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A Crash Course on Copilot & AI (Part Two)

The world of Artificial Intelligence is rapidly developing at a rate faster than most people truly understand.

As the science evolves so does the numerous products being marketed by major tech companies in all industries.

Regardless of what role you play in your organization and whether or not you decide to incorporate AI into your work, it is essential that there is a basic understanding on what AI is and what it isn't.

Our goal is that by the end of this post, you feel better equipped to explore and discuss AI in your personal and work lives.

This is the second part of a two-part post, click here to read part one.

So what the heck is Copilot?

Copilot is a platform for AI. The term "Copilot" is heavily used and it can mean many things. But when it comes down to it, Microsoft uses it as a platform for many products.

At the current rate, there are new Copilots popping up every week or two and it doesn't seem like Microsoft intends to slow down. Development is moving along so quickly that this article might be dated by the time you read it!

We are going to focus on Copilot here, but keep in mind that competitors do exist for some of the products Microsoft is offering.

As part of Microsoft's offerings, the business focused AI products offer commercial data protection to protect your data. Each offering should be considered more of an assistant rather than as a robot to do work for you.

Here is a breakdown of just some of the Copilots that exist:

  • Copilot

    • A general term for Microsoft's various AI products

  • Copilot for Web

    • An internet connected AI that can analyze and interpret data

    • Similar to ChatGPT

  • Copilot for Edge Browser

    • Basically, Copilot Web, but in your browser.

    • Addes different ways to interact with websites as you browse

  • Copilot for 365

    • An AI model that has access to your email, messages, and files

    • If you are in the business world, this is the one to focus on!

  • Copilot for Windows

    • Today, this is just an interface on windows that displays Copilot for Web and 365

    • Soon, this will have more locally processed AI models via Copilot+ (more on that soon)

  • Copilot Studio

    • A platform for creating custom GPTs within the Copilot platform

    • GPTs that can be used internally and externally

    • Another one to focus on for business users!

  • Security Copilot

    • An AI model designed to monitor and secure data within your IT infrastructure.

  • Sales and Services Copilot

    • AI designed specifically for Dynamics ERP/Sales/Services products

  • GitHub Copilot

    • This model literally helps developers write code for applications with integrations for Visual Studio

So as a platform, there is a lot. These are just some of the products that exist today with more coming. But that's not all.

There are two big components that are going to change things up even further:

Built into the platform is the ability for a vendor to create a plugin that directly integrates into Copilot. This allows you to give your Copilot access to data sources and take actions outside of the Microsoft ecosystem.

Some examples:

  • Your accounting solution could have a plugin that allows you to ask financial questions and then bring those results into Excel

  • Your Document Management System could integrate directly with Copilot so you can ask it questions about every document you have access to

  • A plugin to handle flight or hotel bookings, not just to give you information, but to take the next step of creating the booking for you

  • Your prompt could be sent to a song generation model to create a custom song, extending copilot's ability beyond its own model limitations

This is admittedly the most confusing component of the platform. Recently Microsoft and the PC Industry announced the "Copilot+ PC" aka the "Windows AI PC". This announcement actually included two major changes to the computers you knew before:

  1. New computers will have the option to use ARM based chips from Qualcomm

    1. Much better battery life for laptops.

    2. Comparable performance to Intel/AMD x86 chips (though not on Desktop... yet)

    3. This doesn't really have anything directly to do with AI, it's just good healthy competition for Intel and AMD

    4. We could write a whole article just on this :)

  2. Microsoft has created minimum requirements for local AI processing

    1. Manufacturers have created Neural Processing Unit ("NPU") chips that are specially designed to process AI Models locally

    2. The minimum rating for the local AI processing is measured in Trillion Operations per Second ("TOPS")

    3. The minimum requirement to be called a "Copilot+" computer is 40 TOPS

Everything we have talked about so far involves cloud processing to run AI prompts and responses. With the exception of hobbyists with expensive graphics processors or certain phones with newer chips, it's not really possible for AI to actually be processed locally on your computer.

The goal of Copilot+ is to change that. Today, this doesn't mean much, but it is an essential pillar to the long term strategy that is Microsoft's Copilot platform.

Some of the examples given from Microsoft of what a Copilot+ PC will be able to do:

  • Recall

    • The ability for your local comptuer to memorize all actions taken on your computer and help you find information faster than a typical search

    • Note that there are some privacy and security concerns with this feature. Your IT should review it when released before enabling it for your organization!

  • Cocreator in Paint

    • You can draw a sketch in Microsoft paint, then have it create an image based on that sketch

  • Live Captions

    • Real-time captioning and translation during a meeting

  • Studio Effects

    • AI camera and video enhancements

Windows will soon receive updates to enable developers to utilize AI models and create AI applications that run directly on your computer if it has the capability of doing so.

Today, this won't change much, and much like AI in general, this is just the beginning. As adoption grows, the expected end result will lead to much faster and more intelligent features that don't rely on the cloud to function.

At the same time, the technology should become more affordable as it doesn't rely on cloud compute!

Wrapping Up

If you made it this far, we commend you! AI will continue to be a hot topic in every industry and we hope this post helped provide clarity!

For consumers/personal/365 users, try out Copilot for Web:

For a business, there is more to AI than just enabling it. It is important to pay attention and approach the adoption of any AI solution cautiously, especially in your organization. Take into consideration the impact to your culture and workflows.

When ready, consider piloting Copilot for 365 for a small number of users in your organization:

This is the second part of a two-part post, click here to read part one.

Interested in having a conversation about technology in your business? 

Send in a contact request or email


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