What's the Difference Between Copilot and Copilot for Microsoft 365?

Microsoft is stepping up their AI game and with it comes an exciting new feature to integrate into your Microsoft 365 application: Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365. However, if you haven't heard of it before, it can cause some confusion upon your initial research. We're here to clear a few things up on the difference between Microsoft Copilot and (wait for it, deep breath) Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365. 

You're wondering, we were wondering it, everyone is wondering it: is there a difference between just saying Microsoft Copilot and Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365?  Despite your now lack of breath with the latter, yes, there is. 

The Key Difference between Copilot and Microsoft Copilot for M365 

Microsoft Copilot is Free (Unless You're Using Enterprise)

Once upon a time there was this new artificial intelligence (AI) application that the world raved about: ChatGPT. Once it caught fire among other tech giants, we began to see more and more large language models (LLMs) popping up across different search engines, itching to give you the automation you wanted. OpenAI created ChatGPT and Microsoft created Bing Chat which utilized some ChatGPT features. Both had similar functions and uses, it just depended on which browser you decided to use. 

Over time (and with rising data security concerns), people wanted more automation and both delivered. Out of this demand, in March of 2023, Microsoft launched their rebranded AI tool from Bing Chat into Copilot. This was the first step towards creating a Microsoft integration for their 365 Suite. Here are a couple specifics on how Copilot is different from Copilot for M365.

  • Copilot is a rebranded Bing Chat, so if you search on any browser for Bing Chat and click on the link, it will take you Copilot. Remember, Bing Chat is basically Microsoft's ChatGPT, and the basic Copilot LLM is no different. (Check out Microsoft's page to see how you can use it appropriately). 
  • Copilot is free. As long as you have a Microsoft account, you can access basic Copilot (BingChat). 
  • Bing Chat Enterprise is one step above the free version. If you already have an Enterprise Account (Microsoft 365 E3, E5), you have access to Copilot. Accessing it through an Enterprise account offers a few more features that the basic, free Copilot LLM. Think of it as the ChatGPT Plus subscription of Microsoft. 
  • You can access information from the internet only (unless you're using Enterprise). ChatGPT's chatbot knowledge was updated through April 2023 as of November last year while Microsoft Copilot's knowledge is not disclosed as it is mainly for secure, business related queries (but not limited to). 
  • WARNING: As always, consider the security measures you have in place before using ANY artificial intelligence. Since Copilot functions as a LLM, be careful what information you give it to work with. 


Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365 is a Licensed Integration Into Your M365 Applications

Microsoft developed their licensed Copilot integration in November of 2023 with subsequent roll outs to educational staff and a Pro account in January of this year.  This is where the really interesting features begin to rise to the surface, offering businesses far more features and automation that will skyrocket productivity and time management. 

Now, there are features all over this licensed integration. Some are more difficult to learn and some are not (here are 3 that you can use from day 1), but for the most part Copilot for Microsoft 365 is the most intelligent way to automate and create without having to produce much work. It all depends on how strong your Microsoft Graph is. 

Here are a couple specifics on how Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365 is different from basic Copilot:

  • Copilot for Microsoft 365 is a licensed product. Pricing for the product is $30 per user, per month for a total of $360 per year. At this time, the only option available is an up front $360 with no monthly payment option. This may change, but we do not have an estimated time on when.
  • Once licensed, Copilot for Microsoft 365 can be integrated into all the Microsoft 365 application you currently use. It will automate tasks from Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Teams, Outlook, etc. 
  • Copilot for M365 is more than just a large language model (LLM), it builds on the Microsoft Graph you have built. As long as documents, spreadsheets, emails, and chats have been synced with your company's graph, Copilot can access it when you ask it to produce something for you. "Create a PowerPoint for me that summarizes our company goals" would access documents linked to that query from your graph to create the deliverable for you. 
  • You have the option to have Copilot retrieve information from either the "Web" or from "Work." Anything queried while toggled to "Web" will indicate to Copilot that it needs to search the internet for information, NOT your internal Microsoft Graph. Once toggled to "Work," Copilot will only access from your Graph. 
  • WARNING: Be careful of who you've given access to your licensed Copilot. Especially your Microsoft Graph. Make sure you have clear guidelines in place noting who has access to what and when. Copilot for Microsoft 365 is secure, but make sure you're only allowing trusted individuals to access it. 


Still need help? Let us know. 

There is a lot we can still learn about Copilot and Copilot integrations. But Centre Technologies is experienced with helping businesses figure out if either one of those solutions fits your goals. 

If you need help understanding or want to license Copilot for 365, let us know. Even if you just want to know about how to use it, contact us today and get all your questions answered. We're here for you 24x7. 

Originally published on February 13, 2024

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About the Author

Emily Kirk Emily Kirk

Creative content writer and producer for Centre Technologies. I joined Centre after 5 years in Education where I fostered my great love for making learning easier for everyone. While my background may not be in IT, I am driven to engage with others and build lasting relationships on multiple fronts. My greatest passions are helping and showing others that with commitment and a little spark, you can understand foundational concepts and grasp complex ideas no matter their application (because I get to do it every day!). I am a lifelong learner with a genuine zeal to educate, inspire, and motivate all I engage with. I value transparency and community so lean in with me—it’s a good day to start learning something new! Learn more about Emily Kirk »

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