Small business owners can now access the artificial intelligence-powered Microsoft Copilot virtual assistant through their Microsoft 365 Business Premium or Business Standard subscriptions.
Microsoft Copilot is a generative text platform giving users the ability to receive detailed answers to queries or create content based on specific inputs. The tool was first launched in November 2023, available only to larger enterprises and educational institutions, and initially required users to purchase a minimum number of licenses.
But in a blog post published this Monday, Microsoft announced that it was expanding access to its virtual assistant tool to smaller organizations or individuals and removing the minimum purchase requirement starting January 16. Copilot is thus now available “across all sales channels,” although buyers are still required to purchase individual licenses ($30 per month) for each user. As Copilot is an add-on to the Business Premium and Business Standard programs, users must also continue to pay for their base subscription. The maximum number of licenses available on either tier is 299.
With this move, Microsoft has become the latest big tech firm to implement an artificial intelligence tool directed at small business owners. Mastercard and eBay both recently announced platforms for entrepreneurs, the former offering virtual business “mentorship” and the latter enabling text generation for sellers. Until the last few months, most major AI developers have focused on general business applications without targeting their products toward specific enterprise sizes. For example, point-of-sale platform Square and e-commerce giant Amazon both launched software tools in 2023 that serviced a range of professional use cases without specifying an exact market.
Small business owners are often an underserved community partly due to the difficulty in offering costly, difficult-to-scale products, such as data-intensive artificial intelligence platforms, to customers with limited budgets and highly individualized needs. OpenAI’s ChatGPT platform, however, proved that generative text toolkits could be offered relatively cheaply and on a massive scale to users from all backgrounds. As time goes on and developers continue to realize the flexibility of the technology, entrepreneurs are likely to see even more AI-powered products, such as Microsoft Copilot, launch with tiers or use cases that service their needs rather than exclusively servicing the needs of larger organizations.