Microsoft is bringing the power of generative AI and ChatGPT-like capabilities to Microsoft 365 with the Microsoft 365 Copilot, a new AI assistant that will be embedded in apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams and others.
According to the Redmond, Wash. tech giant, Microsoft 365 Copilot, is currently being tested with select commercial customers. The new feature combines the power of large language models with business data in Microsoft’s business productivity apps to help users become more creative and productive.
In a virtual event, Microsoft officials gave examples of how Copilot works, including generating replies to emails, summarizing long email threads, writing and editing in Word, creating PowerPoint presentations, identifying trends in Excel and more.
The announcements comes after the company announced the Dynamics 365 Copilot to automate data entry, content generation and notetaking for sellers and marketers, and also after Google announced a similar generative AI assistant across Workplace tools.
Microsoft says it will bring Copilot to all productivity apps in the “months ahead,” and more details will come on pricing and licensing at a later date. After feedback from the testing group, Microsoft will expand access to more users.
Discover a new way of working with Microsoft 365 Copilot—next-generation AI capabilities embedded in the Microsoft 365 apps you use every day. Learn more: https://t.co/fqTtN1tRVQ pic.twitter.com/gNjCQfGkdz
— Microsoft 365 (@Microsoft365) March 16, 2023
How Copilot works in Microsoft 365
In Teams, Copilot is designed to make meetings more productive with real-time summaries and action items directly in the context of the conversation, Microsoft says.
As with other generative AI tools, users can then modify the content Copilot generates to resemble their specific tone or make corrections.
In Power Platform, Copilot will help developers accelerate and streamline development of low-code tools with new capabilities within Power Apps and Power Virtual Agents, the company adds.
In both Microsoft’s virtual event and a blog, Jared Spataro, corporate vice president of modern work and business applications, calls Microsoft 365 Copilot “the most powerful productivity tool on the planet.”
The technology underpinning Copilot is, of course, from generative AI firm OpenAI, in which Microsoft is investing in heavily. These investments include bringing generative AI integrations into Bing and other Microsoft tools.
Here’s how Copilot will work in Microsoft 365 apps, according to Microsoft:
In Word, Copilot can help users jump-start content creation by giving a first draft to edit and iterate om to help save time in writing sourcing and editing. While the company admits that Copilot may be inaccurate, it will help reduce time spent creating the document in the first place, according to Spataro.
In PowerPoint, Copilot can help users create presentations with a simple prompt and add relevant content from a previous document. In Excel, Copilot will help users analyze trends and create professional-looking data visualizations, the company says. In Outlook, Copilot will help users clear their inboxes in “minutes,” Spataro says.
In addition, Microsoft is announcing Business Chat, which works across the large language model, Microsoft 365 apps, and a customer’s calendar, emails, chats, documents, meetings and contacts to “do things that people weren’t able to do before,” the company says in an announcement.
Users can use natural language prompts such as “tell my team how we updated the product strategy,” and Business Chat will generate a status update based on the morning’s meetings, emails and chat threats, according to Microsoft.
According to Spataro, Business Chat works across all of an organizations’ data and apps to surface information and insights users need, allowing knowledge to flow freely across the organization and save users time spent searching for answers. Business Chat can be accessed from Microsoft365.com, Bing and Teams when users are signed in with their work account.
Microsoft’s Copilot system
While the technology includes large language models such as GPT-4 from OpenAI, Spataro says Copilot is more than integrating ChatGPT into Microsoft 365.
“It’s a sophisticated processing and orchestration engine working behind the scenes to combine the power of LLMs, including GPT-4, with the Microsoft 365 apps and your business data in the Microsoft Graph — now accessible to everyone through natural language,” Spataro says.
While large language models are trained on a large amounts of data, Spataro says Copilot will be connected to the organization’s data in a secure and complaint way that gives Copilot real-time access to both content and context in the Microsoft Graph.
“This means it generates answers anchored in your business content — your documents, emails, calendar, chats, meetings, contacts and other business data — and combines them with your working context — the meeting you’re in now, the email exchanges you’ve had on a topic, the chat conversations you had last week — to deliver accurate, relevant, contextual responses,” Spataro says.
With the integration into Microsoft 365, Copilot will automatically inherit an organization’s security, compliance and privacy policies. In addition, Microsoft says the Copilot language models are not trained on an organization’s tenant data on their prompts to prevent data leakage.
“Within your tenant, our time-tested permissioning model ensures that data won’t leak across user groups,” Spataro says. “And on an individual level, Copilot presents only data you can access using the same technology that we’ve been using for years to secure customer data.”
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