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Microsoft to offer ChatGPT-as-a-service from Azure real soon now

Addition of the chatbot everyone's talking about, and to, comes as Azure OpenAI goes GA

Microsoft has promised it will "soon" offer the ChatGPT AI chatbot as a service from its Azure cloud.

The software giant on Monday announced its existing Azure OpenAI service has opened up to general availability (GA). It is, notably, not available everywhere just yet though.

Microsoft also appears not to have changed its requirement for would-be customers to apply for access to the service or to be a managed customer. When your correspondent logged in with a personal Azure account used for occasional footling, OpenAI services were listed – but none were available.

Microsoft's decision not to offer Azure OpenAI in "grab your credit card and get going" mode is probably related to its use of specialized hardware rather than Azure's generic x86 and Arm boxen.

In addition to making the service GA, Microsoft has added the text-davinci-003 model to the service.

Azure OpenAI offers GPT-3.5, Codex, and DALL•E 2 to developers that wish to incorporate the AI tools into their apps. Microsoft supervises use of the service, with its policy document warning: "Prompts and completions are evaluated against our content policy with automated systems. High severity content will be filtered."

The tech behemoth has billed the imminent addition of ChatGPT to the service as a sign of its "continued commitment to democratizing AI, and ongoing partnership with OpenAI."

That partnership has, of late, been the subject of considerable speculation. Rumor has it Redmond wants to invest $10 billion in the AI upstart and take a 49 percent stake.

Microsoft's interest is thought to be sparked by ChatGPT having the potential to make the Bing search engine more competitive, and/or as a play to tie OpenAI's services to Azure and harvest the rich profit margins that come with large and stable cloud customers.

News that the Azure OpenAI service is now GA was not accompanied by any announcement on the relationship between Microsoft and OpenAI. This appears to be standard practice since the service was announced in November 2022.

At the time of writing, Azure OpenAI Service appears to be available in four US-based Azure regions and the West Europe region. We mention that because while Microsoft has designated the service GA, there is clearly plenty of work to do to make it available globally and bring low-latency AI to all customers. ®

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