Copilot, a natural language bot that can draw from data in the Microsoft 365 suite, is now in testing with select commercial customers.
Microsoft is bringing conversational AI to its 365 suite with a new model-driven large-language tool called Copilot, the company announced today.
Microsoft 365 Copilot combines large language models, integrated with the user’s own data in the Microsoft Graph (which draws from context and content such as emails, files, and meetings) and Microsoft 365 apps. Copilot is an AI author . able to compose email responses, write copy, plan and debrief meetings, and answer questions like “Which product was most profitable this year?”
Copilot takes advantage of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem
An interesting clarification here is that Copilot leverages the Microsoft 365 ecosystem to pull content and data. Microsoft describes it as a completely different way of interacting with software. The more information you give AI – or the more Microsoft 356 tools you use – the more powerful it is.
For example, Copilot can create a PowerPoint presentation based on a report composed in Word. Business users can ask it to base the text of a report on the format of a different work saved on their computer in Word. The text is based on AI – and Microsoft emphasizes that humans should always check and polish what the AI spits out – but also on the typical behavior of the user themselves.
Outlook and other Microsoft 365 apps will show a Draft With Copilot option. Once the AI composes the message, the user can adjust the length and pitch or ask the AI to try again. User can also customize text and images from there. The demonstration at Microsoft’s event today included a PowerPoint project where the user could instruct Copilot to easily add images and transitions to a presentation based on written instructions. Copilot can also summarize live meetings in Teams as they happen.
Copilot sits in a chat window on the side of a Word document, allowing users to polish, shorten, or lengthen text on the fly based on naturally worded instructions. The same chat box in Excel can be used to analyze data or create new sheets. Copilot “post-processes” a large language response model through the Microsoft Graph.
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New productivity assistant: Business Chat
Microsoft also announced Business Chat, a Copilot tool that appears in a tab next to Teams (Figure A). Business Chat can summarize what users need to cover work, document scanning, chat, email and meetings. This Copilot tool helps aggregate different information and can respond to requests for things like risk or quarterly revenue. it can also create a strengths vs weaknesses analysis for your business. It’s still possible for the data pulled from the AI to be wrong, so in today’s presentation Microsoft made sure to often show the human user changing some of the text.
Introducing Copilot for Viva Sales
Copilot was first released in some form as Dynamics 365 copilot for CRM and sales. Now, it is also integrated into the Viva Sales platform in a suite of capabilities known as Copilot for Viva Sales, which works with Microsoft Dynamics 365 or Salesforce.
Copilot can provide you with a “coverage” to brush up on what you already know about the customer. It can also provide meeting notes and merge them into your calendar or email to help you compose a follow-up message. The idea is to eliminate busy work like sending meeting invites or reminders.
How does Microsoft approach Copilot security and privacy?
It is at the Graph layer that Microsoft overlays its security. Microsoft said it took privacy issues into account and monitors Copilot in real time and has built it according to internal responsible AI standards from the Aether Committee, the Office of Responsible AI, and the Responsible AI Strategy in Engineering. (Another AI ethics and society group was involved in a major round of layoffs at the company this week.)
Microsoft’s Bing search continues to follow the AI trend. For the past five weeks it has been running on GPT-4, the new system from the much-acclaimed OpenAI.
The hardware behind AI
Meanwhile, Microsoft Azure is trying to scale supercomputers in response to the call for more AI-based applications and services. Microsoft has upgraded to run AI for its customers and internal products such as the 365 suite.
In a March 13 blog post, Microsoft introduced the ND H100 v5 VM, a virtual machine that offers the computing power of eight to thousands of NVIDIA H100 GPUs interconnected by NVIDIA Quantum-2 InfiniBand networking – as many as a given customer needs.
AI models will benefit from a long list of processing upgrades:
- 8x NVIDIA H100 Tensor Core GPUs interconnected via next-gen NVSwitch and NVLink 4.0
- 400 Gb/s NVIDIA Quantum-2 CX7 InfiniBand per GPU with 3.2 Tb/s per VM in a non-dedicated fat network
- NVSwitch and NVLink 4.0 with 3.6 TB/s bipartite bandwidth between 8 local GPUs in each VM
- 4th generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors
- PCIE Gen5 host interface to GPU with 64GB/s bandwidth per GPU
- 16 channels DDR5 DIMM 4800MHz
Organizations like Inflection have used the combined Microsoft and NVIDIA infrastructure to power advanced AI models.
“Our focus on conversational AI requires us to develop and train some of the most complex large language models. Azure’s AI infrastructure gives us the performance needed to efficiently process these models reliably at massive scale. We are excited about the new VMs on Azure and the increased performance they will bring to our AI development efforts,” said Mustafa Suleyman, CEO of Inflection, in a press release.
Where else is Microsoft using AI?
On March 6, Microsoft announced that its Power Platform low-code application development tool will include features powered by ChatGPT. Sales, customer service and marketing tool Dynamics 365 Copilot also has AI features to automate data collection, analysis or creation of an email campaign. Specifically, the Power Virtual Agent chatbot and AI Builder workflow automation tool will gain ChatGPT’s text generation functionality.