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A 3-Month Lifespan: Microsoft Scraps Copilot GPT Builder


In a surprising move, Microsoft announced the discontinuation of its consumer-facing Copilot GPT Builder on June 11, effective July 10, 2024, less than three months after its launch. Microsoft communicated this decision to Copilot Pro subscribers via email and a support webpage. The service, which allowed users to create custom versions of Copilot AI, will cease to exist, with all associated data being deleted from July 10 through July 14, 2024.

 

What Is It and Why the Sudden Termination?

 

Microsoft launched the Copilot GPT Builder in March 2024, positioning it as a tool for creating and sharing task-specific chatbots without requiring technical expertise. The Copilot GPT Builder was designed to empower users to create personalized AI applications. It featured a “Create” tab for building custom GPTs and a “Configure” tab for advanced customization, including retrieval augmented generation (RAG, a technique used in AI to improve the responses of a language model by actively combining it with external information sources) and the ability to integrate external data sources. This flexibility allowed users to develop bespoke AI solutions tailored to specific tasks.

 

On its support page of Copilot GPT Builder, Microsoft explains that the company is "shifting focus on GPTs to Commercial and Enterprise scenarios," thus discontinuing efforts in the consumer space. This news isn't entirely a surprise. In May, Microsoft announced it was slowing its Copilot AI advances to refine the tool's existing experiences based on user feedback. For those who have utilized the Copilot GPT Builder, Microsoft offers a small consolation: users can open their custom GPTs in “Edit” mode and save the instructions elsewhere for future reference. However, this workaround is less convenient than the integrated solution previously available, requiring users to manually input instructions into Copilot, thereby reducing the tool's efficiency and ease of use.

 

Microsoft vs. OpenAI

 

Despite its potential, the consumer version of the GPT Builder failed to gain significant traction. In contrast, OpenAI's GPT Builder and GPT Store, launched in late 2023 and early 2024, respectively, have seen much broader acceptance. This is due to several factors, but the two main reasons are the much wider customer base and awareness of OpenAI—as highlighted in a recent survey by Oxford University where ChatGPT awareness averages around 50% while Copilot is only 15%—and the fact that Copilot GPT Builder is locked behind a $20 subscription.

 

While GPTs were also originally locked behind a subscription tier for OpenAI, with the recent update of GPT-4o, even free-tier users now have access, albeit limited, to advanced features such as GPTs and the GPT Store. This move responds to the increasing competition in the generative AI market, where OpenAI strives to maintain its lead. This inclusive approach has facilitated broader adoption and innovation from grassroots users, fostering a community-driven approach to AI development. With competition from other more popular options, Microsoft’s Copilot GPT Builder has simply fallen out of favor and been eliminated through competition due to its smaller customer base, exposure, and the existence of other better and free-to-use alternatives

 

Microsoft is OpenAI’s largest investor, but the underlying relationship is much more complicated. Microsoft does not want to solely rely on OpenAI; instead, it is consistently promoting AI products under its own Copilot brand name, ultimately seeking to surpass OpenAI. Microsoft has decreased its dependence on OpenAI by diversifying its investments, including a $1.5 billion investment in Abu Dhabi’s G42, a leading UAE-based AI technology holding company. Interestingly, if you search “ChatGPT” on a Windows PC’s Microsoft Store, no results relating to OpenAI will be returned. OpenAI, on the other hand, is also exploring other partnership options, such as recent deals with PwC and Apple. Nonetheless, OpenAI and Microsoft’s partnership remains strong, with OpenAI reportedly using Microsoft Azure to power Apple's new AI features exclusively.

 

Future of Consumer-Facing Custom GPT builders

 

Microsoft's termination of the custom GPT Builder is an understandable move—shifting resources from something that is not profitable and outcompeted to more profitable ventures. By giving up the consumer-facing GPT Builder feature for more enterprise-focused AI solutions, the shift also reflects a broader trend in the industry. This strategic pivot aligns with Microsoft's core strengths and market positioning in enterprise productivity tools. This also shows that the market for consumer-facing custom GPTs is significant, but not big enough for every player, especially when it is dominated by the most publicized GPTs by OpenAI.

 

The discontinuation of the consumer Copilot GPT Builder raises questions about the sustainability of similar tools for users and developers. It highlights the challenges companies face in balancing innovation with user adoption and market demand. The move underscores the importance of community engagement and user feedback in the success of any new AI tools. Moreover, Microsoft's exit from the consumer GPT market could be the first of many similar moves by other companies that find it challenging to compete with OpenAI's dominant presence. This may lead to a consolidation in the market, where only the most well-supported and widely adopted tools survive.

 

For OpenAI and other companies that continue to support consumer-facing customizable AI tools, the path forward involves fostering a collaborative and innovative environment where users can create and share AI solutions tailored to their unique needs and build a vibrant community to achieve scale. OpenAI's inclusive approach, which allows even free-tier users to access advanced features, sets a precedent that others may find hard to match, potentially narrowing the field to those who can sustain and grow a broad user base.

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A 3-Month Lifespan: Microsoft Scraps Copilot GPT Builder

In a surprising move, Microsoft announced the discontinuation of its consumer-facing Copilot GPT Builder on June 11, effective July 10, 2024, less than three months after its launch. Microsoft communicated this decision to Copilot Pro subscribers via email and a support webpage. The service, which allowed users to create custom versions of Copilot AI, will cease to exist, with all associated data ....

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