Microsoft and Xiaomi expand cooperation on AI, cloud support, hardware

Microsoft and Xiaomi have signed a memorandum of understanding that allows to them to examine more ways in which they can work together in the future. The agreement details some of the possible ways, including ways to meld Cortana with the Mi AI Speaker.

The deal, which is basically just an agreement in principle with no formal strings attached, details that executives from both companies are exploring ways to integrate Cortana with Xiaomi's speakers because both companies feel that it is "a market segment projected to grow rapidly in the next few years." To date, Cortana has only been used in one smart speaker, the Harmon Kardon Invoke.

Other aspects that the two companies will collaborate on include:

  • Cloud Support: "Xiaomi and Microsoft will explore utilizing Microsoft Azure cloud platform to support Xiaomi’s user data storage, bandwidth, computing and other cloud services in international markets."
  • Laptop-type devices: Xiaomi will utilize Microsft's expertise in this area for it own brand of laptops and similar devices.
  • AI Service Collaboration: The two companies "intend to explore multiple cooperative projects based on a broad range of Microsoft AI technologies, such as Computer Vision, Speech, Natural Language Processing, Text Input, Conversational AI, Knowledge Graph and Search, as well as related Microsoft AI products and services, such as Bing, Edge, Cortana, XiaoIce, SwiftKey, Translator, Pix, Cognitive Services and Skype."

“Xiaomi is one of the most innovative companies in China, and it is becoming increasingly popular in various markets around the world," Dr. Harry Shum, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence and Research Group, said in a press release. "Microsoft’s unique strengths and experience in AI, as well as our products like Azure, will enable Xiaomi to develop more cutting-edge technology for everyone around the world."

“Microsoft has been a great partner and we are delighted to see both companies deepening this relationship with this strategic MoU," Wang Xiang, Global Senior Vice President and Head of International Business at Xiaomi, said in response. "Xiaomi’s mission is to deliver innovation to everyone around the world. By collaborating with Microsoft on multiple technology areas, Xiaomi will accelerate our pace to bring more exciting products and services to our users. At the same time, this partnership would allow Microsoft to reach more users around the world who are using Xiaomi products.'

This new agreement appears to be an extension of a previous working relationship established back in 2016. The deal was signed in May and, by June, Xiaomi was pre-installing Office and Skype apps on its Android devices. By November, it was installing Cortana on its handsets.

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