Can You Actually Benefit From Microsoft 365 Copilot in Word?

Integrating artificial intelligence technology into the productivity tools we use daily has been a rapidly-developing new frontier over the past few months, with many products launching new AI features. One of the most notable developments is the launch of Microsoft 365 Copilot, an AI assistant which integrates with its popular suite of office programs, including Microsoft Word.

While the ability to have AI help generate tedious reports and proposals seems promising at first, it’s worth considering the full impacts of this functionality–and whether you can actually use it.

How Does Copilot Integrate Within Word?

As announced by Microsoft in March 2023, Copilot connects AI language models with the information inside your documents, using both as datasets to generate new concepts and contexts for the information you work with.

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While it isn’t yet available for consumer use at the time of writing, Microsoft expanded its early-access program for Copilot to more businesses in May 2023, reaffirming its commitment to the new technology.

A Copilot dialog box in Microsoft Word
Image Credit: Microsoft/Microsoft 365 Copilot

While Microsoft has illustrated many uses for Copilot in its other Microsoft 365 products, it’s said little about its integration into Word, only offering examples of being able to generate first drafts quickly and easily format proposals, though insisting that you are in control of the tool and always have the final say.

Perhaps the reason why Microsoft seems so reserved and hesitant about Copilot in Word, compared to its other software, is the thorny challenges that will arise when using AI in word processing.

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What Are the Risks of Using Copilot in Word?

AI technology has faced considerable pushback from writers and artists over fears it will usurp their unique expertise and lock them out of work opportunities. Word is the most ubiquitous program of its type, and integrating AI through Copilot will make such technology much more accessible, amplifying those concerns.

Schools and colleges have already begun including AI-generated work under their rules against plagiarism, meaning students who use technologies like Copilot could face harsh punishments. Some workplaces have also restricted the use of generative AI technologies in their environments for similar reasons ‒ why should you take credit for work you didn’t create?

Like all AI options currently available, Copilot is just a tool, and there are reasons why it’s not a replacement for human work. But even if you heavily edit Copilot’s output, parts of the original AI generation may still be detected.

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Consider Your Circumstances Before Adding AI

Microsoft 365’s new Copilot feature opens up boundless opportunities to accelerate productivity, especially if your position is frequently writing-intensive. But it’s important to consider whether using this AI technology violates any guidelines set by any recipients of your work, especially in an educational or creative environment.

Even if the functionality is acceptable in your particular circumstance, you may be restricted from using it to its fullest extent in Word. However, you may still be able to use Copilot in contexts where the source of your writing is less important or elsewhere within the Microsoft 365 suite.

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