OpenAI CEO Sam Altman's "magical" GPT-4o felt more like routine Microsoft Copilot updates paired with a snub for Windows

Sam Altman
(Image credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The past few weeks have been rife with speculations and rumors about OpenAI's just-concluded Spring update event. Frankly, it was impossible for us to tell what was in store for us from the ChatGPT creator, as it usually does a great job of keeping things under wraps. 

So, we didn't get an AI-powered search engine to compete with Google and Bing or GPT-5 to succeed the "mildly embarrassing at best" GPT-4 model. In the past, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman admitted GPT-4 "kind of sucks" and promised it's the "dumbest model" we'll ever have to use. A top OpenAI executive reiterated these sentiments last week, citing today's ChatGPT will seem "laughably bad" in the next 12 months.

Over the weekend, Sam Altman took to his X (formerly Twitter) account to set the record straight. While vague, Altman confirmed that the company has been hard at work and is gearing up to ship new stuff that "feels like magic" to him. He added that he thinks users would love it too. 

Is GPT-4o really so magical?

Perhaps the most interesting bit of OpenAI's just-concluded event is the new GPT-4o model. I'm not sure about the magical bit, though. The flagship model can reason across audio, vision, and text in real time, making interactions with ChatGPT more intuitive. 

I've watched a ton of demos since the ChatGPT maker unveiled the new flagship model. Don't get me wrong, it's quite impressive but not magical or groundbreaking as hyped before its debut. GPT-4o didn't live up to the hype leading up to the event.

I found the real-time translation feature quite interesting and helpful, but it already exists in the wild. GPT-4o's live translation demo during OpenAI's Spring update is reminiscent of Samsung's Live Translate feature in its S24 lineup of flagship devices. It's essentially a personal translator incorporated into your phone to foster multilingual communication in real time.

As such, it allows users to communicate with anyone and relay accurate responses without necessarily knowing or speaking the language they are using on their end. What's more, the feature displays a live chat interface where you get real-time translations of the information being passed on to you while on a call. It also translates your response to the language the caller is using for efficient and effective communication.

We're still in the early stages of GPT-4o's release, which means there's a likelihood it will get better or even "magical" in the not-so-distant future via new updates and features. 

Exclusive MacOS app brews more trouble for Microsoft and OpenAI's complicated partnership

(Image credit: Future)

Before the event, I had a conversation about OpenAI, speculating what the company would potentially announce. My first guess was that the company would make its GPT-4 model accessible to everyone, including ChatGPT free users. 

Besides, broadly availing AI services freely to everyone is part of its founding mission. As you may know, Billionaire Elon Musk filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and its CEO, Sam Altman, over a "stark betrayal" of the company's founding mission. He added that the hot startup is now a closed-source, de facto subsidiary of Microsoft. Microsoft Insiders seem to share the same sentiments, having previously indicated that the Redmond giant is a glorified IT department for the hot startup.

This is ironic, especially after OpenAI announced that it will launch its ChatGPT app to Mac users. You'd think Microsoft's multi-billion dollar investment in OpenAI and its technology would've helped it secure a shotgun seat in such a scenario. OpenAI indicated that it's prioritizing Mac over Windows because that's where its users are. 

Microsoft and OpenAI have a rather complicated partnership and have been in a back and forth for the past few months, despite the former having a 49% stake in the earnings of OpenAI's for-profit arm. Interestingly, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has openly admitted that OpenAI wouldn't have existed without its early support, further citing:

"We were very confident in our own ability. We have all the IP rights and all the capability. I mean, look, if tomorrow OpenAI disappeared, I don’t want any customer of ours to be worried about it, quite honestly, because we have all of the rights to continue the innovation, not just to serve the products. But we can go and just do what we were doing in partnership, ourselves, and so we have the people, we have the compute, we have the data, we have everything."

Microsoft's Windows 11 already ships with access to Copilot, which is powered by the same technology as ChatGPT. In case you missed it, Microsoft launched a Copilot app for mobile users at the beginning of the year with support for OpenAI's GPT-4 model and DALL-E 3 image generation technology

(Image credit: Daniel Rubino)

Interestingly, OpenAI has buried these features under its $20 ChatGPT Plus subscription, while Microsoft allowed everyone to access them freely via its new app on iOS and Android. However, OpenAI still managed to dominate the mobile landscape per a report by Appfigures.

There's no indication when OpenAI plans to ship its native ChatGPT app to Windows users. However, it will likely be soon. It's also possible that Microsoft will integrate the new GPT-4o model into Copilot AI.

OpenAI snubbing Windows 11 and debuting a native ChatGPT for Mac users has sparked a hot social-media debate. Based on the comments from concerned users on our post about the topic in X, some seem to think that OpenAI developed the native app for Mac users because Microsoft will probably take the lead on the Windows side. Another user indicated, "Meh... Microsoft will have GPT-4o within days in Copilot. OpenAI wants to get into Macs and iPhones to beat Google Gemini from doing it. In the end, Microsoft wins anyway with Azure. That's where Microsoft makes most of their money now."

In my opinion, the event felt more like the early days of 2023 when Microsoft had just launched Microsoft Copilot (formerly Bing Chat) and would publish weekly blog posts highlighting new updates and features shipping to the service. 

Kevin Okemwa
Contributor

Kevin Okemwa is a seasoned tech journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya with lots of experience covering the latest trends and developments in the industry. With a passion for innovation and a keen eye for detail, he has written for leading publications such as OnMSFT, MakeUseOf, and Windows Report, providing insightful analysis and breaking news on everything revolving around the Microsoft ecosystem. While AFK and not busy following the ever-emerging trends in tech, you can find him exploring the world or listening to music.

  • alec sander
    how is criticizing the use of the word magical enough for you to write an article. so sick of these trash articles showing up in my feed. teach me something. don't just spend my time complaining that revolutionary tech changes aren't enough for you. probably should have let the new model write your article for you... it's more informed
    Reply
  • ShinyProton
    When it's "magical" for more than 95% of the population, I think he's entitled to use the "magical" qualifier.
    And what was shown will be beyond the understanding of most people.
    Reply
  • fjtorres5591
    Guys, remember Apple getting ChatGPT (their first meaningful AI headline in what? five years) makes it MAGICAL! Kinda like the VISION PRO me2 VR in AR camo. Its Apple: by definition everything is magical.

    As for no mention of MS? Why not? Apple gets to bask in getting the GPT 4-oh before MS. And they needed the brag (see above). Besides, with the idiot politicians whining over the OpenAI-MS connection, a meaningless show of independence comes in handy.
    Reply
  • fjtorres5591
    ShinyProton said:
    When it's "magical" for more than 95% of the population, I think he's entitled to use the "magical" qualifier.
    And what was shown will be beyond the understanding of most people.
    Thus, magical according to Clarke's Third Law.
    Reply
  • DeroyNoodle
    After watching the event, it was clear he was referring to the improved Voice and real-time Vision modalities. These features haven't been released yet, but we did get a faster GPT-4 with better reasoning and image recognition (GPT-4o) in the meantime. Criticizing Altman's 'magical' sentiment shows you over-anticipated his words. Did you really expect something like GPT-5 this soon? We already had hints of an incremental update, like what was shown on Chatbot Arena dubbed as "im-also-a-good-gpt2-chatbot". It wasn’t massive, but it was welcomed. If you were that disappointed at what was shown at the event, it’s your fault for setting yourself up for false anticipation.
    Reply
  • bazanime
    According to the poll taken by this website indicating that folks don't find Copilot useful, it seems apt that Apple users get more focus where maybe they found more interest.

    Oh well!
    Reply
  • fjtorres5591
    bazanime said:
    According to the poll taken by this website indicating that folks don't find Copilot useful, it seems apt that Apple users get more focus where maybe they found more interest.

    Oh well!
    You do know that, entertaining as they might be, internet polls rely on self-selected voters rather than a statistically valid sample, and thus worth the paper they are printed on and not a cap more, right?

    Also, the Apple faithful are easily wowed by any trinket with an apple logo. Lie $30 microfiber cloths, round mice, and overpriced VR headsets.

    Two expanations: pick your favorite.
    Reply