Hello! Last March 16th was the day chosen by Microsoft to present Microsoft 365 Copilot. We are talking about a new leap in the more than ambitious plans of Redmond in terms of extending the reach of artificial intelligence to its applications and services. It was certainly something long awaited. Indeed, in January, Microsoft let it be known that it would use this technology in Office and Microsoft 365.
We learned the news in one after a video presentation starring Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Jared Spataro. Recall that they are corporate vice president of work and business applications at Microsoft. In essence, the Copilot plan is quite ambitious. Indeed, it allows users to delegate to AI a good part of the most common functions. On the other hand, Microsoft limited what we saw. Besides, we will have to wait for the testing program to evolve. However, what we saw was quite promising.
Possible date for the deployment of Microsoft 365 Copilot
So far there are no concrete dates, or at least they have not been made public. What we do know is that, for now, Microsoft is conducting initial tests with a particularly limited scope. Particularly limited, since we are talking about 20 companies, a number that will gradually grow over the coming months. In this sense, a similar behavior is expected to be followed by Google for the implementation of AI features in Gmail, Docs and other services. In other words, it will most likely not be until 2024, or the end of 2023, that we will see a wider deployment of both companies’ solutions.
The race for the use of AI is hotly contested between Google and Microsoft. Let’s remember that Bing bet big by incorporating ChatGPT to its search engine. Google’s response was not long in coming, although with somewhat disappointing results. However, this time the situation is different. Indeed, both Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace are two very important services for both companies. Consequently, they cannot afford to risk too much, compromising their reliability.
Unlike what happened with Bing, at least for the moment there is no waiting list to sign up for, and there probably won’t be. In addition, joining the Microsoft 365 insiders program, neither the preview channel nor the beta channel, will be of any use in this regard. Therefore, the anxious will have to take it easy.
What features does Microsoft 365 Copilot offer?
At this point, it is important to clarify that Microsoft makes a distinction. Indeed, on the one hand, we find the Microsoft 365 applications. On the other hand, there is Business Chat, a chatbot solution based on a Large Language Model (LLM). This, by combining Microsoft 365 applications and data from calendar, emails, chats, documents, meetings and contacts, allows the model to identify needs of the work environment and streamline them. Copilot is able to interpret natural language to carry out all associated actions.
To quote Jared Spataro: Copilot combines the power of large language models with your data and applications to turn your words into the most powerful productivity tool on the planet. Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Modern Work and Business Applications continues: By building on the content and context of your business, Copilot delivers relevant and actionable results. It is enterprise-ready and builds on Microsoft’s comprehensive approach to security, compliance, privacy and responsible artificial intelligence. Copilot marks a new era of computing that will fundamentally transform the way we work.
Undoubtedly, the greatest potential scope lies in the integration of Copilot into Microsoft 365. Let’s take a look at the features announced by Microsoft in this regard:
Copilot in Word
Writes, edits, summarizes and creates together with people while they are working
Copilot in PowerPoint
Facilitates the creation process by converting ideas into a presentation designed through natural language commands.
Copilot in Excel
Helps to unlock information, identify trends or create professional-looking data visualizations in a fraction of the time.
Copilot in Outlook
Can help synthesize and manage the inbox. In this way, it allows more time to be spent on real communication.
Copilot in Teams
Makes meetings more productive. Include real-time summaries and action points right in the context of the conversation.
What can we expect?
Well, we will now be able to delegate many of the most common activities of these applications to AI. This allows us to focus on the tasks that do require human supervision. We will be able to ask Word to write any type of text (even based on other documents and information from other sources). But it is also possible that Excel will be able to analyze large data sets, looking for information and patterns that might otherwise be much more complex to detect.
Regarding the Outlook functions, we can see that the scope of these functions is even greater than we could have imagined. It can provide an overview of the inbox. But also compose and send messages with just a few basic indications of recipients and content.
Of course, the use of Microsoft 365 Copilot will be optional. In any case, the most advisable will be to review, and edit if necessary, the work carried out by Copilot. Let’s remember that Microsoft has also reminded that its operation is not perfect, although we can expect significant improvements in the coming months. Particularly when the scope of the testing program is extended and, in this way, Microsoft starts to receive more feedback.
Another reasonable doubt is regarding the price of access to the functions. However, all indications are that they will not be included in the Microsoft 365 subscription price. At least in the levels aimed at individual users. As we can read in the official statement, Details on pricing and licensing will be shared at a later date. Thus, it will most likely reach corporate customers first. Then, only later, will some form of access for personal and family plans be offered.