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What is Microsoft Copilot? Exploring Use Cases for Businesses in 2024

What is Microsoft Copilot?

Microsoft has launched Copilot, an intelligence assistant that can generate content, provide real-time responses, and keep you informed on office news and company project updates. Copilot was just recently released, going live November 1, 2023, on Microsoft platforms. It’s only able to be used with Windows 11 software; users on Windows 10 or below will not be able to access the assistant. The paid version of Copilot also requires a product license for Microsoft 365 E3 or E5. 

There are two versions of the Copilot assistant depending on your needs from the software. With the latest updates to Windows 11, users can take advantage of the free Copilot in Windows that interacts with your computer’s operating system. However, there is a paid version of Copilot, Microsoft 365 Copilot, that is fully integrated with Office 365 apps. This version is designated for enterprise use, requiring 300 users at $30 per user per month. Both Copilot versions offer powerful software that utilizes Large Language Models (LLMs) to synthesize your office data and create real-time suggestions, edits, and other helpful tools to maximize business potential. 

Current Capabilities of Microsoft Copilot 

Free version (Copilot in Windows) 

The free version of Copilot is seamlessly integrated into Windows 11, allowing the real-time technology to provide functionality for your operating system, not just online platforms. The software is connected to the web, so content can still be generated based on online information. It’s also integrated with Dall-E, an image creation program through Microsoft Bing, allowing Copilot to generate text and images. 

Copilot, being integrated into the operating system itself, can easily navigate computer programs to boost your office efficiency. The software can open apps, troubleshoot computer problems, navigate your email inbox, and even alter your computer settings, like changing your volume, brightness, and Wi-Fi connection. The free version of Copilot puts forth ‘more creative’, ‘more balanced’, and ‘more precise’ settings to guide the creativity of Copilot’s responses.

Paid version (Microsoft 365 Copilot) 

The paid enterprise version of Copilot takes all the skills and benefits of the free Windows system and expands upon them. It has an enhanced capability to utilize user data that is stored on the file system. Microsoft 365 Copilot is integrated into the Microsoft Office program suite, including Word, Outlook, and Teams. This program hasn’t been fully fleshed out yet, however. The enterprise Copilot program isn’t yet fully available in Excel, OneNote, and other programs, but they’re set to be entirely released soon. 

When integrating into your Microsoft 365 suite, the Copilot software automatically adjusts to accommodate your company’s individual privacy and security policies to ensure no information is unrightfully used or violated. The program uses a permissions model that prevents data leaks and breaches, and other security methods like two-factor authentication and data encryption are in place to ensure data safety and a trustworthy system. 

Microsoft 365 Copilot generates responses based directly on your real-time business context. The integration into the entire Microsoft Office suite allows for it to navigate calendars, email inboxes, contacts, and other critical business platforms to provide suggestions and information about personal and company happenings. Generated responses are designed to be contextually aware and precise through the pairing with real-time work information.

Potential Business Use Cases of Microsoft Copilot 

The short answer to the question “Who is Microsoft Copilot for?” is everyone. Its ease of integration into existing tools provides a plethora of potential uses that employees can easily take advantage of. The integration of the system with the computer interface and the web allows information to be summarized from the Internet. Using the Dall-E system mentioned above, images can be generated based on text, which comes in handy for creating deliverables like presentations.

Copilot can also aid with drafting precise, relevant emails. With the free version, you can specify the necessary context and prompt the system to “Draft an email based on ____.” Copilot will then generate an email draft based on the information that you provided. The paid version takes it a step further, allowing you to indicate just where to pull the context from, such as prompting it to “Draft an email based on the notes I took during yesterday’s 10:00 meeting.” The ability to generate precise, relevant email drafts from such a small amount of information holds endless potential for increasing office efficiency. 

Microsoft Copilot can also draft blog posts based on notes or other summarized inputs. Like drafting emails, the free version can be prompted to draft a blog post if the context is specified by the user. The paid version again goes further and can be prompted to, for example, “Draft a blog post based on the slides sent to me after yesterday’s presentation on the unveiling of our new marketing strategy.” This capability also serves to increase business efficiency, allowing you to generate precise, accurate blog posts and other information summarizations without a large amount of time. The system does use what is put in, so if the notes or slides being used aren’t detailed or accurate, Copilot won’t make corrections. However, the system’s ability to draft relevant posts based on given information presents a great opportunity for increased efficiency. 

Copilot can also summarize documents, notes, emails, and other communications created or received by the user. The free version must be provided with the necessary context for the summary, while the paid version can be directed on where to retrieve the information from. This can make company information much more digestible at a much quicker pace for the user. Copilot can also draft templates for PowerPoint and Word documents. This allows users to direct the Copilot software to, for example, make a presentation that is like the presentation from a previous date, but using the notes from a specific file for context.

Many more capabilities are in preview and set to be fully released soon by Microsoft. One of these upcoming releases is the ability to draft templates for Excel Sheets. This feature will only be available for the paid version, but it will allow users to direct the Copilot software to work more efficiently with Excel, like drafting relevant templates. Capabilities such as this template generator are coming soon as Copilot continues its new integration into the Microsoft world. 

Is It Worth It? 

All businesses and users should consider whether the free version of Copilot will be able to suit their needs. The free version should be available under the newest Windows 11 updates, and this results in the integration of the program into the computer’s operating system. However, the free version can’t generate any content based on user files in Microsoft Office 365. Adding the paid subscription allows companies to take advantage of the integration of the software into the entire Office suite.

We see incredible potential for Copilot to be a key productivity-enhancing tool for reimagining the modern workflow, particularly as we see more enhancements and updates over time. If you anticipate your company and employees experiencing productivity gains from this software, it might be especially beneficial to get involved early.  This will allow employees to gain familiarity with this new technology, enabling them to more easily ramp up as enhancements are made or transition to the paid version if desired.

On the other hand, we believe that considering the rapid pace at which this category of technology sees new releases, the enterprise price and/or the user threshold will likely come down. Therefore, it might be worth waiting a few months for this exciting Microsoft technology to be fully released and mature in the tech market, with reduced production costs leading to likely savings for the customer. Ultimately, the decision to adopt Copilot should be based on your organization’s specific needs and timing, but all companies should stay up to date as Microsoft continues to release new programs that can change the landscape of tech productivity. 

Interested in chatting more about Microsoft Copilot capabilities or potential applications? Connect with one of our digital analytics team today. 

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Contributions from Erik Sandstrom and Sam Weitzel

Tags: Emerging Technology