Just a month after announcing artificial intelligence integration with its search engine Bing and browser Edge, Microsoft is introducing Microsoft 365 Copilot, a tool that’ll work with you in its collection of apps including Excel, PowerPoint, Word and more. In a blog post on Thursday, Microsoft said the new AI tool will increase creativity and productivity.
“Copilot gives you a first draft to edit and iterate on — saving hours in writing, sourcing, and editing time. Sometimes Copilot will be right, other times usefully wrong — but it will always put you further ahead,” Jared Spataro, an executive vice president at Microsoft, wrote of how the tool will work in Word.
The Microsoft 365 Copilot can also create PowerPoint presentations and Excel data visualization with a prompt, Spataro wrote. It’ll also draft email responses and summarize long email threads in Outlook.
Microsoft 365 copilot is currently being tested by 20 partners, though it’ll be available “more broadly in the coming months,” Microsoft said in a separate blog post.
The tech giant also announced Business Chat, which uses AI across your Microsoft apps to aggregate information and return it in response to a written prompt.Andrew Block, Microsoft Introduces AI-Powered ‘Copilot’ for Word, Outlook and More, CNET, Mar. 16, 2023.
Microsoft Has Been Trying To Improve Productivity For 40 Years
Let me start at the beginning: Microsoft’s focus on business productivity is relentless, so they understand how we use our computers. While some releases have been amazing (the ribbon, for example), many turned into duds. (Remember Clippy? Or Microsoft Bob?) Microsoft learned that “making systems easy” is hard. The simplistic tools get in the way: we need a tool that learns as we progress.
That’s why Microsoft may have nailed it this time. The Copilot is good for starting something from scratch and also for fine-tuning your masterpiece. It’s only an aid so you can ignore it or turn it off at any time. And the idea of a Copilot sense: Microsoft’s GitHub Copilot for software engineers is huge. The GitHub Copilot shows programmers how to improve their code while they type, revolutionizing the idea of “pair programming.” And since the LLM is essentially a “learning machine,” your Copilot will get better over time.Josh Bersin, Microsoft’s Massive Upgrade: OpenAI CoPilot For Entire MS 365 Suite, March 16, 2023
Microsoft 365 Copilot availability
There was no exact date given as to when Copilot would be made available. But Microsoft has said that Copilot will be released in Microsoft 365 apps during the months ahead. Starting with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, Viva, Power Platform, and more.
Earlier in March, Microsoft announced Dynamics 365 Copilot, which it claims is the world’s first A.I. Copilot in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software.
Is Copilot the answer to managing information overload and faster content generation?
Google managed to one up Microsoft this week with an event on Tuesday where it announced similar A.I. integrations in Google Workspace. But Google still doesn’t have a product to show. Although, a preview was promised by the end of the month.
The Microsoft demos we saw today, to be honest, were mind blowing. But the proof is in the pudding. It remains to be seen whether similar results can be reproduced with real-world data and scenarios. And what the additional cost, if any, will be for Copilot.
Having seen what Microsoft has achieved with Bing Prometheus, it’s A.I. powered search feature that uses technology from OpenAI, including ChatGPT, I’m confident that we will eventually be able to experience similar results to what was shown today. But like Prometheus, it’s early days and I would expect Copilot to be far from perfect out of the gate.Russell Smith, Microsoft 365 Copilot – Everything You Need to Know, Petri, March 16, 2023