Microsoft's AI tool Copilot is already part and parcel of Windows 11, but at least it's free and you have the option to completely ignore it. Copilot Pro, on the other hand, is a subscription service that was originally only available for business users. But now, the software giant is letting anyone get in on the extra AI action, for a mere $20 per month. Oddly, Microsoft's main target audience for this appears to be 365 subscribers, because naturally they'll all want to pay out even more money.
Before I jump into the details of the scheme (discovered via The Verge), can I just raise one thing to start with: Has Microsoft completely lost the plot? $20 per month? That's double the current fee one pays for a Family 365 subscription. You could buy a copy of Valheim for that much, twelve of them every year. Surely it can't be serious. Sadly it is and it's not called Shirley, either.
So what exactly are you getting for this ridiculous sum of money? First of all, it unlocks Copilot within all of the Office apps you may have, and with it, you'll be able to do things such as create a presentation slide entirely from a text prompt, help with email replies, or analyse data within a spreadsheet and produce a report for you.
Now I'm not going to pretend that this doesn't sound useful, because for many people, I'm sure it is. I'm not the target audience for Copilot Pro, though, simply because I'm perfectly capable of doing all of those example tasks entirely by myself and fairly quickly, too.
I'm also not especially interested in generative AI. It's a bit of fun to play around with but it's really not my thing at all. But if you are such a person, then fortunately there is more on offer from Copilot Pro.
For example, it gives you access to all of Microsoft's latest AI models, used to create images and text responses in chat systems. In the case of the latter, a Pro subscription will eventually give you access to something called Copilot GPT builder. Yes, that's right, you can make your own AI-powered chatbot.
I'm sure there's lots more one can do with a Copilot Pro account and if one is very much an AI power user, then $20 per month may be a veritable bargain.
Thinking of upgrading?
However, that's not the issue here, for me at least. It's the fact that Microsoft is actively promoting it alongside 365, especially the simple Personal version, which is just $7 per month.
How many people who have such an account are going to want to add another $20 to that figure for something they will barely make full use of?
Unfortunately, 2024 is the year of the AI PC, and Microsoft is clearly wanting to get it into every single product it has, along with every subscription it offers.
Copilot and Copilot Pro are just the start of things to come, but I can't help but feel that Microsoft has got the pricing and marketing pitch drastically wrong with the Pro version. I suspect that one which was just for Office apps and just $5 per month would be far better received.
Time will tell, I guess.