Making sense of Microsoft's 'confusing' Copilot functionality carnival

Designer updates, and AI assistants everywhere

Like an incontinent hippo on a helter-skelter, Microsoft has flung out yet more Copilot functionality in the form of enhancements to Designer, an AI-infused image generator.

Keeping track of Microsoft's Copilot emissions is becoming tricky. Writing in Directions on Microsoft, Wes Miller noted the growing confusion around the technology. He said: "Microsoft has done themselves no favor by blurring the lines regarding which Copilot is which."

As well as tweaking Designer, Microsoft is set to apply the technology to Notepad while asking customers to pay almost double an E3 subscription to access the Microsoft 365 implementation. And that is just scratching the surface of how the company is cramming Copilot into its product line-up.

"Each product team – in seemingly classic Microsoft form – has interpreted 'integrate Copilot into your stack' in a completely different way," observed Miller.

All of which means that customers, excited by the vague promises and wall-to-wall coverage of how "AI is the defining technology of our time," (according to Microsoft), are increasingly left bewildered about what exactly it will do in return for all the money vendors such as Microsoft are asking for it.

Microsoft's recent Copilot-related releases include lifting a compatibility hold on Windows machines with more than one monitor, pushing Copilot for Notepad to Windows Insiders, and the updates to Designer.

In the case of the fix, Microsoft said it had dealt with the issue on the "service-side" where icons tended to move unexpectedly between desktops or suffered alignment issues when using the Copilot preview.

The Designer updates will allow users to customize generated images "with inline editing right inside Copilot, keeping you in the flow of your chat." Different effects or highlights can be applied, but if you want to resize and regenerate images between square and landscape, then Microsoft would like $20 a month for a Copilot Pro subscription.

A Designer GPT inside Copilot is also on the way, described by Microsoft as "an immersive, dedicated canvas inside of Copilot where you can visualize your ideas."

With the unprecedented amount of AI marketing directed at customers and Microsoft's scattergun approach to ensuring that Copilot is hard to miss when looking at the company's products, users would be forgiven for feeling a little FOMO (fear of missing out) even if they are not entirely sure what they are getting for the subscription hike.

2024 is set to be a busy year for AI technologies, but it is also seen by some as a make-or-break year as investors and customers alike look for signs that the services will deliver the productivity improvements promised.

However, Miller at Directions on Microsoft reminded customers: "It's a marathon, not a sprint."

"Understand what you're buying before you buy the Copilots for anything but a pilot project."

And for goodness sake, Microsoft. Calm down a bit. ®

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