Microsoft to acquire R language powerhouse Revolution Analytics

Microsoft will plant the R statistical language in its Azure machine learning services

In a move to beef up its portfolio of analysis software and services, Microsoft is acquiring Revolution Analytics, a major commercial distributor of the R statistical programming language.

R is one of the most widely used programming languages specifically designed for statistical computing and predictive analytics, alongside SAS, MatLab, Mathematica and a number of Python libraries. Microsoft will use the software to offer cloud services and on premise applications for its customers to undertake big data-style analysis.

"As their volumes of data continually grow, organizations of all kinds around the world -- financial, manufacturing, health care, retail, research -- need powerful analytical models to make data-driven decisions," wrote Joseph Sirosh, Microsoft corporate vice president for machine learning, in a blog post. "This acquisition is part of our effort to address these customer needs."

Microsoft has estimated R has about 2 million users. The language and associated software is open source. Revolution Analytics offers various commercial-grade R software packages under the Revolution R nameplate. Revolution Analytics has also contributed to the R code base and related R projects such as ParallelR and RHadoop.

Microsoft is pledging to contribute to the further development of R. The company already offers support for R in its Azure machine learning services and associated MLStudio development environment.

Microsoft has also deployed R internally, wrote David Smith, Revolution Analytics chief community officer in a related blog post. The company used R's capabilities to help XBox Live pair players online based on skills and other factors. Microsoft data scientists have also used the language to apply machine learning to data from its Bing, Azure, and Office services and software.

Microsoft will continue to develop and support the Revolution R packages, including the versions for Macintosh and Linux, Smith said.

Microsoft didn't provide financial details about the deal, nor an approximate date when it will be finalized.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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