Microsoft And Sony Make Nice, Announce Partnership For Gaming And Cloud Services

Nobody expected that.

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Microsoft and Sony--the company's behind Xbox One and PS4 respectively--revealed this week that they have established a strategic partnership. The two companies plan on sharing technology and information going forward and build upon shared infrastructures for some of their future initiatives. Nowhere in the announcement are Xbox or PlayStation named, but its wording implies Microsoft and Sony's partnership will specifically focus on consumer entertainment platforms like gaming.

Specifically, the agreement (a memorandum of understanding) says that the two will jointly develop future cloud solutions within Microsoft Azure. It also says that Sony will use Microsoft Azure for its own game and content-streaming services--although Sony's PlayStation Now is not mentioned specifically--including a push to build better tools for content creators. The two are also committing to work together on semiconductors and artificial intelligence.

"PlayStation itself came about through the integration of creativity and technology," Sony president Kenichiro Yoshida said in the announcement. "Our mission is to seamlessly evolve this platform as one that continues to deliver the best and most immersive entertainment experiences, together with a cloud environment that ensures the best possible experience, anytime, anywhere. For many years, Microsoft has been a key business partner for us, though of course the two companies have also been competing in some areas. I believe that our joint development of future cloud solutions will contribute greatly to the advancement of interactive content."

"Sony has always been a leader in both entertainment and technology, and the collaboration we announced today builds on this history of innovation,” added Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. "Our partnership brings the power of Azure and Azure AI to Sony to deliver new gaming and entertainment experiences for customers."

Xbox head Phil Spencer and Nadella also followed up with tweets that stressed the entertainment and gaming aspect of the partnership.

The partnership has only just been announced, so any results from it could take a while to manifest. The mention of Microsoft's cloud solutions in gaming comes just as Microsoft is planning its own streaming platform, xCloud, which will compete directly with Google Stadia. As noted above, it's unclear how or if this deal could impact PlayStation's streaming platform, PlayStation Now.

With E3 2019 only weeks away, it's unclear if this new strategic partnership will be discussed. We do know Microsoft is planning to "go big" while Sony has opted out of the show altogether. Check out the full schedule of press conferences for more details.

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