Copilot Pro vs Copilot for Microsoft 365 – Are Either Worth the $$$?


This Week in IT, I’m going to look at the main differences between the two paid versions of Copilot, Copilot Pro and Copilot for Microsoft 365, and whether it’s worth paying extra for the enterprise-grade Copilot solution as Microsoft announces enterprise data grounding is coming to Copilot in the Office apps.

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This Week in IT, I’m going to look at the differences between the two paid versions of Copilot and whether it’s worth paying for the enterprise-grade Copilot solution as Microsoft announces Enterprise Data Grounding is coming to Copilot in the Office apps. So stay tuned to find out which version is best for you.

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Of course, I’m sure that you know already that Copilot is Microsoft’s AI solution for its productivity suite, Microsoft 365.(…) Now there are two paid versions of Copilot and Copilot is available now to all sizes of businesses. It doesn’t have those restrictions that it had when it was originally announced back in November. Now the two paid versions are Copilot Pro, which is $20 per user a month and Copilot for Microsoft 365, which is an extra $10. So that’s $30 per user per month. Now why am I talking about these two different versions of Copilot right now?

Because earlier this month Microsoft announced that it was bringing Enterprise Data Grounding to the Copilot that you see in Office apps. So that’s if you have Copilot for Microsoft 365 and this is one of the biggest differences between the two different paid versions. So I want to talk a little bit about that and the other differences between Copilot Pro and Microsoft 365. So before we go on, what is it grounding exactly? Well you probably know that these AI assistants like Copilot and Google Gemini are based on what are called large language models. Now these models are trained on publicly available data that’s available on the internet.(…)

Now grounding or data grounding as it’s sometimes called is the ability to go beyond that kind of general knowledge that these models have and use additional data to provide you with an answer. So if we’re talking about Microsoft 365 that would be data that you have stored in your tenant so that it can give you answers that are relevant to your data and to your business. Now today in Copilot for Microsoft 365 there is data grounding in what used to be called the Copilot for Microsoft 365 chat application. It’s now just the Copilot application and that’s available in Teams as you add it as an application and you can ask it questions about your environment. So in this example here I can ask it for instance what documents do we have in our Microsoft 365 tenant that are related to Petri’s editorial strategy.

So I can ask that question using natural language and it will go off and find all the relevant documents because it uses the data grounding for our enterprise data. Now as it stands in Microsoft 365 today if you purchase Copilot that data grounding is only available in this Teams app. It doesn’t exist in the Copilot extensions for applications like Word, Excel, OneNote etc.

And this month Microsoft announced that that is going to change so starting in April it’s going to roll out enterprise data grounding to Copilot in the desktop office apps as well and that rollout is going to be happening between April and September. Now today if you want to ground the results that you get back in the office apps you can add up to three reference files to a query to give it that context. You have to kind of give it that context manually. So what’s all of this got to do with Copilot Pro? So the biggest difference in my mind between Copilot Pro and Copilot for Microsoft 365 is that in Copilot Pro there is no enterprise data grounding.

The grounding is just on web data so it doesn’t know anything about your internal business, the data that you’ve got in your business. It doesn’t work in Teams so that’s obviously another big issue. So for instance in Teams you might ask it to summarize a chat or to go back and find information in a chat or a meeting. You can’t do any of that stuff with Copilot Pro. So there are two things there. So there’s the enterprise data grounding that you don’t get in Pro, there’s the integration with Teams that you don’t get and the other big thing that you don’t get is enterprise grade data protection.(…)

So for instance in Copilot for Microsoft 365 you can use your existing data protection policies, things like data loss prevention, sensitivity labels, all that stuff integrates with Copilot. So the question is do you need to pay the extra ten dollars per user a month for Copilot for Microsoft 365? Well of course that depends. If you want to use generative AI that can produce materials that provide relevant information for your organization then you need that enterprise data grounding. And of course if you want to work with your enterprise data using natural language then you’re also going to need the ability that is only provided in the more expensive option.

But you need to have enough data inside your Microsoft 365 tenant to really make that worthwhile. If you’re not storing your documents or email, if you’re not using Teams for chat and collaboration then you would have to ask yourself is there any sense in paying for Copilot for Microsoft 365? Well quite possibly not of course. And then you have to consider do you need that enterprise grade data protection? Well if you’re not already using things like sensitivity labels and data loss prevention then unless you have plans to use that then really it doesn’t bring anything extra to the table.

Another thing you have to consider is that you can get some of the features connected to Teams you get as part of Copilot for Microsoft 365 like the ability to query meetings and ask questions about what happens in a meeting and that kind of stuff as part of Teams Premium which is a completely separate product with a separate licensing(…) cost.(…) So you could potentially match Copilot Pro and Teams Premium together to get a little bit of something that you get in Copilot Microsoft 365.(…)

But again that really bumps up the cost and Teams Premium is really about branding and control about all the extra stuff that you get with webinars and the ability to control those things in a much more granular way than it is so much about the ability to question meetings and get those recaps and all of that kind of stuff. So it’s a real mix hot pot of different things. So let’s just talk about the pricing. So let’s go back to Copilot Pro. $20 per user a month. Well at this stage I think it really depends on is it worth it or not.

I mean it’s quite fairly priced if you compare it to chat GPT plus which is exactly the same price but of course with Copilot Pro you get integration at least with the web apps. Now is it worth paying an extra $10 for Copilot for Microsoft 365. We’re considering the power of the things that it’s offering you. If you’re already willing to pay the $20 a month then is it worth that extra $10 a month I think probably yes. But only for people in your organization that really understand the power of it and how to get the most out of it. I don’t think it’s something that you should consider necessarily rolling out to everybody at this stage.

And part of the reason I say that is because you still really need to understand how to prompt or engineer a prompt if you like to really get what you want out of Copilot.(…) And you know that is getting better and better but it still requires some understanding of what it can do and how you need to prompt it to get the answers that you need. Now another little thing about Copilot Pro is that while it’s integrated into the free office apps for the web you will need a Microsoft family or personal subscription if you want that integration with the desktop apps. And if you have a business level Microsoft 365 subscription then Microsoft is really only offering you Copilot for Microsoft 365. You don’t get to choose oh well I’d like to have Copilot Pro and have it work with all of those things. You could but you’d I think you’d need to use it on a different subscription essentially because I don’t believe it integrates at all with those Microsoft 365 business subscriptions.

So really in that situation you don’t necessarily have a choice anyway. Let me know what you think about Copilot Pro and Copilot for Microsoft 365. Do you think they’ve got the pricing right for these two products? I’d love to know what you think in the comments below. I’m going to leave you with a video on the screen now that talks about Microsoft’s latest Surface devices and how they’re designed for AI and some Copilot updates that Microsoft announced last week.

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