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Microsoft is making the new Meta AI model available to Azure customers

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella arrives in court in San Francisco, June 28, 2023.

Shelby Knowles | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Microsoft has expanded into artificial intelligence with a multibillion-dollar investment in OpenAI, whose chatbot technology is used alongside search and other key products.

But Microsoft is making it clear that it’s not just an OpenAI shop when it comes to generative artificial intelligence. At its Inspire conference on Tuesday, the company announced what it was doing Meta a new large language model of artificial intelligence, called Llama 2, is available on the Azure cloud computing service.

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Meta said on its blog that Microsoft is its “preferred partner” for the Llama 2 software, which is available for free to companies and researchers.

“Meta and Microsoft share a commitment to democratizing AI and its benefits, and we’re excited that Meta is taking an open approach with Llama 2,” Microsoft said. “We offer developers choice in the types of models they build, supporting open and boundary models, and are excited to be Meta’s preferred partner as they first release their new version of Llama 2 to commercial customers.”

A Meta spokesperson said the company is “not focused on monetizing Llama 2.” Companies that want to access the software through a commercial license will have to pay Microsoft for enterprise hosting capabilities.

In February, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the public release of Llama, which is designed to help scientists and engineers explore AI applications such as question answering and document summarization.

While Meta won’t directly make money from the Microsoft deal, it could potentially benefit by getting its own AI software into the hands of more users and developers. Llama 2 will also be available via Amazon Web services and Hugging Face, a popular service used by artificial intelligence researchers.

The deal is important for Microsoft because it shows that the software giant is putting some of its weight behind a language model of artificial intelligence not developed by OpenAI.

Microsoft shares rose about 4.7% in midday trading to $362.12.

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