The time has arrived. Microsoft has started a wider rollout of Copilot, their new AI assistant for its 365 ecosystem. Originally launched at a cost of $30 per user, per month, it was only available for Microsoft 365 E3, E5, Business Standard, and Business Premium customers and required a buy-in of at least 300 users. Last month, Microsoft launched Copilot Pro — a service tailored for “individuals, creators, and power users” — priced at just $20 per month.
Microsoft has certainly invested a lot of money into overhauling its Office products to integrate this powerful assistant ahead of a massive launch, which included a paid Copilot Early Access Program for some of its Enterprise customers. But now, the real question arises: what is Copilot and what can it do? We’ll break down the latest Copilot updates and take a dive into a couple of the game-changing features we can expect.
Which Version of Copilot?
For starters, it’s important to understand the distinction between the available versions of Copilot. Currently, anyone can access a free version of Copilot online. It comes with some enticing features, including early access to GPT-4 and GPT-4 Turbo during non-peak times, and the ability to utilize text, voice, and images in conversational search. Moreover, being web-based, this free version is compatible with various operating systems such as Mac, Windows, and iPadOS.
For an "accelerated" experience, Microsoft now offers its subscription-based version, Copilot Pro. This version enhances access to GPT-4 and GPT-4 Turbo during peak times and allows users to utilize its DALL-E 3-based web-app, Designer (formerly known as Bing Image Creator), to create AI images on the fly. Additionally, Copilot Pro provides access to Copilot within select 365 apps (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote) for tasks like drafting documents, summarizing emails, creating presentations, "and more," although a Microsoft 365 Personal or Family subscription is required to participate.
Copilot for Microsoft 365
Lastly, there's Copilot for Microsoft 365. This may all seem confusing, but think of this as Microsoft's solution for work-related tasks. While Copilot Pro targets individuals, Copilot for Microsoft 365 is tailored for the optimal organization-level experience. Access to these features requires a license for Microsoft 365 Business Standard or Microsoft 365 Business Premium, but it unlocks a plethora of supercharged features within the apps you already use and love. Another significant change is that Microsoft is eliminating the 300-seat purchase minimum for Copilot within these 365 commercial plans. With plenty of features to leverage, let's dive in.
One of the most anticipated features for Word users is the ability to create content from prompts. Simply type out a prompt that you’d like Copilot to generate content from. You can even extract notes from other apps within the ecosystem, such as OneNote, and reference content from internal documents. Copilot can then scan these files and generate detailed content for you.
You can even prompt Copilot to rewrite your generated content in a format resembling a reference document of your choice, and also have it insert files from related documents. Along the way, Copilot will also propose suggestions to help enhance your content. With this feature, you can create project proposals, meeting summaries, or elevate your note-taking skills to another level.
Having Word generate content for you is just the beginning. Utilizing this generative AI model can help you overcome time constraints when in a pinch. For instance, if you want to take your generated content, such as a project proposal, and implement it, Copilot can seamlessly translate your Word document into a PowerPoint presentation.
Through some quick instructions, Copilot can continue to add slides of your choice allowing you to come in and polish up the slides as you go along.
Another game-changing feature within Copilot’s ecosystem is its integration with Excel. It can assist you in making sense of your data, allowing you to take a sheet—like a quarterly sales summary—and analyze it for various patterns, such as identifying key trends. Once Copilot generates a summary, you can further delve into the data with follow-up questions. Copilot will then create a new sheet, providing you with a sandbox environment to analyze your results. This tool streamlines the process of interpreting data and devising strategies from it, alleviating the heavy lifting usually involved.
We've explored how Copilot can assist in generating, analyzing, and enhancing your content and workflow. However, an even more potent feature lies in its ability to connect all your data through Semantic Indexing. This robust process enhances the search experience across Microsoft 365.
Unlike traditional indexing methods based on keywords and ranking, where the most relevant search results matching your keywords appear higher on the list, Copilot's semantic indexing analyzes the body of data available to generate more informative answers directly from your content.
This feature also maps semantic signals, such as people and relationships to content - like recent activity to content that a particular user has access to. All of this data is analyzed to help determine the intent of the search and formulate a more informative answer.
A Changing Landscape
It's evident that Microsoft Copilot is establishing itself as a transformative tool within the Microsoft 365 ecosystem, marking a significant stride in distinguishing itself amidst an expanding array of generative AI tools. With its feature set of generating content to analyze data and improving workflows, Copilot demonstrates its prowess in assisting users at every stage. Its integration with various Microsoft applications, coupled with a long list of innovative features, signifies a significant leap forward in AI-assisted productivity tools.
As users delve deeper into Copilot's capabilities, they uncover a wealth of opportunities to optimize their work processes and elevate their output, heralding a new era of collaboration and innovation in the digital workspace.