On this week’s episode, Paul and I cover several major Microsoft announcements impacting the future of AI, Exchange Server, and identity solutions. We discuss Microsoft’s development of a massive in-house AI model called MAI-1 to potentially reduce reliance on OpenAI. And, we break down the newly released roadmap for Exchange Server, including details on the upcoming Subscription Edition launch. Finally, we chat about Microsoft’s unveiling of external authentication methods for Entra ID, enabling third-party MFA integration.

Microsoft Readies In-House ‘MAI-1’ Large Language Model to Reportedly Reduce OpenAI Reliance

Microsoft is reportedly developing a massive new artificial intelligence model codenamed “MAI-1” that could potentially rival the capabilities of OpenAI’s leading language models like GPT-4. According to sources familiar with the matter, MAI-1 will be Microsoft’s largest language model to date, boasting an impressive 500 billion parameters.

The development of this ambitious project is being spearheaded by Mustafa Suleyman, the recently appointed CEO of Microsoft’s dedicated AI division and co-founder of the renowned AI companies DeepMind and Inflection. Insiders indicate that MAI-1 will be “far larger than any of the smaller, open source models that Microsoft has previously trained,” and it is being built entirely in-house, without leveraging existing models from Inflection.

While OpenAI’s GPT-4 is rumored to have over 1 trillion parameters, Microsoft’s MAI-1, with its 500 billion parameters, would still significantly outsize other prominent large language models like Meta’s 70 billion parameter Llama 3, and potentially – if some open source models are anything to go by – perform as well or better than GPT-4.

Source (Paywalled)

Roadmap for Exchange Server’s Future Released, Including Subscription Edition Launch

Microsoft has provided a comprehensive update on the product roadmap for its on-premises Exchange Server, outlining the path toward the launch of the highly anticipated Exchange Server Subscription Edition and the final update for Exchange Server 2019.

According to the announcement, Microsoft plans to release one final Cumulative Update (CU15) for Exchange Server 2019 later this year. This update will introduce several new features, such as support for Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.3 and the reintroduction of certificate management in the Exchange Admin Center (EAC). Crucially, CU15 will also include changes to pave the way for the upcoming Exchange Server Subscription Edition (SE).

Exchange Server SE, the next major release, is scheduled for launch in early Q3 2025. This new offering will adopt a subscription-based licensing model, similar to SharePoint Server Subscription Edition. Microsoft has confirmed that the hardware and operating system requirements for Exchange Server SE will remain the same as Exchange 2019 CU15, which adds support for Windows Server 2025.

One of the key advantages of Exchange Server SE is its support for in-place upgrades from Exchange Server 2019, providing a fast and seamless transition path for existing customers. Microsoft is also maintaining support for legacy upgrades, allowing organizations to build new infrastructure and migrate mailboxes and namespaces.

Read more on Microsoft’s Tech Community

Microsoft Unveils External Authentication Methods for Entra ID, Enabling Third-Party MFA Integration

Microsoft has announced the upcoming public preview of external authentication methods in Microsoft Entra ID, scheduled for release in the first half of May. This highly anticipated feature will allow organizations to integrate their preferred multifactor authentication (MFA) solutions with Entra ID, enhancing security and flexibility.

Deploying MFA is widely recognized as the single most important step in securing user identities. A recent Microsoft Research study highlighted that the use of MFA can reduce the risk of compromise by more than 99.2%. While some organizations have already deployed MFA solutions, they have been seeking a way to reuse these existing investments with Entra ID. External authentication methods address this need, enabling organizations to leverage their preferred MFA solutions to meet the MFA requirement within Entra ID.

Read more on Microsoft’s Tech Community

I’ll be back, with Rich Dean, in two weeks time. Until then, don’t forget to subscribe on Practical 365, iTunes or Spotify, and if you’ve got any thoughts on this weeks’ show let us know in the comments below.

About the Author

Steve Goodman

Technology Writer and Chief Editor for AV Content at Practical 365, focused on Microsoft 365. A 12-time Microsoft MVP, author of several technology books and regular Microsoft conference speaker. Steve works at Advania in the UK as Field Chief Technology Officer, advising business and IT on the best way to get the most from Microsoft Cloud technology.

Leave a Reply