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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Launches Several New Machine Learning Services and Extends Its Cognitive Services

Microsoft Launches Several New Machine Learning Services and Extends Its Cognitive Services

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Before its Build Developer Conference, Microsoft released several new Machine Learning services and Cognitive Services updates, ranging from no-code tools to hosted notebooks, with several new APIs and other services in-between.

The new Machine Learning services are:

  • A new interface for a tool that completely automates the process of creating models supporting several new algorithms and optimizations that should result in more accurate models.
  • A new no-code visual interface for building, training and deploying models with an interface that looks similar to the existing Azure ML Studio; however, it extends it with security, deployment and life cycle management capabilities.
  • New hosted Jupyter-style notebooks targeted for more experienced machine learning practitioners, including support for the Azure Machine Learning Python SDK.


The Cognitive Services updates includes an API for building personalization features, a form recognizer for automating data entry, a handwriting recognition API, and an enhanced speech recognition service that focuses on transcribing conversations. 

According to a TechCrunch article focused on updates for Cognitive Services, an essential service is Personalizer – a service providing a machine learning technique that doesn’t need the kind of labeled training data typically used in machine learning. Microsoft VP Scott Guthrie, leading the company’s Cloud and AI Group, said in a VentureBeat article

Use of Personalizer in Microsoft stores and online systems has led to performance improvements of more than 40% in some instances. 

Note that users can leverage Personalizer next to existing recommendation tools on the Azure platform.

Besides Personalizer, Microsoft releases Ink Recognizer - a handwriting recognition API, which allows developers to use the API to automatically recognize handwriting, common shapes and documents within their applications.


Next to Ink Recognizer, Microsoft also releases another API called Form Recognizer, which allows developers to extract text and data from business forms and documents easier by using only five samples. Furthermore, developers can use the API in Edge devices as it is included in cognitive services containers next to the existing speech-to-text and text-to-speech services, and anomaly detector.


Microsoft also made an update to its Speech to Text service with the Conversation Transcription feature. The feature can label different speakers, transcribe the conversation in real time, and even handle crosstalk.  

With these new updates to AI and ML services, Microsoft continues investing in AI and ML to keep pace with competitors AWS and Google. Each of them offers a wide range of AI and ML services, is trying to get a substantial market share, and support developers to be productive. As Eric Boyd, corporate vice president of Microsoft's AI platform, states in a TechCrunch article:

AI is really impacting the way the world does business. We see 75% of commercial enterprises are doing more with AI in the next several years. Its tripled in the last couple years, according to Gartner. And so, we’re really seeing an explosion in the amount of work that’s coming from there. As people are driving this forward, as companies are driving this forward, developers are on the front lines, trying to figure out how to move their companies forward, how to build these models and how to build these applications, and help scale with all the changes that are moving through this.

Availability and pricing details of the Cognitive Services are available on the pricing page. Similarly, the availability and pricing of Machine Learning Services are available on the respective pricing page.

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