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New Microsoft 365 CoPilot is Microsoft’s answer to ChatGPT

Written by Dan O’Hara

Wednesday, 19 April, 2023

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With Microsoft’s multibillion-dollar investment in OpenAI (the creators of ChatGPT) at the start of 2023 and with the hugely successful launch of ChatGPT3, it was inevitable that we would swiftly see integration into Microsoft products.

The first of these integrations to launch with much public fanfare was the integration with Bing, Microsoft’s equivalent of Google search. This integration, although still early days, has been hit with some bizarre, and sometimes hilarious conversations with the AI, ranging from threatening to existential. There’s some work left to do here, but will it be that killer feature to drive people away from Google search? – the jury’s out. Remember, Bing’s most searched for query is “Google”, that’s a tough habit to overcome considering that Google will soon be rolling out its own version of ChatGPT.

ChatGPT integrated into the Microsoft Office suite

But where does the greatest potential with Microsoft reside? In my view it is with its core product, its bread and butter – the Microsoft Office suite.

Since its release, people have been using ChatGPT3 quite effectively – ask ChatGPT3 to write you a blog about how ChatGPT is about to be all over Microsoft Office, then happily copy and paste its suggested text into a Word document, make a few tweaks then prepare it for upload to LinkedIn and wait for the likes to pour in. Spoiler! ChatGPT did not write this. However, Microsoft has announced some really interesting integrations with the Office suite named CoPilot.

Microsoft’s 365 CoPilot has a fairly strong marketing message; “turn your words into the most powerful productivity tool on the planet” and based on some of the videos on what it can do, that sounds about right. Some examples include:

  • Generating proposals in Word based on meeting notes in OneNote and other documents
  • Generating a proposal presentation based on a proposal Word document
  • Providing a bulleted summary analysis of an Excel spreadsheet
  • Generating an email based on the description of what you want to write

Are there any downsides to this AI tool?

The videos are quite compelling and I can only imagine the combined savings that will be gained in people’s time authoring documents, presentations and emails. This tool is undoubtedly going to be transformative, but are there any downsides?

As Bing’s ChatGPT integration, AKA Sydney (as it revealed) has had existential conversations with journalists, I do feel myself having some of my own concerns with the potential of this tool. This hit on the Outlook example for CoPilot where the person types, “Ask Lily to be a last-minute presenter for the supply chain all-hands tomorrow” and sure enough it eloquently writes out a couple of paragraphs of a formal email message akin to something I would write myself.

If I wrote, “thank Lily for doing a great presentation for the customer” I’m sure it would generate a great email and save me some time. But if we all know we’re emailing, authoring documents and presentations all using the same tool, where we’ve put in 20 seconds writing a sentence of what we wanted – does it have the same meaning?

A new way of working is on the horizon

Time will tell what impact ChatGPT, CoPilot and the inevitable stream of future Natural Language AI products will have on our working and personal lives. It’s a pretty safe bet that we will see significant efficiencies in people’s time and even more incredible capabilities. The tipping point of useful, true AI for the mainstream has been reached – what an exciting time to be alive!

Read Microsoft’s CoPilot blog here https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2023/03/16/introducing-microsoft-365-copilot-a-whole-new-way-to-work/.

 

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