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Post: Microsoft invested $13B in genAI — does Copilot for Windows show it’s a bad bet?



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In the decades I’ve been writing about technology, I’ve never seen a something take off as fast as generative AI – or seen anything so hyped.

The promises about how genAI will change our lives have come fast and furious. It will write the Great American Novel, compose symphonies, steal millions of jobs. It will do our work for us, help authoritarian regimes spread misinformation, and ultimately become an existential threat to humankind.

The claims have been outrageous. But unlike many overhyped technologies, genAI has proven it can bring in significant revenue. Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, recently told his staff that the company was raking revenue in at a pace of $1.3 billion per year, roughly $100 million a month. Compare that to 2022 — before the launch of the generative AI chatbot that took the world by storm; OpenAI had a total revenue that year of just $28 million.

Microsoft has invested $13 billion in OpenAI, and that doesn’t account for how much money the company is spending on AI internally. Google, Facebook, Amazon, and others are investing many more billions. AI startups seemingly become valued at more than $1 billion overnight.

So, when I got my hands on Copilot for Windows when it was released late last month, I was expecting big things. After all, this was Microsoft’s chance to make a big splash, to show how genAI could improve the world’s most popular desktop and laptop operating system, installed on an estimated 1.4 billion PCs. Before the release, Microsoft promised Copilot for Windows “empowers you to create faster, complete tasks with ease and lessens your cognitive load – making once complicated tasks, simple.

Landing with a thud

To say I was underwhelmed by Copilot for Windows would vastly understate just how disappointing I found it. To begin with, it didn’t give Windows a single new capability. The things you can do with Windows that includes Copilot are exactly the same things you can do with Windows without Copilot.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

Lora Helmin

Lora Helmin

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