Microsoft Paint jumps on the generative AI bandwagon, with DALL-E taking the fancy-footed horses’ reins

As we first mentioned back in October, Microsoft has been busy leveraging machine learning into all of its software products and now Paint will let you go all Picasso with its generative AI system, Cocreator. Just a handful of clicks and you’ll be gazing at some spectacular landscapes, glorious starfields, and anatomically-inaccurate hands and feet.

Unless you’ve been deliberately hiding under a rock on Mars, you can’t have escaped the fact that creating images using generative AI systems like Stable Diffusion and Midjourney are hot topics. Both of those can be surprisingly complex to use but they can also produce astonishing images, though whether it’s truly artwork is a matter of fierce debate.

Well, if your copy of Windows 11 is fully up-to-date, you’ll be able to have a little dabble in AI image-making with Cocreator, a new feature of Paint, that’s powered by the cloud-based Azure DALL-E service. Just fire up the app and you’ll see the button for it in the main ribbon.

Despite being told that I would have to join a waiting list, I got to use it immediately. As with all generative AI systems, you write in a text prompt (e.g. ‘astronaut riding a horse’) and then have the option to select a particular art style. I went for photorealistic, as this often highlights an issue that images made via machine learning typically show: Hands and feet that are wildly out of proportion.

And to no surprise whatsoever, such results fall in line with expectations. I’m sure that with a lot of time fine-tuning your text prompts, the appendage problem can be circumnavigated, but you’re not going to be using Paint’s new feature as often as you like.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

That’s because making an AI image with Cocreator isn’t entirely free, as you start off with 50 credits and use one of them for every picture you make. How do you get more credits, you ask? Well, damned if I know.

Microsoft says that signing in with your MS account lets you access your credits but having done that, I still can’t see any way of finding that information, let alone adding more credits.

To be fair, Paint Cocreator is still a preview feature, so some limitations are to be expected. For example, the prompt system only accepts commands in English and the feature itself is only functional in the United States, France, UK, Australia, Canada, Italy, and Germany. But if Microsoft expects users to properly test it out for them, it needs to sort out the credits system asap.

Still, if you just want to try generative AI a couple of times to see what the fuss is about, at least you’ve got a pretty easy way of going about it now.

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