Microsoft on Thursday gave a public demonstration of Microsoft 365 Copilot, which brings natural language AI capabilities into virtually every corner of its productivity stack.
The Microsoft 365 Copilot unveiling comes just days after OpenAI, the generative AI firm in which Microsoft owns a 49 percent share, announced the availability of the next iteration of its natural language AI chatbot. While Microsoft has already integrated ChatGPT into its Azure cloud, as well as in its Bing search engine and Edge browser, Microsoft 365 Copilot promises to embed natural language querying capabilities into ubiquitous Microsoft 365 apps like Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Teams. (A limited preview of the Copilot capabilities are already available for sales professionals via Dynamics 365 and Viva Sales.)
In a livestreamed presentation Thursday announcing Microsoft 365 Copilot, CEO Satya Nadella positioned it as a turning point in computer-user interactions. For years, he said AI has been working “behind the scenes” in things like search engines, auto-correct and recommendation lists. “You can say we’ve been using AI on autopilot,” Nadella said. The new generation of AI — specifically, natural language and generative AI — will let users run it “on co-pilot.”
“We believe this next generation of AI will unlock a new wave of productivity growth,” he said.
The demos on Thursday showed how a user can prompt Microsoft 365 Copilot to, in minutes or seconds:
Microsoft executives stressed several times during the presentation that Microsoft 365 Copilot is not infallible. Sometimes, it will “be usefully wrong,” as Microsoft Corporate Vice President Jared Spataro put it. In many of the examples shown, the user chose to manually make edits, corrections or stylistic changes to the file that Copilot generated. In the case of the marketing document, Sumit Chauhan, head of Microsoft’s Office product group, cautioned: “Now remember — you’re not going to send this off to a customer without a review.”
Microsoft 365 Copilot harnesses large language models (LLMs) like the ones used by ChatGPT with the Microsoft Graph API. It’s powered by the Copilot System, which Spataro described in the presentation as “a sophisticated processing and orchestration engine.” He elaborated in a blog post:
Alongside Microsoft 365 Copilot, Microsoft debuted a brand-new feature on Thursday called Business Chat, which Spataro described in the presentation as a “knowledge navigator” that users can access from Teams, Bing or Microsoft365.com. He also described Business Chat in greater detail in his blog:
Thursday’s presentation included only a very brief discussion about the safeguards that Microsoft has built into Copilot. Citations are included in Copilot, according to Jon Friedman, head of design and research at Microsoft, as well as ways for users to give feedback when Copilot gets something wrong. “Our goal is to give people agency,” Friedman said. “You always have the option to use, discard, adjust or undo.”
Copilot has “mitigations” in place against mistakes, biases and misuse, said Chief Microsoft Scientist Jamie Teevan, though she didn’t describe these mitigations in great detail during the presentation. “Every Copilot feature has passed privacy checks … and is monitored in real time,” she said. “We’re going to make mistakes, but when we do, we’ll address them quickly.”
Spataro provided more information on the security and privacy angles on his blog. Copilot has two-factor authentication enabled, and will fall in line with the Microsoft 365 security, compliance and privacy policies that a company already has in place. It also has protections against data leakage, he wrote:
Notably, a key ethical AI team within Microsoft underwent significant cuts and a reorg this month. However, Spataro indicated in his blog that Microsoft has a dedicated team that monitors Copilot — and other Microsoft AI systems — for potential unethical misuse:
Currently, Microsoft 365 Copilot is in very limited private testing. Microsoft intends to roll it out “in the months ahead,” according to Spataro. Pricing and licensing details are still to come. A particular point of interest will be how Microsoft 365 Copilot will affect the recently launched Teams Premium SKU, which already has ChatGPT integrations and is available as an add on for E3 and E5 subscribers.
About the Author
Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editorial director of Converge360.
Microsoft’s Ignite event happening this week elicited the declaration that “Microsoft is the Copilot company” now, and there were lots of product announcements attesting to it.
The second Tuesday of the month is here, and with that comes the arrival of Microsoft’s cumulative security update for November, packed with fixes for a modest 63 flaws.
What was once a somewhat novel attack approach has gained popularity in the face of rising nation-state threat actors.
Github, the Microsoft-owned open source code repository, made a handful of generative AI-based announcements on Wednesday, including the upcoming general availability of Github Copilot Chat and Github Copilot Enterprise.
While the question has been raised countless times, let’s take a current look at what gen AI means for the workforce.
20 Easy Steps To Creating an AI Chatbot in 30 Minutes
The Definitive Ransomware Checklist Summit: REGISTER NOW!
NOW AVAILABLE ON DEMAND: Cloud Data Threat Outlook Summit
Subscribe on YouTube
More Tech Library
Problems? Questions? Feedback? E-mail us.