Copilot, the new Microsoft 365 suite AI based on GPT-4.

A few days after the official release of the OpenAI GPT-4 language model, Microsoft, in turn, is introducing its new AI, Copilot, a personal assistant integrated into all applications of the Microsoft 365 suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, etc.). ). ). Copilot, running on GPT-4, can be used on-demand for any task (writing text messages or e-mail messages, creating PowerPoint presentations, using PivotTables in Excel, etc.).

“A profound transformation in the way we work,” is the term used by the Redmond-based firm to introduce its new intellectual assistant. And for good reason: this intelligent assistant, which is present on the toolbars of various applications, is designed to facilitate the work of users and increase their productivity. For example, it is capable of creating the first outline of a Word document or summarizing text, creating a current and aesthetically pleasing PowerPoint presentation from an existing document, or even creating an Excel formula tailored to a specific problem and formatting the data.

The tool can also summarize important points that will be discussed during an upcoming Teams meeting, or even summarize them in real time during the meeting; he can also summarize Outlook discussions or write suggested answers (depending on the desired length and tone). Added to this is another way to use this intelligent assistant called Business Chat, a chatbot that centralizes all data from various applications in the 365 package (emails, documents, agenda, meetings, etc.) and through which the user can communicate in natural language.

Goal: free users from tedious tasks

“Prepare me for the next meeting”, “Write a product presentation/Create a 10 slide presentation from such a document”, “What products sold the most in the last quarter? “Write an answer with my approval, but highlight the risks mentioned in such a document” are all examples of prompts that Copilot fully understands and follows. The user can then make any adjustments he deems necessary in the generated texts. The following video shows most of the tool’s capabilities:

It is clear that the tool offers significant time savings. “Today we spend too much time on tedious tasks that waste time, creativity and energy. […] We need a whole new way of working,” said Jared Spataro, corporate vice president and chief marketing officer for Microsoft 365. By combining the power of large language models (GPT-4) and packaged application data (available through Microsoft Graph), Copilot has become powerful productivity tool.

As mentioned above, Copilot has been integrated into Microsoft 365 in two ways: it is available directly from all office suite applications (Word, Excel, Teams, etc.) and also through Business Chat. The latter uses the Microsoft Graph API – a kind of “gateway” between all applications – to bring together documents, presentations, emails and other data in a single chat interface in Microsoft Teams or Bing (via a professional account connection).

For example, you can give it an instruction like “Tell my team how we updated the product strategy” and it will generate a status update based on meetings, emails and threads in the morning,” Spataro explains. In this way, Copilot not only enhances the individual productivity of employees, it also allows full use of all the data and knowledge of the entire company.

Generative artificial intelligence on the rise

Having just introduced a GPT-4-based chatbot in Bing, Microsoft is moving ahead quickly by integrating this powerful language model into its office suite — an initiative that sounds like a response to the latest AI innovations announced by Google for its Google Workspace. typing, such as AI text generation in Gmail and Google Docs.

As The Verge notes, the speed of innovation demonstrated by the company, as well as the accuracy of its artificial intelligence models, will inevitably raise concerns as this complex tool is used with professional data. Spataro wants to be sure of that: “We make it clear how the system makes its decisions by pointing out limitations, citing sources, and inviting users to review, fact-check and correct content based on their experience in the relevant area,” he said.

Indeed, despite the range of his abilities, the co-pilot is not infallible. “The co-pilot will sometimes be right, sometimes usefully wrong, but he always allows you to move forward,” the manager emphasized, recalling that the co-pilot is only an aid and that the user always retains control over texts and other generated documents.

In passing, we recall that the company recently fired the entire team responsible for ethics and risk identification in the context of integrating AI into its applications, which causes some skepticism (including within the company itself, according to The Verge). But Spataro says the best way to avoid drifting is to move fast and learn “as you go” — no doubt why Copilot is currently being tested on only 20 client companies.

“When a system is wrong, biased, or misused, we take mitigation measures. […] We will make mistakes, but when they do, we will quickly fix them,” said Jamie Teevan, chief scientist at Microsoft.

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Other companies are expected to join the first users in the coming months. Microsoft also said pricing and other details will be released later this year.

The following video shows most of the tool’s capabilities:

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