Microsoft 365 Copilot Commercially Released
Microsoft on Wednesday announced the "general availability" commercial release of Microsoft 365 Copilot for certain business subscribers.
Microsoft 365 Copilot is a generative artificial intelligence (AI) support element for Microsoft 365 productivity applications (such as Excel, the "new Outlook," PowerPoint and Word) that taps underlying Microsoft Graph data associated with the use of Microsoft's products. Microsoft claims that Microsoft 365 Copilot's generative AI follows the same data access permissions that were set up by IT departments for Microsoft 365 applications and services when it responds to prompts by users.
Microsoft 365 Copilot is also European Union friendly in terms of data sovereignty regulations. This release was said to comply with "our commitments under the EU Data Boundary," per Microsoft's announcement. It's a statement suggesting that the Microsoft 365 Copilot data get processed in European Union countries for users in those countries, rather than in the United States.
Microsoft 365 Copilot Availability
This general availability release is said to be a "worldwide" release, but it's just available in the following languages: "English (US, GB, AU, CA, IN), Spanish (ES, MX), Japanese, French (FR, CA), German, Portuguese (BR), Italian, and Chinese Simplified." Other languages will be supported sometime "in the first half of 2024."
Microsoft is planning to make Microsoft 365 Copilot available to its Government Community Cloud subscribers in "the summer of 2024," per this Microsoft announcement. It's also planning to make its Azure OpenAI Service available to "air-gapped classified clouds" in that same time frame.
Nothing was said about Microsoft 365 Copilot being available to Microsoft 365 Education licensees.
Microsoft 365 Copilot is not included in Microsoft 365 E3 and E5 business licenses. It's being offered as an add-on license to organizations with those E3 and E5 licenses, and it costs an extra $30 per user per month with an annual commitment, according to Microsoft's pricing page. The announcement indicated that "enterprise customers can call their Microsoft account representative to purchase Microsoft 365 Copilot."
In June, Microsoft had said that "for small and medium business (SMB) customers, Microsoft 365 Business Standard or Business Premium will be eligible base licenses" for using Microsoft 365 Copilot. However, no such statement was repeated this month in Microsoft's announcements and documentation, so Microsoft maybe dropped or postponed that plan.
Microsoft 365 Copilot Requirements
The main public resource for organizations seeking information about the requirements to use Microsoft 365 Copilot seems to be this "Requirements" document. It states that "the requirements for using Microsoft 365 Copilot are nearly identical to the requirements for using Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise" and that it is available today to organizations with "Microsoft 365 E3 or E5" licensing. Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise costs $12 per user per month.
Organizations also will need an Entra ID account to use Microsoft 365 Copilot. They'll need OneDrive for some features. Microsoft 365 Copilot currently works with the new Outlook, currently at preview, but Microsoft is planning to add support for "classic Outlook for Windows" in the future.
Microsoft 365 Copilot gets updated per the Microsoft 365 channels schemes, except for the semiannual channel. Channel update availability will be somewhat gradual, though. "Once [Microsoft 365 Copilot is] generally available on 11/1, Copilot will be in Current Channel, and starting December 12, on Monthly Enterprise Channel," the "Requirements" document explained.
Some additional information about Windows 365 Copilot can be found in this Directions on Microsoft post by Mary Jo Foley, who is Directions on Microsoft's editor in chief. Foley offered information that doesn't seem to have been broadly shared by Microsoft with the public.
For instance, Microsoft 365 Copilot use "requires a minimum purchase of 300 seats." Microsoft 363 subscribers paying for Microsoft 365 Copilot are not getting all of the Copilots, as Microsoft is selling other Copilot products separately. Foley also indicated that the various Copilots for Microsoft 365 apps aren't all generally available today. For instance, Copilot for Excel is still at preview.
Microsoft had previously indicated (here and here) that organizations would need to prepare their data environments to prevent things like oversharing information with the use of its Copilots. However, few such details were described in today's announcements and in Microsoft's documents.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.