Microsoft Partners with OpenAI Rival Mistral

Microsoft is teaming up with Mistral AI, a relatively new French AI startup, in a multi-year partnership aimed at advancing the development and deployment of next-generation large language models (LLMs), the two companies announced Monday.

The collaboration marks a milestone on the road to bridging the gap between cutting-edge research and tangible, real-world AI applications, they said.

"[Mistral's] commitment to fostering the open-source community and achieving exceptional performance aligns harmoniously with Microsoft’s commitment to develop trustworthy, scalable, and responsible AI solutions," said Eric Boyd, VP in Microsoft's Azure AI Platform group, in a blog post.

The partnership gives Mistral AI access to the Azure AI infrastructure to accelerate the development and deployment of the company's next generation LLMs. The alliance represents an opportunity for Mistral AI to unlock new commercial opportunities, expand to global markets, and foster ongoing research collaboration, said Arthur Mensch, CEO of Mistral AI.

"We are thrilled to embark on this partnership with Microsoft," Mensch said in a statement. "With Azure’s cutting-edge AI infrastructure, we are reaching a new milestone in our expansion propelling our innovative research and practical applications to new customers everywhere. Together, we are committed to driving impactful progress in the AI industry and delivering unparalleled value to our customers and partners globally."

The collaboration is structured around three key areas: leveraging Microsoft’s supercomputing infrastructure to enhance AI model training and performance; scaling Mistral AI's premium models to market through Azure AI services; and jointly pursuing AI research and development, including the creation of purpose-specific models for select customers, such as those in the European public sector.

Mistral Large, the company's flagship commercial model, will be available first on Azure AI and the Mistral AI platform. Mistral Large is a general-purpose language model designed to deliver on any text-based use case via state-of-the-art reasoning and knowledge capabilities. The model is proficient in code and mathematics, able to process dozens of documents in a single call, and handles English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian, the company said.

This isn't the first time Microsoft has collaborated with the French LLM company. The integration of Mistral 7B into the Azure AI model catalog was announced during the 2023 Microsoft Ignite conference. It was then accessible through Azure AI Studio and Azure Machine Learning.

"This latest addition of Mistral AI’s premium models into Models as a Service (MaaS) within Azure AI Studio and Azure Machine Learning provides Microsoft customers with a diverse selection of the best state-of-the-art and open-source models for crafting and deploying custom AI applications," Mensch said, "paving the way for novel AI-driven innovations."

"This partnership with Mistral AI is founded on a shared commitment to build trustworthy and safe AI systems and products," Mensch added. "It further reinforces Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to enhance our AI offerings and deliver unparalleled value to our customers."

To get started with Mistral Large on Azure AI, go to this website. You must sign in with your Azure subscription. There's also a technical blog on how to use Mistral Large on Azure AI.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].


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