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Microsoft expands Azure OpenAI Service with DALL-E 2 in preview • TechCrunch

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When Azure OpenAI Service launched in 2021, the service — a part of Azure Cognitive Services — provided enterprise-tailored access to OpenAI’s API through the Azure platform for applications like language translation and text autocompletion. That’s not changing. But after expanding the service in May with fine-tuning features, Microsoft is today introducing invite-only access to DALL-E 2 for select Azure OpenAI Service customers.

Customers can use DALL-E 2 to generate custom images using either text or images. In line with the consumer DALL-E 2 service, they can leverage inpainting and outpainting — capabilities that generate new content within a portion of an image or push an image beyond its original confines, respectively — in addition to a feature that generates variations on an existing image.

Microsoft DALL-E 2 Azure OpenAI Service

Content for podcasts custom-generated by DALL-E 2, through the Azure OpenAI Service. Image Credits: Microsoft

Early adopters include brands like Mattel, which used DALL-E 2 to come up with ideas for a new Hot Wheels model car. German media conglomerate RTL Deutschland, another pilot customer, is considering combining streaming content metadata with DALL-E 2 to generate visuals for podcast episodes and scenes in audiobooks.

To prevent misuse, as with Designer and Image Creator, Microsoft says it’s implemented filters to reject DALL-E 2 prompts from Azure OpenAI Service customers that violate content policy. The company also claims it’s integrated techniques to prevent DALL-E 2 from creating images of religious objects and celebrities, plus objects commonly used to try to trick the system into generating sexual or violent content. And Microsoft says it’s added models that remove AI-generated images appearing to contain adult, gore and other types of “inappropriate” content.

Microsoft DALL-E 2 Azure OpenAI Service

Generations from Mattel using DALL-E 2. Image Credits: Microsoft

“Microsoft is making access available by invitation-only to give us the opportunity to collaborate with customers and create safeguards to prevent harmful uses and unwanted outcomes as customers bring their applications to production,” a Microsoft spokesperson told TechCrunch via email. “Collaborations with these early customers will help us make sure the responsible AI safeguards are working in practice.”

Beyond DALL-E 2, Microsoft gave a general update on Azure OpenAI Service’s growth since its launch roughly a year ago. Companies using the service now span industries including financial services, insurance and healthcare, the company said, including brands like Accenture, Avanade, Autodesk, BMW Group, CarMax, EY and PwC. Some of the most common use cases include writing assistance, natural language-to-code generation and parsing data to generate insights. For example, PwC is leveraging Azure OpenAI Service to classify various news articles into environment, social and governance topics for benchmarking purposes, while CarMax is using the service to generate new marketing content based on customer reviews.

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