What is Microsoft 365 Copilot? Key things IT pros should know 


Get up to speed as we delve into what Copilot brings to the table, explore the new horizons it opens in content creation in Microsoft 365, and administration tips.

Microsoft 365 Copilot has officially rolled out, offering a premium productivity assistant powered by generative AI across the Microsoft 365 suite. It’s exciting to see the progress in AI-assisted technology and Microsoft putting a lot of effort into development. But let’s be honest, it feels like we’re all venturing into uncharted territory here.   

Copilot opens new ways to create and access content, allowing users to dive right into the features across many Microsoft 365 apps. This shift in how we work challenges IT professionals in managing an AI-powered workspace. Is your organization prepared to support Copilot?  

Read on for an overview of what Copilot brings to the table, how it opens new possibilities in content creation across various Microsoft 365 apps, and key advice for managing your environment.  

What is Copilot?

Microsoft Copilot is an AI-powered tool available across different Microsoft applications, built as a ‘sidekick’ for users to enhance productivity. It’s created in partnership with OpenAI and Microsoft and has abilities like ChatGPT. Different versions of Copilot are available specifically to cater to each Microsoft application. Here are some examples: 

Copilot in… 

  • Word: summarize a document, create a draft, and polish existing text  
  • Excel: for more efficient data analysis  
  • PowerPoint: craft presentation slides  
  • Outlook: draft emails 
  • Teams: recap meetings, find information 
  • OneDrive: ask questions and get information from files 
  • SharePoint: create SharePoint sites and pages 
  • OneNote: get a helping hand with notetaking 
  • Loop: helps you get started with brainstorming and drafting content 

When more details about Copilot emerged in early 2023, Microsoft started moving quickly with its AI-powered capabilities for Office apps. We were fortunate to sit down and talk with Jeff Teper, the President of Collaborative Apps & Platforms at Microsoft, where he shared his vision of Copilot with us. Here’s what he had to say about it:

Jeff Teper, President at Microsoft, on Copilot.

Think about all the work, creativity, customer engagement, and product ideation that can now happen because we’re doing the automation of some basic stuff, and that your creativity is unleashed with these tools. 

Jeff Teper, President of Collaborative Apps & Platforms at Microsoft (@jeffteper)

How does it work?

Copilot works alongside you across Microsoft 365 apps and is accessible throughout the capabilities. For example, the Copilot icon in Word appears in the toolbar. Just summon it to help you accomplish tasks.  

Copilot Word Gifs Web
Source: Microsoft

At the very basic level, you can ask Copilot to help you write an email, prepare a presentation, plan meetings, prepare a report, manage your data, etc. At a more advanced level, it can help you with data analysis and business intelligence (BI), managing security, and writing codes.  

To use Copilot in Microsoft 365, users must purchase Microsoft 365 Copilot licenses for each user of Copilot at a fixed price of $30 per user per month, regardless of your industry, size, and Enterprise Agreement discount level.  

Admin controls for Copilot

Some tools available to manage Copilot in Microsoft 365 as an admin include: 

  • The Microsoft 365 Admin Center: Copilot landing page where admins can manage licenses, data security and compliance, Security Copilot, and feedback logs. 
  • Copilot usage report: Available for admins to track user activity.  
  • Teams capabilities for Copilot: Admins can configure whether Copilot is available during meetings, such as transcriptions. 

Pros and cons of Copilot

Like with any technology, there are advantages and some inherent risks attached for both IT professionals and end users. 

We’ve put together some pros and cons to help you understand Copilot better: 

PRO: More engagement and creation 

In a Microsoft survey, 77% of people who have used Copilot said they don’t want to give it up.

It makes things more engaging and encourages people to create and share content across Microsoft 365 apps.

With new app integrations, like SharePoint with other Microsoft 365 apps, content can easily reach the right audiences where they work every day. This means content is more user-friendly, discoverable, and accessible across the entire Microsoft 365 environment.
CON: Sprawl

The string attached to this idea of more engagement and creation is the added clutter and sprawl. Of course, this shouldn’t be a cop-out to limit the resulting boost in engagement. It just means having a good governance strategy and a solid foundation is more important than ever. 

The added content could lead to unauthorized, inconsistent, and duplicated content, making the environment messy and hard to navigate. It also raises concerns about IT teams being unaware of what end users are creating and its impact on security, performance, and compliance. 

Another issue resulting from sprawl is that IT teams may have to spend more time and resources cleaning up the tenant, enforcing policies, and dealing with the huge amount of content generated by end users. This can take focus away from more strategic projects. 

PRO: Increased collaboration and productivity 

The major pro of Copilot is accomplishing what it set out to do: increase productivity. Capabilities such as helping schedule meetings, updating spreadsheets, and acting as a personalized writing assistant are just the start. Advanced capabilities, such as helping users create SharePoint sites through simple prompts, will simplify more complex work.  

Copilot streamlines team collaboration, making working together on shared documents easier and more efficient. With Copilot in Planner, planning and meeting collective deadlines becomes simpler. It helps create action items swiftly after meetings, enhancing overall productivity. 

CON: Risk of oversharing and granting access to the wrong users 

With easier access to shared data and more streamlined communication with Copilot, certain strings attached can be major issues if not addressed properly. These are the inherent risks of oversharing data and granting access to the wrong users.  

Without proper governance policies in place and user awareness about secure sharing, this situation can result in security issues. For instance, external or internal collaborators who no longer need access to specific files might get hold of sensitive data without the IT team being aware. Managing external sharing and guest access is key.

The role of Copilot and content creation 

Microsoft Copilot is powered by incredible generative AI capabilities designed specifically to facilitate content creation in Microsoft 365.  

Some aspects of Copilot in the context of content creation to take note of include: 

  • Kickstarting content: You can use Copilot to kickstart content such as a text document, a spreadsheet, an intranet page, a SharePoint site, and an email – making content creation faster and more efficient. You can generate templates or draft versions based on user prompts for a starting point.  
Copilot Outlook Web
Source: Microsoft
  • Information search and integration: Copilot can sift through large amounts of data and information from the internet and internal databases to find relevant content. This will be useful when drafting emails, preparing reports, creating presentations, etc. 

Taking caution 

Again, while significant, these developments will enhance content creation. More content could also mean more issues. Without proper visibility, governance, and guardrails, users may create duplicate or misaligned content, leading to a surge in sprawl. 

Here are some permissions and content recommendations: 

Data privacy and security 

A question naturally on everyone’s mind is, “What kind of access does Copilot have to our internal company data?” And it’s an important question. Microsoft ensures that Copilot, built on Microsoft 365, follows strict security and privacy guidelines and complies with regulations.  

Your organizational data is not used to train Copilot in any way, shape, or form. So, if you’re worried that you’re in a meeting where confidential information is being discussed or there’s a sensitive document Copilot has access to, be assured that Copilot cannot use that outside of your organization to train the foundation model. 

We asked Jeff if the data users enter in the prompts, such as personal or company information, could be used to train the models.  

According to Jeff, the answer is no. 

How Microsoft ensures data privacy for organizations

Copilot complies with EU regulations in the form of the ‘EU Data Boundary’, a restriction set to limit data going outside of the EU. You can read more about Copilot in relation to data privacy and security in Microsoft’s official documentation. 

Prepare for Microsoft 365 Copilot 

During our fireside chat, Jeff (aka the ‘father of SharePoint’) perfectly summed up what organizations should do to prepare for AI in the workplace. His advice is to:  

  • Get your base platform in order: This means getting everyone started with tools like Microsoft Exchange and OneDrive, ensuring security policies are well articulated, migrating data to the cloud (if you haven’t done so already), and anything else to set the foundation right.  
  • Define what you think about the modern way of work: Write down your vision for how you think the modern way of work should look like. This includes defining how many meetings and get-togethers are enough, what’s overhead and what’s not, and so on. 
  • Get ahead of AI: Stay on top of what’s happening with AI. Be informed about what’s coming and what’s here, how to leverage it for your work, and connect with people in your organization who feel the same way.  

Stay up to date 

To keep your finger on the pulse of the future of AI with Copilot, we recommend you: 

  • Watch on demand, Pro tips to prepare for Microsoft 365 Copilot, hosted by Microsoft MVP Antonio Maio. Learn the essential steps for implementing Copilot and how to start.
  • Join our upcoming webinar, Master Microsoft 365 Copilot deployment, and learn exactly how Microsoft MVP and training specialist Andy Huneycutt rolled out Copilot across multiple M365 environments in his organization. Get expert advice on effective deployment strategies.
  • Check the Microsoft Roadmap for Copilot and the timeline for releasing new features. 
  • Use the Message Center in the Microsoft 365 admin center to stay plugged in about the latest Copilot features, changes, and announcements. You can specify up to two email addresses to receive an email for major update posts in the Message Center and a weekly digest of service updates from within the Message Center Preferences. 
Message Center Preferences

AI is here to stay, and we want to ensure your IT team is up to speed on what Copilot offers and how to help your organization prepare—the sooner, the better.
To kick things off, make sure you’ve got a game plan that’s as solid as a rock for a smooth transition. It’s all about thoughtful planning, seamless integration, and top-notch management to squeeze every bit of goodness out of the technology.

There’s a lot to cover on what’s to come; stay tuned in as we unravel the future of work. Take the leap by subscribing to our newsletter. And be sure to check out our MVP-led webinar for pro tips on preparing your organization for Copilot.


How do I enable Copilot? 

To enable Copilot in Microsoft 365, take the following steps: 

Step 1: Review prerequisites to ensure preparation for Microsoft Copilot. 

Step 2: Assign licenses via the Microsoft 365 admin center. 

Step 3: Use a welcome email to introduce Copilot to users.  

Step 4: Monitor adoption and engagement with the usage report found in the Microsoft 365 admin center. 

How do I use Copilot? 

Think of Copilot as your assistant. Just select the Copilot feature and type in your query or instruction. Copilot assists you by generating text, data insights, email drafts, or any other relevant outputs based on your request.  

Is Copilot free? 

Some versions of Copilot are free, such as Bing Chat and Copilot for Windows. Others require a paid subscription, like Copilot Pro and Copilot for Microsoft 365. The most expensive version is Copilot for Microsoft 365, which costs $30 per user monthly.  

What’s the difference between Copilot and Copilot for Microsoft 365? 

The major difference is in each version’s cost and features. The regular Copilot is free and available in versions like Bing Chat and Windows Copilot. It has capabilities such as helping you search for information online and answering questions on any topic like ChatGPT. But you can’t do anything in many Microsoft apps like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.  

With Copilot for Microsoft 365, you have Copilot available in almost all Microsoft 365 apps such as Word, SharePoint, PowerPoint, Excel, etc. Copilot for Microsoft 365 is priced at $30 per user per month.  

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