Microsoft and their Generative AI and Copilot push. That is what 2023 is about. And this time at Ignite it is no different. In fact Copilot is mentioned in the Ignite book of news a staggering 281 times. I wanted to count the times Satya said it during the keynote. But I guess I better wait for Copilot to transcribe it, so I can ask it the question directly. In this blogpost I will write down my overreactions and ramblings about Copilot, the Power Platform but mostly about Microsoft Copilot Studio. While writing this, I recognize I am not good in overreactions, so my nuance will follow after my initial reaction 😅
Again with all the renaming of products?! Cognitive Search is now AI Search and Bing Chat is now Microsoft Copilot. This Copilot thing is already confusing! Every product has it’s Copilot and even Copilots to help you build Power Apps in which you can also utilize Copilots. I get that naming things is hard, especially with the fast development cycle Microsoft is in, but it is hard to keep up. I do think in the grand scheme of things, Bing Copilot fits better with the rest of the products. Now let’s jump into the biggest announcement. The loss of Power Virtual Agents and the birth of Microsoft Copilot Studio.
Microsoft Copilot Studio
So what is it? Let’s take the excerpt from the new product website: “Copilot Studio is an end-to-end conversational AI platform that empowers you to create and customize copilots using natural language or a graphical interface. With Copilot Studio, you can easily design, test, and publish copilots that suit your specific needs for internal or external scenarios across your industry, department, or role”. But isn’t this just the same chatbot as Power Virtual Agents? Yes and no! PVA is indeed rebranded to Copilot Studio, but PVA was already more then a chatbot, they are more conversational applications. And now Copilot Studio is more focused on generative features it’s again more then a conversation application!
My first reaction is that this is a winning move. To create your own specialized Copilots with Power Virtual Agents is incredibly easy. In fact I just started a new blog series where I want to show just that, by building a Human Resource Copilot. To me, the extensibility is the killer feature. Creating automation in your topics either by building it yourself or by building plugins will make your Copilots actionable. Extending the Copilot with your own entities, having good analytic features and even bringing in your own models through Azure OpenAI on your data (which also has a central place launched with Azure AI Studio). All possible already with this initial release of Microsoft Copilot Studio.
Empty nest feeling
My second reaction was one of mourning. For the first time in the history of the Power Platform we are actually loosing a product on the Platform. If you asked me a couple of months ago which product we might loose first, I would have guessed Power BI to the Fabric family. But they have proven that you can have 2 Platforms where you belong. Maybe that is something that is also still in the cards for Copilot Studio.
The product and technology will still be deeply rooted in the Power Platform eco system. Utilizing Dataverse, solutions and the Power Platform Connectors. I guess we should feel like a proud parent that one of our kids is becoming famous. Hopefully, she will remember her upbringing 😉.
So, what does the future bring for Copilots and Copilot studio? Let’s talk about the Microsoft 365 Copilot extensibility. Soon you will be able to add your
PVA Chatbot Copilot Studio Copilot (is that how we call them?) to the Microsoft 365 Copilot. At first this will be single turn, meaning you only ask one question and get one response from the Copilot Studio Copilot to your Microsoft 365 Copilot chat. And yes that sentence annoys me to write, probably as much as it annoys you to read 😅. Usage of Microsoft Copilot Studio is included in licensing of the Microsoft 365 Copilot.
Microsoft Copilot Studio might also be the low-code place to start and extend other Copilots in the Dynamic Copilot ecosystem. I think this will be a great roadmap to bring powerful custom functionality to the Dynamics Copilots. Especially once multiturn conversations are enabled. It is definitely part of extending your Canvas App or Model-driven App Copilots, so that is great! Apart from that it still is a great experience to build classic Chatbots and Agents for your own websites and other channels.