Jasco Blog

Copilots: We’re Not All The Same

Before we talk about the “Copilots”, let’s have a quick refresher about where Copilot came from. ChatGPT was a research project that used a large-scale neural network model called GPT to generate realistic and coherent responses to human inputs. If you’re not familiar, have a quick read over here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ChatGPT. ChatGPT was designed to mimic human conversations and provide engaging and entertaining chat experiences. ChatGPT was trained on millions of web pages, books, and social media posts, and could handle a variety of topics and styles. ChatGPT was also able to adapt to the personality and preferences of the user, creating a personalized and interactive dialogue and was one of the first applications of GPT technology.

So what is a Copilot?

As the name implies, Copilot is an assistant that helps you with various tasks and scenarios. If we look at the definition of a copilot from one of the many dictionaries on the Internet, a copilot can be defined as “a qualified pilot who assists or relieves the pilot but is not in command”.
So not someone who is in control but “assists or relieves, but is not in control”.
From this, you can deduce why Microsoft chose that name and what the “Copilots” are for.

There’s More than One Copilot?

While the intent is good, it can be a little confusing for the solutions that Microsoft have provided that use the word Copilot in them. 

Why have more than one Copilot?

To answer that, let’s look at the framework that Microsoft uses for the Copilot stack

If you have a look at the keynote from Ignite 2023, Satya Nadella talks about the Copilot stack and it’s breadth across the entire Microsoft Cloud, that inconspicuous little arrow at the bottom of the stack. Since there’s a lot of stuff across the Microsoft Cloud, then it makes sense that there might be a Copilot for more than one thing.

The Most Common Copilots

While there are more Copilots than this, let’s start with the main ones that you might have seen.

Windows Copilot

Windows Copilot has been showing up on Windows 11 computers, just over the search field from the Start button. It might carry a PRE tag, indicating that this is in preview.

Windows Copilot is meant as an assist to your Windows devices (sorry Cortana ☹). Microsoft describes Windows Copilot in a FAQ page https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/copilot-ai-features#faq as “Copilot in Windows provides answers to queries and helps you take action within Windows 11, like changing a setting, summarizing a query, or opening a relevant app.”
Some of the examples of what Windows 11 Copilot can do are:

  • “Change to dark mode”
  • “Turn on do not disturb”
  • “Take a screenshot”
  • “Summarize this website” (Active tab in Microsoft Edge)
  • “Write a story about a dog who lives on the moon”
  • “Make me a picture of a serene koi fishpond with lily pads”

Microsoft Copilot

Just to confuse you a little more, Microsoft Copilot was previously called Bing Chat. Think of Microsoft Copilot as Microsoft’s freely available version of ChatGPT with some extras. This takes information that you provide into the chat Window and provides you with answers based on it’s learning from those millions of web pages, books, and social media posts etc. It can create responses in a creative, balanced or more precise manner across media types such as text and images within the chat response.

The data that you provide to Microsoft Copilot “personal” edition may be used by Microsoft to help train AI. Be aware that the data provided to the chat isn’t private until we get to a flavour of Microsoft Copilot that is enabled for business use. Not a lot of information on the name for this one, so let’s call it Microsoft Copilot Enterprise (as it was formerly Bing Chat Enterprise).

For businesses that have Microsoft licensing, you’ll get the added benefit of keeping the data that you feed to Microsoft Copilot private. The chat information and results are not retained, and Microsoft do NOT use the data you enter to train AI. You might notice in the image below the green “Protected” and “Your personal and company data is protected” information, confirming that your data stays private!

The last one that I’ll mention today is Microsoft 365 Copilot. I might take a look at Security Copilot once it becomes available in early April.

Microsoft 365 Copilot

This is the big cheese! Microsoft 365 Copilot integrates across the Microsoft 365 applications – Teams, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Whiteboard and OneNote (what have I missed?). Microsoft allows the prompts you provide, to query the data that you have access to in your M365 tenant, within permission and data protection policies you already have in place. That information again, is not used to train AI and remains your data.

From within each of the apps I can ask Copilot to do something for me.
For example, I can ask Copilot to provide me with a summary of a Teams meeting and the actions items out of it.

Or in Word, I can ask for a summary of a document, or even to create an outline of a document based on some criteria or notes that I’ve taken.

Or in PowerPoint, I can ask Copilot to create me a presentation based on a security report word document I have written.

….and so on.

If you’re curious, go and have a look at the Microsoft page here https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-copilot .

Microsoft 365 Copilot’s Summary

For your benefit – here is the article summary I asked Copilot to write based on the article I’d written, and then asked it to refine it to make it sound more like my style. What do you think?

“To sum up, Microsoft Copilot is an amazing and flexible tool that can help you create various types of documents with ease. It uses AI to understand what you want and give you useful suggestions based on your data, files, or keywords. You can apply it to different Microsoft applications, such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook, and adjust it to fit your needs and preferences. Whether you have to write a report, design a slide, analyze some numbers, or write an email, Copilot can support you and make your work faster and simpler.”

..and from me

I hope this has helped to clarify some of the different types of Copilot that Microsoft have available. Be prepared for a lot more if you’re involved in this space. I haven’t delved into licensing or cost in this article because that’s less exciting and a conversation that I hope we can have soon.

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