Microsoft Designer: A New AI-Powered Answer to Canva

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Executive Summary

  • Microsoft recently launched Microsoft Designer, a direct competitor to the popular graphic design platform Canva, supercharged with AI. 
  • Designer combines the power of generative AI with an easy-to-use interface to create something which delivers unique, professional-looking results in double-quick time. 
  • Microsoft Designer is currently in Expanded Public Preview, meaning it’s free to use but will become an integrated Microsoft 365 app at some point in the future.


If you’re not a graphic designer and you’ve ever tried to do any graphic design, you’ll know it’s not exactly a walk in the park.  

There have always been a range of design tools-from MS Paint to Adobe Photoshop-available to help with design, but to get professional results takes a professional touch. Or, at least, it did.  

In recent years, graphic design platforms like Canva have democratised graphic design for businesses, making it much easier to produce high-quality assets like social media cards, email headers, and so on.  

But Canva isn’t alone in this quest. Microsoft Designer is now in Expanded Public Preview, and it brings with it the power of generative AI for near limitless inspiration.   

What is Microsoft Designer? 

First announced in October 2022, Microsoft Designer is a cloud-based graphic design app which is built for non-designers in mind. It helps you craft social media posts, digital postcards, invitations, and more-instantly.  

Whether you start with your own images to riff on, or just a rough idea, Designer transforms them into unique creations tailored just for you, and provides personalised design recommendations.  

In April 2023, Microsoft updated Designer with all-new generative AI features, essentially transforming the capabilities of the platform. It now has multi-modal AI capabilities, meaning you can leverage the GPT 3.5 model to generate text and DALL-E 3 to create totally unique images.  

The core features of Microsoft Designer 

If you’ve tried to source images for social media or blog posts before, you’ll know that you’re usually limited to stock photo websites. The result? The frequent re-use of the same images across the web. With Designer, you can use AI to create totally new graphic creations without faffing around with stock photo websites. 

Here are the core features of Microsoft Designer in 2024: 

Powered by the latest image and text AI models 

With the AI update in April 2023, the workflow for Microsoft Designer now starts with a prompt. You just describe the design you’re creating (e.g. “An Instagram post for my coffee shop”) and it’ll deliver a grid of unique designs to get you started. From there, you can customize your design with additional AI generated elements-either text from GPT 3.5 or images from DALL-E 3.  

A drag-and-drop interface designed for non-designers 

Once you’ve generated a first draft, you can use a simple drag and drop editor to make changes to your AI generated designs. Prefer something totally bespoke? Upload your own images, graphics, enter text, adjust visual elements, and more. The choice is yours and it can be done by anyone-no design skills required.  

Pick from a growing library of templates 

If the AI-generated suggestions from Designer aren’t doing it for you, there’s a huge (and growing) library of pre-made designs which you can tweak to your heart’s content. Just visit the Designer Template Library and see what takes your fancy.  

Microsoft Designer vs. Canva 

If you’ve used Canva in the past, you might wonder which of these apps comes out on top.  

The big gamechanger for most business users will be that Microsoft Designer uses advanced AI to offer personalized design suggestions directly from the cloud, making it feel like you have a design assistant who’s not only smart but also perfectly tuned to your needs. 

While Canva offers a user-friendly interface, it lacks the seamless integration and advanced AI features that make Microsoft Designer the clear choice for business users-doubly so if they’re already plugged into the Microsoft ecosystem.    

How to start using Microsoft Designer 

As we mentioned above, Microsoft Designer is currently in Expanded Public Preview. In layman’s terms, that means it’s totally free to use until Microsoft decides it isn’t. 

It’s a fair assumption that Microsoft will at some point-once the preview period ends-add Designer to its suite of apps and services under Microsoft 365. That means that, if you’re an existing Microsoft 365 for Business subscriber, you’ll likely retain full access to the platform.  

Again, nothing is confirmed until the preview period is over, but that’s our best guess. In the meantime, you can start creating with Designer right now by heading to and logging in with your Microsoft account. 

Have a question about using Microsoft Designer, or want to know more about the available Microsoft 365 for Business plans? Contact your Get Support account manager today or call us on 01865 594 000. 

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