Posey's Tips & Tricks

Is Microsoft Copilot Worth its High Price Tag?

Let's crunch the numbers.


When Microsoft first announced its new Copilot for Microsoft 365, the announcement made it seem that Copilot was simply a new feature that would be added to existing Microsoft 365 applications (or at least that was my impression). As it turns out though, that simply is not the case. Copilot is going to be sold as an add-on feature for certain Microsoft 365 subscriptions.

According to Microsoft, "Microsoft 365 Copilot will be priced at $30 per user, per month for Microsoft 365 E3, E5, Business Standard and Business Premium customers."

Even though $30 might not seem like all that much money, there are a couple of things to think about. For starters, copilot is going to cost $30 per user per month, on top of whatever an organization is already paying for Microsoft 365. In some cases that is going to more than double the subscription cost.

My guess is that this high price tag is going to be a hard pill for many organizations to swallow. After all, I know of several organizations that have opted for a Microsoft 365 E3 plan simply because they were put off by the cost of an E5 plan. There is only an $21 per user per month difference in the cost of those two plans ($36 vs $57 per user per month). Adding Copilot to an E3 plan would bring the price to $66 per user per month, which is more than the cost of an E5 plan. For E5 customers, adding Copilot would bring the cost to $87 per user per month.

Another important thing to consider with regard to Copilot pricing is that Microsoft is not currently planning to offer Copilot as an option for all Microsoft 365 subscriptions. Copilot will only be an option for those who have Business Standard, Business Premium or Enterprise plans. This means that those with a Microsoft 365 Business Basic plan will not be able to gain access to Copilot, nor will consumers. In other words, there will likely be both individuals and organizations who find themselves in the position of having to subscribe to a higher priced plan just to have the option of purchasing a Copilot subscription.

Given how much Microsoft Copilot is going to cost, organizations must consider whether the high price tag is going to be worth it. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Every organization will need to decide for itself whether or not Copilot is worth the cost. Even so, there are a few things to consider.

One of the first things that organizations should consider prior to subscribing to Microsoft 365 Copilot is how well Copilot actually works (and I'll give you my thoughts in a series of upcoming columns). In the various demos that Microsoft has presented, Microsoft 365 Copilot did an amazingly good job, and I have no reason to doubt that it will work equally well in the real world. However, Microsoft has made it a point to stress that Copilot is not perfect and that any content generated by Copilot needs to be reviewed by a human before being used. Such a statement could simply mean that there is a potential for Copilot to occasionally get things wrong, or it could mean that Copilot makes mistakes constantly.

Given Copilot's price point, I am guessing that Copilot only occasionally gets things wrong. Otherwise Microsoft would probably make Copilot free or much less expensive. After all, customers would be understandably upset to pay so much money for a feature that doesn't work. In spite of such speculation however, it would be a good idea for those who are considering purchasing Copilot to start out with a trial deployment to make sure that Copilot is going to do what they needed to do.

Another thing to consider is the potential return on investment. Imagine for example, that a particular user in your office makes $30 per hour. In that type of situation, Copilot would need to save that user more than one hour of time per month in order to generate a return on investment. Based on some of the demos that I have seen, it seems entirely plausible that Copilot would save users enough time to justify its cost. Of course users with a higher hourly rate would not even need to save an entire hour in order for the cost of Copilot to be justified.

My guess is that the justification for using Microsoft 365 Copilot is going to vary by job role. There will be some users who are able to benefit tremendously from using Copilot and others who might not see any benefit at all. As such, my advice would be to purchase copilot licenses for the users who can get the most benefit from Copilot, rather than simply purchasing Copilot licenses for all of your Microsoft 365 users.

About the Author

Brien Posey is a 22-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.


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