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Microsoft and GE are joining forces for new cloud technologies that will bring improved use of big data to production.GE will bring its Predix industrial data-gathering operating system to Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform, the two companies announced Monday at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto.The deal is the first in a planned strategic partnership between GE and Microsoft. "Every industry and every company around the world is being transformed by digital technology," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a statement announcing the partnership. "Working with companies like GE, we can reach a new set of customers to help them accelerate their transformation across every line of business — from the factory floor to smart buildings."Connecting with Azure brings new features including artificial intelligence and natural language technology to GE's Predix platform. "Connecting industrial machines to the internet through the cloud is a huge step toward simplifying business processes and reimagining how work gets done," GE CEO Jeff Immelt said in a statement.The combination of Azure and Predix will bring "industrial strength, analytically-based ... asset performance management" to companies seeking to better understand how they work best, he said during on-stage discussion with Nadella. "If you talk about the new world of industrial internet, you talk about things like no unplanned downtime. Now, no unplanned downtime doesn’t sound sexy, but that's worth tens of billions of dollars of productivity and you only get that between physics and analytics."As part of the partnership, GE and Microsoft plan to integrate Predix with Azure's Internet of Things and Microsoft's Cortana artificial intelligence platforms, as well Office 365 and other Microsoft business applications. Shares of GE (GE) were up 0.5% to $32.35 in early trading Monday, while Microsoft (MSFT) shares were up 0.57% to $52.60.
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