Microsoft today said that it's extending its partnership with OpenAI, the startup behind art- and text-generating AI systems like ChatGPT, DALL-E 2 and GPT-3, with a "multi-year, multi-billion-dollar" investment. OpenAI says that the infusion of new capital -- the exact amount of which wasn't disclosed -- will be used to continue its independent research and develop AI that's "safe, useful and powerful."

The optics aren't the best for Microsoft, which just last week announced plans to lay off 10,000 employees as a part of broader cost-cutting measures. But they'd been telegraphed by the company earlier this month -- in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that Microsoft planned to make OpenAI's foundational systems available as commercials platforms so that any entity in any industry can build on them.

OpenAI will remain a capped-profit company as a part of the new investment deal with Microsoft. Under the model, backers’ returns are limited to 100 times their investment -- or possibly less in the future.

In a blog post, Microsoft said that it will increase its investments in the deployment of specialized supercomputing systems to accelerate OpenAI’s AI research and integrate OpenAI’s AI systems with its products while "introducing new categories of digital experiences." The tech giant's Azure cloud platform will continue to be OpenAI's exclusive cloud provider, powering the startup's workloads across research, products and API services.

Microsoft was previously rumored to be preparing a ChatGPT integration with Bing search results as well as bringing OpenAI's language AI technology into apps like Word, PowerPoint and Outlook. Several years ago, Microsoft-owned GitHub jointly developed and launched Copilot, a code-generating AI system. And Microsoft has incorporated OpenAI innovations including GPT-3 and DALL-E 2 into apps and services like Power Apps, Microsoft Edge and the forthcoming Designer.

The efforts build on Microsoft and OpenAI's years of close collaboration. In 2019, Microsoft announced that it would invest $1 billion in OpenAI (roughly half in the form of Azure credits) to jointly develop new technologies for the Azure platform and "further extend" OpenAI's large-scale AI capabilities. In exchange, OpenAI agreed to license some of its intellectual property to Microsoft, which the company would subsequently commercialize and sell to partners, and train and run AI models on Azure as OpenAI worked to develop next-gen computing hardware.