In its first press release about Microsoft 365 Copilot, Microsoft summarised its Word-related skills in these 14 words: “Copilot in Word writes, edits, summarises and creates right alongside people as they work.”

But that undersells it. To understand why Microsoft Copilot for Word is more than a Microsoft-badged version of ChatGPT, you first need to get to grips with exactly what Microsoft 365 Copilot does.

This is a tool tailored to your business, based on your data. Not a generic word creator.

What can Copilot in Word do?

All that said, Microsoft 365 Copilot can almost certainly do all those things you’re thinking of. For example, you can ask the Copilot in Word to generate text within the document based on a handful of prompts.

You can tell Copilot to rewrite text and change the tone. It can improve your writing style by suggesting how to strengthen your arguments and smooth out inconsistencies.

Where things get cleverer is that Copilot also allows you to add content from existing sources and documents seamlessly. Providing you’ve done all the necessary work to integrate Microsoft 365 Copilot.

The example in the video above is a superb introduction to how this will work. Faced with a blank document, you tell it to create draft a proposal based on OneNote notes and a pre-existing product roadmap.

Copilot in Word then creates a draft document, complete with key headings. But it doesn’t look like your usual proposals, so you drop in an example and tell Copilot to base the design on this. You can even direct it to a folder with relevant images, and it will insert these.

You now have a sharp-looking doc, but Copilot might suggest you add a summary at the top and an FAQ at the bottom. And now you have something close to a final draft — albeit one that still needs you to go through to sense check and tweak.

In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about Copilot Word. Including when you can get it…

Copilot Word release date

First, the bad news. Unless you work for one of the 600 companies worldwide selected for the Early Access program to Microsoft 365 Copilot then it could be months before you get access to Copilot Word.

Even these companies aren’t testing anything close to the finished item. Initially, Copilot Word will only exist via a web app rather than the familiar desktop software.

This is why we think Copilot Word is months away. There’s a lot of testing that needs to happen, and we expect Microsoft to spend months digesting and working on those learnings.

The good news? Microsoft has a huge head start over its rivals when it comes to AI, including both Apple and Google, and we expect it to push hard to deliver quickly.

Who can get Copilot for Word?

Initially, Windows 365 Copilot will be available to Microsoft’s enterprise customers: those on E3 and E5 plans. We expect “small business” subscribers to Office 365 will follow.

This isn’t merely about Microsoft chasing the money. Copilot’s power stems from your business data. The reports your employees write, the Excel sheets with your sales data, the emails you send, the Teams meetings you take part in. This is the primordial soup of unstructured data that Copilot transforms into meaningful outputs based on your commands.

No doubt there will be a simpler version of Copilot for Word that works for individuals — again based on your data, stored on OneDrive and Outlook — but we would not like to speculate when that will become available.

How will Copilot for Word work?

As with all Microsoft 365 Copilot integrations, it will work in Word via text prompts. You will use a chat window to tell it what to do, whether that’s to write a report from scratch or edit a paragraph.

You will then be able to hone the results with more commands. That might be to simply ask it to create a table of contents, switch the spelling to a different language, add a few more images. As with ChatGPT today, the choices are almost endless.

With additional reporting by Jason Wynn, Microsoft MVP.

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Tim Danton

Tim has worked in IT publishing since the days when all PCs were beige, and is editor-in-chief of the UK's PC Pro magazine. He has been writing about hardware for TechFinitive since 2023.