image credit – inspire.microsoft.com
At the opening address for its Inspire conference, which is being held virtually July 18-19, Microsoft talked about new ways to work with partners and how AI can be used to make new things. AI was the talk of the show. Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella said, “We are in the midst of a massive platform shift with the new generation of AI.”
At Inspire, the company revealed prices for Microsoft 365 Copilot, Bing Chat Enterprise, which is a version of the chatbot built into Microsoft 365 with privacy considerations for businesses and other new products.
They seemed eager to reveal additional AI-powered solutions and demonstrate how Microsoft partners can implement these AI advancements across their businesses, from increasing their AI expertise to launching AI-powered products and services that boost customer success. Here are a few of the more noteworthy declarations made at this year’s gathering.
Nadella embraces generative AI
Nadella mentioned two of the most important ways that generative AI can be used: making computer user interfaces easier to use by using natural language and managing information. He said that generative AI is a reasoning engine that works on top of all of your data. He further added, “To be able to have natural language as the interface we have with computers is the pursuit,”
Analyst Jason Wong from Gartner said, “Microsoft’s big bet on generative AI across all of their products will depend a lot on their partner ecosystem.” “Partners will be important to make sure that data and talent are ready for customers, that implementation is done well across multiple vendors’ technology stacks, and that change management is done to make sure that value is achieved.”
The price of Microsoft 365 Copilot
Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president and customer chief marketing officer at Microsoft, said that each user of Microsoft 365 Copilot, which adds a ChatGPT-based conversational AI to 365 apps, will pay $30 per month. He showed off Copilot by making a PowerPoint presentation and then a recap of that presentation, all in Teams. Microsoft hasn’t said when Copilot will be available to everyone.
ChatGPT Plus costs $20 per month and adds priority access, faster speed, and early access to the chat AI.
Wong said, “The price of Microsoft 365 Copilot showed how much value Microsoft thinks generative AI can bring to the digital workplace.” He also said, “The relatively high price will force potential customers to think more carefully about which employee groups will benefit most from Copilot and to find concrete use cases with ROI to justify the extra costs.”
After Microsoft said how much Copilot would cost, the stock went up by 4%.
Bing Chat Enterprise Was Introduced
With Bing Chat Enterprise, a new service that will be released on July 18, organizations will be able to use Bing Chat safely from within their own Microsoft 365 ecosystem. It was made in part to address business worries about privacy, such as generative AI used by the whole company. With Bing Chat corporate, commercial data protection will make sure that corporate user data doesn’t get mixed up with web data, isn’t shared with Microsoft, and isn’t used to train any AI models. It has information from Bing search that is up to date.
You can use ChatGPT by logging in to Bing with your Microsoft 365 work credentials. This makes sure that business data protection is in place for company data. Microsoft 365 E3, E5, Business Standard, and Business Premium all come with Bing Chat Enterprise for free. Microsoft also plans to give it as a stand-alone app for $5 per user per month and as part of Windows Copilot in the future.
Mehdi also showed how to use mixed visual search in Bing chat. Visual search uses GPT-4 to let Bing Chat look at the images user posts and then answer questions about them. Starting July 18, visual search will be free to use.
Copilot Got Announced For Team
Nadella revealed a new Microsoft 365 tool called Sales Copilot, which integrates Salesforce, Dynamics 365, or other CRM data with Copilot’s features. Tips are provided in real-time during a Team meeting, such as offering context when the customer mentions a competition, and Sales Copilot also offers automated information about sales opportunities, connectivity with Microsoft 365 Copilot and PowerPoint. On July 18, Sales Copilot will be made available to the public.
Power Automate Process Mining Introduced With AI Features
To “identify opportunities for how we drive that AI advantage to every customer,” Nadella announced that Power Automate Process Mining would soon include AI capabilities.
Nadella’s ultimate goal is for companies to demonstrate the value they receive from generative AI and to have a simpler time discovering new applications for the technology.
Microsoft’s Power Platform, including Power Automate Process Mining, features AI help from Copilot. According to Microsoft’s corporate vice president of business applications and platform, Charles Lamanna, users can ask Process Mining Copilot, “What are the top insights it has for me?” to find out where their workflow is slowing down and what’s causing it. They will also get suggestions for tools they can use to speed up certain processes or keep closer tabs on specific data points. On August 1, Power Automate Process Mining will be released to the public.
Microsoft Expands AI Cloud Partner Program
A lot of the keynote speech at Microsoft Inspire was about possibilities for partners. Nadella said, “It’s really exciting to see us completely revamp the enticement, the incentives of the AI Cloud Partner Program.”
Judson Althoff, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Microsoft, also said, “This AI advantage is not just a Microsoft advantage. It is an advantage for the entire Microsoft partner ecosystem. He said that sharing AI tools was the next phase after sending customers to the cloud and getting all organizations to change to digital. Althoff also said that companies shouldn’t try to “AI-wash” or use the word “AI” in their company or product names without really showing how they are different and what value they bring to the market.
Giving partners the tools they need to make their own AI helpers
During the presentation, the partners showed how they had made their own AI assistants to help them get ready for meetings and make important business choices. The Copilot approach of Microsoft, according to Wong, “is not just about their own offerings, but also about enabling a new cloud and development platform focused on generative AI with network effects that drive more value with more partner participation.” He said that Microsoft wanted everyone to create their own copilots using their platform.
Meta Llama 2 was announced
On July 18, Microsoft announced that the Llama 2 family of open-source foundation models developed by Meta would be made available on Azure and Windows. Furthermore, Nadella announced that Azure OpenAI is now more widely available in Asia, in addition to North America and Western Europe.
Developers can access a variety of AI models in Azure’s model catalog
The Azure AI model catalog, which is currently in public preview, gives developers the ability to use AI in their apps. This includes GPT-4 and a library of other AI from Hugging Face. Developers can look for models, tweak them, and put them to use in sandboxes that run in Azure.
Jessica Hawk, corporate vice president in data, AI and digital applications at Microsoft, said, “This means organizations can quickly and easily benefit from the power of these foundational models, yet they have their own private instance of the model.” Having private instances allows developers more time to improve model effectiveness and ensure their model follows AI safety best practices with built-in guidelines, she further added.
Nadella added, “Application developers may now alter every software category by utilizing both the cutting-edge models of OpenAI and the models accessible in open source”
New features are added in Azure Migrate and Modernize tools
Microsoft has improved the Azure Migrate and Modernize tool, which is used to move things to the cloud. This tool is for partners who help customers move to Azure by taking them through cloud reviews. They can go to Azure Migrate in the Azure portal to find the customer’s data center inventory, which has assessment tools to help make a migration plan. It can also help businesses make a case for migrating.
Changes include more features for the free Azure Migrate tool, more services for Azure Confidential Computing, and a trial of Azure Boost, a virtualization tool for tasks that a hypervisor would normally handle.