Microsoft has announced a new AI-driven Copilot for its Microsoft 365 apps and services, designed to help users generate documents, emails, presentations, and more. The Copilot, powered by OpenAI’s GPT-4, will appear in the sidebar of Microsoft 365 apps as a chatbot available to Office users to generate text in documents, produce PowerPoint presentations based on Word documents, or even assist with Excel features like PivotTables.
“It works alongside you, embedded in the apps millions of people use everyday: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, and more,” said Microsoft 365 head Jared Spataro. “Copilot is a whole new way of working.”
Microsoft 365 users will be able to summon Copilot to provide information on an upcoming Microsoft Teams meeting, preparing people with updates on related projects, organizational changes like recent hires, and even updates on coworkers who might have returned from vacation.
Copilot can be used in all Microsoft Office programs, including Word, e.g. to draft documents based on other files. The text produced by AI can then be freely modified and changed. Since Copilot is essentially a chatbot, you can ask it to format or analyze Excel data, or to create a 10-slide PowerPoint presentation from a Word document.
Moreover, Copilot will be available in Outlook, saving you time spent on deleting and responding to emails. Email threads can be summarized, and Copilot can even generate sample emails that can be customized for length or tone.
“To build Copilot we didn’t just connect ChatGPT to Microsoft 365,” says Spataro. “Microsoft 365 Copilot is powered by what we call the Copilot system.” This system combines Microsoft 365 apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint with the Microsoft Graph of data and GPT-4.
This new AI Copilot was unveiled by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella last week during a special AI productivity event. Following the recent introduction of an AI-powered chatbot to Bing, Microsoft is pushing swiftly toward the integration of OpenAI’s huge language models into its Microsoft 365 suite. Microsoft’s announcement comes just days after Google announced similar AI capabilities for Google Workspace, including AI-assisted text generation in Gmail, Docs, etc.
Microsoft said in a blog post it was currently testing its Microsoft 365 Copilot with 20 customers and would “share more about pricing and details in the coming months.”
While Microsoft is making rapid progress with its vision for AI-based Office apps, there will undoubtedly be concerns about the company’s innovation pace and the accuracy of its AI models, especially once Microsoft 365 users start utilizing these apps with sensitive business data in the near future.
When the system gets things wrong, or has biases, or is misused, we have mitigations in place. We’re tackling the long term implications and novel risks like jailbreaks. We’re going to make mistakes, but when we do we’ll address them quickly.Jamie Teevan, chief scientist at Microsoft