Diving Deep into Microsoft's Game-Changing AI Platform
Posted on October 13, 2023 by Fusion Connect
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INTRODUCTION VOICEOVER: This is Tech UNMUTED. The podcast of modern collaboration – where we tell the stories of how collaboration tools enable businesses to be more efficient and connected. With your hosts, George Schoenstein and Santi Cuellar. Welcome to Tech UNMUTED.
GEORGE: Welcome to the latest episode of Tech UNMUTED. Today, we're going to take a look at the Copilot announcement that just came out, talk about some of the key features in it, and walk you through timing and those kinds of things.
SANTI: Just to remind everybody, we went to the Microsoft 365 conference back in May. It was in Vegas. I spent a few days there. We have a podcast on that. All you have to do is play back that podcast and all you're going to constantly hear is Copilot, Copilot, Copilot. This is the AI-infused platform that Microsoft is betting their entire future on. What were the things missing [chuckles] from that conference in May? When is it coming? How much is it going to cost? They didn't have that. I was so frustrated. It's like, "How can you roll out at a major conference and showcase this technology and not give us, all right, what's the cost?" Now we know the cost. Cost--
GEORGE: [crosstalk] They did. There were a couple of interim steps right there.
SANTI: There were.
GEORGE: They were in a pre-release with a handful of companies.
SANTI: Very handful. [chuckles]
GEORGE: They did. We talked about earlier today, there is a pre-version if you do the latest update to Windows 11 that showed up on my machine a day or two ago. Gives you a little pop-up on the side of the screen. You can use some of the Copilot functionality, but it doesn't seem to be, at least at the moment, directly interacting with the applications-
SANTI: Not yet.
GEORGE: -in any meaningful way.
SANTI: That's coming. We know what it costs, as of recently, as the taping of this podcast. We know it's going to be $30 per user, which if you go to some of the forums, some of the people think it's actually a little steep. See, here's the thing, Copilot and the functionality of Copilot, I think will be mostly in the marketing, executive, financial, and sales organizations. From what I understand and from what I'm able to see, those are probably the roles that will probably take the most advantage of something like this.
GEORGE: They're probably somebody that's on an E3 or more likely an E5 already.
GEORGE: If you think about, if all it did was save you an hour of work every month, is it worth $30 to save an hour's worth of work? You might say, "Hey, that maybe it is, maybe it isn't," but if it saves three hours or five hours or creates other productivity gains, it's absolutely worth $30.
SANTI: If it helps me write a better message from a sales perspective to my prospect, that in itself is worth it. Anyway, guess what? The wait is over. [chuckles] As of literally the 21st of September, 2023, Microsoft put out a blog. They put out a video and they made a really big splash on LinkedIn as well. They made the formal announcement of Copilot. I have the blog and I thought it'd be pretty good to just bring it up and highlight a few things. Let me go ahead and just bring that blog up real quick.
GEORGE: I haven't looked at it yet, so I'll be seeing this for the first time as we walk through it.
SANTI: Absolutely. Here it is, "Announcing Microsoft Copilot, your everyday AI companion." I like the spin they have on that. This was just launched. September 21st is when the blog was posted. I'm not going to read the whole thing. There's a few things I want to highlight on the blog. Here's the first one. Copilot will begin to roll out in its early form," so that typically means preview, in the next Windows 11 update. Now, the Windows 11 update starts to roll out September 26, so just a few days after this blog was posted.
It'll be available also in Bing, Edge, and then eventually in the fall, it'll be available in Microsoft 365. Those are the key points here. Windows 11, latest update, September 26, we'll have Copilot. It's also going to be available in Bing and Edge. For those of you who don't know, Edge is the Microsoft browser, and Bing is the Microsoft search engine. You can actually go there now to Edge and Bing, and you can start using Copilot. That's been out for a couple of months. Then the big one, that's the one we're all waiting for, is the Microsoft 365 entire suite will have Copilot this fall.
GEORGE: If you're looking for the preview, it's going to end up in your system tray on the bottom. Again, after the update, it just showed up on mine.
SANTI: That's the logo.
GEORGE: Not sure it popped anything up. When it did it, it's that symbol. It says pre on the bottom, pre, P-R-E. There were a couple settings. I took just a quick look at settings. Actually, I say there's a couple. There's really one. It says, "Do you want Copilot in Windows to use Microsoft Edge content?" I turned it on. So I'm assuming that's going to be able to pull some live content in.
GEORGE: I did play around. We'll take a look at this at another date. I was able to cut an image. I was doing it just to copy something over from a PowerPoint deck to an email. It immediately popped up on the side and said, "Do you want to add this to the chat?" If you click, you do want to add it to the chat, it drops it in and then you can ask it to do things. Look at the image. Tell me what's in the image. What do you think this image is, those kinds of things.
This is really basic functionality at the moment, but the real thing we're waiting for, we've talked about this before, Santi, are things like the ability to have a spreadsheet with a bunch of semi-structured data and have Copilot go in and start to do some of the analytics on it to potentially help you get it more structured, those kind of things.
SANTI: For sure, or the ability to have Copilot take notes during the meeting and-
GEORGE: [crosstalk] Oh, for sure.
SANTI: -those kinds of things. On the Windows 11, because this is the big splash, the Windows 11 update right now, a couple of things that stood out for me is that they're taking Paint. Everybody knows Paint [chuckles] It's that one application that has existed in Windows probably as long as Windows has existed. We've all used Paint. They're adding AI to Paint. Now, Paint is going to get a little smarter and it'll be able to do things like remove backgrounds and stuff like that, which Paint has been pretty limited. It was just a simple image editing tool, but there was nothing fancy to it. It's now going to have a whole facelift with AI capabilities. That's going to be interesting.
GEORGE: That's great. I can give you an example. I've got a deck I was working on yesterday in PowerPoint. I needed to pull an image in. We'd used a bit of a different background. We'd put a gray background in it. The image I pulled in is a square image. It's of people. My immediate reaction was, I need to pull people out and get rid of the background.
SANTI: Now you'll be able to do that in Paint. You don't have to go get any fancy third-party software. The AI will do that for you. There's also going to be Microsoft's Photos. It will also have AI features, so you can drive editing even further with Photos. The snipping tool. The snipping tool, which is something that's interesting that you used, actually, the snipping tool has a new feature now with, ready for this, text redaction. You can do a screen capture, and if there's something that you do not want to share, it will redact that for you. The AI will do that for you, so you don't have to do it manually. I just thought that was pretty interesting.
Clipchamp, which is a quick little video editor, is going to have some pretty cool AI features that makes your videos a little bit more sassy and stuff like that. Notepad, can you believe Notepad? Notepad is going to have--
GEORGE: It hasn't changed in 25 years, right?
SANTI: Correct. Notepad will automatically start saving your sessions. You can close Notepad and not have to worry about stuff going lost because Notepad is not part of the Microsoft 365 Office Suite, where you can live edit and auto-save or any of that stuff.
You can continue where you left off. It'll restore any previous versions too. Notepad has not changed ever. [chuckles] It's just a Notepad. Now, the new Outlook. It's already there. What's nice about the new Outlook is you can add additional mailboxes that are beyond your corporate mailbox. You can add stuff in there. They actually allow stuff like Gmail and Yahoo as well. They're being very nice about that, Microsoft is. Anyway, it's going to have some AI capabilities there as well.
Then, finally, the one that just stood out a little bit for me is this new text authoring experience with voice access.
SANTI: It's going to have a new natural voice narrator. I think that you'll be able to speak to your Windows 11 and have that natural language processing happen with the AI. It's probably going to save you a lot of time. For typing things, you can probably now do a cleaner narration. Anyway, all these things are literally part of the Windows 11 update that is coming out. These things will be available, this AI component of Copilot will be available as soon as you update your operating system. There's nothing else you have to do for that. When it comes to Bing, and again, Bing and Edge, that's working now. I like this one, the Copilot in Microsoft Shopping. Have you read this?
GEORGE: I did not. I was actually on looking at some of their stuff yesterday. I didn't see this.
SANTI: I'll read the first sentence because I think it's cool. "From Bing or Edge, you can now more quickly find what you're shopping for online. When you ask for information on an item, Bing will ask additional questions to learn more, then use that information to provide more data recommendations." It'll give you now a much more customized experience and it'll be right in your browser. The difference between this and going to a social media site that now you're getting blasted with ads based on something you search is that it's going to be targeted to what you really want to see. That's going to be interesting.
There's also going to be this new thing called Content Credentials. This has a lot to do with privacy. It's going to have an AI digital watermark now on images that are created with Bing.
SANTI: Yes, yes. They call it a cryptographic. It's going to be a cryptographic. It'll be invisible, but it's going to include the date and timestamps when the AI created it. Very interesting. We knew that was going to come. It's just a matter of time. Then they have the bat, I'm sorry, the Bing chat enterprise experience. That is what's available now, that chat session you were talking about, but it's available in Edge and in Bing. If you go to Bing, you just click on the B, and you have that chat experience. That's AI driven behind the entire chat session. You can actually get generated answers from the bot. That's available right now. That's been out for a couple of months.
Bottom line is, and of course, there's DALL-E, the image generator, which I already used. It's actually pretty clean. Do you remember when we tried this on a year ago? Tables were missing legs, and people were missing fingers.
GEORGE: Or they had more fingers. That was really not well done a year ago.
SANTI: I asked for an image of a bulldog, and it created four perfect images of bulldogs. Then once it created the dogs, it gave me recommended prompts underneath it. One of the prompts was, can you make them puppies? I said, "Oh, let me do that," so I clicked on it.
GEORGE: [crosstalk] Oh nice.
SANTI: It generated four additional pictures of puppies. They were perfect. I will say that a couple of the ones I did with trying to find an avatar for a virtual agent, the eyes were off a little bit, I think, but I'm telling you it's gotten almost perfect. Anyway, let me just stop sharing here.
GEORGE: They're moving fast. We've talked about this over and over again. The speed at which Microsoft is adding capability to the platform, and it really is a platform. You've got to think about from a business standpoint, what do you want to do? Do you want to make a platform selection that may not in every category be best in class or do you select best in class for each thing and try to figure out how to integrate it? I think for the kind of businesses we talk to all the time, which are in mid-market, up into the smaller enterprises, most CIOs in those businesses want platform. They want best they can get in a broad platform that's already pre-integrated and allows them to get to market much more quickly.
The beauty of the Microsoft platform is, again, every day you go in almost there's something new. You might not pick up on it right away, but when you do pick up on it, you're like, "Oh, wow, that's great, that new additional feature." You do have the ability to flip back and forth, like we've done the preview for Teams and going back to the original. I was on using the preview or the new version for a while. I've now gone back again. Same thing with Outlook. I've gone back and forth with Outlook between old and new, but eventually everybody will shift to new, right? Then there'll be-
GEORGE: -another new that'll be out there in beta.
SANTI: Another new-new. [chuckles] We've been saying it, we'll say it again, AI is here to stay. With this big announcement from Microsoft, not only is it here to stay, it is here now. What does that mean? That means that the way we have done things for years needs to start shifting. We need to learn how to do work again. It's a different way of doing the same job. We need to become masters at the prompt. We need to ask AI using a framework of questions that gets you the best results.
We need to start thinking about what types of questions, not just how to frame them up, but when can I use the AI? What is the best practice? When does it come in handy? What are the things I can do with AI to make me more effective and productive? You need to start thinking, everybody, in your roles today. I think you said it best, George, AI is not here to replace your job. It is here to replace tasks, so the question is, how do I make myself more valuable to my company by becoming an AI expert within my role? That's really what we're saying. You don't need to be an AI expert in everything. It's just in your role.
GEORGE: You got to think about all the things that consume a lot of time. A first draft of the piece of content typically takes a lot of time. An email that you want to be really thoughtful about responding to takes a lot of time. If you can start it with a really deliberate set of prompts up front, those content pieces can be accelerated pretty quickly. Data analytics, in particular, in a spreadsheet, there are oftentimes where you look at the data and you're not necessarily sure where to start. Having Copilot there to tease out some of the information that's in there is going to help you more quickly get to an answer.
PowerPoint, we will see how much is there. I spend a lot of time in PowerPoint creating content, those kinds of things. Having that process accelerated, and in particular, if Copilot can learn my style, right?
GEORGE: Help improve my style a little bit, but also be able to replicate it. I could create the base level of content and say, "Hey, can you enhance it in my style?"
SANTI: Yes, and it'll sound like you. [chuckles] When you read it. I think, George, we're at a point now where we probably want to start thinking about as Copilot rolls out, putting together, obviously, more content for our viewers around best practices. I'm ready. I'm ready. I say we dive in. We start bringing up some podcasts about how to really capitalize on Copilot. The message today was really more around the announcements. The wait is over. It is here. It is now a reality. Soon, by November 1st, it'll be in Microsoft 365 across the entire suite. Okay?
Frankly, we need to start thinking about how we can adjust our daily functions around Copilot. With that said, folks, this brings our podcast to an end. Remember to subscribe. Subscribe to Tech UNMUTED on your favorite podcast platform. Until next time, stay connected and stay curious.
CLOSING VOICEOVER: Visit www.fusionconnect.com/techunmuted for show notes and more episodes. Thanks for listening.
Produced by: Fusion Connect
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