Microsoft’s Ignite 2023 event brought plenty of updates, and AI product reveals and expansions were front and center as the company laid out its updated vision for IT professionals.
Like our own Soothsayer Coldewey written in October, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has made it clear that the company is all about AI, and Ignite is proof. From the rebranding of its competitor ChatGPT Cat Bing to be under the aegis of Copilot, to the much-anticipated custom AI chips compete with Nvidia and the means to generate text-to-speech avatars, There were plenty of AI-centric revelations at Wednesday’s event.
We’ve compiled the various announcements from our respective Microsoft and AI experts, Frédéric Lardinois and Kyle Wiggers, in one place in case you missed them.
ChatGPT competitor Bing Chat is now Copilot
Microsoft renamed Bing Chat, the AI-powered chatbot it launched on Bing earlier this year, to Copilot in Bing. Bing Chat Enterprise has also been rebranded as Copilot.
As Kyle notes, the change is likely because Bing Chat hasn’t moved the needle much for Bing. It now appears that the company is looking to separate the search engine technology to better compete with ChatGPT and other popular chatbots.
Copilot is now accessible on Windows in addition to Copilot.Microsoft.com and Bing, and is available in Microsoft’s line of enterprise subscription plans at no additional cost. Copilot will be included in Microsoft 365 F3 starting December 1 and will be available for $5 per month to all other customers.
Custom chips with emphasis on AI
Microsoft is looking to break free from GPU dependence with two custom-built, in-house systems aimed at the data center. AI chips: the Azure Maia 100 AI accelerator and the Azure Cobalt 100 CPU.
Maia 100 can be used to train and run AI models, while Cobalt 100 is designed to run general-purpose workloads.
Maia 100 and Cobalt 100 will begin rolling out early next year in Azure data centers, Microsoft says. It will first power Microsoft AI services like Co-pilot And Azure OpenAI service.
New AI tools Copilot Azure, Copilot for Service and Copilot Studio
Microsoft unveiled new AI tools in Co-pilotthe company’s brand of generative AI technologies: Copilot for Azure, Copilot for Service, Copilot Studio, and Copilot in Dynamics 365 Guides.
Copilot for Azure is Microsoft’s answer to the recently announced Duet AI in Google Cloud, taking the form of a chat-driven assistant for cloud customers. Azure Copilot is currently available in preview.
Co-pilot for servicea tool aimed at customer service needs, can answer frequently asked questions by customer service agents by leveraging a company’s websites, Knowledge articles, offline databases, and more.
Co-pilot in Dynamics 365 Guides leverages generative AI to summarize information potentially useful to frontline workers and overlays it onto the equipment they maintain. Copilot in Dynamics 365 Guides will first launch in private preview with “a limited set of clients and features.”
Copilot Studio can be used to create a personalized co-pilot — like a chatbot for expense management, for example — by describing it in natural language. Copilot Studio is now available in public preview for existing Copilot for Microsoft 365 subscribers.
Microsoft Teams gets AI-powered interior decorator and voice isolation
The new Microsoft Teams “decorate your background” This feature means you may never have to clean up your messy home office again. The video call feature can examine your room, clean up the mess, and add plants or even decorations to your background.
Microsoft also announced an AI-powered noise reduction feature for Teams that can reduce repetitive background noises as well as the voices of others.
The voice isolation feature is rolling out and will be generally available in early 2024, while “decorate your background” will be available early next year in Teams Premium.
Microsoft To Do, Planner and Project become a single product
Microsoft is making its project management tools a little less confusing. The company announced that it is consolidating its line of planning tools — Microsoft To Do, Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Project – in a single new product for a “more unified experience”.
There will also be a co-pilot in Planner who can help users plan things faster and suggest new tasks.
The new Microsoft Planner will be available for the first time in Microsoft Teams in spring 2024, and the web version will launch later in 2024.
Generative AI Copyright Protections for More Customers
Microsoft announced that more customers can be defended and compensated for any “adverse judgment” if they are sued for copyright infringement thanks to the results of using Axure’s OpenAI service.
This policy will not apply to all Azure OpenAI Service customers by default. Subscribers must first implement “technical measures” and comply with risk mitigation documentation to be considered for eligibility.
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 AI tools and a catalog of generative AI models that developers can refine, customize and deploy for local and offline use in their Windows applications.
Windows AI Studio will benefit from more powerful local models, including Meta text generation Llama 2 and Stability AI’s text-image model XL Stable Broadcast.
Azure AI Speech to create text-to-speech avatars
Microsoft has announced a tool capable of creating what is essentially a deepfake. Azure AI Speech text-to-speech avatar generates a photorealistic avatar of a person and animates that avatar to say things that the person did not necessarily say.
Microsoft has pointed out the many obvious ways this tool can be abused and is putting limits on it. For now, most Azure subscribers will only be able to access predefined avatars at launch. Microsoft says custom avatars are currently a “limited access” feature, available only by registration and “only for certain use cases.”
Recap the entire Microsoft Ignite 2023 event
If you want to relive the Ignite event or for the first time, you can watch highlights from the keynote on The Microsoft website.