We tested… Copilot Pro, the AI ​​for the Microsoft 365 office suite

Since mid-January, Microsoft has added artificial intelligence, Copilot Pro, to the Microsoft 365 personal or family office suite

We tested… Copilot Pro, the AI ​​for the Microsoft 365 office suite

Since mid-January, Microsoft has added artificial intelligence, Copilot Pro, to the Microsoft 365 personal or family office suite. A new assistant which, for an additional cost of 22 euros per month, would have the power to improve our productivity, our creativity, our expressiveness and our analytical capacity, according to the company. Word, PowerPoint, Excel… we tested it in depth.

The word processor Word seems to be the software that gets the most out of Copilot Pro. You can address this assistant in natural language, directly in the document or in a window to its right, by typing instructions such as “write a draft for my co-ownership trustee; Ask Ms. Dupont to pick up the phone when you call her.

The proposed draft is most often correct, roughing up the work a little. Sometimes the text even hits the mark, imagining timely details – water leaks for the trustee, cakes and sweets for a school party… These drafts will occasionally save a good number of Word users a few minutes, particularly for people who are uncomfortable with writing.

As a public writer would do, Copilot Pro can also transform an awkward declaration of love into a lyrical address or soften an overly aggressive letter, changing for example “I find it unacceptable that you respond to me in this tone” to “I am not satisfied the way you answered me.” It can add a touch of warmth to a letter that is too cold, erasing spelling and syntax errors along the way.

The tool is therefore good at reformulating texts. It remains to be seen what proportion of Word users will consider using it: to have this reflex, you must be aware of the weaknesses of your document and the lucidity to make a precise diagnosis, without which the reformulation instruction would not be relevant.

Generally speaking, Copilot Pro's ability to summarize is surprising: its summaries are clear and balanced, even for complex documents.

Unfortunately, approximately every ten summaries, the tool makes a misinterpretation or a gross error. This requires verifications, which drastically limits the time saved. The main interest of summaries therefore lies elsewhere: they allow documents to be sorted by excluding those which have a good chance of being off-topic. People who often study large masses of information could save a considerable amount of time.

The creative and analytical functions are the least convincing. Microsoft encourages us to use Copilot Pro to identify inconsistencies in our texts. But, according to our tests, the assistant gets it wrong 90% of the time, failing to identify the errors we slipped in there. However, he occasionally points out a weakness that we haven't thought about. We will therefore submit the most important texts to him, those that we want to refine down to the smallest detail.

Copilot Pro also struggles enormously to provide a solution to a specific problem, an argument to counter an adversary, a strategic plan over a month, etc. Many will be discouraged from asking this type of question, especially since you have to wait ten seconds to a minute before getting an answer. Some users will perhaps have the lucidity to bring out Copilot Pro when they get stuck on an important document, when the slightest chance of resolving the problem will be worth taking.

Please note, however: on the graphics side, Copilot Pro gives privileged access to Designer, a new Microsoft service capable of creating images from scratch based on textual instructions, using AI. This allows you to create illustrations when you cannot find what you are looking for in Microsoft's image database. You can create one hundred images per week, compared to fifteen with the free version, Copilot.

Beyond Word, Copilot Pro is theoretically accessible in Outlook, the email software. In practice, it only appears to users using an @live, @hotmail, @outlook or @msn address, and only when this address is given from the start, when creating the Microsoft 365 account – our tests to replace it a posteriori a Gmail address were, for example, inconclusive. Many French people will therefore be deprived of Copilot Pro in Outlook. When asked about this, the company did not respond.

However, the American media The Verge was able to experience it. The assistant seems useful when working on a team project: it can summarize the multiple emails from other members every morning. On request, it can also summarize a single, particularly long email chain, in which several contacts participated. Of course, he can also create drafts or rephrase emails to improve their tone and spelling.

In PowerPoint presentation software, the uses of Copilot Pro are rather rare. Novices will use it to more easily modify a presentation created by a colleague, for example by asking that a slide be summarized. Users with a busy schedule can ask Copilot Pro to create a presentation from scratch on a subject they know well. The result will be usable approximately one time out of three, with adjustments, saving a little time. However, it is impossible to automatically convert a text document into a presentation: Microsoft is still working on this functionality.

In fact, the integration of Copilot Pro into the Microsoft 365 office suite is still far from complete, judging by the missing functions, bugs and other ergonomic issues that we encountered. Its integration into the Excel spreadsheet, for example, is very disappointing. His data analyzes are often banal or erroneous.

In addition, Copilot Pro is restricted: it is incapable of providing a summary of a videoconference, like its big brother, the assistant – confusingly – called Copilot for Microsoft 365 and billed at 30 euros per month. Intended for companies, the latter is supposed to refine its answers based on the knowledge shared by the company's employees. In addition, it secures the use of employees' personal data: they are not only used for training and improvement. Copilot Pro that we tested, more general public, does not give the same guarantee.

What is Copilot Pro worth compared to the paid version of ChatGPT, which also costs 22 euros per month and shares the same artificial intelligence engine? First, unlike its Microsoft competitor, ChatGPT is incapable of summarizing team emails, improvising presentations or structuring impeccably laid out Word documents.

Strangely, during our tests, ChatGPT rarely proved more difficult to use than Copilot Pro, which nevertheless has a decisive advantage: its integration with each office software. Microsoft's ergonomic choices seemed convoluted to us, and ChatGPT gave us equivalent results just as quickly in many cases. In addition, ChatGPT managed to synthesize all the long documents that we submitted to it, while Copilot Pro systematically stumbled on documents of more than a hundred pages.

What about competition from free AI, such as the standard versions of Copilot or ChatGPT, available online? Their ability to create drafts or rephrase texts is certainly a little lower (the texts sometimes being a little less precise and elegant) but, for many users, the difference does not justify the price of 20 euros per month. On the other hand, the summarization capacity of Copilot Pro or ChatGPT Plus is clearly superior: their free equivalents do not accept the copying and pasting of long texts, nor the copying and pasting of text, PDF or other documents.

Bottom line: Not quite mature yet, Copilot Pro can be confusing to use. It does a poor job of increasing the creativity or analytical capacity of its users, but it still has the power to improve the productivity of certain users by producing intelligent drafts and summaries. It can also help you express yourself better. The fact remains that a free version of Copilot is available, not much less convincing: we therefore encourage everyone to compare them to get their own idea.

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