With its new AI-powered workplace assistant Copilot, Microsoft says it is working to “provide a copilot for every person in their lives and at work”. In a new blogpost published on 18 July, the company said that the Microsoft 365 Copilot will be priced at $30 per user, per month for Microsoft 365 E3, E5, Business Standard and Business Premium customers. Will it be an affordable alternative to the plain vanilla Office 365 suite? That remains to be seen.
Earlier this year, the company launched the Microsoft 365 Copilot, which combines the power of large language models (LLMs) with user data in the Microsoft Graph and Microsoft 365 apps to provide more customised features. Since May 2023, around 600 companies, including KPMG, Lumen, and Emirates NBD, have been using the new service as part of a paid early access programme. Microsoft has not announced when Copilot, which is based on technology from artificial intelligence startup OpenAI, will be widely available to customers.
What does it actually do? The company claims that while some generative AI apps focus on a single capability, like real-time transcription or copywriting, Microsoft 365 Copilot does more, such as using your business data within the Microsoft universe you use at work— such as emails, calendar, chats, documents and more – to generate context and updates customised for individual users within a company.
Earlier this year, the company also introduced a new AI-powered Bing search engine, which it calls “your copilot for the web”, in a push to finally outdo Google Search by integrating AI into it in a more meaningful way — think complete answers, a full chat experience, and features to unlock creativity. Microsoft is also offering a more secure Bing Search experience with Bing Chat Enterprise. “Using AI tools that aren’t built for the enterprise inadvertently puts sensitive business data at risk. As organizations adopt AI, they want to be confident their data is protected,” wrote Microsoft's Yusuf Mehdi and Jared Spataro in a blogpost on the Microsoft website. The feature will be available as a stand-alone offering for $5 per user, per month, they announced.
Although the company claims that feedback from customers in its Copilot early access programme is that Copilot promises to be a game changer for productivity, it remains to be seen if AI tools such as these taking over manual but necessary tasks like creating plans and proposals actually help us work better, or if some things need to be done the hard way.