Microsoft is spraying OpenAI everywhere to try to keep software makers interested in their platforms.
Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella speaks to attendees at the Microsoft Build conference in Seattle on May 23, 2023.
Dan DeLong | Microsoft
If there is one company that has popularized artificial intelligence in the last year, it is the small but richly funded startup OpenAI, the entity behind the viral chatbot ChatGPT.
This week at his Build conference for software developers, Microsoft he made extensive use of his collaboration with the startup, in which he has invested billions.
On Tuesday, the first day of the show, front and center was an onstage conversation between Greg Brockman, co-founder and president of OpenAI, and Kevin Scott, Microsoft’s chief technology officer and the person credited with building the unusually close relationship between the two companies.
“You heard it from Greg,” Scott told the crowd gathered at the Seattle Convention Center near the end of the talk. “You are all the ones who are going to make AI great.”
To that end, Microsoft announced a series of developer products that are based on OpenAI technology:
- There are new tools in the Azure cloud for custom text summary.
- An upcoming chatbot promises to help developers work with data and prepare it for analysis.
- Developers will be able to create plugins that work within ChatGPT and the chatbots within Microsoft’s own products, including one that will debut on Windows next month.
- Developers who receive coding suggestions through the GitHub Copilot feature will gain access to a chatbot within the Windows Terminal command line program.
Generative AI will change software forever, says Nadella
OpenAI released ChatGPT globally in November, sparking a lot of consumer interest. Shortly after, companies like atlassian, Morgan Stanley and Sales force was quick to show the integrations of OpenAI’s GPT-4 large language model, which powers the chatbot. GPT-4 and alternatives like Amazon and Google they have been trained on vast data sets from the Internet and have become capable of spitting out natural-sounding snippets of text.
It’s a popular form of what’s been called generative AI, which can take human input and respond with computer-generated output.
“Each layer of the software stack will change forever, and there’s no better place to start than the actual developer stack,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said during his Build keynote on Tuesday. “We as developers, how we build is fundamentally changing.”
It’s critical that third-party developers continue to enrich Microsoft’s own software properties, such as the Microsoft 365 suite of productivity software. Such work could help Microsoft’s Teams communication app, for example, become a more obvious hub. for an increasingly wide selection of processes and tasks that companies must carry out. That may make businesses less likely to switch to alternatives like Google Workspace.
Microsoft highlighted dozens of plugin developers on Tuesday, including Adobe, asanacanvas, cloud flare, red fin, Spotify and TripAdvisor. One demo showed the Windows chatbot activating a Spotify playlist, creating a company logo with Adobe Express, and sending the logo to a person’s colleagues via Teams in response to a series of typed messages.
Greg Brockman, president and co-founder of OpenAI, and Kevin Scott, Microsoft CTO, speak onstage at the Microsoft Build conference in Seattle on May 23, 2023.
Dan DeLong | Microsoft
At the same time, Nadella has pushed for Microsoft to embed GPT-4 directly into Teams and past Microsoft products such as the Bing search engine, often resulting in Copilot-branded bots. The term Copilot emphasizes collaboration with people, in contrast to (for example) the advanced driver assistance system Autopilot for tesla vehicles
“We’re adding Copilot to everything,” Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft’s cloud and AI group, told CNBC in an interview last week. “It’s less of a top-down mandate, although we’re certainly pushing from the top down. I think it’s something that we’ve really evangelized internally and really got all the teams excited about. And we’re building a common stack at Microsoft that the entire company is building on.”
Analysts responded favorably to the developer attack.
“MSFT’s pace of GenAI innovation continues to be amazing to us,” Mizuho analysts with a Buy rating on Microsoft shares wrote in a note to clients on Wednesday.
Brockman hinted to developers that the cost of GPT-4, which runs on Azure, could be reduced.
“I think we did a 70% price reduction two years ago,” he told Scott. “Basically last year we did a 90% cost reduction. 10x cost reduction, crazy right? And I think we’ll be able to do the same thing repeatedly with new models. And so GPT -4 on this At the moment, it’s expensive, it’s not fully available. But that’s one of the things that I think will change.”
LOOK: Microsoft Build 2023 introduces plugins and products that incorporate AI