Copilot in Microsoft 365 Getting Agents, Extensions and Team (Not Teams) Support

Microsoft is adding more functionality to its Copilot AI assistant aimed at improving business collaboration, processes and workflows for Microsoft 365 users.

The enhancements, all of which are still in the pre-release stage, were announced on Tuesday at Microsoft's 2024 Build event. Collectively, they're designed to "unlock Copilot's ability to drive bottom-line business results for every organization," wrote Microsoft corporate vice president Jared Spataro in a blog post.

Custom SharePoint Copilots
A new capability will enable users to build their own copilot assistants to be used within their company's SharePoint environment. These customizable copilots are able to access all documents and files inside SharePoint. They can be used to, among other things, quickly track down files or surface information from specific documents.

This feature will reach public preview sometime later this year. Currently, it's limited to Early Access enrollees.

Copilot Agents
Microsoft is also developing the ability to build copilots for multistep business processes. These copilots, dubbed "agents," are able to run autonomously to perform complex tasks with layers of dependencies -- order fulfillment, for instance. An agent "can handle the end-to-end order fulfillment process," Spataro said, "from processing the customer order to making intelligent substitution suggestions for out-of-stock items." They can do this, he added, due to their ability to:

  • Reason over user inputs and system actions
  • Use memory to bring in context
  • Learn and act based on user feedback

The agents feature is part of Copilot Studio, a solution that debuted at last year's Ignite conference. Copilot Studio is used to connect Copilot AI solutions to data sources outside of the Microsoft Graph. At the moment, Copilot agents is another Early-Access-only feature. A preview release is expected later this year.

Copilot Extensions
Organizations and their developers will be able to add their own customizations to Copilot via "extensions." Per Spataro, Copilot extensions "enable end users to customize the actions Microsoft Copilot can take and enable Copilot to extend across all line of business systems." Extensions will let organizations ground Copilot using their internal data, making Copilot's outputs more relevant to them.

Besides making their own extensions, organizations will also be able to use extensions made by third-party vendors. For instance, extensions built by Jira, Priority Matrix and Mural are currently available in preview for Microsoft 365.

Team Copilot
Not to be mistaken for Copilot for Microsoft Teams, Team Copilot is meant to be an AI assistant for groups of users.

Spataro explained that users can assign Team Copilot administrative tasks that are repetitive, time-consuming or tedious. For instance, within the Microsoft Teams application, Team Copilot can create meeting agendas, take meeting notes or distill lengthy chat threads down to their highlights. It can also work within the Planner application in Teams as a project manager, keeping track of deadlines, deliverables and action items.

A preview of Team Copilot will become available later this year for users with a Copilot for Microsoft 365 license.

About the Author

Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editorial director of Converge360.