How connected cars are driving Microsoft’s fastest growing business – CNBC

Microsoft’s Azure cloud business almost doubled last quarter, thanks in part to automakers turning to enhanced machine learning technology to improve driver safety.

BMW, Renault-Nissan, Toyota and Ford are all using Microsoft’s cloud technology to help with services like driver assist, predictive maintenance and voice-controlled media. There are also alerts in case bad weather is ahead or if an accident has caused a traffic jam and perhaps the driver should take a detour.

“The car is like a rolling computer, capturing all kinds of data,” said Judson Althoff, executive vice president of Microsoft’s worldwide commercial business, in an interview on Friday at CNBC’s San Francisco bureau. “All that data is coming back to Azure, where we apply machine learning and artificial intelligence to help auto manufacturers make cars better and safer.”

Microsoft said on Thursday that revenue at Azure, which competes with Amazon Web Services, surged 93 percent in the fiscal second quarter, driving 8 percent growth in the intelligent cloud unit to $6.9 billion. Microsoft shares rose 2.1 percent as of mid-day on Friday to $65.62 after earnings topped analysts’ estimates.

AWS still dominates the cloud infrastructure business with 45 percent of the market, more than double the share of Microsoft, Google and IBM combined, according to Synergy Research Group.

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