This week on the Practical 365 podcast, Paul and I are joined by Karin Skapski from Microsoft, who will be speaking at TEC 2024 and is a fellow Practical 365 writer. We discuss how automating tasks to solve problems for your team is a great way to start learning about the Power Platform capabilities; plus we discuss her experiences at Microsoft with Copilot. And talking Copilot – Paul and I discuss the latest controversy around Windows Recall, and on a more positive note chat about SharePoint, Teams, and Copilot studio’s recently announced new features.

Copilot is Coming to PCs, and Windows Recall is Recalled…

With some lofty announcements, Microsoft announced Copilot+ PCs, which is according to Microsoft, a new category. The most interesting part of the announcement was Windows Recall, which is a feature that uses a reportedly insecure database to store screenshots of your daily activities (with some exceptions).

On the podcast, we ask some key questions about Recall, such as whether using vision transformers to “read” what’s on a screenshot, so you can ask questions about it, is the most efficient way. After all, Windows is writing the text to the screen so why does it need to do this? Isn’t there a better way, or was this using technology for its own sake? Unsurprisingly, there are reports that Microsoft are delaying its launch until a later date. Perhaps they’ll give it a re-think.

The other, more interesting part of the announcement is that Copilot+ PCs are on the way. These are devices featuring Neural Processing Units (NPUs) and use smaller (but pretty powerful) Large Language Models (for example Phi-3).

At the moment it appears that features like Recall, AI imaging editing apps like Restyle and Cocreator – and presumably if Microsoft improves Copilot for Microsoft 365 features using local acceleration, will all be locked to certain devices, regardless of actual capability. This makes little sense, as the “40+ TOPs” claim (Trillion operations per second, typically measured in INT8 performance) for NPU-equipped PCs certainly doesn’t make these “the fastest, most intelligent Windows PCs ever built”.

In comparison, a sub $1000 USD laptop equipped with an NVIDIA RTX 3060 boasts approximately 100 TOPs of INT8 performance. Nonetheless, as there’s much in the way of open-source and third-party apps for running performance, private LLMs such as NVIDIA Chat with RTX, you won’t be losing out on much if you don’t get a Recall-equipped Copilot+ PC.

Read more about adjusting settings for Windows Recall, its privacy controls, and the Microsoft announcements for Windows 11.

Teams Copilot and Custom Copilots in SharePoint Are On The Way

In the world of Copilot for Microsoft 365, some of the most frustrating parts of Copilot are getting addressed, and we get agents in Copilot Studio.

A common question I’ve heard is that it is quite difficult to get Copilot for Microsoft 365 to “focus” on the information you need. That’s a fair point, and often that data you need is inside a SharePoint site collection. In a somewhat similar fashion to creating a new Power Automate flow from within a document library, you’ll be able to similar and create a custom Copilot that is grounded on the data within a particular SharePoint site. In the example below, you’ll see that it is customizable in Copilot Studio and lets users work against a particular data set.

Copilot in SharePoint, Recall is Recalled, plus Karin Skapski Talks Automation: The Practical 365 Podcast S4 E21
Figure 1: SharePoint is to gain capabilities to create site-scoped Copilot add-ons later this year. (Image Credit: Microsoft)

I see this is being particularly useful in allowing users to focus Copilot on a known set of useful, accurate information without the risk of older or archive data polluting the answers.

Agents will be making a play too. Team Copilot makes Copilot a “Team member” and gives it capabilities beyond allowing you to ask questions of a transcript or recapping a meeting. It will, apparently, act as a meeting facilitator, chase folks up on actions not completed and even act as a project manager.

You’ll be able to create your own agents as well, in Copilot Studio, which is set to receive the multi-agent capabilities seen in Microsoft’s open-source Autogen project. In these scenarios, multiple agents work together to accomplish a task. From using Autogen, this can work well – but often can have hilariously bad results as the multiple chat bots congratulate each other on a job well done after accomplishing.. not a lot!

On the show, we discuss whether the Team Copilot features in particular should worry workers. If we think about the kind of people who are perfect candidates for a Copilot licence – they are folk like Project Managers. “First we gave them an AI assistant. Then the AI assistant replaced them.”. Food for though?

Read more about new agent capabilities coming to Teams, SharePoint and Copilot Studio agents

Karin Shapski Discusses Automation, Copilot, and More

Finally, we’re joined by Karin Shapski, Senior Cloud Solution Architect (Copilot) at Microsoft, and author at Practical 365, who will be speaking at TEC 2024.

Copilot in SharePoint, Recall is Recalled, plus Karin Skapski Talks Automation: The Practical 365 Podcast S4 E21
Figure 2: Karin & Steve discuss serious tech topics

In the interview, we discussed:

  • The role of Copilot in automating tasks and improving productivity in various roles.
  • The importance of understanding data processing and residency, especially in the context of GDPR and advanced data residency.
  • The value of attending the Tech conference for gaining knowledge and insights from industry experts.
  • The need to build communities around Copilot and meet users where they are to drive adoption and maximize benefits.
  • The significance of reading through documentation and understanding the inner workings of AI tools like Copilot to ensure compliance and data safety.

Karin’s session at TEC 2024 is Keeping Current in the Cloud: Automate and Stay Ahead (Featuring Copilot).

Join us for the next show in two weeks time, with me & Rich Dean, where once again we’ll be joined by a special guest. On the next show, Julian Stephan from Quest will be joining us to discuss his upcoming TEC session.

Until then, don’t forget to subscribe to the Practical 365 podcast on Spotify or iTunes.

About the Author

Steve Goodman

Technology Writer and Chief Editor for AV Content at Practical 365, focused on Microsoft 365. A 12-time Microsoft MVP, author of several technology books and regular Microsoft conference speaker. Steve works at Advania in the UK as Field Chief Technology Officer, advising business and IT on the best way to get the most from Microsoft Cloud technology.

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