Ride the Lightning

Cybersecurity and Future of Law Practice Blog
by Sharon D. Nelson Esq., President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc.

Microsoft 365’s Copilot is Coming and it’s Not Cheap!

July 20, 2023

As Ars Technica reported on July 18th, Microsoft 365”s Copilot is coming. While we don’t know when yet, the price tag is $30 per user per month. That may deter a good many lawyers from using it.

Months ago, Microsoft previewed Microsoft 365 Copilot, a new service to integrate generative AI into Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams and other productivity apps. Copilot will automate the creation of emails and documents, summarize meeting notes and help analyze Excel data – and much more.

The “airwaves” were immediately on overdrive protesting the pricing of Copilot, which will cost $30 per user per month (on top of what you’re paying for Microsoft 365).  This will double or triple a law firm’s monthly cost. It can be added to Microsoft 365 Business Standard or Premium ($12.50 and $22 per user per month, respectively) or to Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 accounts for enterprises ($36 or $57 per user per month). It can’t be added to the cheaper Microsoft 365 Business Basic plan or to any home plans.

I understand that the price is partly determined by the high server costs involved with running generative AI models. Copilot also draws context from the other emails, documents, and other files in your business’s Microsoft 365 cloud, so each business that Microsoft supports will have a slightly different data set that it will need to be able to draw from. As they say, “it’s complicated.”

Testing of Copilot is ongoing. According to Microsoft, 699 enterprise customers are in its Copilot paid early access program. I was a bit surprised that Microsoft has not yet said when Copilot will be publicly available.

Microsoft also announced Bing Chat Enterprise, a new version of the ChatGPT-powered Bing Chat service that the company has been integrating into all its products. It is now available in Preview with more than 160 million people having access. Bing Chat Enterprise’s most notable feature is privacy, both from other businesses and Microsoft and OpenAI’s training models.

“Bing Chat Enterprise gives your organization AI-powered chat for work with commercial data protection,” write Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi and Jared Spataro in a blog post. “With Bing Chat Enterprise, user and business data are protected and will not leak outside the organization. What goes in—and comes out—remains protected. Chat data is not saved, and Microsoft has no eyes-on access—which means no one can view your data. And your data is not used to train the models.”

Unlike Copilot, Bing Chat Enterprise will be available to current Microsoft 365 Business subscribers with no additional cost, and Microsoft plans to offer a standalone version, timing unknown, for $5 per user per month.

The privacy emphasis will be welcomed. The concern about data privacy has led to many companies forbidding or restricting the use of Bing Chat, Chat GPT, Google Bard and similar products on work devices.

Bing Chat Enterprise is now available in preview and is accessible from within Microsoft Edge or bing.com/chat. When Windows Copilot (not to be confused with Microsoft 365 Copilot) is released to the public in a Windows update later in 2023, Bing Chat Enterprise will also be available from within Windows 11.

If this all sounds wildly confusing to you, you are not alone!

Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., President, Sensei Enterprises, Inc.
3975 University Drive, Suite 225, Fairfax, VA 22030
Email:  Phone: 703-359-0700
Digital Forensics/Cybersecurity/Information Technology