities and but also its “business model alignment” with its customers.

“No customer wants

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Amazon’s Andy Jassy talks up AWS Outposts, Wavelength as the right edge for hybrid cloud

At the end of a three-hour keynote address for Amazon’s annual re:Invent conference, which is taking place virtually this year, Amazon Web Services chief executive Andy Jassy wrapped up with an extended discussion about edge computing and its role in hybrid computing.

“Hybrid is not just about whether its on-premise or in the cloud,” said Jassy. Instead, IT needs “the same APIs, the same control plane, the same tools, the same hardware they get in AWS regions,” said Jassy. He was referring to Amazon’s AWS Outposts, a rack of equipment deployed at a customer facility that is a fully-managed service from Amazon. 

Jassy said Amazon has made the Outposts offering easier to purchase now with new form factors, 1U and 2U rack units, versus an entire rack-size deployment.

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“Hybrid is not just about whether its on-premise or in the cloud,” said AWS lead executive Andy Jassy in his keynote Tuesday,

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A Heap Of New Details On Amazon’s Lord Of The Rings MMO Have Been Revealed

As part of the acquisition of Leyou by gaming giant Tencent, a number of documents relating to Leyou’s collaboration with Amazon on a Lord Of The Rings MMO have been made public. The documents reveal some juicy new details about a project which, thus far, has been quite secretive.

The documents include a licensing agreement for the Tolkien property, which also makes mention of Lord of the Rings Online, an existing MMO that Amazon’s product will launch in direct competition with. The licensing agreement shows Leyou agreeing to pay over $8 million simply to secure the license for the Middle-earth game.

The documents also include a co-development agreement with Amazon, which involves the broader e-commerce company rather than specifying the gaming-specific Amazon Studios branch.

An amendment to the licensing agreement also includes a production schedule, which shows a rough timeline for the game–though notably the amendment was made prior to

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Amazon’s Channels Platform Will Drop HBO Next Year

Tony Goncalves, Chief Executive Officer of Otter Media, speaks onstage at HBO Max WarnerMedia Investor Day Presentation at Warner Bros. Studios on October 29, 2019, in Burbank, California.

Tony Goncalves, Chief Executive Officer of Otter Media, speaks onstage at HBO Max WarnerMedia Investor Day Presentation at Warner Bros. Studios on October 29, 2019, in Burbank, California.
Photo: Presley Ann (Getty Images)

Starting next year, you won’t find HBO among Amazon’s Prime Video Channels selection anymore, CNBC reports. That was apparently one of WarnerMedia’s conditions in the months-long negotiations to bring its subscription streaming service, HBO Max, to Amazon Fire TV devices.

Once the companies’ current placement deal expires next year, subscribers will have to navigate to the dedicated HBO Max app instead of watching HBO’s library by way of Amazon’s Fire TV interface. The difference may sound negligible, and from a user standpoint, it kind of is. But for WarnerMedia, it’s potentially a huge win. Consolidating access to its content to a single entry point, the HBO Max app, makes it

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What Amazon’s push into pharmacy means for pharmacies, health plans, and startups

Companies like Hims or Ro that prescribe and ship medications to your door could see a slight benefit as getting drugs online goes mainstream, but ultimately could have to compete directly with Amazon.

Hims



Hims


Analysts and experts credit Amazon with ushering in the widespread adoption of e-commerce shopping and selling habits with its Prime two-day shipping. Amazon Pharmacy could create the same seismic shifts in mail-order prescriptions that initially benefit the existing companies in the space, but ultimately leave those companies competing directly with the behemoth.

Direct-to-consumer pharmacies, for example, could benefit as new consumers learn to order prescriptions online for the first time through Amazon. In a way, it proves their business model is a good one, and that widespread adoption is possible, making the private companies more enticing to potential investors. However, customers could have a more established purchasing relationship with Amazon, given the ubiquity of Prime memberships

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Amazon’s Fire TV finally getting HBO Max, months after launch of new streaming service

(Amazon Photo)

Almost six months after the launch of the new HBO Max streaming service, the platform is now coming to Amazon’s Fire TV.

HBO Max will be available starting Tuesday on Fire TV streaming devices, Fire TV Edition smart TVs and Fire Tablets. Customers who have an HBO subscription through Prime Video will have access to HBO Max for no additional cost by logging into the streaming service with their Amazon credentials.

When WarnerMedia rolled out HBO Max in May with a more robust lineup of content than traditional cable HBO, Amazon’s service was noticeably absent from the range of cable providers and tech platforms signed on to host it. HBO Max was developed in part at engineering in offices in Seattle.

Customers can use Amazon Alexa to navigate to the HBO Max app by saying “Alexa, find HBO Max” with Fire TV’s included Alexa Voice Remote or a

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Airbnb’s IPO suggests it could spend $1.2 billion on Amazon’s cloud

  • Airbnb publicly revealed its paperwork for an initial public offering on Monday.
  • The filing revealed the company has a contract with a “data hosting services provider” to spend at least $1.2 billion by 2027.
  • While the filing doesn’t make that provider’s identity explicit, it also says that Airbnb relies “primarily” on Amazon Web Services for cloud computing services to host and deliver the company’s platform.
  • Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky this summer suggested the company was looking for opportunities to “get more efficient” when it came to Amazon Web Services.
  • The company may have reached a deal with AWS to do so. Airbnb said it initially agreed to spend $1.2 billion through 2024, but the data hosting provider agreed to extend the terms until 2027.
  • Are you an Amazon Web Services employee? Contact reporter Ashley Stewart via encrypted messaging app Signal (+1-425-344-8242) or email ([email protected]).
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more
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Amazon’s Inferentia AI Chip Is Ready For Prime Time, Now Powers the Alexa Service

E-commerce and cloud computing giant Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) just announced that the popular Amazon Alexa digital assistant is running on Amazon’s own hardware instead of chips designed by Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA). In a blog post aimed at Amazon Web Services (AWS) developers on November 12, technical evangelist Seb Stormarcq said that “the vast majority” of Alexa’s machine learning workloads now run on Amazon’s AWS Inferentia chips.

What’s new?

To be clear, nothing has changed in the Amazon Echo devices and other Alexa-powered gear you might buy for the holidays. The silicon shift happened on the back end of Alexa’s services, where data is sent over to AWS cloud systems for final processing. Inferentia was explicitly designed to run neural network software, which is how Alexa learns how to interpret spoken commands.

According to Amazon’s early tests, the new Inferentia clusters deliver the same results as Nvidia’s T4 chips, but at 25%

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Amazon’s New Alexa Will Ask You Follow-Up Questions

Illustration for article titled Amazons Alexa Can Now Ask You Follow-Up Questions

Photo: GRANT HINDSLEY / Contributor (Getty Images)

Responding to demands from consumers for “an Alexa, but make it talk even more,” Amazon announced on Wednesday that its latest digital assistant model will be able to infer a user’s “latent goals,” and will use those to pose follow-up questions to users.

If you ask your new Alexa how long it takes to cook an over-easy egg, Alexa will tell you that it takes roughly 1 1/2 minutes—and then ask you if you’d like to set a timer.

According to Amazon, the update involves algorithmic tweaks and a deep learning model that will allow the device to evolve based on its relationship to the user. If you’re asking Alexa about how to cook eggs every morning and always opting to set the timer, Alexa’s discovery model will use active learning to improve its predictions and more accurately

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Amazon’s new Alexa feature uses AI to infer what users really want

Amazon today announced a new Alexa feature for U.S.-based English-language users that enables devices powered by the assistant to infer latent goals, or goals implicit in requests but not directly expressed. For instance, if a user says “How long does it take to steep tea?,” Alexa might follow up with “Five minutes is a good place to start” and the question “Would you like me to set a timer for five minutes?”

According to Amazon, dialog transitions like these require a number of AI algorithms under the hood. A machine learning-based trigger model decides whether to anticipate a latent goal by factoring in aspects of the context including text of a user’s session and whether the user has engaged with Alexa’s suggestions in the past. If the model finds the context suitable, the system suggests an Alexa app to address the latent goal.

Those suggestions are based on relationships learned

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