Microsoft’s Ignite 2023 event came with plenty of updates, and AI product reveals and expansions were front and center as the company presented its updated vision for IT professionals.
As our own Devin Koldewey wrote in October, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has made it clear that the company is all in on AI, and Ignite was proof of that. From rebranding its ChatGPAT competitor Bing Chat under the Copilot umbrella to highly anticipated custom AI chips to compete with Nvidia and ways to generate text-to-speech avatars, there were plenty of AI-focused revelations at Wednesday’s event. Happened.
In case you missed it, we’ve compiled the various announcements from our respective Microsoft and AI experts Frederic Lardinois and Kyle Wiggers in one place.
ChatGPT competitor Bing Chat is now CoPilot
Microsoft renamed Bing Chat, the AI-powered chatbot launched on Bing earlier this year, to Copilot in Bing. Bing Chat Enterprise has also been rebranded to Copilot.
As Kyle notes, the change is likely due to the fact that Bing Chat didn’t move the needle much for Bing. Now it seems the company is looking to separate the technology from search engines to better compete with ChatGPT and other popular chatbots.
Copilot is now available on Windows in addition to Copilot.Microsoft.com and Bing, shipping across Microsoft’s range of enterprise subscription plans at no additional cost. CoPilot will be included in Microsoft 365 F3 starting December 1, and will be available to all other customers for $5 per month.
Custom chips with an emphasis on AI
Microsoft is looking to free itself from GPU dependency with two custom-designed, in-house and data center-bound AI chips: the Azure Maia 100 AI Accelerator and the Azure Cobalt 100 CPU.
The Maia 100 can be used to train and run AI models, while the Cobalt 100 is designed to run general-purpose workloads.
Microsoft says both Maia 100 and Cobalt 100 will start becoming available on Azure data centers early next year. It will first power Microsoft AI services like Copilot and Azure OpenAI service.
New AI tools Copilot Azure, Copilot for Service, and Copilot Studio
Microsoft unveiled new AI tools in Copilot, the company’s brand of generative AI technologies: Copilot for Azure, Copilot for Services, Copilot Studio, and Copilot in Dynamics 365 Guides.
Copilot for Azure is Microsoft’s answer to the recently announced Duet AI in Google Cloud, which takes the form of a chat-powered assistant for cloud customers. Azure’s Copilot is currently available in preview.
Co-Pilot for Service, a tool for customer service needs, can answer commonly asked questions from customer service agents using company websites, knowledge articles, offline databases, and more.
Co-Pilot in Dynamics 365 Guides uses generative AI to summarize potentially useful information for frontline workers and overlay them on the tools they’re building. Co-Pilot in Dynamics 365 Guides will first launch in private preview with a “limited set of customers and capabilities.”
Copilot Studio can be used to create a custom Copilot – for example, like a chatbot for expense management – by describing it in natural language. Copilot Studio is now available in public preview for existing Copilot for Microsoft 365 subscribers.
Microsoft Teams gets an AI-powered home decorator and voice isolation
Microsoft Teams’ new “Decorate your background” feature means you’ll never have to clean up your messy home office again. The video call feature can view your room and clear out clutter, and even add plants or decorations to your background.
Microsoft also announced an AI-powered noise reduction feature for Teams that can reduce repetitive background noise as well as other people’s voices.
The voice isolation feature is rolling out now and will be generally available in early 2024, while “decorate your background” will be available in Teams Premium early next year.
Microsoft To Do, Planner and Projects have become a singular product
Microsoft is making its project management tools a little less confusing. The company announced that it is consolidating its suite of planning tools – Microsoft To Do, Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Project – into one new product for a more “unified experience”.
Planner will also have a co-pilot that can help users plan things faster and suggest new tasks.
The new Microsoft Planner will first be available in Microsoft Teams in spring 2024, with a web version launching later in 2024.
Generative AI copyright protection for more customers
Microsoft announced that more customers could be defended if sued for copyright infringement as a result of their use of Axure’s OpenAI service and could be compensated for any “adverse judgment”.
This policy will not apply to every Azure OpenAI service customer by default. To be considered eligible, subscribers must first implement “technical measures” and comply with the risk mitigation document.
Windows AI Studio makes it easy to run AI locally on Windows
In an effort to bring generative AI experiences from the cloud to Windows devices, Microsoft announced Windows AI Studio. The toolkit brings together a catalog of AI tools and generative AI models that developers can fine-tune, customize, and deploy for local, offline use in their Windows apps.
Windows AI Studio will gain more capable native models, including Meta’s text-generating Llama 2 and Stability AI’s text-to-image model Stable Diffusion XL.
Azure AI Speech to create text-to-speech avatars
Microsoft has announced a tool that can essentially create deepfakes. Azure AI Speech text-to-speech avatars generate a photorealistic avatar of a person and animate that avatar to say things that the person didn’t necessarily say.
Microsoft notes that this tool can be misused in a number of obvious ways, and they are putting limits on it. For now, most Azure customers will only be able to access prebuilt avatars at launch. Microsoft says custom avatars are currently a “limited access” capability that is only available by registration and “only for certain use cases.”
Recap the entire Microsoft Ignite 2023 event
If you want to experience the Ignite event again or for the first time, you can watch highlights of the keynote on Microsoft’s website.