Microsoft 365’s AI-powered Copilot is like an omniscient version of Clippy

Enlarge / Microsoft 365 Copilot will try to automate content material era and evaluation in all the former Microsoft Workplace apps.


At this time Microsoft took the wraps off of Microsoft 365 Copilot, its rumored effort to construct automated AI-powered content-generation options into all of the Microsoft 365 apps.

The capabilities Microsoft demonstrated make Copilot appear to be a juiced-up model of Clippy, the oft-parodied and arguably beloved assistant from older variations of Microsoft Workplace. Copilot can mechanically generate Outlook emails, Phrase paperwork, and PowerPoint decks, can automate information evaluation in Excel, and might pull related factors from the transcript of a Microsoft Groups assembly, amongst different options.

Microsoft is at the moment testing Copilot “with 20 prospects, together with eight in Fortune 500 enterprises.” The preview will likely be expanded to different organizations “within the coming months,” however the firm did not point out when particular person Microsoft 365 subscribers would be capable to use the options. The corporate will “share extra on pricing and licensing quickly,” suggesting the function could also be a paid add-on along with the price of a Microsoft 365 subscription.

Demonstrating Copilot's capabilities in Outlook.

Demonstrating Copilot’s capabilities in Outlook.


In a video demonstrating Copilot options, Microsoft presenters confirmed Copilot producing emails and PowerPoint slides primarily based on prompts. The core performance is predicated on a large-language mannequin (LLM) just like the ChatGPT 4-based mannequin used for Bing Chat, helped alongside by Microsoft Graph-supplied contextual data from elsewhere in Microsoft’s cloud. Microsoft says that Copilot’s LLM may be educated on information particular to a person enterprise, utilizing your information “in a safe, compliant, privacy-preserving approach” to make Copilot’s output extra related.

Copilot was proven pulling in related photographs from OneDrive, inserting data from affirmation emails and calendar appointments from Outlook, and producing PowerPoint decks primarily based on the data in a Phrase doc. Copilot can even automate repetitive duties, like including animations and transitions to a PowerPoint slide present or fleshing out tough notes right into a extra polished doc for public consumption.

Conscious that AI content material mills are susceptible to factual errors and different bizarre errors (usually known as “hallucinations”), Microsoft emphasised that Copilot is most helpful for “first drafts” and “beginning factors.” It may not get each single reality in an electronic mail or presentation proper, however customers will be capable to undergo and tweak textual content, photographs, and formatting to verify the whole lot is appropriate. Copilot may also be used throughout the edit course of, making factors you’ve got written extra concise or mechanically changing a picture in a PowerPoint deck with one other more-relevant picture.

“Typically, Copilot will get it proper,” mentioned Microsoft VP of Trendy Work and Enterprise Functions Jared Spataro within the presentation. “Different instances, will probably be usefully incorrect, supplying you with an concept that’s not good, however nonetheless offers you a head begin.”

Microsoft additionally pressured its dedication to “constructing responsibly.” Regardless of allegedly shedding a whole crew devoted to AI ethics, Microsoft says it has “a multidisciplinary crew of researchers, engineers and coverage consultants” on the lookout for and mitigating “potential harms” by “refining coaching information, filtering to restrict dangerous content material, query- and result-blocking delicate matters, and making use of Microsoft applied sciences like InterpretML and Fairlearn to assist detect and proper information bias.” The system will even hyperlink to its sources and be aware limitations the place applicable.

Microsoft has been pushing AI-powered options in all of its greatest merchandise this yr, most notably in the Bing Chat preview, but in addition in Skype and Home windows 11. It is a part of a multi-billion-dollar partnership with OpenAI, the corporate behind the ChatGPT chatbot, the Whisper transcription know-how, and the DALL-E picture generator.