Microsoft Designer is the AI Version of Canva

Big tech is fighting over who is going to win the “AI wars”, but Microsoft seems to be setting up for the checkmate.

I’m surprised how quickly Microsoft is ramping up it’s AI products, acquiring key players and basically makings sure most of the money from AI flows into it’s coffers.

Before I go on a rant, here is the 5 second summary:

5 Second Summary

Microsoft is rolling out “Microsoft Designer”.

It’s a graphic design software that uses OpenAI’s Dall-E to generate art, design and assets for users without requiring graphic design knowledge.

There is a waitlist, but if you do anything with design, I suggest you sign up asap:

(thank me later)

This might not seem like a big deal just yet, but as you’ll see, Microsoft is building a 360 degree moat around AI that might be hard for competitors to get over.


The graphic design market is growing fast in the US and worldwide. 

More people are finding that they need to use graphic design in some aspect of their lives. Whether for PowerPoint presentations, blogs, social media or trying to create the perfect viral meme, people want create from pixels.

Adobe has somewhere between 20 to 30 million users that pay for it’s “Creative Cloud” every month and it’s revenue is skyrocketing.

Adobe is known for Photoshop as well as a host of other video, website, audio, pdf and graphic editing software.

But even bigger than the Photoshop user base is Canva, who created a photo editor for people who don’t have the Photoshop skills.

Canva has over 75 million monthly active users and expects to generate over a billion dollars of revenue in 2022.

Canva is now valued at $40 billion following a recent funding round of $200 million, making it one of the most valuable private software companies out there.

It’s appeal is that it’s free (with premium features), it’s very simple to use and it’s online only, so your actual hardware doesn’t really matter. 

(Adobe’s software needs to be powered by whatever device you’re using it on)

But now comes Microsoft Designer, that will use AI to generate whatever images you need, create an unlimited amount of designs and slides to choose from, create animations on the fly and then post it to your socials or the Microsoft office suite of products.

Since AI is generating these images, everything is happening in the cloud, so any old laptop or mobile can run this (in theory).

By the way, the above is much more important in developing countries that are going online. Devices are expensive, internet is slow and power outages are common, so being able to work in the cloud and send links to finalized projects makes this much more accessible to the rest of the world.


Creating stunning visuals is hard, expensive and takes a long time to learn.

With AI generated images, you just type in whatever your mind imagines and it pops out.

It can also easily make the images animated (we are not quite at the level where AI can generate video by itself, but that might be coming).

Microsoft Designer will give people the ability to create at the level of a skilled Photoshop user, without any skills required, from any device.


While many players can build these AI tools, this may be a winner-take-most situation because the company that is able to train their model on the most amount of data and also have the most human feedback to train the AI on what the “most pleasing to humans” result is…

…that company will likely win by creating the best and most useful AI tool in that category.


One “hot take” on where this AI frenzy is going is that a lot of the money that is made will go to the people selling “Picks and Shovels” for this gold rush.

The AI tools and language models that get developed will be “Grist For the Mill”.

[I’m not going to lie, I had to look up what that meant]

“Grist For the Mill” = something that can be used for a particular purpose. Ex. Now that he’s a writer, he regards his difficult childhood experiences as grist for the mill.

Here’s Chamath Palihapitiya on who the big winners of the AI war will be:

(I set it to start around the 18 minute mark, listen for about 2-3 minutes to get the gist)

I signed up for the waitlist and I’m hoping to get my hands on it soon. I will share my impressions with you asap.