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Microsoft Unveils Private Microsoft 365 Copilot Test Program

The AI-based Microsoft 365 Copilot is now at limited release via an Early Access Program.

The Early Access Program for Microsoft 365 Copilot is "an invitation-only, paid preview that will roll out to an initial wave of 600 customers worldwide," Microsoft explained in a Tuesday announcement. Timing and future availability details for the budding AI product were not described.

Microsoft 365 Copilot was first introduced by Microsoft back in mid-March. Since then, it has undergone testing by "20 enterprise customers," including "Chevron, Goodyear, General Motors and Dow," Microsoft indicated.

Semantic Index for Copilot
Microsoft also announced plans to roll out a new Semantic Index for Copilot capability for its Microsoft 365 E3/E5 subscribers, which will buttress the results returned by Microsoft 365 Copilot.          

Semantic Index for Copilot is said to be a "sophisticated map" of user and company data. This map gets leveraged by Microsoft 365 Copilot to better respond to user queries or "prompts." It'll also generally "enhance enterprise search results for E3 and E5 customers -- whether they are using Copilot or not," Microsoft indicated, in another Tuesday announcement.

Semantic Index for Copilot can respond to a sales report query by already having information about who in the company creates such reports and the tools that get used, Microsoft explained. It uses existing Microsoft Graph indexing of "e-mails, files, meetings, chats, calendars and contacts" that comes with Microsoft 365 use, per this Microsoft video.

The timing for a release of Semantic Index for Copilot to Microsoft 365 E3/E5 customers wasn't described.

Microsoft 365 Copilot Capabilities To Come
Microsoft also announced some new Microsoft 365 Copilot capabilities for Microsoft 365 applications, but the release timing wasn't indicated.

There's a new "Copilot in Whiteboard" capability for Microsoft Teams users that can organize ideas and create designs on a digital whiteboard.

Various Office applications are getting the Copilot AI treatment as well. The AI can be used to generate ideas, lists and organize information within those applications.

To that end, Microsoft is adding Copilot in Outlook to support e-mail communications. Copilot in OneNote also is getting added to help users organize information. PowerPoint is getting the OpenAI DALL-E image generator to create images for presentations, and it'll also have the ability to summarize and rewrite text. Microsoft Loop, which lets users collaborate via sharable Office capabilities, is getting a Copilot in Loop component that can summarize the work of a team.

Also, Viva Learning, part of the Microsoft Viva family of "employee experience platform" components that surface in Microsoft Teams, will be getting a Copilot in Viva Learning capability designed to help users discover learning resources. Microsoft had indicated last month that various Microsoft Viva suite components would be getting Copilot AI capabilities, including Viva Learning.  

New Work Trend Index Report
Microsoft also on Tuesday announced another "Work Trend Index Annual Report." It's a large survey of 31,000 workers, managers and business leaders that was conducted between February 1 and March 14, 2023 by Edelman Data x Intelligence.

The report claimed, based on survey results, that people are less afraid of losing their jobs to AI than they are hopeful of using it to facilitate tasks. The survey even found highly positive survey responses on using AI for creative tasks.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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