Microsoft powers-up AI in free design app

Three designers sitting around a laptop
(Image credit: Unsplash / Windows)

Microsoft has announced new AI tools for its free, online graphic design app - and removed the waitlist, so any user can try them out right away. 

Artificial intelligence isn’t new to Microsoft Designer, which launched in October 2022 with a handful of AI tools. However, the developers now state that “the AI models have steadily improved, and we’ve worked to weave these powerful capabilities throughout the Designer canvas.” 

Using seemingly ubiquitous generative AI, users can prompt Microsoft Designer to create unique images, text, and visuals. Like Canva and Adobe Express, the platform is centered around simplifying the creation of high-quality, high-output visual content for designers and non-designers. Think social media posts and online promotion. Alongside new AI tools for streamlining creative workflows comes the inevitable integration with the company’s recently AI-augmented Edge browser

AI and the Designer process 

While AI art generators like Dall-E and Midjourney have been grabbing headlines, artificial intelligence quietly, decisively continued its march through a raft of creative design apps, from Photoshop to Canva. It was, perhaps, only a matter of time before the tools saw a wider release in Microsoft Designer. 

The AI tools are available as soon as users sign into the app - although the option to start with a blank canvas remains. Users are nudged to write a prompt, such as “a Facebook post promoting my latest sale”. Since brand identity is important, colors can be defined and images can be uploaded or generated using AI.

Accompanying text now gets the AI treatment. Users only need to write a phrase that captures the mood of the post and Microsoft Designer will make suggestions, along with captions and hashtags. Improved resizing options and animated visuals have also been added. 

Creating an AI design in free online design app Microsoft Designer

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Giving the new tool a spin, we found it relatively quick to generate a series of TechRadar Pro-inspired templates. While none of the designs left us feeling as though we were in the presence of a digital Picasso, they were simple and accessible and fit for posting on social media - although most could use an edit to avoid that templated, stock image appearance. But that’s unavoidable from tools chiefly designed to “assist and empower every person to get started on new ideas.”

The Edge integration is currently rolling out. It wasn’t available for us, but will be accessible from in the Bing sidebar then clicking + to add the app. 

However, it’s not the only tool users will have to wait for - Microsoft has also offered a glimpse of what’s to come on the platform. With a focus on editing designs, users can soon expect the arrival of Fill, Expand Background, Erase, and Replace Background tools, all leveraging AI. Because of course they do. 

Microsoft Designer is free during its public preview and you can try it out by clicking here.

Steve Clark
B2B Editor - Creative & Hardware

Steve is TechRadar Pro’s B2B Editor for Creative & Hardware. He explores the apps and devices for individuals and organizations that thrive on design and innovation. A former journalist at Web User magazine, he's covered software and hardware news, reviews, features, and guides. He's previously worked on content for Microsoft, Sony, and countless SaaS & product design firms. Once upon a time, he wrote commercials and movie trailers. Relentless champion of the Oxford comma.