Microsoft has introduced around 100 new services and updates as part of its AI-forward strategy, including key developments within its productivity and security offerings. The announcements were made at Microsoft Ignite 2023 – the company’s annual conference for developers and IT professionals.
As we reach the end of 2023, nearly every industry in Africa is undergoing a collective transformation, with estimates that AI could expand the economy to as much as 50 percent of current GDP by 2030 if the continent could capture just 10 percent of the global AI market.
Forward-thinking organizations and enterprising startups alike are discovering entirely new ways of working and harnessing the power of AI to address some of society’s most daunting challenges—from improving access to quality legal services in South Africa to extending the reach of healthcare professionals in low-resourced communities in Nigeria.
Microsoft Ignite is a showcase of the advances being developed to help customers, partners, and developers achieve the total value of Microsoft’s technology and reshape the way work is done.
There are strong signals of AI’s potential to transform work across the continent. As it stands, more than half of employees in Africa and the Middle East say they would change their minds about seeking out a new job if their current employer invested in new technology like automation. Eight months ago, Microsoft introduced Copilot for Microsoft 365 to reduce digital debt and increase productivity so people can focus on uniquely human work. Already, the company’s research, from a combination of surveys and experiments, demonstrates significant productivity gains:
The company’s latest announcements are geared towards helping accelerate existing progress, enabling faster and more profound transformation across sectors. Key updates include:
Rethinking cloud infrastructure
Microsoft has led groundbreaking advances like partnerships with OpenAI and the integration of ChatGPT capabilities into tools used to search, collaborate, work, and learn. As we accelerate further into AI, Microsoft is rethinking cloud infrastructure to ensure optimization across every layer of the hardware and software stack.
At Ignite we are announcing innovations across our data center fleet, including the latest AI optimized silicon from our industry partners and two new Microsoft-designed chips.
Complementing our custom silicon, we are expanding partnerships with our silicon providers to provide infrastructure options for customers.
Extending the Microsoft Copilot experience
To go beyond individual productivity, we are extending Microsoft Copilot offerings across solutions to transform productivity and business processes for every role and function.
Top Copilot-related announcements include:
Unlocking more value for developers with Azure AI
We continue to expand choice and flexibility in generative AI models to offer developers the most comprehensive selection. With Model-as-a-Service, a new feature in the model catalog we announced at Build, pro developers will be able to easily integrate the latest AI models such as Llama 2 from Meta and upcoming premium models from Mistral and Jais from G42 as API endpoints to their applications. They can also customize these models with their data without needing to worry about setting up and managing the GPU infrastructure, helping eliminate the complexity of provisioning resources and managing to host.
With the preview of Azure AI Studio, there is now a unified and trusted platform to help organizations more easily explore, build, test, and deploy AI apps – all in one place. With Azure AI Studio, you can build your copilots, train your own, or ground other foundational and open-source models with the data that you bring.
Vector Search, a feature of Azure AI Search, is now generally available, so organizations can generate highly accurate experiences for every user in their generative AI applications.
The new GPT-3.5 Turbo model with a 16K token prompt length will be generally available and GPT-4 Turbo will be in public preview in Azure OpenAI Service at the end of November 2023, GPT-4 Turbo will enable customers to extend the prompt length and bring even more control and efficiency to their generative AI applications.
GPT-4 Turbo with Vision is coming soon to preview and DALLE·3 is now available in public preview in Azure Open AI Service, helping fuel the next generation of enterprise solutions along with GPT-4, so organizations can pursue advanced functionalities with images. When used with our Azure AI Vision service, GPT-4 Turbo with Vision even understands video for generating text outputs, furthering human creativity.
Introducing new experiences in Windows to empower employees, IT, and developers
To further our mission of making Windows the home for developers and the best place for AI development, we announced a host of new AI and productivity tools for developers, including Windows AI Studio.
Announcing NVIDIA AI foundry service
Aimed at helping enterprises and startups supercharge the development, tuning, and deployment of their custom AI models on Microsoft Azure, NVIDIA will announce their AI foundry service running on Azure. The NVIDIA AI foundry service pulls together three elements – a collection of NVIDIA AI Foundation models, NVIDIA NeMo framework and tools, and NVIDIA DGX Cloud AI supercomputing and services – that give enterprises an end-to-end solution for creating custom generative AI models. Businesses can then deploy their models with NVIDIA AI Enterprise software on Azure to power generative AI applications, including intelligent search, summarisation, and content generation.
Strengthening defenses in the era of AI
Microsoft is combining the power of leading solutions in SIEM, XDR, and generative AI for security into the first unified security operations platform to help defenders by simplifying the complexity of their environment. We are also adding new embedded experiences of Security Copilot across the Microsoft Security portfolio.