Image: Mark Hachman / IDG
Microsoft said Monday that it is entering a “third phase” of its relationship with ChatGPT developer OpenAI through a multibillion-dollar investment. But the deal may come with a price for users, too: a $42 monthly “professional” tier subscription that sources say OpenAI is testing among early adopters.
In 2019, Microsoft said it would invest $1 billion into OpenAI, then a relatively unknown developer of AI technologies. On Monday, Microsoft said it would extend its partnership through a “multiyear, multibillion dollar investment to accelerate AI breakthroughs.” “Microsoft will deploy OpenAI’s models across our consumer and enterprise products and introduce new categories of digital experiences built on OpenAI’s technology,” the company said.
We already know Microsoft has used AI technology as part of Microsoft Designer, the visual-content creation system that PCWorld went hands-on with last year. But Microsoft’s commitment implies that AI technology could be rolling out as part of Microsoft’s other products, including Office, as we suggested last year. Reports indicate that Bing will receive the OpenAI treatment, too — but rival search engine You.com appears to have already integrated AI art and chat.
Microsoft will power OpenAI via its Azure cloud, the company said. “We formed our partnership with OpenAI around a shared ambition to responsibly advance cutting-edge AI research and democratize AI as a new technology platform,” said Satya Nadella, chairman and chief executive of Microsoft, in a statement. “In this next phase of our partnership, developers and organizations across industries will have access to the best AI infrastructure, models, and toolchain with Azure to build and run their applications.”
Bloomberg News, citing a source, reported that the investment “totals $10 billion over multiple years.”
Is a ‘professional’ version of ChatGPT rolling out?
Meanwhile, some users are beginning to report that OpenAI is beginning to finally roll out a paid version of ChatGPT, the AI-powered chatbot that went viral at the end of last year. Since then, ChatGPT has been used to write essays, produce code, and apply its knowledge tasks ranging from law to text-based games. It has been banned (and sometimes embraced) at universities, with students incorporating it into their workflow for better or for worse.
The fact that ChatGPT would eventually evolve into a paid version wasn’t a well-kept secret: Sam Altman, the chief executive of OpenAI, tweeted last December that the service would be monetized at some point to offset costs.
Multiple users have begun to report, meanwhile, that OpenAI has begun to offer a paid plan at $42 per month. That figure has not been confirmed, though users have tweeted that the information was briefly disclosed on Friday.
Others on the CHatGPT subreddit have reported the same figure.
OpenAI has implied that the professional tier would solve the service’s ongoing capacity problems, which can slow or outright prevent access to the service at peak times. It’s not clear whether the $42/mo price will remain official when and if the professional, paid version of ChatGPT eventually launches. At the this price, though, you may have to cut out a streaming service or two to fit it in within your budget — or simply file it as a monthly expense to your company’s IT department.