While the integration of ChatGPT within Bing search engine continues to be a hot topic, Microsoft has dealt another punch to its competitors in the consumer-facing apps scene by introducing Microsoft Designer.

Microsoft Designer is a cutting-edge AI tool that enables users to create high-quality social media posts, invitations, digital postcards, graphics, and much more, regardless of their design expertise. The simple-to-use interface starts with a straightforward question: what do you want to create?

Opening screen of Microsoft Designer

Depending on your response, Microsoft’s AI, dubbed Designer Copilot, assists you in creating visually-appealing illustrations for your next social media post, cover image for a birthday event, graphics for a PowerPoint presentation, and much more. It is specifically designed for people who are not designers and assists in composing layouts, selecting color palettes, typography, and even adding small animations.

What's more, this wonderful tool provides non-designers with access to thousands of high-quality stock photos, web search images, and even includes pure AI-created images in its vast library.

While "real" designers may frown upon it, considering it a tool for kids, it's essential to consider where most design currently takes place - quick-burning social media, one-off PowerPoint presentations, and event covers. The lifespan of such designs is so short that it's not economically viable for small and medium-sized businesses to hire a designer to create such images.

This move didn't come out of the blue and is part of a wider strategy by Microsoft to incorporate AI into its tools and apps, reducing repetitive tasks and enhancing productivity for workers.

In 2019, Microsoft invested $1 billion in OpenAI and formed a partnership with it to serve as the AI infrastructure and preferred commercialization partner for OpenAI. This January, Microsoft extended their partnership by investing $10 billion more, bringing more OpenAI models and tools to a wider audience, and furthering their Azure infrastructure development for AI solutions.

Microsoft is betting heavily on AI. Along with the latest AI tool release, Microsoft Designer, users are already heavily relying on Github Copilot and Bing's AI assistant. It's expected that we will soon see more "Copilots" in Microsoft's Office 365 suite.

Screenshot of Microsoft Designer

Getting my own hands dirty

After being on the waiting list for weeks, I finally obtained my access to Microsoft Designer a few days ago and began exploring it. First impressions were fascinating, to say the least. I must admit, I'm not the ideal user for Microsoft Designer, as I'm already proficient in several design tools, and I don't see any significant advantages to using the combination of stock image providers, Figma, and Midjourney. Nonetheless, I recognize that this kind of tool is fantastic for people whose day job doesn't involve designing and who require quick and dirty solutions for their everyday design needs.

"Within moments, Designer generated a number of layouts and title+subtitle options for me to choose from. "

I started by attempting to create an illustration for an upcoming webinar on AI art. Within moments, Designer generated a number of layouts and title+subtitle options for me to choose from. The "Copilot" sidebar offered me various variations and options to select from. Once I had chosen a layout, I was able to modify the text and other assets to create my design.

Designer is linked to a vast stock image database, and if you can't find your preferred image, you can ask Dall-E image generation AI to create something specifically for you. Overall, a sufficiently nice-looking illustration was ready in just a couple of minutes.

As a final word, I can see where Microsoft Designer is headed and why it's a much-needed and welcome addition to the office worker's toolset. It allows people to quickly meet their needs for short-lived illustrations and images. However, this tool is limited in functionality and isn't suitable for more complex design works. This was probably not even Microsoft’s intention. Anyway, Microsoft Designer is a prime illustration of how AI is transforming the way we work, not just in the future, but also in the present.

Cover image designed with Microsoft Designer.