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January 30, 2024
Microsoft is keeping its popular AI tool, Copilot, free for users who want to avoid paying for OpenAI's ChatGPT Plus every month. But recently, they added a new paid version called Copilot Pro that has extra features, will work better with Microsoft 365, and offer custom GPT support.
I gave Copilot Pro a spin, and for the most part, I enjoyed the experience. Copilot Pro emerged as a promising candidate, yet a mix of impressive feats and notable limitations marks its journey from potential to performance.
Microsoft Copilot Pro is priced at $20 monthly for each user. This fee appears to be the standard for AI models, as seen with similar pricing for ChatGPT Plus and Claude Pro. The key advantage of Copilot Pro lies in its extensive integration with Microsoft's ecosystem.
At the same price point, it offers more value, especially in business and productivity contexts, compared to other AI tools that, while helpful, do not integrate as closely with commonly used software.
If you have Microsoft 365 Personal or Home, you can add Copilot Pro to use Office apps on your Mac, Windows, or iPad. With it, you can make complete PowerPoint slides just by asking, and in Word, you can change sentences, write new text, and summarize documents. Copilot Pro also helps Outlook write or answer emails, and in Excel, it can look at data, make graphs, and more.
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Key highlights of Copilot Pro for 365 include its capability to seamlessly transform a Word document into a PowerPoint presentation. This tool adeptly distributes text between slides and speaker notes and even creates visuals to enhance the presentation's impact. It worked well in my trial.
These advanced features of Copilot Pro for 365 are not accessible in the free version. Users of the free version can still benefit by generating text, which can then be manually inserted into Word documents or Google Sheets. Google offers a similar suite of tools, Google Duet, integrated within its Workspace platform.
Copilot Pro offers a comprehensive analysis of any document created in 365, providing real-time feedback aimed at elevating the content's quality. The report includes advice on grammar and readability and suggestions for overall improvement, catering to different writing styles and enhancing the document's quality.
The Copilot Pro interface is clean, intuitive and visually appealing. However, its simplicity sometimes feels like a missed opportunity for more comprehensive features. The setup was seamless, but I craved more depth as a professional writer – something beyond the basics.
However, the intelligence of Copilot is particularly impressive because of its ability to understand context. In contrast to AI systems such as ChatGPT, which primarily respond to direct inputs, Copilot exhibits a more holistic approach.
It integrates data from various sources, including user applications, web search histories, and prior dialogues, to formulate more informed responses. Its capacity to synchronize and analyze information across multiple devices further enhances its utility, often highlighting details that might typically go unnoticed in daily use.
In writing, Copilot Pro's AI-driven suggestions are initially impressive. However, over time, these suggestions can become somewhat predictable, lacking the creative spontaneity that human writers bring. It is a valuable tool for brainstorming but it is not yet a standalone creative partner.
Copilot Pro's research capabilities are a time-saver, rapidly pulling information from various sources. However, this convenience often comes at the cost of depth and accuracy. The tool's surface-level research is not enough for in-depth, nuanced writing, necessitating additional manual research.
While Copilot Pro offers ideas and prompts to overcome writer's block, the effectiveness varies. Some suggestions are spot-on, sparking creativity, but others feel disconnected from the narrative at hand, requiring significant tweaking to be truly useful.
In editing, Copilot Pro is adept at catching grammatical errors and suggesting stylistic improvements. Yet, it occasionally misses subtler elements of language and style, requiring a human eye to ensure the writing maintains its intended voice and nuance.
One of Copilot Pro’s standout features is its adaptability, learning from user interactions to tailor its suggestions. However, this learning curve can be gradual, and the tool might take considerable time to align closely with a specific writer's style and preferences.
Copilot Pro’s collaborative tools facilitate sharing and feedback, but integration with other writing platforms can be clunky. While helpful for real-time collaboration, its shared workspace feature sometimes struggles with syncing issues and compatibility with external software.
Copilot Pro is a tool with great potential, particularly for certain aspects of writing, such as initial brainstorming, basic research and preliminary editing. However, more nuanced tasks like deep research, complex narrative development, and sophisticated editing still require significant human input.
Its performance, while enhancing productivity in some areas, underscores the current limitations of AI in fully grasping the complexities of creative writing. Thus, I would not buy it over ChatGPT Plus as it is not as good for writing. But if it is in your budget and you use Microsoft 365, it is worth subscribing to both Copllot Pro and ChatGPT Plus.
Read more about:ChatGPT / Generative AI
Sascha Brodsky is a freelance technology writer based in New York City. His work has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, Reuters, and many other outlets. He graduated from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and its School of International and Public Affairs.
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