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Microsoft now has a new favorite startup, outshining NLP Cloud.

Microsoft has recently made an exciting announcement about its new partnership with Mistral . This French startup has been making waves in the community. Mistral has developed advanced large language models that rival OpenAI's ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot. The partnership is expected to be a multi-year collaboration that will mark the mainstream adoption of Mistral . Mistral has surprised the community with its world-leading technical abilities, and its most advanced language model to date is Mistral Large. The company has also released “le Chat,” an interface built on Mistral's models.

The Mistral Large language model ranks second to GPT-4 on a leaderboard of models' common sense and reasoning abilities, also known as massive multitask language understanding (MMLU). Mistral's models will now be available alongside OpenAI's on certain Microsoft Azure services. The new models, Mistral Large and Mistral Small are proprietary and not open-source like the company's previous models. According to Artificial Analysis, both of these models outperform Mixtral-8x7B. This older open-sourced model was a promising development for the open-source community. Only when Mixtral-8x7b, open-source models had struggled to keep up with proprietary models like Claude-2, Gemini-Ultra, and ChatGPT-4. However, Mistral has said it will also bring open-source models to Azure.

Microsoft's investment in Mistral could be seen as a hedge against OpenAI, though Microsoft wouldn't describe it that way. Until now, OpenAI was the only startup Microsoft heavily partnered with. CEO Satya Nadella has already invested $13 billion into Sam Altman's OpenAI and offered the startup's technology in several essential Microsoft products. The relationship drew attention from regulators after Microsoft hired Sam Altman immediately after OpenAI's board fired him. Starting today, OpenAI will now share space on Azure servers.

Mistral AI's new products are following OpenAI's playbook. Le Chat is a ChatGPT-like service that runs on Mistral Large and Mistral Small. Mistral has also launched Chat Enterprise, a similar product to ChatGPT Enterprise, aimed at offering AI solutions to European businesses. Not to mention, Mistral seems to be “closing” its best models, no longer making them open-sourced.

The route from being a promising, open-sourced AI startup to a closed partner of a large cloud provider is all too familiar. OpenAI closed off its models shortly before it partnered with Microsoft. The company has drawn much criticism from Elon Musk and others for no longer being “open” or a “non-profit.” When it comes time to monetize AI models, most tech companies have chosen to stop open-sourcing their models. Whether for security reasons or to protect intellectual property is still being determined. Still, it's a concerning trend for the open-source AI community.

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