What is Microsoft 365 Copilot? A Beginner's Guide

What is Microsoft 365 Copilot and how can you use it?

Microsoft are calling it “the most powerful productivity tool on the planet”.

In this blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Microsoft 365 Copilot, and how you can use it in your organisation.

Microsoft Copilot logo

What is Microsoft 365 Copilot?

Microsoft 365 Copilot is a generative AI tool and AI-powered assistant, designed to significantly improve your productivity, creativity, and collaboration in Microsoft 365. It will dramatically speed up, and perform, many everyday work tasks for you.

It works across different Microsoft 365 apps, such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, and Teams. It can generate many types of content and provide suggestions, answers, and insights to improve your work and productivity.

Microsoft was one of the first tech giants to go ‘all-in’ on generative AI technology, investing heavily with a multi-billion investment into OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, since 2019.

Now, Microsoft are ready to deliver this AI technology as part of Microsoft 365 with Microsoft 365 Copilot, which will be part of a wider Microsoft Copilot suite.

You can watch the introductory launch video for Microsoft 365 Copilot below, but make sure to read on to find out how you can get hold of Copilot yourself and use it within your organisation.

What can Microsoft 365 Copilot do?

If you’ve used ChatGPT, you’ll already be familiar with the type of capabilities and user interface of Microsoft 365 Copilot.

Copilot uses natural language processing, meaning you can write questions or instructions as free text (known as prompts) in a chat window and the tool will generate helpful answers and content – using your organisation’s data to provide the unique context for your work.

For example, you could ask it to provide:

  • Writing suggestions: Copilot can help you write clear, concise, and engaging content around any topic. It can make suggestions for grammar, spelling, punctuation, tone, style, vocabulary and more.
  • Design suggestions: It can also help you create professional presentations, providing suggested designs, styling choices and animations.
  • Data suggestions: Copilot can even help you analyse and visualise your Excel data with suggestions for charts, graphs, tables, and formulas etc. You can ask it questions in natural language and it will perform complex calculations and analysis with the click of a button.
  • Collaboration suggestions: Copilot can also help you collaborative better and more efficiently with suggestions around activities such as sharing documents, reviewing documents, scheduling meetings, sending emails, and chatting with colleagues etc.

As you can see from the examples below, you can take a file in Microsoft 365 (e.g. a Word document) and drop it into the Copilot chat box, while providing a detailed prompt explaining what you want Copilot to create or answer based on the Word document’s content (e.g. a summary document, a proposal, or even a SWOT analysis or similar).

You could even ask Copilot to create a beautifully designed PowerPoint version of the Word document, enabling you to repurpose content at speed.
It’s important to acknowledge that the content generated by Copilot won’t be perfect, so it will require human input to review and tailor content before sign-off.
The Microsoft 365 Copilot support page suggests that because AI-generated content can be incorrect, you should consider three things when using Copilot:

  • “Check your facts”
  • “Review, modify, iterate”
  • “Copilot is not autopilot”

However, it can save hours of groundwork and help employees bridge skills gaps. Copilot even makes editing quick and simple, by providing suggested prompts to make further tweaks and improvements such as “include more images” or “make the text shorter” or you can write your own.
The below screenshot demonstrates the incredible collaboration and productivity capabilities of Copilot. By asking for an update on a given project, Copilot can draw information relevant to the project from across Microsoft 365 to give the user a summary of recent progress and links to the relevant documentation – also suggesting potential response actions or further questions.

To see all this in action, watch the video below from Microsoft demonstrating Microsoft 365 Copilot in use across Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote.

You can also check out:

  • Microsoft 365 Copilot in Word
  • Microsoft 365 Copilot in Teams
  • Microsoft 365 Copilot in Outlook

Read on to learn how Copilot works, how much it costs, and the licences you’ll need.

How does Microsoft 365 Copilot work?

The Microsoft 365 Copilot technology combines three core elements that together are known as “The Copilot System”:

  • Large Language Models (LLMs) hosted in Microsoft’s cloud (Azure OpenAI Service)
  • Microsoft Graph (your organisational data including emails, files, chats, calendars, meetings etc.)
  • Microsoft 365 apps (e.g. Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, Teams)

It’s important to note that Microsoft 365 Copilot doesn’t train its LLMs on your organisation’s data and the security, compliance, and privacy policies of your organisation in Microsoft 365 are automatically applied to Copilot. You can learn more about Data, Privacy and Security for Microsoft 365 Copilot here.

The LLMs behind Copilot run on Microsoft’s cloud (Azure OpenAI Service) and it doesn’t access the public OpenAI service that ChatGPT uses. Instead, Copilot operates on its own versions of the large language models.

You can watch Microsoft Mechanics’ great overview of how Microsoft 365 Copilot works, and the tool in action below.

If you want to extend these AI capabilities to your bespoke business data which isn’t part of the Microsoft Graph, you can also use Azure Open AI (AI Studio) to connect this data to instances of the LLMs, giving you the same incredible capabilities across an even wider pool of your data.

How to use Microsoft 365 Copilot

Microsoft 365 Chat is referred to as “the hero experience in Microsoft 365 Copilot”.

This will be a single interface where a user can leverage Microsoft 365 Copilot’s capabilities all in one place.

Once configured and enabled by your admins, there will also be a Copilot icon in the ribbon or the toolbar of whichever Microsoft 365 app you’re using, which will open the Copilot pane on the side of the app’s UI.

This will offer various types of suggestions or provide a text box for you to enter your own prompts using natural language.

You can also give feedback to Microsoft 365 Copilot by clicking on the thumbs up or thumbs down icons next to each suggestion.

How to get Microsoft 365 Copilot?

To get Microsoft 365 Copilot, you’ll need to own the appropriate licensing, and purchase Microsoft 365 Copilot on top:

Microsoft 365 Copilot price and licensing

Microsoft 365 Copilot is now generally available as an add-on to certain Microsoft 365 licences and Office 365 licences. Microsoft 365 Copilot is available in the UK at a premium price point of £24.70 per month per user (with annual subscription) for those who have licences for:

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium
  • Microsoft 365 E3
  • Microsoft 365 E5
  • Office 365 E3
  • Office 365 E3
  • Office 365 E5

The reaction to the pricing has been largely cautious, given that organisations are yet to use the tool and therefore evaluate the value it can deliver.

It is likely that only specific employees or departments need access to these tools, and that pilot projects will be advisable before rolling Microsoft 365 Copilot out more widely.

Copilot Lab

Once you’ve got access to Microsoft 365 Copilot, you’ll be able to upskill your use of the technology with Copilot Lab. This is an educational resource from Microsoft which will help you learn more about Copilot and how to write, improve and share prompts with others.

Microsoft 365 Copilot vs Microsoft Copilot vs Microsoft 365 Chat

Microsoft’s product names can often cause confusion between products and features with similar naming and overlapping functionality.

With Copilot, this is no different. For example, Microsoft 365 Copilot is part of “Microsoft Copilot”, a wider unified AI experience across:

  • Windows: Microsoft Copilot will be available on the Windows 11 desktop and will be informed by whatever you’re doing on your PC.
  • Edge and Bing: Copilot in the Microsoft Edge web browser is built on top of Bing Chat which gives you the power of Copilot together with the internet and search.
  • Microsoft 365: This is Microsoft 365 Copilot, as we’ve discussed throughout this article. It’s referred to as your “copilot for work”.

It appears that Microsoft Copilot will be free and available to both consumers and businesses using Windows 11 devices etc., however Microsoft 365 Copilot will be where you must pay to get the full Copilot experience which leverages the Microsoft Graph to tap into your full organisational data.

There are also versions of Copilot for different areas of work e.g.:

How to prepare for Copilot

To get the most out of Copilot for Microsoft 365, you need to understand both its capabilities and limitations.

It’s also vital that you consider how your organisational data is currently stored, protected and governed—as this directly impacts how successful your Copilot implementation will be.

For example, Copilot for Microsoft 365 draws on the data in your Microsoft 365 tenancy, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got things like data classification in place, so that your sensitive data is only accessible to the right people with appropriate permissions.

Our Copilot for Microsoft 365 consultancy services help you understand these prerequisites, while we can also advise on how to ensure you’ve got adequate data protection and governance measures in place within Microsoft 365.


To conclude, Microsoft 365 Copilot has the potential to completely revolutionise the way we work.

The integration of generative AI and LLMs with Microsoft 365 (the world’s favourite productivity suite) will no doubt be a watershed moment in workplace technology.

Regardless of whether organisations adopt Microsoft 365 Copilot immediately, you’re probably already noticing AI being deployed into your Microsoft products, such as Windows 11, Bing and Edge etc. already.

Building such powerful capabilities into the technology most of us are already using today will give incredible new powers to users all over the world, and the possibilities feel endless.

While it may only seem like yesterday when we hadn’t heard of ChatGPT or large language models (LLMs), this new breed of generative AI technology has arrived, is transforming the way we work and live, and it’s here to stay.

We’re excited for this new chapter in the evolution of workplace technology, and hope you are too.

Next steps

Chorus is a leading UK-based Microsoft Solutions Partner and member of the Microsoft Intelligent Security Association.

We provide Microsoft AI consultancy services, to help you understand the capabilities of Microsoft Copilot technologies, how they could work for your organisation, and the essential steps to prepare for successful implementation.

If you’re interested in Microsoft 365 Copilot, get in touch for help with your Microsoft licensing, configuration and more.