As Google is adding generative AI features to Workspace, Microsoft has also announced its latest effort to integrate AI into its productivity and enterprise apps suite with the launch of Microsoft 365 Copilot.
This new feature is being tested with a select set of customers. It will harness the power of AI models, including OpenAI’s recently announced GPT-4, to business data and Microsoft 365 apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Teams.
Microsoft 365 Copilot integrates into Microsoft 365 in two ways. The first is embedded in the Microsoft 365 applications you use daily, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Teams, to work with you to be creative, productive, and upskill. The second form is business chat. Business Chat works across LLM, Microsoft 365 apps, and your data (calendars, emails, chats, documents, meetings, contacts) to do things you couldn’t do before.
Microsoft 365 Copilot handles different tasks depending on which app you use. In Word, Copilot creates, edits, summarizes and generates text. Copilot transforms natural language commands into designed presentations and data visualizations in PowerPoint and Excel. For example, Microsoft 365 Copilot allows you to create presentations based on Word documents, complete with sophisticated decks, speaker notes, and citations. In Outlook, Copilot can help you compose and manage your inbox and create suggested answers with toggles to adjust length and tone.
One of the attractive elements of Copilot is Business Chat, which brings together data such as documents, presentations, emails, calendars, notes, contacts, etc., to summarize chats, compose emails, find important dates, and assist in creating plans based on files, etc. Business Chat generates status updates based on morning meetings, emails, and chat threads with prompts like “Tell your team how you’ve updated your product strategy” (first sent to Teams).
In a blog post, Microsoft emphasized that Copilot’s model is not trained on customer content or individual prompts. Specifics on pricing and licensing will be shared in the near future.
Prompts sent to Microsoft 365 Copilot are first filtered through Microsoft’s unified data API, Microsoft Graph, to add additional context. The modified prompts are then sent to GPT-4, and Microsoft Graph filters the responses for safety, security, and compliance checks before being returned to Microsoft 365 apps.
Microsoft’s announcement isn’t a new idea, as dozens of AI-powered tools have emerged in the last six months. However, Microsoft claims that Copilot does it better and more securely. Copilot in Microsoft 365 follows Copilot’s rollout in Dynamics 365, Microsoft’s portfolio of enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management tools. Microsoft has just invested an additional billion dollars in OpenAI, the startup behind GPT-4, showing its commitment to advancing AI technologies.