It seemed like it would take a while, but here it is - a significant surprise from Microsoft, and all in the first month of 2024. We're talking about the announcement of the availability of Microsoft 365 Copilot for small and medium-sized businesses. While the Microsoft 365 AI assistant is generally available, with Power BI, it's only available in preview. It's only a matter of time before it can be used "productively." Additionally, there have been changes in Microsoft Teams. Without further ado, let's dive into the selected changes and innovations that appeared in January as part of Microsoft's cloud services.

What's New in Microsoft Teams

According to Microsoft's calculations, a total of 33 new features and improvements have been implemented in Microsoft Teams over the past month. These include changes in the application itself, certified device areas, add-ons created by other manufacturers, or administrative aspects. Of course, it's worth noting that some require a Teams Premium license, but there's one change in that aspect. "Intelligent summaries," as they're called, were previously only available as part of the mentioned plan. Nevertheless, by purchasing a Microsoft 365 Copilot license, you receive them "in the package." Among the functional novelties, it's worth mentioning the ability to forward chat messages or decorate the background, which AI does for us (requires a Teams Premium license).

Additionally, the number of simultaneously displayed videos in Edge and Chrome browsers has been increased. Previously, during a meeting joined through these solutions, we could see a maximum of 4 people (2x2) if they had their cameras on. Now, this number has been increased to 9 (3x3). Furthermore, video settings management during meetings has been improved, including aspects related to volume adjustment, muting, camera, microphone, background, and others. The full list of innovations is available on the manufacturer's official blog.

Source: What’s New in Microsoft Teams | January 2024 - Microsoft Community Hub

Microsoft 365 Copilot for SMBs

When Microsoft announced Copilot's availability for Enterprise segment companies within Microsoft 365 plans in November 2023, there was euphoria all around. However, it didn't last long. A deeper analysis of Microsoft's requirements and documentation didn't give reasons for joy. The situation in November 2023, in a nutshell, was as follows:

  • Microsoft 365 Copilot available only under the Enterprise Agreement (EA);
  • minimum purchase - 300 licenses (!);
  • required base licenses in the form of Microsoft 365 E3 or E5.

Fortunately, this didn't last long because in mid-January 2024, Microsoft announced the availability of Microsoft 365 Copilot for small and medium-sized businesses through the CSP channel, simultaneously changing the "rules of the game." First of all, the minimum purchase limit of 300 licenses was abolished. Moreover, a significantly wider range of plans can now serve as the base license for Microsoft 365 Copilot. In addition to the mentioned Microsoft 365 E3 and E5, the following have been added: Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Business Premium, Office 365 E3 and E5, as well as educational plans, namely Office 365 and Microsoft 365 A3 and A5 for faculty. Importantly, Microsoft 365 Copilot is currently available only as part of a one-time payment annual commitment. Additionally, there's no trial version available, so the desire to conduct tests necessitates the purchase of a license. The suggested price is $30/user/month, and since only one commitment variant is available, this translates to an investment of around $360 per user annually. However, it's not all sunshine and roses - currently, Copilot does not support the Polish language. However, this aspect is included in the tool's development plans for the coming months. It's also worth mentioning that with the announcement of Microsoft 365 Copilot's availability (Copilot for Microsoft 365), a product line-up was presented, where we have three Copilot plans, two of which are intended for individual users (personal: Personal or Family plan).

Source: Expanding Copilot for Microsoft 365 to businesses of all sizes | Microsoft 365 Blog

In summary, the state of affairs in February 2024 regarding Microsoft 365 Copilot is as follows:

  • no minimum purchase requirement (you can purchase a single license);
  • available through the CSP channel; available only as part of a one-time payment annual commitment;
  • no trial version available;
  • suggested price = $360/user/year;
  • required base license: Microsoft 365 E3, Microsoft 365 E5, Microsoft 365 Business Standard, M365 Business Premium, Office 365 E3, Office 365 E5, Office 365 A3 for faculty, Office 365 A5 for faculty, Microsoft 365 A3 for faculty, Microsoft 365 A5 for faculty.

Detailed information about Microsoft 365 Copilot, its implementation in the company, and security guidelines are available in the manufacturer's documentation.

Copilot in Power BI in preview version

Staying in the AI ​​topic, practically at the same time as Microsoft 365 Copilot, the availability of Copilot in Power BI was announced (preview version). How can it help us? It can certainly speed up and simplify report creation using Power BI Service, i.e., the browser-based solution.

Source: Copilot in Power BI (preview) is available worldwide | Microsoft Power BI Blog | Microsoft Power BI

Additionally, the AI assistant can prepare a summary of a page or even an entire report based on a prompt defined by us. This functionality works both in Power BI Desktop and the browser version.

Source: Copilot in Power BI (preview) is available worldwide | Microsoft Power BI Blog | Microsoft Power BI

It's worth noting that if our Power BI data is stored outside the USA or France, the ability to use Copilot must be enabled by our administrator. There's another catch. The ability to use Microsoft's AI assistant in Power BI requires a Power BI plan or Microsoft Fabric licensed for capacity, not per user. Therefore, Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium per user licenses are not applicable. This move can be compared to the one described above, which took place in the context of Microsoft 365 Copilot, which was initially made available under the Enterprise Agreement. However, let's hope that history will repeat itself here as well, and Copilot in Power BI will also be available for companies with per-user licenses in the future.

AI Automatically Enabled in Dynamics 365 Customer Service

In the case of Dynamics 365 solutions, Copilot has been available much earlier and applied to Enterprise version plans, such as Dynamics 365 Sales Enterprise or Dynamics 365 Customer Service Enterprise. Regarding the latter, Microsoft announced that from January 19, 2024, it will start the process of automatically installing Copilot in Customer Service environments, which will last until February 2, 2024. This concerns AI functionalities such as summary of tickets (cases) and conversation summaries. After installation, these functionalities are supposed to be enabled by default. However, as usual with Microsoft, the devil is in the details. This mentioned process is supposed to apply to specific geographical regions. It will definitely cover organizations (tenancies) located in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. For others, to participate in the process, consent for "cross-geo data transmission" must be given. More details on this topic are available in the post placed on the official Dynamics 365 blog.

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