- Microsoft released Designer, a free graphic design application, on Wednesday.
- Microsoft’s Designer may compete with Adobe’s free Adobe Express application and a large collection of preset graphics.
- In an interview, Canva’s co-founder and COO, Cliff Obrecht, stated the site is mostly used for social media designs.
Microsoft announced on Wednesday the release of a new, free graphic design program called Designer, which will also be included in paid subscriptions to the company’s Office productivity suite.
The program provides an alternative to Canva, a creative tool claiming more than 100 million monthly active users. Based in Sydney, Canva is one of the world’s most valuable businesses, with a $40 billion post-money value as of last year. But one of the startup’s backers, Blackbird Ventures, allegedly cut the value of the firm to $25.6 billion early this year as inflation and economic worries prompted software stock prices to plummet.
Since the beginning of the year, Microsoft has increased the cost of several business-oriented packages in an effort to prove the worth of its Office subscriptions by introducing new features. The market is dominated by Microsoft Office, and rival products are continuously being developed. Google is the main rival. On Tuesday, Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud, said that Workspace now has more than 8 million paying members, up from more than 6 million as of April 2020.
Increasingly, Canva is going for essential aspects of the office. In 2021, it released software to create presentations as an alternative to PowerPoint, and in September of the same year, it released software to edit documents as a competitor to Word. Canva claims that 55,000 paid teams, such as those at Amazon, FedEx, PepsiCo, Pfizer, and Salesforce, are utilising their platform.
According to an email from a Microsoft representative to CNBC, the company’s Designer app is first geared toward customers. But the tool might also be valuable to employees inside firms, government organizations, and schools, where Microsoft has a greater network of users. If Microsoft sees enough demand, the Designer service might be made available to other audiences, such as businesses.
With the state of the economy as it is, some businesses have looked to minimise costs by decreasing their reliance on third-party software suppliers. If Canva were to be included in commercial office subscriptions, this may allow businesses to save money by no longer having to pay Canva.
In a July conference call with investors, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella remarked, “No firm is better positioned than Microsoft to help enterprises execute on their digital imperative so that they can accomplish more with less.” Microsoft’s debut of Designer may potentially put the company in competition with Adobe, which offers the free Adobe Express tool along with access to a large library of premade graphics for use in your own projects. At a Bank of America event in January, Jonathan Vaas, Adobe’s vice president of investor relations, claimed that Canva is “where novices get started before they come to Adobe.”
However, Adobe and Microsoft are collaborators in many ways, and their two products work together in more than 30 ways. According to an email from a Microsoft spokeswoman to CNBC, “Adobe is our important, at-scale strategic partner, and this new consumer design tool does not impact our partnership with Adobe in any way.”
In a blog post, Liat Ben-Zur, a corporate vice president at Microsoft, said that Designer allows users to “draw on templates to come up with ideas for social media postings.” Canva’s co-founder and chief operating officer, Cliff Obrecht, said in a recent interview that the platform is most often used to create designs for social media. However, according to Obrecht, Canva is “not competing against Microsoft.” In his opinion, Adobe is the company’s main rival.
By using OpenAI’s DALL-E 2, an artificial intelligence program supported by Microsoft, a designer can predict graphic designs based on text input. Both businesses have expressed concern that designers may recommend offensive material. Microsoft recently adopted a tweak that helps to yield more varied findings, while OpenAI removed the most explicit sexual and violent material from the system’s AI training data, Ben-Zur noted.
A free online demo of Designer is now available to anyone who signs up for the waiting list. The Microsoft spokesman said that once the app is released to the public, there will be a free tier and a premium version accessible to those with Microsoft 365 Personal and Microsoft 365 Family subscriptions. Ben-Zur said that this step is essential to ensure the AI does not incorporate inappropriate material into its product designs.