Microsoft's new Paint Cocreator requires an NPU — AI-powered feature requires 40 TOPS of performance and a Microsoft account

Microsoft Paint Cocreator
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft quietly added a new AI feature, called Cocreator, into its raster graphics editor included in every version of Windows since 1985. Cocreator uses your work on the Microsoft Paint canvas, alongside a text prompt, to generate images as you draw, allowing you to see its AI-enhanced output as you doodle on the screen.

Microsoft Paint’s Cocreator feature is different from other AI image generation apps as it uses both textual and visual input to create an image. This means it will be easier for the user to create visuals through AI that match their vision. You can also change the output style between digital art, watercolor, and oil painting, among others, so you can get exactly what you want.

However, not all Windows users will get this new creative AI feature — that’s because you need a Copilot + PC with an NPU that can deliver 40 TOPS or better to use it. So, you need to shell out at least $1,099 to get one of the new Snapdragon X Windows Copilot+ PCs that launched recently if you want your version of Microsoft Paint to come with Cocreator enabled.

Microsoft says, “This feature makes use of the Neural Processing Unit (NPU) to generate images locally on your computer.” So, you don’t need to connect to the internet or Microsoft’s services to enjoy Cocreator. Since it doesn’t consume any data center bandwidth or processing power, there’s also no limit to the number of images you can create every day or every session.

However, Microsoft still requires you to sign in with your Microsoft account and be connected to the internet “to ensure safe use of AI.” According to Microsoft’s Privacy Statement, “Cocreator uses Azure online services to help ensure the safe and ethical use of AI. These services do content filtering to prevent the generation of harmful, offensive, or inappropriate content. Microsoft collects attributes such as device and user identifiers, along with the user prompts, to facilitate abuse prevention and monitoring. Microsoft does not store your input images or generated images.”

From Microsoft's statement it is clear that even though you have free reign to use Cocreator, the firm will always be looking over your shoulder. While the company says it does not look at the images you draw, paste, or generate, it still keeps an eye on your prompts. But what’s more important is that Microsoft is collecting “device and user identifiers”, meaning it collates account information and links the prompts that account has made.

This is a nightmare for security and privacy-conscious users, especially as Microsoft recently blocked the last easy workaround to set up Windows 11 without a Microsoft account. Microsoft is likely doing this to stop unscrupulous users from generating illegal images like child and non-consensual deep fake pornography. However, storing this information is also a source of concern, as prompts a user typed in and stored on their account could be stolen. And, no matter how innocent, it could then be weaponized and used against them. That is why Microsoft’s Recall was also a source of contention among users, resulting in the company further enhancing its security and making it an opt-in feature.

Aside from this concern, the Cocreator feature on Microsoft Paint will likely make more users return to this basic image creator. Microsoft has recently added several new features to this tool, including layers, transparency, and background removal. And with its newfound AI power, it could give free alternatives like GIMP or Paint.net some serious competition.

Jowi Morales
Contributing Writer

Jowi Morales is a tech enthusiast with years of experience working in the industry. He’s been writing with several tech publications since 2021, where he’s been interested in tech hardware and consumer electronics.

  • peachpuff
    Microsoft account?

    Reply
  • Metal Messiah.
    Microsoft quietly added a new AI feature, called Cocreator, into its raster graphics editor included in every version of Windows since 1985.

    Entirely new and quietly added ?

    Well, this AI feature was mentioned before as well. Though, only some Windows Insiders in the Release Preview Channel had access to it though since last September, 23.

    But the info on Cocreator was shared before as well.

    https://blogs.windows.com/windows-insider/2023/09/27/paint-app-update-introducing-paint-cocreator-begins-rolling-out-to-windows-insiders/
    https://www.windowslatest.com/2023/11/28/microsoft-paints-dall-e-3-integration-is-rolling-out-on-windows-11/
    Few more links:

    https://www.theverge.com/2023/11/29/23981310/microsoft-ms-paint-cocreator-openai-ai-dall-e-3-text-to-image-generator-available
    https://www.pcworld.com/article/2339128/microsofts-new-new-cocreator-is-an-unexpected-treat.html
    https://lifehacker.com/tech/how-to-create-ai-art-in-microsoft-paint-with-cocreator
    Reply
  • usertests
    Microsoft will track and store your text-based prompts.
    >do it locally with NPU
    >still tracked and censored
    Lame. Pass.
    Reply
  • TechyIT223
    Another crap AI tool for breakfast
    Reply
  • sadsteve
    Microsoft account login reqired = application not used.
    Reply
  • Lucky_SLS
    I will wait till copilot is officially supported on Nvidia GPUs.
    Reply
  • ThomasKinsley
    I remember when Microsoft wanted to kill Paint in 2017. Now they wish to convince users to sign into a MS Account to use all of its features. I'm positive that MS has lost their direction. As an ordinary consumer it feels like it would be easy to make a better product. Is it bad management or are they lost in the weeds of the day-to-day technical details?
    Reply
  • NeoMorpheus
    I miss the days when these corporations listened to their customers.

    More and more bloat in the OS, since many wont be using it.
    Reply
  • vijosef
    Despite having telemetry "disabled", MS office click-to-run spams the SSD with terabytes of telemetry log files. You no more own your own computer, and no way I will allow MS to keep doing it.
    Reply
  • hannibal
    I am sure that next win12 will require top 40 ai power! The movement to that direction seems to be clear. The only unsure thing is, what year it will happen.
    Reply