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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Microsoft announces new services and updates to speed-up AI transformation

One of the products to launch out of the Microsoft Ignite 2023 event is a tool that can create a photorealistic avatar of a person.

Microsoft has introduced around 100 new services and updates as part of its AI-forward strategy, including key developments within its productivity and security offerings covering Windows, Microsoft 365, and Azure.

The announcements were made at Microsoft Ignite 2023, the company’s annual conference for developers and IT professionals.

Microsoft said industries are undergoing transformations.

“As we reach the end of 2023, nearly every industry in Africa is undergoing a collective transformation, with estimates that AI could expand the economy by as much as 50 percent of current GDP by 2030 if the continent could capture just 10 percent of the global AI market.”


One of the products to launch out of the Microsoft Ignite 2023 event is a tool that can create a photorealistic avatar of a person and animate that avatar saying things that the person didn’t necessarily say.

Called Azure AI Speech text-to-speech avatar allow users to create synthetic videos of a 2D photorealistic avatar speaking.

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The neural text-to-speech Avatar models are trained by deep neural networks based on human video recording samples, and the voice of the avatar is provided by a text-to-speech voice model. 

Microsoft’s tool trains a model to drive the animation, while a separate text-to-speech model—either prebuilt or trained on the person’s voice—”reads” the script aloud.

Avatars can speak in multiple languages. And, for chatbot scenarios, they can tap AI models like OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 to respond to off-script questions from customers.

With the preview of Azure AI Studio, there is now a unified and trusted platform to help organisations more easily explore, build, test and deploy AI apps—all in one place.

With Azure AI Studio, you can build your own copilots, train your own, or ground other foundational and open-source models with the data that you bring.


Microsoft also touched on Copilot for Microsoft 365, which it introduced eight months ago, to reduce digital debt and increase productivity so people can focus on the work that is uniquely human.

Microsoft Copilot Studio is a new end-to-end conversational AI platform that allows organisations to build their own copilots from scratch or adapt out-of-the-box copilots with their own data, logic, and actions relevant to their business needs.  

Already, the company’s research, a combination of surveys and experiments, demonstrates significant productivity gains, with 70 percent of Copilot sharing that they were more productive and 68 percent saying it improved the quality of their work.

Another 68 percent also say it helped jumpstart the creative process. Overall, users were 29 percent faster at specific tasks (searching, writing, and summarising).

“We are taking the next step to simplify the user experience and make Copilot more accessible to everyone. Bing Chat and Bing Chat Enterprise will now simply become Copilot. It has foundational capabilities, like the ability to answer questions, create content, and reason over data. And it has web grounding, so it always has access to the latest information,” Microsoft said.

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