“Microsoft Seeks an Edge in Analyzing Big Data”

The New York Times released an interesting article yesterday, 29 OCT 2012 on Big Data

Eric Horivitz entered the Microsoft research team as an MD with a Ph.D. in Computer science. His goal was to build a predictive software that could get continually smarter, and 20 years later, he is just months from achieving that goal, as Microsoft are beginning to incorporate his technologies into Microsoft products.

I have personally have used Microsoft office for years, and as I got into my upper level informatics classes, have found it bothersome not to be able to use the familiar Microsoft Office programs to analyze my data. I was forced to learn external programs such as SPSS and AWS. This is a good thing because I am learning how to utilize other products for statistical analysis, however, you would think that Microsoft (maintaining a majority of the market share) would be able to keep up as technology evolved.

According to the New York Times, next year’s Microsoft Office suite will include the following modifications:

Excel: Will now be able to comb very large amounts of data, apparently, it will be able to scan 12 million twitter most and create charts to show information like which Oscar nominee was getting the most buzz.

Outlook: Horvitz is testing a learning (Machine-Learning) software to implement, which would be able to learn the users habits to create a smoother human computer interaction.  

When interviewed, David Smith, a senior analyst with a technology research firm stated, “Everything in the world in generating data, Microsoft has so many points of presence, with windows, Internet Explorer, Skype, Bing, among other applications, that they could do it a lot. Analyzing vast amounts of data could be big business for them”

I think that it is interesting that, according to this article, Microsoft is so behind in Big Data development. Companies such as I.B.M., Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, and SAP have been in the development process for a while. I am not sure if they just relaxed because they own so much of the market share, but these other companies are passing them quickly. I can only imagine that Microsoft is feeling the pressure to keep up.

This article states the following about advancements made by other firms:

I.B.M: hired over 400 mathematicians and statisticians to augment its software development.

Hewlett-Packard: Within the year will launch printers that connect to the Internet and store documents, which can later be searched for new information.

Oracle and SAP: already have their own machine-learning efforts. 

It is a shame that Microsoft is so comfortable with its consumer base that they take to long to develop up to date software, however, they has something that most other firms do not, and that is billions of dollars to work with. With such an established reputation, once the new Microsoft Suite is launched, it will take off immediately, and with that framework, they will be able to continually update it with little lagging time to create more advanced software 


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3 Responses to “Microsoft Seeks an Edge in Analyzing Big Data”

  1. kristenmayer says:

    It will be interesting to see exactly what the capabilities of this new version of Microsoft Excel will be. While it has always been an excellent tool for storing and organizing data, when it comes to analyzing or graphing data, it falls short. Programs like SPSS are much better able to analyze data and display results than Excel is, especially when it comes to graphs. It’s good to see that Microsoft is finally jumping on the bandwagon and developing their software further.

    In addition to improving functionality simply to be on par with other analysis software, we may soon reach a point where Microsoft needs to improve their software simply to keep selling it. With the ability to create and store documents for free through Google Drive, many people may quit paying for Microsoft products, since they don’t do much (if anything) that you can’t do with Google Docs. However, if Microsoft can advance their products so that they are superior to other, free options, this would help them keep this software on the market.

  2. samargolis says:

    Not only Google Docs/Google Drive: Open Source office suites, such as OpenOffice and LibreOffice exists at no cost and its programmers are the concerned user base, so if the general user wants an improvement, the improvement is going to happen. I stopped using Microsoft Office two years ago and haven’t really looked back. I’m rather dismayed that few people know that this software exists, not only does the user save tons of money, but there is much more impetus to improve the software and as the source code is open to everyone, the intelligent user could either improve it themselves or assure others that there is no proprietary gunk put on there.

    I personally blame the school system, they are payed off by big business to force their garbage onto the impressionable youth of America and of all the things that Bill Gates complains about in his role in the Education Reform movement, the backroom deals forcing bad software on the students isn’t one of them. Not to get too political, but that simply infuriates me as he seems more interested to turn teachers into scapegoats than to solve the most blatant problems in our society which simply isn’t prepared for the 21st Century.

    Our Tech Ed classes are based on just putting the students in front of a computer and telling them to play around with KidPix or something. Why not expose them to the different software options? Especially when many of these options are offered at no cost at all.

  3. hoffalex says:

    It will definitely be interesting to see how this new technology impacts the next Microsoft office suite. There is definitely a lot of room for improvement over the last one. Perhaps this is their attempt to try and gain an additional competitive advantage over the numerous varieties of free open source software that exist today. From what I know, more and more people are switching to programs such as Google drive and open office. Google drive in particular seems like it only stands to become more popular as the usage of the Google Chromebook becomes more widespread. Previously a lot of Microsoft’s competitive advantage came through bundling which is obviously not really very feasible any more. As such, it doesn’t really surprise me that they are looking for a new competitive advantage in the marketplace. It is also definitely interesting to note that Microsoft is behind on big data research. That wouldn’t have been my first expectation but I guess it doesn’t really come as a surprise given how little their name seems to come up, compared to companies such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard, in reference to big data.

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