What is Microsoft Copilot?

Microsoft Copilot is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool embedded within Microsoft 365 applications, including Word, Excel, Teams, Planner, and more. It works alongside you to provide real-time intelligent assistance, support users with various tasks, and increase productivity. Whatever result you try to get, you’re always in control and decide to keep, modify or discard.

“Today marks the next major step in the evolution of how we interact with computing, which will fundamentally change the way we work and unlock a new wave of productivity growth. With our new copilot for work, we’re giving people more agency and making technology more accessible through the most universal interface — natural language.”

Satya Nadella, Charman and CEO, Microsoft

How does Microsoft Copilot work?

Microsoft Copilot combines large language models (LLMs), including GPT-4 and Natural Language Processing (NLP) and the data from Microsoft Graph, to evaluate and understand human-like data and text to produce human-like results. These LLMs adhere to data privacy laws and are hosted in the Microsoft Cloud. You must enter a prompt to generate an answer, and Copilot will respond as requested. If you don’t like the first response initiated, ask it to create a new one.

Your searches aren’t saved, and each new conversation within Copilot will be wiped clean afterwards. Your interactions aren’t being used to train the LLM.

A study by GitHub Data shows the developers using Copilot:

  • 88% say they are more productive
  • 74% say they can focus on more satisfying work
  • 77% say it helps them spend less time searching for information or examples

How much does Microsoft Copilot cost?

Microsoft Copilot is free to all Microsoft 365 users. You can upgrade to Copilot Pro for £19.00 per user/month if you require more advanced features. Below are the different features available in the free and Pro packages.

What’s included? Copilot Copilot Pro
Use copilot on the web and in Windos, macOS and iPadOS
Access GPT-4 and GPT-4 turbo during non-peak times
Use text, voice and images in conversational search
Use plug-ins and GPTs
Get priority access to GPT-4 and GPT-4 Turbo even during peak times for faster performance
Build your own Copilot GPTs tailored to your individual needs and interests
Use Copilot in productivity appsFootnote1 like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook (Microsoft email address required)
Generate unique images and then enhance your creations using 100 daily boosts with Designer

You can visit the Microsoft website here for help setting it up.

What Microsoft applications does Copilot work in?

Word

  • Write more substantial documents by suggesting edits, improving your style, and offering grammar corrections.
  • Save time on reading a lengthy document, and ask Copilot to summarise the key points.
  • Do you need to write a draft template for a business proposal or a new marketing campaign? Give Copilot all the information you can, and it will generate draft content based on your prompt. If you aren’t happy, discard it and ask it to regenerate.
  • If you need to expand on sections of documents or text that seem sparse, click where you would like it added and ask Copilot to suggest text that builds upon your existing content.

Excel

  • Ask for data analysis or insights on existing data by selecting different ranges within your Excel sheet. This can often highlight areas for further exploration or improvement. For example, ‘What are the top trends for Q1 in sales?’
  • Create graphs or charts based on the selected data more visually.
  • Not sure which formula to use to get your desired result? Ask Copilot to suggest relevant formulas based on your data.

PowerPoint

  • Based on your brief, Copilot can create beautiful presentations from scratch, including relevant content, layouts, and speaker notes. The more detailed your information, the better it will be.
  • If you have documents you wish to turn into presentations or slides, Copilot can transform them into brand-new presentations.
  • Tell Copilot what you want to change to make your presentations more appealing and creative, and it will offer design suggestions.

Outlook

  • Feeling tired and can’t think of what to include in a message? Copilot can draft you the perfect email based on your prompts. It will even suggest greetings, body text, and subject lines to make the most impact.
  • Copilot can analyse your drafts and offer suggestions for improvement based on the tone you wish to use.
  • If you have a long thread of emails and need to review them, you can ask Copilot to summarise and highlight the key points to save you time.

Teams

  • Copilot offers a transcription and summarisation feature that lets users see key discussion points, decisions made, and areas of disagreement during the meeting—ensuring that everyone is focused on the meeting and not taking notes.
  • Based on the meeting’s output, Copilot can identify potential actions, help assign them to the relevant team members, and ensure accountability.
  • Any late joiners to the meeting can view summarised key points to save time catching up.
  • Based on the agenda provided, you can ask Copilot to generate talking points to ensure discussions stay focused and on track.
  • Chats can be lengthy and time-consuming to read, especially fast-paced ones; Copilot can summarise key points.
  • Enhance your writing style by improving the tone to suit your recipient and purpose. If your message is too long or short, ask Copilot to summarise or expand the length.

Microsoft Copilot vs ChatGPT

Below are some of the key differences between Copilot and ChatGPT.

ChatGPT Microsoft Copilot
Focus Designed for various tasks, including writing, answering questions, and translation. Assists with coding tasks and integrates with developer environments. Suggests code completions, generates functions, and helps debug errors.
Underlying Technology Powered by OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 model, trained on a massive dataset of text and code. While it incorporates OpenAI technology, it likely uses a different, possibly more recent model like GPT-4. Additionally, Copilot leverages your data in the Microsoft Graph to personalise suggestions.
Integration Stands alone as a chatbot or API for integration into other applications. Tightly integrated with Microsoft 365 applications such as Visual Studio, Word, and Outlook, allowing it to access code, documents, emails, and calendars for context-aware suggestions.
Other Differences ChatGPT has a free version with limitations and a paid version with advanced features. Microsoft Copilot is now included in some Microsoft 365 subscriptions. ChatGPT’s focus on constant updates may give it an advantage in acquiring the latest information. Copilot is still under development and may see its update frequency increase.

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By: Hannah Francis

Hannah Francis

Published: 19 June 2024

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