Walmart and Microsoft team up in potential challenge to Amazon

Microsoft and Walmart are joining forces in a partnership that will see Walmart adopting Azure cloud services to "further accelerate" its retail digital transformation. Though Walmart already uses some Microsoft services, this expanded partnership will see the company expanding to tap into Microsoft's machine learning, AI, and data management solutions across its business.

Throughout the five-year agreement, Walmart plans to migrate "a significant portion" of its online presences at and to Azure. Walmart will also leverage Microsoft's IoT solutions for everything from reducing energy usage with its refrigeration and HVAC units to optimizing routes for its supply trucks.

Microsoft 365 will also be rolled out to Walmart associates, giving them access to productivity tools like Workplace Analytics, OneDrive, and Microsoft Stream.

And in case there was any question, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella confirmed to The Wall Street Journal (via Engadget) that the two companies' rivalry with Amazon is "absolutely core" to the partnership. Though today's announcement doesn't make mention of it, Microsoft was recently rumored to be working on a way to use its AI to automate checkout at retail stores, with Walmart rumored as one of the tech giant's potential partners. If true, Microsoft and Walmart could be setting the stage to challenge Amazon Go, the online giant's physical store that uses AI to eliminate the need for cashiers and checkout lines.

This is the second major partnership announcement to come during the week of Microsoft's partner event, Inspire. Yesterday, the company announced it is teaming up with GE for a set of Azure integrations focused on Industrial IoT applications.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl