What is Copilot? from Mashable


“What is Copilot?” is the new question people are asking as AI interest continues to skyrocket. Funnily enough — not too long ago — people were, instead, asking, “What is ChatGPT?”

I’m inclined to say that Copilot is a ChatGPT rival, but it’s worth noting that, due to Microsoft’s partnership with OpenAI, the large language models (LLM) that underpin Copilot also power ChatGPT. (More on that later.)

As such, a better explanation is that Copilot is a competitor to Google Gemini (formerly Bard) and its ilk.

What is Copilot?

Copilot is an AI-powered tool that can be found on Windows 11 and other platforms. You can access it via an icon from the taskbar — or you can simply launch it from the Copilot keyboard key now available on some of the best Windows PCs.

Copilot in Windows 11
Credit: Microsoft

Windows 11 Copilot most conspicuously lives on the right panel as users’ AI companion. With it, you can do a wide range of tasks, including the following:

Drag-and-drop photos into Copilot and ask about it, including food photos for recipes

Summarize text

Travel planning

Play music (via Spotify)

Lightly edit photos

Creative brainstorming

Heck, you can even ask Copilot questions based on text conversations on your phone (that you’ve paired to your PC).

My personal favorite, however, is Copilot’s integration with Paint. For example, with the AI assistant, you can quickly extract the background of image uploads with just the click of a button.

Credit: Microsoft

And those tasks don’t even scratch the surface. You can use Copilot to adjust your Windows 11 settings, including organizing your windows and turning on dark mode.

With Windows 11 on a PC, you can use Copilot without paying an additional fee — as long as you have a Microsoft account. You can also access the free tier of Copilot via copilot.microsoft.com on your browser. You can even download Copilot from Google Play and the Apple App Store for a slick mobile experience which is, again, complimentary.

According to Microsoft, Copilot’s free tier gives you access to GPT-4 (and GPT-4 Turbo during non-peak hours). It’s worth noting that these are the same LLMs that you’ll find powering OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Copilot for Microsoft 365 apps

If you want to turn it up a notch, you can also tap into Copilot for Microsoft 365 apps.

However, you’ll have to shell out $20 a month for a Copilot Pro subscription, which comes with a free trial as of this writing.

With Copilot Pro, you can experience AI magic in productivity apps like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of what Copilot Pro can do for you:

Summarize email threads in Outlook

Recap discussions in Microsoft Teams

Transform existing docs into a complete deck in PowerPoint

Ask questions about an Excel data set in natural language

Get help with writer’s block in Word

OpenAI’s GPT-4 Turbo underpins Copilot in the “Pro” subscription — even during peak hours. However, Microsoft recently announced that the new GPT-4o model is poised to support Copilot Pro “soon.”

Access Copilot via Surface laptops

Another way you can access Copilot is via a set of devices Microsoft is calling “Copilot+ PCs,” starting with the newly announced Surface Laptop 7 and Surface Pro 11. Both feature something called an NPU, a processor designed to facilitate AI processing.

Surface Pro 11
Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft is calling these “the most powerful Windows PCs in the world” — and they have the most advanced Copilot features. Thanks to the NPUs in these PCs, Copilot gets an edge in its feature set and performance that other aforementioned Copilot-powered platforms can’t deliver.

According to Microsoft, with the aforementioned Copilot+ PCs, you can quickly edit a photo directly in File Explorer (e.g., remove background).

Credit: Microsoft

You can even get a summary via your notifications, whether it’s a text or an email. So if you tend to have a verbose friend who writes long paragraphs about their tragic love life, you can simply get the “CliffNotes” instead.

Credit: Microsoft

One of the most interesting features, and perhaps the most controversial, is Recall, which is like hitting “CTRL + H” (or “Command + Y” for macOS users) on your entire digital life. Recall uses AI to record your PC activity throughout the day — and you can use a search bar to retrieve things in your past via natural language.

For example, if you stumbled upon a blue dress while shopping online, but forgot to bookmark it, you can use Recall to find it.

Credit: Microsoft

Keep in mind that Mashable plans to review both the Surface Laptop 7 and the Surface Pro 11, so we’ll let you know if they’re worth the investment for Copilot-interested consumers.

Copilot also benefits the enterprise sector (i.e., Microsoft 365 Business). Coders and developers use it, too (i.e., GitHub Copilot).

But to be succinct, we’re focusing on Copilot for the average consumer. As the AI race continues to heat up, it’s only a matter of time before Microsoft adds more features to Copilot’s current list of capabilities, so stay tuned for our coverage of any upgrades.

The post What is Copilot? from Mashable appeared first on Tom Bettenhausen’s.

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