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Microsoft introduces a premium tier for individuals and offers the Copilot AI assistant to small businesses

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Microsoft announced on Tuesday that its Copilot virtual assistant is now available for small businesses to subscribe to through the company’s productivity apps. Additionally, customers can register for a new paid version of Copilot if they purchase Microsoft 365 software.

The updates will assist Microsoft in introducing generative artificial intelligence to a larger number of its clientele. Last year, OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot gained popularity; it can create natural-sounding text in response to a brief written command. By granting more access, the business may be able to begin paying for the construction of the AI-enabling data center infrastructure.

Notwithstanding competition from the likes of Amazon and Google, investors have been placing their money on Microsoft to profit from the demand for generative AI in operating systems, cloud computing, productivity, web search, and security. Microsoft took back the title of most valuable publicly traded company from Apple last week.

The CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, has been emphasizing lately how AI is central to the company’s identity. “Our goal is quite simple to understand. We are the Copilot company,” in November, during Microsoft’s Ignite conference in Seattle, Nadella declared.

Using the extensive language models of OpenAI, Microsoft began to make Copilot for Microsoft 365 available in November to large corporations and to academic staff and faculty in December. For them, in addition to the monthly subscription fees already charged, the add-on costs $30 for each person.

Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s head of Windows and Surface, announced in a blog post that small businesses can now sign up for up to 299 licenses at $30 per person per month if they pay for Microsoft 365 Business Premium and Business Standard.

Furthermore, he wrote, Microsoft is eliminating the 300-seat requirement for commercial plans that has been in effect since November. This will allow users of Copilot who have Office 365 E3 or E5, which are less expensive than full Microsoft 365 subscriptions, to use Copilot.

Copilot is available for free to anyone who wants to use it through a number of channels, such as copilot.microsoft.com and the Bing search engine. However, it hasn’t been possible for users of Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscriptions to use it in Word, Excel, Outlook, and other programs. That is evolving. People can sign up for the new Copilot Pro add-on starting on Tuesday for $20 a month per person.

“Priority access to the very latest models — starting today with OpenAI’s GPT-4 Turbo,” according to Mehdi, is granted to Copilot Pro users.

They will be able to switch between models, use the state-of-the-art model during peak usage, and create personalized chatbots with a new tool called Copilot GPT Builder.

“Copilot Pro brings greater performance, productivity, and creativity—whether you need advanced help with writing, coding, designing, researching, or learning,” Mehdi wrote.

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