Microsoft is seeing big growth in the generative AI business, as the company's CEO, Satya Nadella, Tuesday evening told Wall Street that the company's paying customers for its GitHub Copilot software rose by 40% in the September quarter from the prior quarter.
"We have over 1 million paid copilot users in more than 37,000 organizations that subscribe to copilot for business," said Nadella, "with significant traction outside the United States."
A recent addition to Copilot, Copilot Chat, is "already being used by both digital natives like Shopify as well as leading enterprises like Maersk and PWC to supercharge the productivity of their software developers," said Nadella.
He noted that the Microsoft Edge browser has now gained share for 10 consecutive quarters. "This quarter, we introduced new personalized answers as well support for DALL-E 3 helping people get more relevant answers and to create incredibly realistic images. More than 1.8 billion images have been created to-date. And with our Copilot in shopping, people can find more tailored recommendations and better deals," said Nadella.
Wall Street expects Microsoft to have a big financial payoff from Microsoft's partnership with startup OpenAI, in which it has invested over ten billion dollars. That partnership may someday be worth a hundred billion dollars to Microsoft, some Wall Street analysts have estimated.
Though Nadella did not quantify the revenue from GitHub Copilot, Microsoft CFO Amy Hood said that "higher-than-expected AI consumption contributed to revenue growth in Azure."
The company's total revenue for its Intelligent Cloud computing operations in the quarter topped analysts' estimates, rising 19%, year over year, to $24.3 billion, the company said, versus Wall Street's expectation for $23.4 billion. Within that total, the Azure business rose 29%, of which 3 percentage points was from "AI services," said Hood.
Other uses of Copilot, and AI more generally, included expanded use of Copilot via Microsoft's developer tools, the Power Platform. "More than 126,000 organizations including 3M, Equinor, Lumen Technologies, Nationwide, PG&E and Toyota have all used Copilot and Power Platform," said Nadella.
Nadella noted that "more than 18,000 organizations now use Azure OpenAI service, including new-to-Azure customers, and we are expanding our reach with digital-first companies with OpenAI APIs as leading AI start-ups use OpenAI to power their AI solutions, therefore making them Azure customers as well."
The company is adding generative AI to its LinkedIn business, including a "learning coach that gives members personalized content guidelines and tool," rolled out last quarter. "We have seen a nearly 80% increase in members watching AI-related learning courses this quarter" on LinkedIn, said Nadella.
Nadella also called attention to the company's spreading of Copilot to industries, in particular, health care, where the company is integrating clinical tools into its Fabric data service on Azure. Among those tools, the DAX Copilot, used to transcribe clinical notes, is "increasing physician productivity and reducing burnout," said Nadella.
It is still early in the roll-out of GitHub Copilot and the rest, said Nadella. "We are in the very, very early innings there, and so we look forward to seeing the traction for these products going forward," he said. The early use of Copilot, he said, is "giving us good confidence, and our customers, more importantly, good confidence around what these products represent in terms of value."