Microsoft Bing Chat first debuted in February of 2023, giving the world an AI companion that works similarly to other models based on ChatGPT. Less than a year later it’s now been the target of rebranding under the name Microsoft Copilot. This adds a small layer of confusion, as Microsoft already uses that name as part of Microsoft 365 and in a few other places now.
So what gives exactly? Below we discuss what the rebranding means, as well as go over the key features of Copilot. Of course, if you’ve used Bing Chat, you’ll be familiar with all of that already.
What is Microsoft Copilot
Broadly speaking, Microsoft Copilot is an AI assistant that can handle your questions and complete tasks for you via generative AI. That said, a Microsoft Copilot isn’t just one thing.
A Copilot is Microsoft’s official brand name for an AI companion, and many different Copilots exist, each designed with different tasks in mind. During Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft’s CEO said “We are the Copilot company. We believe in a future where there will be a Copilot for everyone and everything you do.”
For the most part, each Copilot works similarly regardless of what hardware or platform it’s found on, though it may have certain specialized use cases. Right now Microsoft Copilot exists primarily as part of Windows 11 and as an assistant to Microsoft 365, or directly through the web. There is also a version for cybersecurity and there will be versions for Sales and Services coming in 2024 and a “Copilot in Viva” will begin rolling out to customers in “later 2023”.
How is Bing Chat different from Copilot?
Honestly, the web and Windows 11 versions are no different than Bing Chat. It’s simply a rebranding. The UI has remained virtually unchanged. That said, this version of Copilot is a bit different from what you’ll find on platforms like Microsoft 365. While the core technology is the same, the 365 companion is less of a generalized platform and is instead designed to help with 365-specific tasks.
Is Microsoft Copilot free?
Yes, Microsoft Copilot is free for Windows users and through the web. That said, the application-specific versions are tied to subscription products. For example, Copilot for Microsoft 365 costs enterprise customers $30 per user per month.
It’s also worth noting that Copilot limits the number of messages you can send per conversation. This limitation depends on which web browser is being used. Here is each respective web browser’s daily chat limit:
- Microsoft Edge: 30 messages per conversation, with prompts up to 4,000 characters in length.
- Chrome or Safari: Five messages per conversation, with prompts up to 2,000 characters in length.
What is Microsoft 365 Copilot
As we mentioned, this version of Copilot is built on the same tech, but it provides specific functions like writing documents based on prompts, reducing the amount of text in PowerPoint slides, and more. Be sure to check out our guide on Microsoft 365 for more details.
What about Microsoft Security Copilot, as well as Service and Sales?
Like Microsoft 365, these are all specialized copilots instead of the more question-centric broad approach you’ll find with Copilot on Windows 11 and the web.
Microsoft Security Copilot combines AI with cybersecurity with features including the ability to analyze sets of data to detect patterns of illicit activities and behavior, allowing it recognize cyberattacks as soon as possible.
As for Service and Sales, these new versions are designed for business use for handling things like customer relationship management assistance, customized sale interactions to help improve chances of sales and much more.
How does Copilot work and what is it based on?
Copilot operates on the foundation of OpenAI’s GPT-4 model, which represents the latest advancement in the Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) series. This is a significant upgrade from GPT-3.5, which is what powers ChatGPT. With a Copilot, users can engage in real-time conversations with the search engine and receive AI-generated responses.
These responses are not limited to text-based results; Copilot can also summarize information from the internet, making it a versatile tool for answering various types of queries. Copilot uses the same training data as previous ChatGPT models but is unique in its ability to access real-time data indexed by Bing, enabling it to provide up-to-date information, particularly regarding current events.
Keep in mind we’ll be focusing on Copilot features specifically for the web and Windows bots, as the Microsoft 365 version has its own specific extra features.
1. Conversational search
Copilot allows users to engage in dynamic and natural conversations with the AI chatbot. It responds effectively to a wide range of prompts, making it a powerful tool for both basic and complex queries.
One of Copilot’s key features is its ability to summarize information from the internet. It can provide concise summaries of articles, topics, or news, making it a handy resource for information seekers. Additionally, as per a recent update, the chatbot also has citations, allowing users to see exactly where its answers have been sourced from.
3. Creative content generation
Credit: Bing Chat
Copilot can assist with content creation by generating creative works. It can assist with brainstorming by providing content ideas, writing introductions, suggesting titles and meta descriptions, and even rephrasing paragraphs to match specific tones of voice.
4. Image generation
Thanks to Copilot’s integration with OpenAI’s image generator DALL-E 3, Bing Image Creator has also received a massive update. This new tool allows users to generate images based on their prompts, granting them the ability to create custom visuals for their content or projects.
These features make Copilot a versatile and powerful tool for various tasks.
Is Copilot better than ChatGPT?
Copilot and ChatGPT have their own unique strengths and use cases. Because it is a search engine and has access to the internet, Copilot is a better tool for providing up-to-date information related to current events. It can be a valuable resource for tasks that require real-time data. Additionally, it is arguably more convenient for many tasks as it is directly built into Bing, with additional features like Bing Image Creator.
On the other hand, Copilot features ads, so users may sometimes see sponsored results. Bing is also less popular as a search engine, so the integration to the web might not be as big of an advantage depending on how you feel about Bing.
ChatGPT has its own pros and cons. While it can offer longer creative responses for users, ChatGPT may also be less accurate as it doesn’t have direct access to the internet for fact-checking. One major advantage is the lack of a daily usage limit for free users. There’s even a premium version of the module, ChatGPT Plus, that offers priority access, the ability to add plugins, GPT-4 support, and much more.
How to access and use Copilot on the web
To access Copilot, simply visit the Bing homepage and click on the “Chat” button in the main navigation bar or through a persistent sidebar in the main browser. You can engage in conversations, ask questions, and receive AI-generated responses. Additionally, Copilot offers three different conversation styles: “More Creative,” “More Balanced,” and “More Precise,” each catering to different preferences and needs.
How to access and use Copilot on Windows 11
Copilot on Windows 11 is still a beta feature, though it’s easy to access for anyone curious. First, you’ll need to be on the September 2023 Windows update or newer. To ensure you have the right version, go to Settings > Windows Update and ensure you have it set to install options as soon as possible. You may have to enable the Get the latest updates as soon as they’re available toggle to ensure it happens sooner rather than later.
If you’re on the latest software, Copilot shows on the taskbar directly. If you don’t see it, you can also press Win + C on your keyboard to bring up the menu.
From there, you can launch Copilot and ask it anything via the text box. It also provides you a few examples of things you can do with it to help further spark your creativity.