Microsoft on Thursday announced Microsoft 365 Copilot, an AI-powered upgrade for the company’s productivity apps. The Redmond firm says it uses large language models, user data in Microsoft Graph, and the company’s applications to power the new Copilot features. Users will be able to access the AI-backed functionality in these apps to quickly generate documents, spreadsheets, presentations, draft emails, or coordinate meetings and quickly surface relevant content on Microsoft Teams. The company also says Copilot can be right or “usefully wrong” during regular use.
During the company’s Microsoft 365 AI event on Thursday, Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella revealed that the new Microsoft 365 Copilot is coming to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams and other productivity applications. Although the company has worked closely with OpenAI and the service uses the startup’s GPT-4 technology, Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President, said that the company didn’t “simply integrate ChatGPT” with its apps. Instead, it uses “the Copilot System”, which is said to use a combination of the company’s apps, the data stored in your Microsoft account (like your email and photos), and a large language model.
Microsoft also conducted comprehensive demonstration of the various functionality that will come to its apps for word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, and meetings. These included the ability to quickly generate a presentation or a speech to celebrate an event like a family member graduating, using personalised images and messages. Copilot can also draft emails for you based on natural language commands, or quickly generate a draft for a specific document and rephrase it in your own writing style.
Meetings on Microsoft Teams will also benefit from Copilot integration, according to Microsoft. This means that users will be able to access summaries of meeting in real time, or ask Copilot to help them sort through several messages on the messaging app.
There’s no word on availability at the moment, and Microsoft says in its blog post that it is currently testing Microsoft 365 Copilot with select commercial customers, to glean feedback while improving these models as they are rolled out more widely. Meanwhile, customers will have to wait for other details such as pricing and licensing for the new Copilot feature.
Microsoft also announced that is planning to debut a new feature called Business Chat, a tightly integrated system that it says draws data and information from a variety of sources, including documents, presentations, email, calendar, notes, and contacts. The new Business Chat feature will allow users to generate emails, find information in your Microsoft account quickly, generate plans or a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis with a single command.
The company says that the Copilot service that will be integrated into Microsoft 365 apps and services has inbuilt safeguards. Spataro explained that Microsoft has added friction at various stages of the process of creating content on the service. These include Try Again buttons that allow the AI-based service to have another go at generating content based on your natural language commands. Microsoft also says that Copilot will also provide links and citations to sources, and that users will be prompted to fact-check, review, and modify content.
“Copilot combines the power of large language models with your data and apps to turn your words into the most powerful productivity tool on the planet,” Spataro said during the event. “By grounding in your business content and context, Copilot delivers results that are relevant and actionable. It’s enterprise-ready, built on Microsoft’s comprehensive approach to security, compliance, privacy and responsible AI. Copilot marks a new era of computing that will fundamentally transform the way we work.”