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Why Microsoft still leads Google in the AI ​​developer wars

Why Microsoft still leads Google in the AI ​​developer wars


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Cheeky to last year's viral video that featured a montage of every utterance of the word AI during the Google I/O keynote, CEO Sundar Pichai has decided to turn the tables.

At the end of this year's keynote, Pichai couldn't resist the temptation to highlight the capabilities of Google's latest Gemini AI model. With amusement shining in his eyes, he fed the entire transcript of his keynote speech into Gemini's enthusiastic algorithm and challenged the AI ​​to count the number of times it appeared. result? His staggering 120 mentions are a testament to Google's unwavering commitment to AI.

The announcements from Google I/O have been impressive over the past few days. Google is looking to take on OpenAI and Microsoft by integrating Gemini into a wide range of products.

What Google did with I/O

I attended this year's I/O conference and saw more than just an electric DeLorean. From the introduction of Astra, a multimodal AI tool, to the integration of Geminis across search, photography, and personal assistants, Google has established itself as a strong competitor in his AI space.

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The range of Gemini applications, from the lightweight Gemini Nano to the powerful Gemini 1.5 Pro and Flash, demonstrate Google's ambitious plans. With innovations like AI Agent, AI Teammate, and the new Gemini app, Google aims to make AI a central part of everyday digital experiences, highlighting its strategy to outperform its competitors.

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai speaks at Google I/O

After the keynote, as I sit through the many labs and breakout sessions, I begin to feel a growing sense of cognitive dissonance.

Memories of past keynote speeches

The world shimmers and disappears, transporting me back to a distant memory of another tech giant and its eccentric CEO, from another time and place. The year is 2006. A middle-aged man wearing the company's blue button-down shirt and khaki pleated pants stood on a brightly lit stage.

This guy is sweating ridiculously profusely and looks like he's living out an SNL skit. His eyes widened, he slammed his fist into his palm and began chanting the word “Developer” over and over again, as if trying to summon a demon from the ether. His name is his CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer. He's got the crowd going wild. The spell takes effect and the audience begins chanting and clapping along. Developers, developers, developers!

Steve Ballmer, 2006, Microsoft and Blue OS Museum Youtube Channel

Suddenly, I'm back in my Google I/O Lab session. Here, over 100 developers are sitting in front of me, listening. But some are struggling to keep up. A few confused programmers timidly raised their hands to ask questions, but as soon as the speaker continued speaking, they quickly dropped their hands, leaving no room for those who were late to the AI ​​revolution.

That's when I realized that Google's philosophy was wrong. While the AI ​​wars are being fought for the hearts and minds of developers, Google is distracted by its consumer core.

Are you fighting the wrong war? Google I/O Lab Session

It's the developers who build the apps, use the tools, and ultimately decide the winners. Enterprise developers are the area where his Microsoft has the most advantage, and even though Google has led in his AI space, Microsoft and he are the real reason OpenAI is already winning. . Steve Ballmer was right all along.

Microsoft continues to work with OpenAI to keep developers happy. Although OpenAI is known for its consumer products, it's actually very developer-focused, offering comprehensive APIs, extensive documentation, and strong support to make AI integration seamless. doing.

Even Meta, with its open source Llama 3 and larger Llama model family, is trying to position itself as developer-friendly, allowing anyone to take advantage of its AI and build whatever they want for free. .

This isn't the first time Google has nearly lost a lead. Developer traction has been the Achilles heel of his Google Cloud, which is a fantastic infrastructure that is technically superior in many ways.

But even after more than a decade and $45 billion invested, Google Cloud still lags behind with 11% market share, compared to Amazon Web Services' 31% and Microsoft Azure's 25%. Masu. Google had a head start during his three years, but now Microsoft has almost tripled the market share. reason? Developer.

Google restarts developer efforts with AI

Will Google's AI push finally break Microsoft's developer dominance? I asked some people at I/O.

As our lab neared its end, I approached a developer. During this session, I noticed a developer being particularly careful about fine-tuning the Gemma model. Was she impressed by what she saw?

I think “impressed” is a strong word.I am currently working with [large language models] Leila Bzouber, a doctoral candidate at Drexel University, said, “My research involves an LLM and I was wondering if I could use Gemma for my specific research topic that needed fine-tuning.'' I want to,” he said. I use her OpenAI regularly and find it very easy. I'm learning how to use her Gemma within Google Colab, but it seemed a little scary to approach from a developer's perspective.

Despite some challenges, Google has a lot of developer engagement and great opportunities. In fact, the company also acquired former OpenAI developer champion Logan Kilpatrick, which Business Insider is calling a big win in his AI talent war.

Bouzoabaa believes that fine-tuning small-scale language models (SLMs) is rapidly becoming essential. I don't have the hardware to host my model. Therefore, previously it was not really possible to fine-tune large models.

But Bouzoubaa believes smaller language models could yield better results with health data. I know that the model isn't necessarily trained on the health data I use, so it's important to be able to fine-tune it. [enable more] AI applications.

Just a few lines away, another developer was bowing down at his laptop when I interrupted her workflow. I'm more of a Google fan girl, says April Johnson of Extensis. Extensis is her 30-year-old software company focused on managing licensed fonts for teams. Microsoft is doing great things, but I think Google is still ahead of the game when it comes to the deeper problems that AI needs to solve.

Johnson is also very passionate about learning using Google tools. I use Google Colab all the time and love how easy it is to set up prototyping.It's very easy [prototype] Just move it to the cloud on my computer.

April Johnson, Extensis

Near the back row of the room, a bearded man who almost certainly has the root password leans over a laptop covered with 1,000 stickers from 100 conferences, like this one. I'm here. He's Nick Bates from Cyber ​​Drive, a startup that has developed a smartphone specifically for kids.

Bates says the current use of ML is to check for patterns of fraud.We are not creating our own [AI models] Now that Gemma is open, we've been looking at ways to take advantage of it.

Another developer sitting nearby, who wished to remain anonymous, added: “The problem is, the big models are so big that you need a big machine, and you need so many users that it's actually more profitable to host it yourself.'' That's what I mean,” he echoed.Many open source models are too large to have the space to run [on my laptop].

Microsoft has an advantage with developers

As I left the Google I/O conference, I couldn't help but feel that despite Google's new efforts to win over developers with AI, Microsoft still has the upper hand. The Redmond giant's deep corporate roots, combined with its strong developer ecosystem and his strategic partnership with OpenAI, give it a huge advantage in the battle for developer hearts.

The Phi-3 family of small language models released by Microsoft, particularly Phi-3-mini, has shown that it can compete with SLM. Model optimization for different platforms and support for larger context windows make it an attractive option for developers looking to integrate AI into their projects.

Google, on the other hand, is technologically superior but still has a long way to go in terms of making its AI tools more accessible and easy to use for developers. Feedback from I/O developers suggests that Google's AI services can be scary to approach, especially when compared to the more streamlined experiences offered by Microsoft and OpenAI.

As the AI ​​race intensifies, it is becoming increasingly clear that the key to success lies not only in the quality of the AI ​​models themselves, but also in the ability of developers to harness their potential.

With years of developer focus and strategic partnerships, Microsoft appears poised to maintain control over this important user. Despite its technological superiority, Google will need to redouble its efforts to simplify and streamline its AI services for developers if it wants to catch up.

Ultimately, the winner of the AI ​​race may be determined by which companies can most effectively rally developers to their cause. And now, it seems that Microsoft is continuing to chant that word.

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