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Microsoft is everywhere. This copilot-obsessed tech giant wants anything and everything to do with generative AI – open source or closed door, small or large, it doesn’t matter – and can go to any extent to bring that capability to life.
While OpenAI’s closed-source approach may have raised concerns among developers, Meta is viewed as the good guy, and Microsoft stands as a neutral guardian, focused solely on investing in technological progress. The ongoing debates between open source and closed source don’t seem to bother Microsoft, as it has ensured a well-balanced position is and prepared for any scenario.
Microsoft is not committed to any one particular approach while it comes to generative AI. The company is even backing budding startups that might rival OpenAI’s ChatGPT in the coming future. Microsoft recently invested in Inflection AI, a startup backed by several Silicon Valley heavyweights, which raised $1.3 billion.
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The company is also investing in small LLMs. Recently Microsoft released another open-source LLM, Orca, a highly advanced model with 13 billion parameters, designed to imitate the reasoning capabilities of LFMs. It utilises GPT-4 to learn from various signals, including explanation traces, step-by-step thought processes, and complex instructions. With the recent partnership with Meta, and backing of the open source research projects like Orca and their extended partnership with OpenAI Microsoft is unifying the generative AI ecosystem.
Currently, Microsoft has 252+ open source models on Hugging Face. In comparison, Google has 591 open source model contributions. With the latest partnership, which leads the open source AI contributions, we can expect more open source models from the duo (Microsoft and Meta).
Making Google Sweat
While Microsoft made Google “dance” with its OpenAI partnership, it surely is making them sweat with the Meta partnership. The fact that Google missed out on Llama 2’s release, which is now available on AWS and Hugging Face, seems intentional. In the competitive cloud market, Microsoft is aiming to provide specialised LLMs for its enterprise clients. Azure OpenAI customers utilising Microsoft Cloud will have access to top-notch specialised enterprise LLMs that they can seamlessly integrate into their businesses.
When Microsoft partnered with OpenAI, Microsoft deployed OpenAI technology through API and the Azure OpenAI Service—enabling enterprise and developers to build on top of GPT, DALL·E, and Codex. They also worked together to build OpenAI’s technology into apps like GitHub Copilot and Microsoft Designer.
Microsoft’s decision to partner with Meta is a well-thought-out business strategy. By collaborating with different entities, they avoid depending solely on one supplier. Microsoft is fully aware that the AI field is constantly evolving, and it’s only a matter of time until someone develops an even better LLM than GPT 4. To position themselves for future advancements, they are actively exploring open source opportunities and acting as a bridge between GPT 4 and Llama 2.
Is Apple Next?
Over the years, Microsoft has faced challenges in keeping up with Google, especially in the mobile phone operating system and internet browsing domains. While Google Chrome gained significant popularity over Internet Explorer and Bing, Microsoft attempted to boost Bing’s performance by integrating it with OpenAI chatbot. Every move Microsoft makes is driven by the desire to enhance its products and compete more effectively with Google. It further integrated ChatGPT into Bing launched Microsoft co-pilot bringing generative AI abilities to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Teams.
In the past as well, Microsoft tried launching Windows smartphones but failed miserably in front of Android phones. But now it is training small LLMs. Meta, along with Microsoft, has also partnered with Qualcomm, eyeing an entire ecosystem to make Llama 2 implementation on phones and PCs starting next year. Smaller models like Orca can take full advantage of this. It is worth noting that ChatGPT hasn’t been released yet on Android PlayStore.
In the blog post Microsoft specifically mentioned that Llama 2 is optimised to run locally on Windows. Open source Llama 2 will help Microsoft to pick cream developments and implement it. As of now, we can only speculate about the future of Llama 2 and its potential integration with Windows devices.
Microsoft releasing models like Orca and others on edge devices can also be a threat to Apple. But, looks like Apple is ahead, and it is currently testing its generative AI chatbot ‘Apple GPT’.