April 20, 2024
Microsoft upgrades Copilot for 365 with GPT-4 Turbo and more


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Companies thinking of equipping personnel with AI-powered conversational assistants have more reason to check out Microsoft. Today, the company announced a substantial upgrade to its Copilot AI assistant for Microsoft 365 — the subscription cloud software service it offers containing Office apps such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as Outlook and OneDrive storage.

“Sharing some exciting updates for our Copilot for Microsoft 365 users,” posted Jordi Ribas, Microsoft corporate vice president CVP, head of engineering and product for Copilot and Bing, on the social platform X. “Starting today, you get priority access to GPT-4 Turbo for faster, more comprehensive responses with both web and work data. We’re also removing chat limits and increasing file uploads.”

The move comes after Microsoft’s ally OpenAI recently moved to make its GPT-3.5 model freely available for unlimited usage to users without a sign-in, likely pressuring Microsoft and other AI providers and rivals to upgrade paid offerings such as Copilot in order to justify their cost.

It also follows Microsoft’s move to open its custom Copilot GPT Builder to all Copilot Pro subscribers earlier this month, further expanding the capabilities and offerings of its marquee AI assistant.

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New additions

As Ribas stated, the changes include the fact that Copilot in 365 will now automatically begin sessions with GPT-4 Turbo as its default AI model on the backend, provided of course by Microsoft’s marquee investment and partner OpenAI.

GPT-4 Turbo was first unveiled by OpenAI back in November at its first “Dev Day” developer conference in San Francisco, and it offers a massively larger “context window” for the user to enter in longer prompts — 128,000 tokens compared to 32,768 of older GPT-4 models.

Ultimately, that means that users of GPT-4, and now, Copilot for 365, can enter in much larger chunks of text or information into their prompts and have the AI respond, analyze, and edit or work with them.

In addition, a blog post Ribas linked to from the company states that Copilot 365 users will now get to enjoy unlimited messaging (up from a previous 300 chats per day) and unlimited chats per conversation with the Copilot assistant.

Commercial data protection

Microsoft’s blog post also stated that Copilot comes with “commercial data protection,” Microsoft’s system which uses its Entra ID (formerly known as Azure Active Directory) to anonymize and encrypt web traffic sent from 365 users outside of their companies — in this case, anonymizing and encrypting their Copilot prompts and any other information the user enters or accesses with Copilot (depending on how much data it is given access to, such as their Outlook email or Contacts data) before it is sent to Copilot and GPT-4. Once a user closes the chat window or ends the session, Microsoft deletes the information shortly thereafter.

Microsoft in fact, seems to encourage users to trust Copilot with their sensitive company data, writing n its blog post “Copilot can help you quickly scan your email for important messages to prioritize, help you get ready for key meetings by pulling information from across your work, and help you ideate on the best path forward. The work context also benefits from enterprise-grade data protection, going further to ensure that your data remains within the Microsoft 365 service boundary.”

The move is an important one for Microsoft as it seeks to reassure customers their data is safe when using its AI tools: something that has been an issue lately for it with governments around the world, as the U.S. House of Representatives was recently reported to have banned the Copilot assistant entirely because it was “deemed by the Office of Cybersecurity to be a risk to users due to the threat of leaking House data to non-House approved cloud services,” as Axios reported last week.

Microsoft said in that report that Copilot will “meet federal government security and compliance requirements that we intend to deliver later this year.”

In the European Union, Microsoft offers Office 365 with or without its reviled Teams messaging app bundled in, in order to comply with EU antitrust regulations. Back in October 2023, Microsoft announced in a blog post from Candice Ling, senior vice president of Microsoft Federal, that Copilot for Government Community Cloud (GCC) would roll out in the summer of 2024.

Microsoft also hopes to court enterprises customers wary of the ongoing copyright lawsuits engulfing generative AI companies, including OpenAI, by noting that Copilot for 365 users are covered by its Customer Copyright Commitment, which means “if you are challenged on copyright grounds, we [Microsoft] will assume responsibility for the potential legal risks involved…Specifically, if a third party sues a commercial customer for copyright infringement for using Microsoft’s Copilots or the output they generate, we will defend the customer and pay the amount of any adverse judgments or settlements that result from the lawsuit, as long as the customer used the guardrails and content filters we have built into our products.”

Coming next: fast image generations increased from 15 to 100 per day

“Starting next month,” Microsoft writes in the blog post — so, presumably, May — Copilot will also give 365 users 100 “boosts” for fast image generations in its Designer AI image generator tool in Copilot (powered by OpenAI’s DALL-E 3), up from 15 daily now.

This will “significantly reducing waiting times for image creation and unlocking new productivity,” Microsoft states.

However, the Designer tool itself has already been at the center of a massive controversy in the U.S. when it was implicated by 404 Media as the app responsible for nonconsensual explicit deepfake pornography and explicit imagery of musician Taylor Swift that circulated on social media and forums in January. The company reportedly “closed” the loophole that allowed these images to be made in violation of its existing terms of service.

Microsoft Copilot for 365 costs $30 USD per user per month (annual commitment) and requires Microsoft 365 Business Standard, Business Premium, E3, E5 or Office 365 E3 or E5.





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