What’s interesting, though, is that OpenAI, the developers of DALL-E, have moved on to the more sophisticated DALL-E 2 algorithm, which is locked behind beta access right now. It’s this algorithm that Microsoft is promising access to, via the Microsoft Designer app. DALL-E, like other AI art engines, generates images based on text prompts you write, so that a text prompt like “a sunrise over an alien world, populated with dinosaurs” can give you a custom, potentially unique illustration.
Mark Hachman / IDG via DreamStudio
“Designer helps you create from your own content or ideas and makes it easy to design social media posts, invitations, and much more, fast,” chief product officer Panos Panay wrote in a blog post, while announcing new Surface hardware like the Surface Pro 9, Surface Laptop 5, and the Surface Studio 2+. “It also automatically helps you get a variety of unique images and designs that are generated just for you. I’m so excited for this app, it’s going to be a game changer for me personally.”
That Microsoft joined the AI art revolution isn’t surprising in the least. AI art demands substantial computational power and memory, whether it be on your own PC via tools like Stable Diffusion, or in the cloud. Most cloud services either charge for membership or use a credit-based system. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft Designer will be part of Microsoft 365, which is paid for by an annual subscription, anyway. Tapping into Microsoft’s Azure cloud as a part of the Microsoft 365 subscription seems like a natural fit.
Microsoft hasn’t said whether it will make Designer available on an a la carte basis, or whether it will allow unlimited Microsoft Designer creations as part of the Microsoft 365 subscription. It’s also unclear how Designer will interact with Image Creator, and whether Microsoft will require a Microsoft 365 subscription for that, too. We also don’t know what size of the finished images Microsoft will allow, whether it provide suggested prompts or styles, or allows for outpainting (editing part of an image), image-to-image prompts, and more.
Still, Microsoft seems to understand that AI art is a viable creative pursuit, and the wave of the future. “The integration of Microsoft AI and DALL∙E 2 in our new Microsoft Designer app is an amazing example of AI assistance blurring the lines between the platform, the device, and the cloud, all so you can express yourself even better,” Panay wrote. “Saving time and improving creative outcomes, regardless of your level of expertise.”
We didn’t have immediate access to what Microsoft Designer looks like, so we just asked an AI (DreamStudio) what it might look like. We’ll have to see how it did!