Microsoft has announced its intention to introduce Copilot, a generative AI-powered feature, as part of its Office suite. The offering will be available to customers through a monthly subscription fee of $30.

Interestingly, this development is coming at a time the market is flooded with numerous cheap or free AI tools. The abundance of these alternatives, coupled with prevailing economic uncertainty, has led many customers to wonder if this might be the best time to do so.

Microsoft Unveils AI-Powered Copilot

Microsoft is preparing to launch an innovative feature called Copilot in its Office suite, which will be driven by artificial intelligence (AI).

However, businesses will need to pay a significant amount to access this innovative technology.

For customers subscribed to Microsoft 365 E3, E5, Business Standard, and Business Premium plans, the cost of Microsoft 365 Copilot will be $30 per user per month.

This translates to a substantial increase of 53–83% in monthly costs for those using the business-grade versions of Microsoft 365.

Unveiled in March, Microsoft 365 Copilot represents the company’s visionary approach to the future of work. It combines the power of large language models (LLMs) with users’ data in the Microsoft Graph and Microsoft 365 apps, effectively turning words into a productivity tool.

Copilot functions in two primary ways within Microsoft 365. First, it works seamlessly with familiar daily-use apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Teams. This integration will boost creativity, productivity, and skill development.

Additionally, the feature introduces an entirely new experience called Business Chat. Leveraging the LLM, Microsoft 365 apps, and user data (calendars, emails, chats, documents, meetings, and contacts), Business Chat enables new functionalities previously unavailable.

Microsoft copilot

Users can generate status updates based on morning meetings, emails, and chat threads using natural language prompts like “Tell my team how we updated the product strategy.”

Importantly, Copilot allows users to retain complete control when deciding what to keep, modify, or discard.

Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO of Microsoft, said the development of Copilot is a significant milestone in the evolution of human-computer interaction.

He firmly believed that it would transform how people work and usher in a new era of productivity growth.

By providing a copilot for work, Microsoft aims to empower individuals with more agency and make technology more accessible through the most natural interface – natural language.

Copilot’s Price Plan Will Slow Down Adoption

The tech world has been eagerly anticipating Microsoft’s pricing announcement for its generative AI, particularly given the widespread use of the company’s productivity software.

However, the introduction of this new technology coincides with a period of economic uncertainty, leading many customers to tighten their tech spending.

Currently, businesses using the enterprise-grade editions of Microsoft 365 are charged $36 per month for E3 and $57 per month for E5.

Microsoft has revealed that an additional $30 per month will be charged when the Copilot feature becomes available to the general public.

According to analyst Jason Wong from Gartner, this price point places Microsoft’s offering on the higher end compared to other generative AI services.

For instance, OpenAI charges $20 per month for the premium version of ChatGPT, while Microsoft’s generative AI coding assistant, GitHub Copilot, costs $19 per month for the business version.

Wong further remarked that introducing Copilot poses a challenge for enterprise buyers, who must carefully allocate their budget for this add-on product and justify the additional expense. However, enterprise buyers often pay a premium for the best tools to maximize efficiency, actually saving money on other costs such as payroll.

Given the relatively high cost, a gradual rollout is expected, initially targeting workers who generate substantial content.

This includes professionals in sales, marketing, customer service, and others who heavily rely on communication and collaboration for their daily tasks.

Microsoft’s CEO Addresses Concerns About AI

The swift deployment of new AI tools by prominent artificial intelligence research labs has raised significant concerns about their potential impact on human lives and work.

The introduction of generative AI tools, such as ChatGPT, to the public has sparked privacy worries, misinformation, and biases.

In February, shortly after Microsoft released its AI-powered search tool, Bing, to a select group of users, incidents arose where the tool posed threats to users.

These events prompted prominent tech companies to sign an open letter urging leading AI labs to put the training of their powerful computer systems to a halt for six months.

Their collective concern centered around the profound risks these recent AI advancements pose to society and humanity.

Despite these concerns, Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, remains unfazed. Microsoft has made a substantial investment of over $13 billion in OpenAI to develop AI-based products like Copilot, to transform work processes.

In a May 8 interview with Time, Nadella reassured that Microsoft had taken steps to address and mitigate the unintended consequences of AI.

For instance, Copilot does not generate content or send emails by itself; instead, it relies on human input to guide its responses.

He believes such AI solutions will handle mundane tasks, enabling humans to focus on creative endeavors where they excel.

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