Nathan Landale

The Technology for The Next Generation

Microsoft’s new AI-powered Office assistant is here — if you’ve got $9,000 and 300 friends
Computer, Gadget & Technology

Microsoft’s new AI-powered Office assistant is here — if you’ve got $9,000 and 300 friends

Microsoft’s 365 Copilot AI assistant is now available for certain enterprise customers. Microsoft is quietly launching its Microsoft 365 Copilot system for a $30-per-month premium per user, but enterprise customers will need to commit to at least 300 users and pick up the phone to Microsoft to get on the list to access this new AI-powered assistant that Microsoft promises will change the way Office documents are created and edited.

Businesses willing to pay the premium will be able to use Microsoft 365 Copilot to summarize documents, generate emails, create plans from notes, and even improve Excel analysis. More than 600 enterprise customers have been testing Microsoft 365 Copilot during a paid early access program in recent months.

Microsoft has high hopes that businesses will flock to Microsoft 365 Copilot, even if there is a steep entry price right now. Forrester Research predicts that 6.9 million US knowledge workers will be using Microsoft 365 Copilot in 2024.

Copilot can appear in Word to generate text or alter paragraphs.
Image: Microsoft

While the doors are opening to Microsoft 365 Copilot today, the launch is more like a preorder event — most people aren’t getting it right away. “Enterprise customers can call their Microsoft account representative to purchase Microsoft 365 Copilot,” explains TJ Devine, senior director of product marketing for Microsoft 365. “Customers who already have Microsoft 365 E3 and E5 (or Business Standard / Premium) can start using Bing Chat Enterprise today.”

That’s probably why Microsoft hasn’t made a big deal about today’s quiet launch, after demonstrating Microsoft 365 Copilot widely during the company’s Surface and AI event in September. Only Microsoft 365 E3 and E5 commercial subscribers are able to purchase Microsoft 365 Copilot today, so that excludes some still on Office 365 plans and even Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Business Premium subscribers. Microsoft 365 Monthly Enterprise Channel users won’t be able to access Copilot features until December.

Copilot can write your Outlook emails for you.
Image: Microsoft

Parts of the Microsoft 365 Copilot experience are still in preview, too. Mary Jo Foley over at Directions on Microsoft reports that Copilot for Excel is still in preview, Copilot for OneNote is only available on Windows, the SharePoint Copilot preview starts in November, and a Copilot preview for OneDrive isn’t slated to start until December.

So today feels like a very soft launch for Microsoft’s ambitions AI-powered plans to overhaul Office documents — and a first look at how this new AI assistant will change Office documents forever.

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