Microsoft Clarifies Copilot Support Nuances for Microsoft 365 Users
Microsoft answered some questions about its emerging Microsoft 365 Copilot generative artificial intelligence product in a Thursday "Ask Microsoft Anything" (AMA) session.
The AMA session offered a little bit more enlightenment about Microsoft 365 Copilot. However, the Microsoft team stopped short in some areas.
Respondents in the AMA session repeatedly asked about the licensing aspects of Microsoft 365 Copilot, although the product is still at the private preview stage. It's available via a paid, invite-only Early Access Program.
Microsoft did confirm, though, that Microsoft 365 Copilot will be sold to certain Microsoft 365 "base" licensees via an add-on license.
"Microsoft 365 Copilot will be an add-on license available for Microsoft E3, E5, Business Standard, and Business Premium customers to begin," wrote Sarah Gilbert of Microsoft. "More information will be provided in future."
Microsoft stayed mum on whether Microsoft 365 Education licensees would be getting access to Microsoft 365 Copilot.
Nothing changes when assigning access to Microsoft 365 Copilot. IT pros will be able to "assign Copilot licenses to specific users who have a base license," explained Gabe Ho of Microsoft.
For more on the early projected requirements for using Microsoft 365 Copilot, please see this Redmondmag.com summary.
App Support Plans
Microsoft 365 Copilot will just work with some Microsoft 365 apps upon its initial launch.
"Our initial Microsoft 365 Copilot launch is within the following apps, with more to come: Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft Loop," wrote Samer Baroudi of Microsoft. Update 7/14: Baroudi clarified that Excel also will be initially supported, stating that "Microsoft 365 Copilot is integrated into Excel as well. Have a look at the demo here."
One AMA respondent expressed interest in SharePoint integration, although Microsoft Loop, which lets users collaborate on apps, is a SharePoint-powered service. The Microsoft AMA team didn't respond to these comments. Also, the AMA team had nothing to share on possible Visio Copilot support, per Sanjay Ramaswamy of Microsoft.
Microsoft 365 Copilot will work with Office for Mac apps, as well as those apps for Android and iOS, when the product reaches "general availability" (commercial release), according to Derek Snyder of Microsoft. He also noted generally that "Copilot works in the Web apps." However, when using it with Outlook, organizations will need to use "the New Outlook or the web app," Snyder added.
Microsoft 365 Copilot will be integrated to work with Bing search in the Microsoft Edge browser, explained Kevin Sherman of Microsoft:
Users licensed for Copilot will get the cross-app experience in Bing.com. That allows them to use natural language to create open ended prompts to reason over your Graph content. To use this functionality, you do need to be using Edge.
AMA respondents were curious about Power Automate integration with Copilot. The AMA team pointed them to this March article, which described an available preview. It also mentioned that AI Builder uses the Azure OpenAI service "enabling makers to use a new low-code generative AI model and templates in Power Automate cloud flows."
Microsoft does not seem to have plans to limit the amount of queries used with Microsoft 365 Copilot. Nor does it have plans to curtail document sizes used with the service. However, it could impose limitations "depending on usage."
The AMA session had lots of IT-type questions, and Microsoft provided some perhaps useful answers in that regard.
Data governance issues were described. Microsoft had earlier suggested that organizations will have to prepare for Microsoft 365 Copilot by cleaning up data access permissions.
There can be connectors into non-Microsoft applications, so organizations will need an "identity driven ACL [access control list] model," according to Aashish Ramdas of Microsoft:
The user's identity and ACLs are the primary filter to what data feeds into Copilot. For connectors that pull data from non-Microsoft apps, ensure that your application has an identity driven ACL model and that user OAuth tokens are honored -- the connector must put these together to filter the data flowing from the non-Microsoft app to Microsoft/Copilot. This link is a good starting point.
AMA respondents wondered if Microsoft 365 Copilot could surface document content that other Microsoft 365 users may not have privileges to access. However, the access permissions set for Microsoft 365 users in an organization will be in effect, assured Kevin Sherman of Microsoft:
By design, Copilot has access to all the content a user already has access (the first step in the data flow is that Copilot will run a search across your Graph content). So, while Copilot does make the content you already have access to easier to access and more valuable, it does not provide any access that is not already present.
Microsoft does not train Microsoft 365 Copilot on an organization's proprietary data, added Ben Summers of Microsoft.
These access control permissions also extend to parties outside a Microsoft 365 tenancy, with the only exception being when the data has been "explicitly shared" with an outside party, noted Ken Ewert of Microsoft.
Microsoft does not have plans to let organizations set limits on which Microsoft 365 apps can use Microsoft 365 Copilot, according to Yana Terukhova of Microsoft.
The AMA session also indicated that documentation for Semantic Index for Copilot will be coming. Semantic Index is said to improve the AI results generated from user prompts. The documentation will be available "when Semantic Index for Copilot is enabled," per James Bell of Microsoft, but he did not indicate any specific timing.
Microsoft had previously described Semantic Index for Copilot as creating a "sophisticated map" of user and company data using the Microsoft Graph, which taps Microsoft 365 use information, including organizational data. It's not clear whether Semantic Index be a requirement to use Microsoft 365 Copilot or not.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.