By Jeffrey Dastin

(Reuters) – Microsoft Corp on Monday said it is widening access to hugely popular software from OpenAI, a startup it is backing whose futuristic ChatGPT chatbot has captivated Silicon Valley.

Microsoft said the startup’s tech, which so far has previewed to its cloud-computing customers in a program it called the Azure OpenAI Service, was now generally available, a distinction that’s expected to bring a flood of new usage.

The news comes as Microsoft has looked at adding to the $1 billion stake in OpenAI it announced in 2019, two people familiar with the matter previously told Reuters. The news site Semafor reported earlier this month that Microsoft might invest $10 billion; Microsoft declined to comment on any potential deal.

Public interest in OpenAI surged following its November release of ChatGPT, a text-based chatbot that can process drafts, poetry or even computer code on command. ChatGPT is powered by generative artificial intelligence, which conjures new content after training on vast amounts of data — tech that Microsoft is letting more customers apply to use.

ChatGPT itself, not just its underlying tech, will soon be available via Microsoft’s cloud, it said in a blog post.

Microsoft says it is vetting customers’ applications to mitigate potential abuse of the software, and its filters can screen for harmful content users might input or the tech might produce.

The business potential of such software has garnered massive venture-capital investment in startups producing it, at a time funding has otherwise dried up. Already, some companies have used the tech to create marketing content or demonstrate how it could negotiate a cable bill.

Microsoft said CarMax, KPMG and others were using its Azure OpenAI service. Its press release quoted an Al Jazeera vice president as saying the service could help the news organization summarize and translate content.

(Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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