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Microsoft Opens Copilot for Microsoft 365 Up to Small and Medium Businesses


Microsoft’s generative AI assistant Copilot for Microsoft 365 is now available for businesses interested in providing the product to fewer than 299 seats. The Copilot for Microsoft 365 subscription for business use lets employees use data from across their company’s Microsoft products to provide more data to the generative AI, letting it use more information in context. Microsoft assures customers that Microsoft’s enterprise-grade security and compliance apply to data used by the generative AI, too.

In addition, Microsoft announced yesterday that Copilot Pro, a plan for individual power users, is now available. People interested in using Copilot on the go can now access it through either a Copilot app or the Microsoft 365 mobile app.

Copilot runs on the Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service, which is only available in North America and Europe. More information about opting in to these regions to use the service elsewhere can be found via Microsoft.

New Copilot for Microsoft 365 plan was made for SMBs

Copilot for Microsoft 365 subscriptions used to be available only for customers interested in purchasing 300 seats; now, small and medium sized businesses can purchase between one and 299 seats.

Copilot for Microsoft 365 will be available for purchase on top of existing Microsoft 365 Business Premium and Business Standard subscriptions. Customers of Office 365 E3 and E5 can now use Copilot for Microsoft 365 without a Microsoft 365 license.

SEE: Generative AI was a hot topic at CES 2024 this year, with some companies like Rabbit proposing AI could change the way people access online services (TechRepublic) 

A major difference between Copilot Pro and Copilot for Microsoft 365 for business is that the latter comes with Copilot integration into Microsoft Teams.

Copilot for Microsoft 365 was developed in part using feedback from an early SMB adopters’ program, said Brenna Robinson, general manager for Microsoft 365 for SMBs at Microsoft in an email to TechRepublic.

“Customers tell us that Copilot helps them cut through the noise and clear out their busy work, so they can concentrate on the work that truly matters – and that is growing their businesses,” Robinson said.

Copilot Pro plan offers latest generative AI models to power users

Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscribers can now use Copilot generative AI features with the Copilot Pro plan. The $20 per person per month plan is intended for super users who want faster generative AI models – starting with OpenAI’s GPT-4 Turbo during peak times – and to be able to sync Copilot work across Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote on PC, Mac and iPad; the Excel version is in preview.

Microsoft is targeting AI image creators with this plan, offering Image Creator from Designer (formerly Bing Image Creator) with more detailed image quality compared to the free version and with landscape image format.

Copilot Pro subscribers will get access to Copilot GPT Builder when it is available – the company said it’s coming soon. Copilot GPT Builder, like OpenAI’s GPT Builder, lets people create custom chatbots using natural language prompts.

Copilot available on mobile and in the Microsoft 365 app

Android and iOS users can now access the Copilot app (Figure A); they’ll be able to sync chats and queries from their phone to their Windows PC. The Copilot app connects users to GPT-4 and Dall-E 3.

Figure A

Examples of conversations with Copilot in the Copilot app. Image: Microsoft
Examples of conversations with Copilot in the Copilot app. Image: Microsoft

Individual Microsoft account holders on Android and iOS mobile phones will be able to access Copilot in the Microsoft 365 mobile app later in 2024. Microsoft said on Jan. 15, 2024 that Copilot in the Microsoft 365 mobile app is rolling out “over the next month.”

The Copilot app and Microsoft 365 app can be found in the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

Microsoft offers custom GPTs

Like OpenAI, Microsoft is betting on GPTs to show people what specific uses generative AI has, from organizing trips and presentations to offering recipes. Copilot GPTs are now available based on select topics. Microsoft says the first GPTs will offer natural language conversations around “fitness, travel, cooking and more.” More GPTs are likely to become available as Copilot Pro subscribers create GPTs on the Copilot GPT Builder.

Competitors to Copilot Pro and Copilot for Microsoft 365 for business

The main competitors to these Copilot offerings are from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI has its own power user subscription, ChatGPT Plus, and a version with enterprise-grade privacy and services called ChatGPT Enterprise. Google’s Bard extensions add generative AI to Gmail, Docs, Drive and other Google services.



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