Microsoft Ignite 2023 has been a remarkable event, revealing a host of groundbreaking announcements that put Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the center of innovation. This year’s spotlight is on Generative AI, marking a crucial milestone in Microsoft’s AI journey. The event demonstrates a transformative shift in our interaction with AI, from enhancing language models on Azure to extending the Copilot lineup.
Here are some key announcements from Microsoft Ignite 2023 that caught our attention:
1. Bing Chat is now Copilot
Copilot is the new name for Bing Chat, Microsoft’s conversational AI service that helps users find information, complete tasks, and get things done. Copilot is available in Bing, Edge, and Windows, and offers a natural and intuitive way to interact with your device and the web.
Microsoft wants to make Copilot available to everyone, so it is rebranding Bing Chat Enterprise as Copilot as well. This means that users who sign in with a Microsoft Entra ID (formerly Azure Active Directory) will have access to Copilot with commercial data protection features. Microsoft will also expand this benefit to more Entra ID users at no extra cost over time. Copilot will be generally available on December 1, 2021.
2. Extending the Copilot experience
Microsoft Copilot, a suite of tools that enhances productivity through AI, was the highlight of Ignite 2023. The company aims to make Copilot an essential part of every role and function, from office workers to developers and IT professionals. Some of the key announcements are:
- Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365: A personalized dashboard that shows how Copilot impacts organizations. New features in Outlook and Microsoft Teams help users prepare and collaborate better in meetings.
- Microsoft Copilot Studio: A low-code tool that allows customization of Copilot for Microsoft 365 by connecting to business-critical data. IT teams can create custom copilots for internal or external use, using organization-specific workflows.
- Microsoft Copilot for Service: A role-based support copilot that helps businesses speed up AI transformation in customer service. It uses generative AI to support customer interactions, giving agents real-time insights.
- Copilot in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guides: A copilot that combines generative AI and mixed reality to assist frontline workers in completing complex tasks efficiently.
- Microsoft Copilot for Azure: An AI companion for IT, offering a tailored chat experience based on user roles and goals. It simplifies day-to-day IT administration, providing insights into workloads and unlocking untapped Azure functionality.
3. Microsoft’s Custom AI Chips for Azure
Microsoft is developing its own AI chip, Azure Maia, and an Arm-based CPU, Azure Cobalt, to power its Azure data centers. These custom silicon chips, expected to launch in 2024, will enhance the performance and efficiency of Azure’s cloud computing and AI services, while reducing its reliance on Nvidia’s GPUs. Microsoft’s move to design its own AI chip reflects its vision for an AI-driven future, where it can offer faster, cheaper, and more scalable solutions than its competitors. By creating its own AI chip, Microsoft also aims to differentiate itself from other cloud providers, such as Amazon and Google, who have already invested in custom silicon for their AI platforms.
4. Immersive Microsoft Teams Experience
With immersive spaces in Microsoft Teams, you can turn your 2D meetings into 3D experiences. Coming in January 2024, this feature lets you access Mesh capabilities from the View menu in a Teams meeting. You can choose from different 3D environments, customize your avatar, assign seats, and use spatial audio and audio zones. You can also have fun with games and social activities in the immersive space.
5. SharePoint Premium
In this era of digital transformation and AI, every organization needs to manage a growing volume of content across different platforms and applications. Microsoft is expanding its content management portfolio beyond SharePoint to meet this challenge. SharePoint Premium is a new offering that will provide structure, security, and governance for your organization’s content, enabling Copilot to leverage it more effectively. SharePoint Premium will include a range of services that will be available between now and the first half of 2024, as announced at Microsoft Ignite 2023.
6. Microsoft Planner
Managing projects can be challenging, especially when you have to use different apps for different tasks. That’s why Microsoft is creating a unified project management solution that will simplify your workflow and boost your productivity. Microsoft Planner, launching in spring 2024, will combine the best features of Microsoft To Do, Microsoft Planner, and Microsoft Project for the web into one seamless experience within Microsoft Teams. Whether you need to create a personal to-do list, assign tasks to your team, or track the progress of a complex project, Microsoft Planner will help you get things done faster and easier.
7. Microsoft Fabric: A Game-Changer for Data and AI
Data and AI are key to transforming businesses, products, and services, but they are often hard to access, analyze, and integrate. Microsoft Fabric is a new AI-powered platform that unifies data estates on an enterprise-grade foundation, enabling users to connect, discover, and share data, and to build, run, and optimize AI models and applications. Microsoft Fabric supports various data and AI scenarios, such as business intelligence, machine learning, data engineering, and analytics.
Microsoft Fabric integrates with Copilot, Microsoft’s smart chat assistant, that helps users interact with data and AI using voice or text. Copilot can answer questions, provide guidance, and offer suggestions, based on the user’s context and intent. Copilot can also collaborate with other users and applications, such as Power BI, Azure Synapse, or Teams. Copilot is powered by Microsoft’s advanced AI technologies and can learn from users’ behavior and feedback. By integrating with Copilot, Microsoft Fabric also offers a new and engaging way to interact with data and AI, using natural and conversational interfaces. Microsoft Fabric is currently in preview and will be available to more customers and partners soon. Microsoft invites data and AI enthusiasts and professionals to join the Microsoft Fabric community and provide feedback.
8. Windows AI Studio
Windows AI Studio is a new platform for developers who want to experiment with AI models on their Windows PCs. It offers a user-friendly interface that helps you set up your workspace and access a variety of tools and models. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, Windows AI Studio can help you create, test, and deploy AI applications with ease.
9. Security Copilot
Security Copilot is a set of AI-powered features that help customers manage their security posture and respond to threats across Microsoft’s security solutions. By leveraging Microsoft’s expertise and innovation in AI, Security Copilot provides customers with insights, recommendations, and automation capabilities that enhance their security operations and reduce complexity. Security Copilot is designed to address the challenges that customers face in the evolving threat landscape, such as increasing attack surface, skills gap, and alert fatigue.
10. Loop for productivity
Microsoft Loop is a versatile app that helps you collaborate and organize your work. You can access it from any device, whether web or mobile (iOS and Android). If you are a commercial customer with a Microsoft 365 E3, E5, Business Standard, or Business Premium license, you can enjoy all the benefits of Loop. Here are some of the new and upcoming features that will boost your productivity:
- Workspace status (in private preview): Get a quick overview of your project progress, deadlines, and status changes.
- Workspace descriptions: Set up your project with a clear purpose and smart suggestions for relevant files.
- Power Automate integration: Automate your workflows and tasks, and get notified in Loop tables when something changes.
- Teams integration (in preview by the end of 2023): Start a workspace from Teams with one click, and have it populated with the documents and notes from your meeting.
Ignite 2023 was not just an event, but a milestone in the history of AI. Microsoft demonstrated how its cutting-edge AI technologies are reshaping various industries and creating new possibilities for human potential. Microsoft’s AI vision is not only to provide powerful tools, but to integrate AI seamlessly into our daily lives, enhancing our experiences, capabilities, and outcomes. As we look forward to the next decade, we can expect Microsoft to continue to lead the way in AI innovation, and to inspire us with its vision of a future where AI is not just a tool, but a partner.