Microsoft and Mistral, a French AI firm valued at €2 billion (about $2.1 billion), have launched a new multiyear relationship. Just over a year after Microsoft committed more than $10 billion in its OpenAI alliance, the Financial Times reports that as part of the partnership, Microsoft will acquire a small ownership in the 10-month-old AI startup.

As a result of the agreement, Mistral—the second startup to offer a commercial language model on Azure after OpenAI—will have both its open and commercial language models available on Microsoft’s Azure AI platform. The goal of Microsoft’s collaboration with Mistral, like that of OpenAI, is to create and implement massive language models of the future generation.

Today, Mistral is introducing Mistral Large, a new AI model. The intention is to compete more directly with the GPT-4 model from OpenAI. It will not be open source, in contrast to some of Mistral’s earlier models. “The Mistral AI team states that Mistral Large, ranked as the world’s second-best model generally available through an API, closely follows GPT-4 and achieves strong results on widely used benchmarks.”

Another new AI chatbot from Mistral

“You can access Mistral Large through Azure AI Studio and Azure Machine Learning, on Mistral’s own infrastructure, or host it in Europe.” Today, Mistral Small will also be accessible; it provides better latency than Mistral’s 8x7B model. Additionally, Mistral is launching Le Chat, a new conversational chatbot built on a number of Mistral AI models.

Although Mistral has always made its models available for free, the collaboration with Microsoft will allow the French artificial intelligence startup to look into other business prospects. However, neither Microsoft nor Mistral are revealing specifics about the investment.

Microsoft’s investment comes months after OpenAI, its primary AI partner, went through a difficult time. Sam Altman, the CEO and co-founder of OpenAI, was unexpectedly sacked on November 17th, but he returned to the position a few days later at the end of November, according to the board. Microsoft was able to secure a nonvoting observer position on the nonprofit board that oversees OpenAI amidst all the upheaval, giving the software behemoth greater access to the company’s internal operations but denying it the ability to vote on important decisions.