Copilot- An AI assistant that it has dreamed about for years
Microsoft has recently introduced a new feature called “Copilot” that is set to revolutionize the way people create and work on Office documents. This cutting-edge tool is a game-changer, as it offers a level of AI-powered support that was previously unheard of in the Office suite. With Copilot, Microsoft is ushering in a new era of document creation, one that is faster, smarter, and more collaborative than ever before.
What exactly is Copilot?
Copilot is an AI-powered tool that works alongside users to help them create and edit Office documents in real-time. This means that users can get suggestions, formatting help, and even content recommendations from Copilot as they work, making the process of document creation much more efficient and streamlined.
Copilot appears in Office apps as a useful AI chatbot on the sidebar, but it’s much more than just that. You could be in the middle of a Word document, and it will gently appear when you highlight an entire paragraph — much like how Word has UI prompts that highlight your spelling mistakes. You can use it to rewrite your paragraphs with 10 suggestions of new text to flick through and freely edit, or you can have Copilot generate entire documents for you.
“In our minds this is the new way of computing, the new way of working with technology, and the most adaptive technology we’ve seen,” says Jon Friedman, corporate vice president of design and research at Microsoft.
One of the key benefits of Copilot is that it can help users create high-quality presentations quickly and easily. If you’re working on a presentation in PowerPoint, Copilot can offer suggestions for slide layouts, font choices, and even image placement. This not only saves time but also ensures that your document looks polished and professional.
Another significant advantage of Copilot is its ability to help users collaborate more effectively on Office documents. With Copilot, multiple users can work on the same document simultaneously, with the AI-powered tool offering real-time suggestions and feedback to help ensure consistency and quality across the board. This is particularly useful for teams working on large projects or documents that require input from multiple stakeholders.
Copilot can even teach you Office features
This adaptability is what sets it apart from Microsoft just shoving ChatGPT into a sidebar in Office. Copilot doesn’t just offer up a chatbot interface — you can use it to command Office apps like Excel and PowerPoint. If you’re looking at a slide deck and wish every title were orange instead of blue, just ask Copilot instead of having to dig into PowerPoint features.
You may use Copilot to help you comprehend the rows and columns of data in Excel by having it make a PivotTable, produce a graph, or both. Helping analyse and comprehend data is one of the ways we’re beginning with Copilot. You can request graphs from Copilot based on patterns it detects in the data and then insert those trends into a spreadsheet to see what Copilot thinks of the data. To help you become more proficient with Office, Excel even offers a “show me” tool for Copilot that enables you to learn from this AI how it recently carried out a task.
Microsoft seems to be gradually implementing the vision it had for Clippy or even its Cortana personal assistant years ago. Although Copilot and some of our previous efforts have some parallels, it is significantly more capable, more modest, and exists to serve up things for you that save you time.
Productivity and collaboration improvements
There are various ways to command the Copilot system because Microsoft has tailored it for each Office application. In a blog post, Microsoft writes: “We all want to focus on the 20% of our work that really matters, but 80% of our time is consumed with busywork that bogs us down. Copilot lightens the load. From summarizing long email threads to quickly drafting suggested replies, Copilot in Outlook helps you clear your inbox in minutes, not hours.”
As impressive as Copilot is, we’ve seen the myriad ways that large language models can fail, including inserting racial or gender bias into text and simply making things up. Those traits are alarming enough in a search engine, but when you’re talking about Excel (which arguably powers the world’s economy) or your email inbox, it’s a whole different level of ethics, privacy, and data concerns.
Copilot from Microsoft also includes a variety of warnings that pop up as you use it. The statement “Content is generated by AI and may have inaccuracies for sensitive content” can be found in PowerPoint. You must verify any information you get. There are prompts that warn that “AI-generated content may be wrong” in other places. Microsoft is attempting to create a system that serves as a constant reminder that you are in control.
Despite all the difficulties, the Copilot system’s future won’t be limited to text-based generating. Once large language models are capable of handling these features, Microsoft has a clear vision for using Copilot to generate images, video, and other types of content.
“In our mind we’re being thoughtfully quick”
“In our mind we’re being thoughtfully quick,” says Friedman. “Everything we’re learning from Bing in preview is helping us mitigate any risks,” he added. “We’re applying all that learning and thinking to Copilot as well.” Microsoft is also starting off small with its Copilot rollout. It will initially be available to just 20 businesses before Microsoft opens it up to more when it’s ready. Microsoft is also starting with enterprise customers first before rolling it out to consumers.
“We feel pretty good about what we have as a starting point, but we don’t yet know if it’s performing the way we want it to and helping really empower people to accomplish their jobs,” says Friedman. Our plan is to move as fast as we possibly can to scale to more enterprises in a thoughtful and responsible way and make sure the experience is awesome.”
Microsoft has already integrated OpenAI’s DALL-E model into its Designer app, which allows people to generate images based on text. Moreover, Designer will assist PowerPoint in choosing the top visuals for AI-generated slides. According to Friedman, “We’re going to further bake Designer into Copilot so you can change things within Designer.” “Everything you’ve seen today from the Designer is just the beginning. I have no doubt that Copilot will be used to create incredible multimedia effects.
Overall, Microsoft’s Copilot is a major step forward for the Office suite, and it has the potential to change the way people create and work on documents forever. By leveraging the power of AI, Microsoft is empowering users to work more efficiently, collaborate more effectively, and create higher-quality documents in less time. Whether you’re a student, a professional, or simply someone who uses Office for personal tasks, Copilot is a tool that is sure to make your life easier and more productive.