What is Microsoft’s new brand “Copilot” (as of May 2024)?

What is Microsoft’s new brand “Copilot” (as of May 2024)?

What is Microsoft’s new brand “Copilot” (as of May 2024)?

Abstract: Brief overview of the meaning of what the Microsoft brand Copilot is.

There have been recently a number of IT articles using the word ‘Copilot” in different contexts. I was also puzzled for a while, what do they exactly mean when they mention “Copilot” in different texts? Over time it started to make some sense.

What does the name Copilot mean?

I will try to provide my understanding, based on articles I see and also based on the way it is used in practice, at the present point in time, May 2024. Brief explanations in plain language are:

  • Microsoft uses the brand name Copilot to refer to its own products, services, or technologies that are somehow related to AI
  • Name or addition of name Copilot means that product or service is “AI-enabled”, without specific criteria what kind of AI is used or the power of AI enhancement. That estimate of what is AI-enabled or not is at discretion of the Microsoft. It can be enhancement from some simple “smart heuristic algorithm run locally” to a “full remote call to a cloud-based supercomputer”.
  • Copilot can refer to software or hardware technologies alike
  • Copilot can refer to AI technology executed locally on PC or AI technology executed remotely on the cloud, or a combination of both. From the product name like “Copilot Xyz” can not be concluded if they mean local or cloud execution of AI services that enhance product Xyz.
  • Copilot service/application can mean some algorithm run on plain c86 PC under Windows 10, or some service run on Windows 11 on PC with neural processor NPU. They use the brand name Copilot for both, for applications run on regular PCs and applications run on PCs with NPU.
  • Proclaimed principle is kind of: 1) Run short AI tasks locally on PC with NPU, because of small latency. 2) And run big AI tasks on the cloud, because of more processing power, with bigger latency in communication.
  • “Copilot+PC” is a hardware standard by Microsoft
  • Name Copilot originates from the Microsoft Copilot chatbot, but now is used with a different, broader meaning for all AI-related technologies
  • It seems that Microsoft itself is not sure where this AI story is going, so they do not have a clear policy on what is under the umbrella Copilot and what is not. So, looks like marketing kicks in, and for better sales they just add Copilot to the product name if they think that will make some money.
  • “Copilot Pro” is a subscription to AI cloud services for $20 per month. The way I see it, they are partners with OpenAI, so that means your cloud request will be basically piped to ChatGPT-4o server. It is kind of vague, but if you buy a product “Xyz Copilot”, you pay for a license more than just for the product Xyz. What you get is local AI services executed on your PC. And maybe some (or none) AI services on the cloud with limitations. And the subscription Copilot Pro gives you access to more services on the cloud for support of the application Xyz. That means bigger bandwidth, lower latency, more requests, more documents/images processed, etc.
  • So, typically you have the product “Xyz”, and you pay a license for it. Then you have AI extension called “Copilot Xyz”, and you pay a license for it which might include some limited access to AI-Cloud. Then you optionally might pay a license for “Copilot Plus” to have better/faster access to the AI-Cloud.

Copilot Products – AI Products by Microsoft

Most of the Microsoft AI products include the brand name Copilot, but not necessary. Here is a list of some frequently mentioned Microsoft AI products (as of May 2024) with one-liner descriptions.

  • Copilot for Microsoft 365. That is integration of the Copilot AI assistant into Microsoft’s 365 office family, including Teams, Word, Outlook, Excel, and PowerPoint.
  • Copilot in Windows. That is AI assistant in Windows, for example for PC settings
  • Microsoft Security Copilot. That is AI enhancement for security, like recognizing cyberattacks.
  • Microsoft Copilot for Service. That is AI enhancement for customer relationship management (CRM) applications.
  • Copilot for Sales. An AI assistant for sellers and customer interaction.
  • Microsoft 365 Chat. The chat-based AI assistant for Office products.
  • Team Copilot. An AI assistant for Microsoft’s Teams, Loop, Planner, and Microsoft 365 applications, that acts as a manager/secretary for the team. It has the roles of Meeting Facilitator, Group Collaborator, and Project Manager.
  • Copilot Studio. This is a no-code or low-code interface for creating custom AI assistant based on for example HR documents.
  • Recall. That is AI-enabled spying software, like a smart keylogger, that keeps a history of all activities on the computer.
  • Cocreator. That is a generative AI application that creates pictures based on text prompts or sketch input.
  • Live Captions. Provides captions for any audio in 40 languages.
  • Windows Studio Effects. The AI assistant can help you manipulate videos on your PC.
  • GitHub Copilot. The AI coding assistant.

Based on different articles, some products are available only on Windows 11, and some only on “Copilot+PC” hardware. Also, at the time of writing (May 2024) not all products have been finished and released.

AI Licenses are expensive

Microsoft wants to make money from Copilot products/AI products since it invested significant money and resources into the AI software revolution. Licenses are quite expensive ([2],[1]). Here are some examples:

  • Copilot Plus – $20 per month per person
  • Copilot for Microsoft 365 – $30 per user per month
  • Copilot in Windows 11 – free with Windows 11
  • Microsoft Copilot for Service – $50 per user
  • Copilot for Sales – $50 per user
  • GitHub Copilot – $19 per user per month


[1] What are Microsoft’s different Copilots? Here’s what they are and how you can use them

[2] Copilot Pro vs. ChatGPT Plus: Which is AI chatbot is worth your $20 a month?

[3] How Microsoft’s new AI Copilot features could transform teamwork and projects

[4] I’ve tried the new AI features of Copilot+ PCs and I’m (mostly) impressed – here’s why

[5] GitHub Copilot.

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