Microsoft Adding ChatGPT to Wide Release of Azure OpenAI

Microsoft plans to add OpenAI’s artificial intelligence app ChatGPT to its Azure OpenAI Service, which is now being made generally available after being offered to select enterprise customers in limited availability since November 2021. ChatGPT’s Azure debut expands on the existing relationship with OpenAI, in which Microsoft in 2019 invested $1 billion, a stake it is considering to expanding by another $10 billion. Microsoft couched the moves as a ”continued commitment to democratizing AI, and ongoing partnership with OpenAI.” Microsoft chief exec Satya Nadella also announced the company plans to eventually include AI tools like ChatGPT into all of its products.

Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI platform lets customers access OpenAI tools — including the GPT-3.5 language system on which ChatGPT is based — as well as the text-based DALLE 2 image generator from within their own applications running on the Azure cloud.

In a blog post, Microsoft corporate VP AI Eric Boyd called the general availability of Azure OpenAI Service “an important milestone” for the company and its customers, noting it’s “the same production service that Microsoft uses to power its own products, including GitHub Copilot, an AI pair programmer that helps developers write better code, Power BI, which leverages GPT-3-powered natural language to automatically generate formulae and expressions, and the recently-announced Microsoft Designer,” which helps creators build content with natural language prompts.

Insofar as additional investment in OpenAI, about which neither company is commenting, Bloomberg reports that the Redmond-based software giant “is looking to get an inside edge on the most popular and advanced AI systems in order to boost its own products” in competition with Amazon, Alphabet’s Google and Meta Platforms, writing that “ChatGPT has lit up the Internet since launching at the end of November, gathering its first million users in less than a week.”

OpenAI was co-founded in December 2015 by Elon Musk, Silicon Valley investors Sam Altman and Peter Thiel and others. The company “makes money by charging developers to license its technology,” Bloomberg writes.

OpenAI is making ChatGPT “available for free at the moment, but intends to make money off it in the future and has already opened a waitlist for those interested in testing a paid version of the bot,” Engadget reports. Per Semafor, the new money Microsoft is reportedly talking about putting into OpenAI would value the company at roughly $29 billion.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos this week, “business titans trudging through Alpine snow can’t stop talking about [ChatGTP],” proving that generative AI is of interest to global investors, not just Silicon Valley venture capitalists.

Microsoft Plans to Build OpenAI, ChatGPT Features Into All Products, The Wall Street Journal, 1/17/23
Microsoft Expands Access to OpenAI’s Tools to More Customers, The Wall Street Journal, 1/17/23

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