Microsoft launched the Loop public preview back in March, along with hints on how Copilot in Loop would work. But we’ll be frank: the Loop concept is confusing, especially when Teams and OneNote do overlapping jobs. Plus, questions remain on how Microsoft 365 Copilot will work in Loop.
To make sense of it all, here’s our guide to both Microsoft Loop and Copilot in Loop. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll understand how it works — and whether it’s a tool that you should embrace.
- What does Microsoft Loop do?
- Copilot in Loop
- Microsoft Loop’s three key elements
- When will Loop be launched?
- How can I try Microsoft Loop?
- Is Microsoft Loop free?
- How much does Microsoft Loop cost?
- Will Microsoft Loop replace OneNote?
What does Microsoft Loop do?
Microsoft makes this simple claim for Loop on its homepage: “Think, plan and create like never before.”
And it says this in the press release: “A transformative co-creation experience that brings together teams, content and tasks across your tools and devices.”
Let’s try to decode that, to rid it of Microsoft-speak. The central idea is that you and your team have a project. There are spreadsheets with costings, PowerPoint presentations, Word docs containing the project goals. Loop provides a virtual workspace where you, as a team, can co-create docs, edit them and create shared resources such as to-do lists.
We can see the logic, especially as teams move away from a central office way of working.
Copilot in Loop
Now to our next big question: how does Microsoft 365 Copilot tie in? The animated GIF above provides some clues.
Copilot in Loop will appear as a chat prompt, which you can use to ask questions or make requests. The example above creates an outline for a meeting based on your existing docs, which you can then edit and share.
Look carefully and you will see that it isn’t one person making the prompts but two members of the team working together.
As with all Microsoft 365 Copilot integrations, the more data you feed Copilot the more tailored its output will be to you, your team and the projects you’re working on.
Microsoft also promises that Copilot in Loop will summarise the mountain of information that will be piled into the app. Great if you’re running late and need to prepare for a meeting.
Finally, there will be a creative element. That might be to brainstorm ideas, create an updated business plan or interpret the related chatter on Teams.
Microsoft Loop’s three key elements
Here are the three main things you need to understand about Microsoft Loop: Loop components, Loop pages and Loop workspaces.
What are Loop components?
Microsoft rather unhelpfully describes Loop components as “atomic units of productivity”. If you ever find yourself uttering those words, we suggest you take a holiday.
But there is meaning tucked into that phrase. The idea behind components is that they are small pellets of information that can be shared and synced across a project. The simplest way to understand them is via examples.
Say you want to share a task list. Create that as a component, share it with the team (assigning people to tasks as you go), and it will appear on every project page. Perhaps most importantly, each time someone updates it, that latest version will appear.
Here are some other examples of Loop components:
- Voting tables
- Status trackers
- Paragraphs of text
- Even a sales opportunity from Microsoft Dynamics 365
What are Loop pages?
Remember those days of actually being in physical meetings? Where your leader for the day would stand at an easel with a pen, writing on a giant sheet of paper? Well, that’s kind of like Loop pages, but obviously with the advantage/disadvantage of being wholly electronic.
In the animated GIF above, you see a number of people brainstorming marketing ideas. These can then be dragged and dropped, added to, deleted… you get the idea.
That’s simply one example of how Loop pages can be used. You might want to create a summary page for your project, complete with embedded docs and resources that people can jump to.
They can also turn into something akin to Teams chat, where people can have conversations on the page.
What are Loop workspaces?
When we think of a Loop workspace, we think of a huge bin with a project name stuck on its outside. Every time something is created — a Loop page, a spreadsheet, images, Word docs — that’s associated with the project, it gets thrown into the bin/Loop workspace.
Now, that’s not how Microsoft describes it. Namely: “Loop workspaces are shared spaces that allow you and your team to see and group everything important to your project.”
But you get the idea. You can have multiple workspaces for all your different projects, helping you to focus on each one when you need to.
When will Microsoft Loop be launched?
Loop is already in public preview, which means that anyone can give it a try (details below). It already feels polished, but we suspect that Microsoft might decide to hold off on its full launch until Microsoft 365 Copilot hits general availability. That likely means January 2024 for enterprises, and later in 2024 for other businesses and consumers.
How can I try Microsoft Loop?
For personal use, anyone can try out the web-based public preview today. Note that there are these limitations during the public preview:
- 5GB limit to the size of the workspace
- Each user can only create five workspaces
- Up to 50 members of a workspace
And we have more good news for businesses. If you want to give Loop a dry run, you can enable it across your organisation today. Follow this link for the steps.
There are no limitations to the number of people who can access the workspace or workspaces per user, but the 5GB limit still applies.
Is Microsoft Loop free?
Question marks still surround this. We know that Microsoft Loop is free during public preview, but after that, we have to speculate as Microsoft has remained tight-lipped so far. See the next question for more details.
How much does Microsoft Loop cost?
While Loop is currently free, that’s because it’s in public preview. Once it reaches general availability (GA), we expect Microsoft to either integrate it into its Microsoft 365 bundles or add a surcharge per user. Previously, these have been around $7 per month for similar tools.
However, we’re willing to make this speculation: we think Microsoft Loop will be bundled “for free” with Copilot subscriptions to sweeten the deal for businesses in particular. All we currently know about Copilot prices is that it will cost $30 per month for Microsoft’s enterprise customers.
Will Microsoft Loop replace OneNote?
No. It seems that Microsoft expects people to scribble notes into OneNote and then share those notes within Loop. But we can see OneNote eventually being phased out…
More articles on Microsoft 365 Copilot
You should read our in-depth guide to Microsoft 365 Copilot for an overarching view of the technology, but we cover other components here:
Nathalie Parent, Chief People Officer at Shift Technology: “HR is the conscience of an organisation”
For more than 30 years, Nathalie Parent has led global HR teams, working primarily with software companies. Today she’s Chief People Officer at Shift Technology
Amazon introduces new storage class that makes it cheaper to store rarely used files
Robot carers are real, but caregiving has bigger problems, writes Richard Trenholm in this FlashForward edition