Microsoft Expands Access to Copilot Virtual Assistant for Small Businesses and Consumers

Microsoft is making a strategic move to expand access to its Copilot virtual assistant, a generative artificial intelligence technology developed by OpenAI. The company announced that small businesses can now subscribe to Copilot through its productivity apps, while consumers who pay for Microsoft 365 software can sign up for a new paid version of Copilot. This move aims to expose more customers to AI technology and covers the costs of building data center infrastructure for AI.

In November, Microsoft started offering Copilot for Microsoft 365 to large companies and educational institutions. However, it was priced at $30 per person per month, making it less accessible to smaller businesses. Now, with the availability of Copilot for Microsoft 365 Business Premium and Business Standard, small businesses can sign up for up to 299 licenses at the same $30 per person per month price point. This move not only expands the reach of Copilot but also aligns with Microsoft’s vision of becoming the “Copilot company.”

Previously, Microsoft had a 300-seat minimum for commercial plans, making it challenging for smaller businesses to adopt Copilot. However, Microsoft has now eliminated this requirement, allowing businesses with Office 365 E3 or E5 subscriptions to use Copilot. These subscription options are more affordable than full Microsoft 365 subscriptions, enabling a wider range of businesses to leverage the benefits of Copilot.

While individuals have been able to access Copilot for free through various channels, such as the Bing search engine and copilot.microsoft.com, Microsoft had restricted its use in Word, Excel, Outlook, and other apps to paid subscribers. This has changed with the introduction of Copilot Pro, a new add-on available for Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscribers at $20 per person per month. Copilot Pro offers priority access to the latest models, starting with OpenAI’s GPT-4 Turbo. Subscribers also gain the ability to switch between models and design custom chatbots using Copilot GPT Builder, an upcoming tool. This expansion of Copilot’s availability in consumer applications aims to enhance performance, productivity, and creativity.

Investors have shown strong confidence in Microsoft’s ability to capitalize on generative AI demand across various sectors, including operating systems, cloud services, productivity tools, web search, and security. Despite facing competition from industry giants like Amazon and Google, Microsoft has reestablished itself as the most valuable publicly traded company, overtaking Apple. With AI at the core of its identity, Microsoft is strategically positioning itself to lead in the AI space.

Microsoft’s decision to expand access to Copilot, its virtual assistant powered by generative AI, is a significant move towards democratizing AI technology. By making it more accessible and affordable to small businesses and consumers, Microsoft aims to expose a larger audience to the benefits of AI. This expansion aligns with Microsoft’s vision of becoming the “Copilot company” and reinforces its position as a leading player in the AI market. With the availability of Copilot Pro and the upcoming Copilot GPT Builder tool, Microsoft empowers individuals to enhance their performance, productivity, and creativity. As the demand for generative AI continues to grow, Microsoft is well-positioned to capitalize on the market opportunities and maintain its position as a key player in the technology industry.

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