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Microsoft’s AI vision of the future: Copilot Pro

Microsoft’s recently launched Copilot Pro, available through a $20 monthly subscription, grants users access to AI-enhanced functionalities within select Office applications. Subscribers also receive priority access to updated OpenAI models and enhanced image generation capabilities.

I’ve spent the past month evaluating Copilot Pro to determine its value proposition for daily usage. I’ve examined the effectiveness of AI-generated text and images across Office staples like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. While some features of Copilot Pro are currently underwhelming, others represent significant enhancements that I’m hesitant to forgo.

Let’s delve into the comprehensive offering of Copilot Pro at present.

Designer image creation

A key attraction of opting for Copilot Pro subscription is the upgraded iteration of Designer, Microsoft’s image creation utility. This enhanced version harnesses OpenAI’s DALL-E 3 model to produce content, yielding widescreen images of significantly greater detail compared to the free version.

In my experimentation with Designer, I’ve found it particularly impressive when providing detailed prompts. For instance, requesting “an image of a dachshund sitting by a window staring at a slice of bacon” yields satisfactory results. However, by incorporating additional descriptive language, such as specifying a desire for a “hyper-real painting” with “natural lighting, medium shot, and shallow depth of field,” Designer’s capabilities can be further extended.

As demonstrated in the examples below, Designer accurately captures the natural lighting and incorporates some depth of field around the bacon. However, there are minor discrepancies, such as the presence of multiple oversized bacon slices instead of just one.

“A hyper-real painting of a dachshund sitting by a window staring at a slice of bacon, natural lighting, medium shot, shallow depth of field.” Image: Microsoft Designer

The giant piece of bacon I didn’t ask for. Image: Microsoft Designer

Similar to many AI-driven features, the Designer tool isn’t flawless. While generating another image of a dog fixating on bacon, an unexpected inclusion of a giant bacon piece occurred. Typically, out of the four images generated, only one or two are deemed usable. Additionally, DALL-E 3 encounters difficulties with text, especially when incorporating labels or signs containing written text.

However, there are instances where Designer performs admirably, such as in creating “an illustrated image of a UPS delivery man from 1910 in the style of early Japanese cartoons.” Despite some minor imperfections, like a slightly distorted UPS logo, the result is commendable. With Copilot Pro, users can generate up to 100 images per day, and the process is notably swifter compared to the free version.

Copilot in Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook

Beyond image generation, Copilot Pro offers a suite of AI capabilities integrated into Office applications. In Word, for instance, Copilot can assist in generating text, aiding in both outlining a document and refining paragraphs.

Moreover, if you possess numerical data, Copilot can transform it into visual representations such as graphs or tables. This feature proves particularly valuable in enhancing the readability of text-heavy documents. When text is highlighted, a Copilot logo prompts users to select it for rewriting or visualization. Should an entire paragraph be selected, Copilot offers alternative rewrites, allowing users to cycle through options and make selections.

Similar to image generation, the paragraph rewriting feature can be inconsistent, occasionally altering sentence meaning through word substitutions. In my experience, I didn’t find it significantly enhancing my writing. However, for individuals who don’t engage in regular writing tasks, it could prove more beneficial.

On a personal note, Copilot’s integration into Outlook has been immensely helpful. I rely on it daily to review email summaries conveniently displayed at the top of messages. This functionality alone might entice me to invest in Copilot Pro, as it significantly streamlines project planning involving multiple collaborators, saving considerable time and effort.

In Outlook, Copilot proves invaluable for condensing lengthy email threads into quick summaries, facilitating efficient retrieval of key information. Additionally, it offers the capability to generate emails or compose replies. Similar to Word, there’s a rewrite tool that analyzes draft emails and provides suggestions for enhancing tone or clarity.

In PowerPoint, Copilot serves as a boon for individuals unaccustomed to crafting presentations. Users can request slides in a specific style and receive a complete deck within seconds. This feature includes Designer, allowing customization of images and text on individual slides.

As someone who dislikes creating presentations, I foresee utilizing this feature extensively in the future. It surpasses the generic PowerPoint templates available online. However, I encountered some issues with slide generation, particularly instances where Copilot would indefinitely display “Still working on it” without completing the task.

Copilot GPTs and the future

Microsoft is expanding its repertoire by introducing specialized GPTs tailored for fitness, travel, and cooking within Copilot. These serve as individual assistants capable of aiding users in various tasks such as finding recipes, organizing vacation itineraries, or creating personalized workout regimens. Furthermore, Copilot Pro subscribers will soon have the ability to construct their own customized GPTs centered around specific topics.

While Copilot Pro represents a promising step forward in Microsoft’s consumer AI initiatives, the current $20 monthly subscription fee may not yet justify the investment for all users. The enhancements in image generation are noteworthy and could be deemed worthwhile by some users.

The feature of email summaries in Outlook is enticing, potentially swaying users towards subscribing. However, the text generation functionalities within Office apps do not appear significantly unique. Comparable results can be achieved using the free version of Copilot or even ChatGPT, albeit requiring manual copying and pasting of results into documents, which is a less expensive alternative.

It’s worth noting that the consumer version of Copilot Pro is not as comprehensive as the commercial iteration at present. Expectations are high for substantial improvements in the coming months. Microsoft remains committed to advancing its AI initiatives, with further details anticipated to be unveiled at the Build conference in May.



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