Everything you want to know about Microsoft 365 Copilot but are afraid to ask

Building upon its investment in OpenAI, the artificial intelligence (AI) research laboratory that operates ChatGPT, Microsoft in March announced a new AI-powered integrated assistant. The tool—Microsoft 365 Copilot—packs promising features that, if they live up to the pre-release hype, will help office workers become more efficient and productive by automating many commonly repeated tasks using a range of Microsoft 365 products and services. 

Although currently available only via an Early Access Program, Microsoft 365 Copilot could prove among Microsoft’s most important recent innovations. As with other AI-related initiatives, only time will confirm just how revolutionary the new technology will prove. In the interim, here are answers to the most common questions regarding the new tool.

What is Microsoft 365 Copilot?

The technology behemoth is promoting Microsoft 365 Copilot as a next-generation AI assistant “that combines the power of large language models (LLMs) with your data to turn your words into the most powerful productivity tool on the planet.” The tool, which can be embedded within a variety of popular Microsoft applications and services including Business Chat, Excel, Graph, Loop, OneNote, Outlook, the Power Platform, PowerPoint, Teams, Viva, Whiteboard and Word, helps users unlock the knowledge, information and data that exists within their calendars, chats, documents, emails, meetings, presentations, spreadsheets and other sources to gain efficiencies, improve productivity, enhance skillsets and save time automating common tasks using natural language interaction with the feature itself. 

 Users running Microsoft 365 Copilot can submit prompts using conversational text. For example, users could command the tool to draft an email message announcing a meeting’s time change, write a document describing the marketing strategy using notes collected within a OneNote file or create a presentation reporting the third quarter’s sales performance using a spreadsheet’s data. 

How does Microsoft 365 Copilot work?

Copilot works by embedding itself within a variety of Microsoft 365 tools and creating a new knowledge model for every organization, the company says. The tool then harnesses the collected information that might otherwise largely prove unrealized and unused. 

 The tool’s power and transformational capabilities come into play when considering how Copilot can fulfill a critically important role by permitting office professionals to access this information and wield corresponding data and insights in potent new ways using natural language. Because Copilot operates according to the company’s existing data privacy and security principles, and because the platform does not “learn” using your company’s Microsoft 365 account information, customers can rest easier knowing Microsoft is at least trying to build the AI-powered generative assistant responsibly. 

How do you get Microsoft 365 Copilot?

Microsoft is currently testing Copilot with a select group. Available to those invited to participate in a special Early Access Program, testing was recently expanded to include some 600 enterprise organizations. 

 The company also launched the new Semantic Index for Copilot effort to assist companies preparing to use the new AI-generative assistant. The preparation component is a new capability for Microsoft 365 E3 and E5 subscribers that assists mapping an organization’s data. 

 Organizations interested in Copilot can begin planning their deployments now. In June, Microsoft published an article presenting tips and recommendations for preparing for Copilot. The article confirmed several technical requirements—including a Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 license, an Azure Active Directory account and Current or Monthly Enterprise Channel status, among other elements—must be in place to use the new tool. Of course, these requirements could change once the feature is ready for wider testing or release. 

How much will Microsoft 365 Copilot cost?

While Microsoft is yet to release final Copilot pricing, the company’s $10-per-month-per-user pricing for its GitHub Copilot license provides a potential hint. It’s possible the tech firm will include Copilot functionality within select enterprise Microsoft 365 subscriptions (although at least one outlet says a recent Microsoft financial call suggests the development is unlikely). Or, the company might decide to make the feature available as a standalone add-on license that could be bundled with other plans, including those widely used by small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). 

When will Microsoft 354 Copilot be available?

Technically, the new AI platform is available now to participants within the Copilot Early Access Program, the invitation-only paid preview underway to test and fine-tune the AI platform. The Semantic Index for Copilot—which assists preparing an organization’s data for use with the new innovation—is another step in the company’s efforts preparing the new AI innovation for use by all customers. 

 While the public awaits definitive updates, your best bet may be to monitor Microsoft’s Copilot microsite. The company regularly publishes information, news and updates there. 

Have Questions?

If you have questions regarding Copilot or other Microsoft 365 products and services, call Louisville Geek. We’re happy to help. You can reach our technology experts at 502-897-7577 or by emailing [email protected].