Microsoft Copilot: You have questions. We have answers.

In case you haven’t noticed it by now, our society is entering a new era of Artificial Intelligence (AI). With the convergence of chat interfaces and large language models like ChatGPT and Bard by Google, everyday people can now ask questions in natural language and the technology is not only smart enough to answer (in natural language), but also take action.

At an event in New York on September 21, 2023, Microsoft announced the launch of Microsoft Copilot, a groundbreaking AI companion designed to revolutionize the way people interact with technology and enhance productivity. As is usually the case with Microsoft product releases, there are some uncertainties and confusion surround the product, so we’ve compiled a list of some of your most frequently asked questions.

What is Microsoft Copilot?

The term “Microsoft Copilot” has been circulating for a while, often taking on varying meanings. To begin, there’s the Copilot brand. Microsoft is rebranding its AI-driven assistants as Copilot, assigning distinct names to each of them. Consequently, a Copilot represents an AI companion integrated into Microsoft services, designed to offer support while working or creating. Numerous Copilots already exist, and Microsoft aims to develop more tailored versions for its most critical applications. However, there’s also the specific instance known as the Microsoft Copilot. Surprisingly, this particular feature stands as one of the oldest AI-powered aides in Microsoft’s lineup, previously recognized as Bing Chat (formerly Bing AI), undergoing a recent name change to Microsoft Copilot. It operates as an AI chatbot akin to ChatGPT, serving as a valuable tool for seeking specialized information, coding, and engaging in various activities achievable with these AI companions.

When will Microsoft Copilot be released?

Since Microsoft Copilot is just Bing Chat under a new name, it has been technically out since February when Bing Chat was released. However, under the new name, it has been publicly available since Microsoft Ignite in November. In terms of the other Copilots, they all have different release dates. Here’s a topline review:

  • Copilot in Windows started rolling out on Windows 11 on September 26 through a Windows 11 update.
  • Copilot for Microsoft 365 began rolling out for enterprise customers on November 1 and will roll out to non-enterprise users at a later date.
  • Copilot for Sales will be available in the first quarter of 2024.
  • Copilot for Service will be generally available in early 2024.
  • Copilot in Viva will begin rolling out to customers “later in 2023”, according to Microsoft.
  • Github Copilot was the first tool to release, all the way back in 2021.

Are there different kinds of Microsoft Copilots?

Yes, there are different types of Copilots. Despite sharing a common foundational architecture, the expanding range of Microsoft Copilots is constructed with distinct logic and data sets, serving diverse objectives. While some entail additional costs, others are accessible at no extra charge, catering to specific customer segments.

GitHub Copilot, available commercially for over a year, has garnered up to 1 million paying subscribers, according to Microsoft. In contrast, Windows Copilot, currently resembling Bing Chat with limited customized functionalities, is in its preliminary phase, gradually deploying to Windows 11 users. Microsoft Copilot for Sales and Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365 are also available. The assortment of Dynamics 365 and Power Platform copilots is progressively becoming available, with certain customers receiving these offerings without supplementary fees.

How much does Microsoft Copilot cost?

As of November 1, M365 Copilot has reached general availability for individuals in the Microsoft 365 Current Channel, necessitating a minimum purchase of 300 seats. Those in the M365 Monthly Enterprise Channel will gain access to M365 Copilot features starting from December 2023. Microsoft advises enterprise customers interested in procuring M365 Copilot to contact their designated Microsoft account representative for the purchase process.

The pricing for M365 Copilot stands at $30 per user per month for a yearly commitment. Currently, there is no provision for a free trial or bulk discounts. Enterprises purchasing M365 Copilot are bound until their subsequent Enterprise Agreement contract anniversary, at which point they can opt to discontinue or renew the service for another 12 months.

At present, only M365 E3 and E5 commercial subscribers qualify to acquire M365 Copilot. Office 365 E3 or E5 users are required to upgrade to Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 before considering the purchase of M365 Copilot. Additionally, although previous statements from Microsoft hinted at M365 Business Standard and Business Premium subscribers being eligible for M365 Copilot upon its general release, this eligibility has yet to be confirmed. Microsoft intends to extend access to M365 Copilot for Business Standard and Premium users but has not provided a specific timeline for this expansion.

How can I access Microsoft 365 Copilot?

To be Copilot-ready, users must meet specific requirements including Microsoft E3 or E5 licenses and prerequisites for applications like Outlook or Microsoft Teams. Microsoft 365 Copilot is more than a feature—it is an intelligent partner that delivers relevant and contextual responses that will uplift your firm. As Microsoft advances its mission for trustworthy and beneficial AI systems, Copilot is their step in the right direction. The service marks an initiative to incorporate responsible and ethical AI integration within daily Microsoft 365 interactions.

What is Copilot in Windows?

Copilot in Windows is an AI assistant in Windows that can help you with a variety of tasks, both relating to your PC’s settings and to generative assistance. For example, Copilot in Windows can turn on your computer’s dark room, organize your windows, write an essay, help you shop, and more with a simple conversational prompt.

Is Microsoft Copilot available as an app for my iPhone or Android?

Yes! Microsoft launched its Copilot app for iPhone and Android over the holidays. It is the same as the AI in Windows, the Edge browser and the Bing search engine. It is also surprisingly easy to use with a clean, user-friendly interface.

How is Microsoft Copilot related to ChatGPT?

Microsoft initiated a substantial investment in OpenAI back in 2019, marking the commencement of a multi-billion dollar venture. Following this investment, OpenAI unveiled remarkable innovations like DALL-E 2, an extraordinary image generation tool, and the widely embraced ChatGPT.

ChatGPT, the latter innovation, stands as an intelligent AI-driven conversational tool capable of engaging in human-like discussions, providing answers, suggesting ideas, and aiding users in diverse tasks. This artificial intelligence has undergone training based on extensive language and multimodal models, drawing from vast datasets and human interactions without direct web access.

The pace of advancements is swift, with OpenAI consistently enhancing its toolkit. Since the emergence of ChatGPT 4, the AI has gained attention for its versatile capabilities, including essay composition, code writing, business idea generation, and even achieving success in passing the bar exam.

In February 2023, Microsoft disclosed its integration of ChatGPT into “the new Bing,” leveraging this next-generation AI to enhance Bing search with advanced artificial intelligence capabilities.

What can Microsoft 365 Copilot do?

Microsoft Copilot’s effectiveness is vividly showcased when utilized within Excel. This AI tool empowers users to analyze data, enabling tasks such as identifying trends within specific datasets, generating new sheets and graphs based on the analysis, and elucidating the methodology behind its findings.

Undoubtedly, this tool holds immense potential for scrutinizing company data while serving as a significant time-saving asset for many.

The diverse functionalities of Copilot span across various Microsoft 365 applications:

In Microsoft Outlook, leveraging Copilot enhances efficiency by summarizing lengthy email threads and facilitating responses. It assists in flagging crucial messages and offers assistance in refining the tone and wording of messages.

Within Microsoft Teams, Copilot aids in collaborating with colleagues, aiding in agenda setting, structuring meeting discussion points, and formulating action items. Moreover, it assists in creating meeting summaries for absentees.

In Word, Copilot supports document drafting, rephrasing sections, refining writing tone, and summarizing text during the writing process.

Within PowerPoint, Copilot facilitates the translation of ideas into presentations and assists in adding speaker notes to the slides.

The rollout of Microsoft 365 Copilot commenced on November 1, initially targeting Microsoft’s enterprise clientele. However, this implies that casual users of Microsoft’s office suite do not yet have access, with the company indicating a future release for consumers without specifying a precise date.