Monday, May 29, 2023 | 05:26 am

AI and Cloud Computing Advance Microsoft’s Earnings per Quarter

AI and Cloud Computing Advance Microsoft’s Earnings per Quarter

Microsoft yesterday said that its cloud computing and artificial intelligence offerings lifted its revenue and profit in the first three months of this year.

Microsoft, which has made a huge bet on embracing AI technology from the makers of ChatGPT, reported profit of US$18.3 billion (RM81.7 billion) on revenue of US$52.9 billion.

“Across the Microsoft Cloud, we are the platform of choice to help customers get the most value out of their digital spend and innovate for this next generation of AI,” said Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella.

Revenue in a productivity and business unit that includes Office 365 increased 11 per cent to US$17.5 billion when compared to the same quarter last year, Microsoft reported.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s “Intelligent Cloud” sophisticated software services, which are hosted online, climbed 16 per cent to US$22.1 billion, earnings figures showed.

The increases more than offset drops in revenue from licensing Windows software to computer makers, as sales suffer in that market.

“The world’s most advanced AI models are coming together with the world’s most universal user interface – natural language – to create a new era of computing,” Nadella said.

Microsoft has been steadily pressing on with its AI revolution, recently announcing that it would apply the powers behind ChatGPT to its iconic Excel, Word and Outlook programmes.

The Redmond, Washington giant has been swiftly adopting language-based AI, showing less caution than its rivals despite early problems such as chatbots giving disturbing responses or blatantly inaccurate information.

Microsoft’s latest chatbot, called Copilot, puts ChatGPT-like abilities to work in offices, churning out meeting transcripts, calendar entries or PowerPoint slides almost instantaneously.

The thrust of the new release is that generative AI, the term for ChatGPT-style capabilities, will function as an assistant for users of Microsoft’s popular workplace software and not unilaterally take over office tasks.

“You could say we’ve been using AI on autopilot and with this next generation of AI, we are moving from autopilot to copilot,” Nadella said at a virtual release event.

Microsoft is pouring billions of dollars into OpenAI, the company that is building the technology that powers ChatGPT and that released its latest version, GPT-4.

That technology, which OpenAI says can be prompted by images as well as text, is already the foundation of a chatbot on Microsoft’s Bing search engine that is gaining more users thanks to the embrace of AI.

Other tech giants are taking a more cautious approach to generative AI, afraid of the embarrassment that comes when the technology goes off the rails.