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Copilot vs Copilot vs Copilot

A comprehensive look into the available Copilots

richard lamacraft

Richard Lamacraft

Chief Technologist - Microsoft

Copilot has been the most significant release from Microsoft in recent years, empowering users to work more efficiently and effectively therefore freeing up time to do more meaningful work. 

However, the world of ‘Copilot’ can be confusing as it refers to a whole family of products – there are Copilots available for almost every Microsoft solution. Often these names are used interchangeably, further adding to the confusion. In this article we’ll explore what a ‘Copilot’ is, the most common Copilots, which users they’re for and how to get access to them. Let’s dive in... Or should that be take off? 

What is a Copilot? 

In short, it is an AI-powered chatbot that is embedded in Microsoft products. The engine behind it is the same as ChatGPT but has been tuned for the specific task it will be used for (writing code, creating images, summarising conversations etc.).  

The confusion arises as there are many Copilots to choose from and some have overlapping functionality. At last count there were over sixty (60!) different Copilots within Microsoft products (Copilot for Paint, anyone?) – here are the most common:  


What can it do? 

It is a typical generative AI chatbot. If you’ve used ChatGPT, Claude2 or Bard you’ll be very familiar with this. A user gives it a prompt (a good prompt should include: task, context, persona, tone, format and examples), it searches the internet for any additional information needed and produces a reply in the chat window. It is not limited to plain text replies via GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer), it can also create tables, pictures (using the DALL-E engine) and even music. 

Who is it for? 

Everybody! This is a direct replacement for consumer AI chatbots that have become prevalent in the workplace. It can do most of what the other Copilots listed here can do, but only with data fed to the chat window or information found online. 

How do you buy it? 

Copilot for consumers is free – if you have a Microsoft account you have access. However, to get Commercial Data Protection (which keeps your data secure as prompts aren’t used to train the model) you need to have Microsoft 365 E3, E5, F3, Business Standard, Business Premium, A3 or A5 for faculty. 

More information can be found on Microsoft Copilot FAQ. 


Copilot Studio 

What can it do? 

Copilot Studio supersedes Microsoft Power Virtual Agents. It allows organisations to quickly create personalised chat bots grounded in specific data. Where Microsoft Copilot will search the web for information, Copilot Studio will only use data sources given to it – typically web pages, SharePoint sites or documents. As well as customising the bot’s area of expertise it’s also possible to create specific conversation workflows and custom greetings. 

Who is it for? 

Anyone tasked with delivering custom information which is typically hard to find. One example could be instead of creating and formatting a product or policy FAQ document which users have to read and search, this document can be used to ground a Copilot and be searched interactively with natural language. 

How do you buy it? 

To further confuse things, there are two different levels of Copilot Studio. Some features are included with a Microsoft 365 subscription, but access to the full feature set (deploy to custom location, Premium Connectors, include Microsoft Bot Framework etc.) will need a separate Copilot Studio subscription. A full comparison is available on the Copilot Studio page. 


Copilot for Microsoft 365 

What can it do? 

When someone mentions ‘Copilot’ rather than Copilot for Microsoft 365, the latter is most likely what they’re referring to. It integrates Large Language Models (LLMs) and Generative AI directly with your Microsoft 365 applications and data. Instead of exclusively using the internet or a specific document as a data source it has access to any file, chat, or email within your Microsoft tenant. It is important to note that a user’s Copilot is bound by the same data permissions as they are – if you don’t have access to the payroll spreadsheet, neither does your Copilot! 

It's not just the data source that’s tightly integrated, the output is too. Word documents and PowerPoint presentations can be created and refined using natural language prompts. Meeting notes can be created and shared immediately, and busy inboxes tamed

This might be the most viewed video Microsoft has ever produced, but it summarises Copilot for Microsoft 365 perfectly – if you haven’t already it’s worth a watch

Who is it for? 

Anyone that spends a lot of time in Microsoft 365 applications (Outlook, Teams, Word, Excel and PowerPoint) attending meetings, creating documents and searching for information. Check out our latest blog post on how to use Copilot in PowerPoint.   

How do you buy it? 

Copilot for Microsoft 365 is now available through both Enterprise Agreements and CSP with no minimum purchase quantity required. However, there are some technical prerequisites 


GitHub Copilot 

What can it do? 

GitHub Copilot is your pair-programmer that lives within the Visual Studio Code development environment. Based on provided comments (e.g. ## create function to convert x to y) it will create suggestions for complete blocks of code. It removes the mundane side of coding (spaces or tabs) to make more time for the creative, problem-solving side of programming. 

Who is it for? 

Unsurprisingly, anyone that writes code as part of their job! 

How do you buy it? 

Available in Individual and Business subscriptions, it is added directly with Microsoft through the GitHub portal. 


Security Copilot 

What can it do? 

Microsoft Security Copilot is an AI tool that enhances security operations. It assists in tasks such as Incident Management and Threat Detection. It uses OpenAI and security-focused plugins to provide threat visibility and extendable features. 

Who is it for? 

Members of your SOC (Security Operations Centre) or anyone responsible for IT security within the business. 

How do you buy it? 

Unless you’re participating in the Early Access Programme, Microsoft Security Copilot isn’t available yet. Expect to see a detailed blog post from Softcat when it is announced. 


Why Copilot instead of other AI tools like ChatGPT, Claude2 or Bard? 

Much of what has been covered in this article can be achieved using freely available consumer tools, so why purchase Copilot? There are two main reasons: firstly (and most importantly) Commercial Data Protection. Unlike free tools, your data remains your data and will not be used to train models, which in turn can leak information publicly. Secondly, Copilot is tightly integrated with your Microsoft applications so fits within a user’s flow of work – no need to copy and paste information for prompts and again for responses. 

What should you do next? 

Where does generative AI fit in to your business currently and how could it help in future? It sounds obvious but start with the use case before deciding on the tool. If you’d like to discuss anything you’ve read here in more detail, please get in touch with your Account Manager or contact our Sales team.