Microsoft is at the forefront of the blockchain revolution. The company has released its cloud-based blockchain development kit “Azure Blockchain Workbench,” and currently develops a digital identity system as well as a blockchain-based copyright management solution.
Microsoft was one of the first major tech companies to jump on the blockchain trend. Together with IBM, the company is frequently mentioned as the blockchain pioneer amongst the world’s tech giants.
Microsoft runs multiple blockchain projects. In this article we will highlight the three that we find the most impressive.
Azure Blockchain Workbench
In November 2018, Microsoft announced the initial release of its flagship blockchain project: The Azure blockchain development kit called “Azure Blockchain Workbench”.
Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing service for building, testing, deploying, and managing applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed data centers.
The main goal of Azure Blockchain Workbench is to enable businesses to create their own distributed ledger technology (DLT) to work with Microsoft’s Software-as-a-Service solutions over the course of days, instead of the months it used to take.
More specifically, the Blockchain Workbench establishes a connection between Microsoft’s blockchain services and its other, widely used infrastructure and platforms, such as Office 365, SharePoint Online, Salesforce, SAP, or Dynamics 365 CRM Online.
Matt Kerner, General Manager at Microsoft Azure, explains the idea is to enable Microsoft customers to port their data from the platform they currently use into the Azure cloud, and from there onto the Microsoft blockchain.
This will enable Microsoft customers to benefit from blockchain efficiencies such as improved security and enhanced transparency.
But it will also allow businesses to amass data from a variety of companies into one standardized format at scale. As a result, it will become easier to conduct data analysis and manage data.
An announcement on the official Azure website reads, “This initial release prioritizes capabilities related to three key themes: connecting interfaces, integrating data and systems, and deploying smart contracts and blockchain networks.”
Microsoft is also collaborating with the Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF) and has announced plans to use blockchain technology for storing and processing digital identity data.
“We believe it is essential for individuals to own and control all elements of their digital identity,” writes Microsoft on their website.
In order to achieve this, Microsoft is developing an off-chain solution that will allow individuals to store ID data directly on a blockchain.
Such a solution could be especially useful in developing countries, as it allows users to store professional records, educational certificates and even asset ownership documents securely on a blockchain, safe from government abuse.
Copyright and royalties management
In June 2018, Microsoft and Ernst & Young (EY) announced the launch of a blockchain solution for content rights and royalties management in the media and entertainment industry.
The solution will first be implemented for Microsoft’s gaming partners. After testing, it will be rolled out across all industries which require licensing of intellectual property rights.
In order to participate, both publishers and distributors will sign up on the blockchain platform and agree to the conditions of the partnership through a smart contract.
When end users buy protected content, either online or in retail stores, the royalty amount will automatically be transferred as per the smart contract. Both publishers and distributors have access to the data.
This blockchain-based process is expected to “increase trust and transparency” and reduce “operational inefficiencies,” says Microsoft.
Those are three examples for blockchain projects at Microsoft. For sure, the tech giant has more in the making. Let’s see what new releases 2019 will bring.
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