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Everything you need to know about Microsoft 365 Copilot


Microsoft 365 Copilot (M365 Copilot or Copilot) is a new feature that helps you work smarter and faster with the power of artificial intelligence (AI).

In today's fast-paced business landscape, efficiency and productivity are paramount. Organizations are constantly seeking ways to streamline their workflows and optimize time. Enter Microsoft Copilot, a ground-breaking AI-powered tool designed to revolutionize the way we all work.

In this comprehensive blog (updated 18 July 2023 with pricing), we will delve into the key features, availability, pricing, benefits and much more, helping you make an informed decision about integrating this game-changing solution into your business. Once you have read this, you might want to read about how to Get your People and Content Ready for Microsoft 365 Copilot.

In this blog:

How does Microsoft 365 Copilot work?

It works alongside you in the Microsoft 365 apps you use every day, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, and more. It also works across your data in the Microsoft Graph, such as your calendar, emails, chats, documents, meetings, and contacts. You can give it natural language prompts and it will generate content, suggestions, summaries, and more for you.

M365 Copilot was announced in March 2023 as a new way to reinvent productivity for everyone. It uses large language models (LLMs), which are trained on billions of words from the internet and other sources, to understand and generate natural language. It also uses your data in the Microsoft Graph to personalize and contextualize the results. For example, if you ask it to draft a project proposal based on some data and documents, it will use the information from your organization and your previous work to create a relevant and coherent draft.

Copilot is integrated into two ways: as an embedded feature in the Microsoft 365 apps and as a standalone experience called Business Chat. Business Chat is a new app that lets you chat with Copilot and get things done across your data and apps. You can ask it to do things like schedule a meeting, send an email, create a presentation, or update your team on a project. It will generate the content for you and help you complete the task.Microsoft 365 Copilot Create content

It is currently available in an invitation-only Early Access Program for select customers worldwide. The Early Access Program is a paid preview that lets customers test Copilot and provide feedback to improve it. Microsoft is also rolling out Semantic Index for Copilot, a new capability that maps your user and company data to help Copilot understand your intent and find what you need.

M365 Copilot is designed to be secure and compliant with Microsoft's commitments to data privacy and protection in the enterprise. It does not store or share your data outside of your organization. It also gives you full control over what you want to share with Copilot and how you want to use its results. You can edit, delete, or reject any content generated by Copilot at any time.

What are the key features of Microsoft 365 Copilot?

Copilot will evolve over time - and at great pace - but some of the features we can expect to see from the outset include:

Real-time Assistance: Copilot provides contextual suggestions as you work, helping you draft emails, create documents, and generate code more efficiently. It anticipates your needs and offers relevant content, saving you valuable time.

Task Automation: By recognizing patterns in your work, Copilot automates repetitive tasks, such as scheduling meetings, organizing files, and creating reports. This frees up your time and enables you to concentrate on more strategic activities.

Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing: Copilot facilitates seamless collaboration by providing intelligent suggestions during meetings, brainstorming sessions, and team discussions. It helps you find relevant information and insights, enhancing the overall effectiveness of your teamwork.

Personalized Assistance: Copilot adapts to your work style and preferences over time. It learns from your actions, analyzes data patterns, and customizes its suggestions accordingly, making it a truly personalized and intuitive assistant.

What are the benefits of using Microsoft 365 Copilot?

Microsoft 365 Copilot can help you:

  • Unleash creativity: Copilot can help you generate content, ideas, insights, and more with just a few words or clicks. You can use it to write documents, create presentations, design graphics, compose emails, and more.
  • Unlock productivity: Copilot can help you save time and effort by doing the busy work for you. You can use it to summarize text, rewrite sentences, format data, schedule meetings, send messages, and more.
  • Uplevel skills: Copilot can help you improve your writing, communication, collaboration, and learning skills. You can use it to get feedback, suggestions, tips, explanations, and more.

For developers, Microsoft Copilot provides other specific benefits:

  • Increased productivity: By automating repetitive coding tasks and providing intelligent suggestions, Copilot boosts developers' productivity, allowing them to focus on higher-level problem-solving and innovation.
  • Faster development time: Copilot's code completion and suggestion capabilities accelerate the coding process, reducing the time required to write new code or modify existing code.
  • Improved code quality: Copilot's ability to understand coding patterns and enforce best practices helps ensure higher-quality code. It can identify potential bugs, security vulnerabilities, and performance issues, leading to more robust applications.
  • Enhanced collaboration: Copilot's natural language understanding and code suggestions enable effective collaboration between developers and non-technical stakeholders. It facilitates communication by bridging the gap between technical and non-technical team members.

What does Microsoft 365 Copilot cost?

Microsoft 365 Copilot will be priced at USD 30 per user, per month for Microsoft 365 E3, E5, Business Standard, and Business Premium customers when broadly available.

This steep per-user price is as expected, as the Copilot system is not going to be cheap to run for Microsoft and the operational cost will need to be passed on to customers. 

For comparison, a Microsoft M365 E3 license is USD 36 and a Microsoft E5 license is USD 58 per user per month (pupm); Premium add-ons such as Viva Suite is priced at USD 12 pupm and Microsoft Copilot for GitHub is USD 19 pupm (see below).

To justify the pricing, Microsoft's messaging with regards to Microsoft 365 Copilot has focused on high-value benefits such as higher quality outcomes, direct cost savings, time-savings and so forth. 

Note: Prior to July 18 2023, our guess was as follows:

"So, to sum up. If I was a betting man (I am not), I would bet on more than the Viva Suite cost (at least the same as a Copilot for GitHub license), but somewhat less than an M365 E5. If I am forced to put a specific range, my guesstimate would be somewhere between USD 20 at the bottom-end and up to USD 50 per user per month at the top-end. Or USD 35 +/- 15 if you prefer."

What does Microsoft Copilot for developers cost?

Currently, there is most clarity for developers using Copilot in conjunction with coding in Visual Studio. Everything below should be double-checked before you make any buying decisions as this is fast moving topic.

Microsoft 365 Copilot in OutlookFirst of all, it is important to note that Copilot is not a standalone product, but a service that integrates with Visual Studio Code, the popular code editor from Microsoft. Therefore, to use Copilot, you will need to have a Visual Studio Code subscription, which is free for personal and open source projects, and starts from $6 per month for professional developers.

Secondly, Copilot will have different tiers of service depending on the usage and complexity of the code generation. The basic tier will be free for everyone who has a Visual Studio Code subscription, and will allow you to generate up to 100 lines of code per day, with a limit of 10 lines per request. This tier is suitable for beginners and hobbyists who want to try out Copilot and get some help with simple tasks.

The premium tier will be available for a monthly fee that will vary depending on the region and the currency. This tier will allow you to generate unlimited lines of code per day, with a limit of 50 lines per request. This tier is suitable for professional developers and teams who want to use Copilot for more complex and frequent tasks, such as creating new features, fixing bugs, or refactoring code.

The enterprise tier will be available for a custom quote that will depend on the size and needs of the organization. This tier will allow you to generate unlimited lines of code per day, with no limit on the number of lines per request. This tier is suitable for large-scale and mission-critical projects that require high-quality and secure code generation, such as developing applications for healthcare, finance, or government sectors. The price for this tier is USD 19 per month per developer.

In addition to these tiers, Copilot will also offer some discounts and incentives for certain groups of users. For example, students and educators will be able to access the premium tier for free with a valid academic email address. Non-profit organizations and open source contributors will also be eligible for reduced or waived fees depending on their impact and activity. Furthermore, Copilot will reward users who provide feedback and improve the quality of the code generation by offering credits or bonuses that can be used to reduce the cost of the service.

To learn more about Copilot for developers and sign up for early access, visit

High level technical prerequisites for Microsoft 365 Copilot 

If you are already in Microsoft 365, using E3 or E5 and an active user of Microsoft Teams and Teams apps, then you are likely to be good to go (apart from the additional licenses that you need of course). 

The technical prerequisites are:

  1. Be in the Microsoft 365 cloud.
  2. The user needs either a Microsoft 365 E3 or a E5 license as a prerequisite.
  3. The user needs to have an AAD (Azure Active Directory) account.
  4. Enable plugins (in the Teams Admin Center).
  5. WebSockets must be unblocked from user endpoints (for certain Copilot experiences).
  6. Assign Microsoft 365 Copilot licenses to the end user (in M365 Admin Center)

Microsoft also offer a number of recommendations around M365 network connectivity and endpoint taxonomy.

How do I use Microsoft 365 Copilot?

You can use Microsoft 365 Copilot in two ways:

  1. As an embedded feature in the Microsoft 365 apps: You will be able to access Copilot from the app toolbar. You can then type or speak a natural language prompt or command and get a response from Copilot. For example, you can ask it to "Create a table of contents for this document" in Word or "Show me the sales forecast for next quarter" in Excel.
  2. As a standalone experience in Business Chat: You can open Business Chat from the Windows Start menu (or pressing Win+C, which starts Windows Cortana for users that do not have Copilot). You can then chat with Copilot using natural language prompts or commands and get responses from Copilot. For example, you can ask it to "Tell my team how we updated the product strategy" or "Schedule a meeting with Kelly next week".

When can I use Microsoft 365 Copilot?

Copilot is currently (mid 2023) only available through a limited private preview / early access program.

How do I join the Microsoft 365 Copilot Early Access Program?

The Microsoft 365 Copilot Early Access Program is an invitation-only paid preview that is available for select customers worldwide. If you are interested in joining the program, you can read more here, then speak to your Microsoft account manager and wait (plus cross fingers) for an invite from Microsoft.

What is ChatGPT and how is this relevant to Microsoft Copilot?

Copilot can "interface" to ChatGPT amongst other services. ChatGPT is a natural language processing technology from OpenAI that uses machine learning, deep learning, natural language understanding, and natural language generation to answer questions or respond to conversations. It is designed to mimic human conversation by understanding a user’s question or comment and responding in an engaging and conversational way.

ChatGPT uses advanced algorithms to try and understand what you're asking for, and then build a response by predicting what the next word should be as it builds its reply. It's trained on a set of public content from a specific point in time and doesn't search the live web to get answers. Because of this it may struggle to answer questions about recent events.

Microsoft and OpenAI are working together to develop the underlying AI. Microsoft is developing and providing the supercomputing infrastructure that OpenAI services run on.

Does Copilot learn from my data?

Neither your document content nor the descriptions you write are used for machine learning. Likewise, when you send feedback or report content, Microsoft uses your input to make feature improvements; your feedback does not directly impact the foundational AI models that Copilot is based on. 

Read more here: Using ChatGPT with content in Microsoft 365 SharePoint and Teams and here: Microsoft 365 Copilot and Business Chat Explained

Microsoft Copilot for developers

In the ever-evolving landscape of software development, efficiency and productivity are paramount. Microsoft Copilot, a groundbreaking AI-powered coding assistant, is poised to redefine the way developers write code. With its advanced capabilities and intelligent features, Copilot promises to streamline the coding process and enhance developers' productivity. 

Key Features of Microsoft Copilot for Developers

Intelligent Code Suggestions: Copilot uses machine learning algorithms to analyze vast amounts of code from various sources, enabling it to provide intelligent suggestions as developers write. It understands context and offers relevant code snippets, reducing the need for repetitive coding and accelerating development time.

Natural Language Understanding: Copilot can interpret and understand human language descriptions of code, allowing developers to write code using plain English rather than traditional programming syntax. This feature lowers the barrier for entry into programming and enhances collaboration between technical and non-technical team members.

Code Completion: Copilot can predict and complete code based on the context and code patterns it has learned from vast code repositories. It suggests code snippets, function signatures, and variable names, minimizing typos and syntax errors while increasing coding speed.

Context-Aware Documentation: With Copilot, developers can access relevant documentation and examples directly within their coding environment. This feature saves time by eliminating the need to switch between different resources and helps developers quickly find answers to their coding queries.

Language and Framework Support: Copilot is designed to work with a wide range of programming languages and frameworks, making it versatile for developers across different tech stacks. It adapts to developers' coding preferences and provides accurate suggestions regardless of the language or framework being used.

Developer Scenarios and Use Cases

Microsoft Copilot can be applied to various scenarios, such as:

Code Prototyping: Copilot can assist developers in rapidly prototyping ideas by generating initial code snippets based on high-level descriptions. This feature expedites the development process and helps developers bring their ideas to life quickly.

Code Review and Refactoring: Copilot's ability to understand existing codebases makes it invaluable during code reviews and refactoring tasks. It can suggest more efficient code alternatives, identify potential bugs, and enforce coding best practices.

Learning and Skill Development: Copilot can act as a learning aid for developers, especially those new to programming. By providing context-aware suggestions and explanations, it helps developers understand coding concepts and learn from real-world examples.

Should I be concerned about using Copilot and what are the drawbacks?

While Microsoft Copilot offers significant benefits, it's important to consider some potential drawbacks.

Price: It has to be mentioned here, first of all because there is no clear pricing (see above) and second, because any advanced / bespoke training (fine-tuning) is likely to blow your annual summer party budget a few times over.

Learning Curve: Adapting to a new AI-powered tool may require some time and effort for users who are unfamiliar with similar technologies. A learning curve is expected, but Microsoft provides comprehensive documentation and support resources to facilitate a smooth transition.

Dependency on Connectivity: As an AI-powered cloud-based solution, Microsoft Copilot heavily relies on a stable internet connection. Interruptions in connectivity may limit the tool's functionality, potentially impacting your productivity.

Competitor Offerings: While Microsoft Copilot stands out as a leading AI-powered business tool, it is worth considering the offerings of its competitors. Two notable alternatives are:

  • Google Workspace: Google Workspace offers AI-powered productivity tools, such as Smart Compose and Smart Reply, which provide real-time suggestions for emails and other tasks. It emphasizes seamless integration with Google's suite of productivity applications.
  • Grammarly Business: Grammarly Business focuses on improving writing proficiency and clarity. It offers AI-based suggestions for grammar, spelling, and writing style, making it an excellent choice for professionals who heavily rely on written communication.

How do I learn more about Microsoft 365 Copilot?

You can learn more from Microsoft about Microsoft 365 Copilot by visiting these links:

eBook: What you need to know about Enterprise AI

Get ready for ChatGPT and Microsoft 365 Copilot.

What you need to know about Enterprise AI eBook Cover 3D

Download this eBook to: 

  • learn everything you need to know about Enterprise AI
  • get ready for the latest AI technology such as ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot.

Author bio

Gabriel Karawani

Gabriel Karawani

Gabriel is Co-Founder of ClearPeople, responsible for the overall technical and Atlas Intelligent Knowledge Platform vision. He works closely with colleagues at Microsoft on roadmap alignment and innovative Content AI Services programs such as Microsoft Viva Topics and SharePoint Premium (previously known as Syntex). Gabriel was part of Microsoft's partner program for Project Cortex.

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