New Microsoft Copilot Offerings for Education Meet Students and Teachers 'at the Intersection of AI and Education'

Microsoft announce several expansions for education users of its Copilot tools last week. Microsoft Copilot with commercial data protection, will be available to all faculty and higher education students ages 18 and above, the company said. And Copilot for Microsoft 365 eligibility will now include education faculty and staff.

Microsoft is providing these versions of its Copilot tools to meet students and educators "at the intersection of AI technology and education," the company's education team said in a blog post.
Both tools use OpenAI's generative AI ChatGPT models, responding to user prompts in "natural language." However, the Copilot for Microsoft 365 product is tied to Web data plus organizational data via Microsoft Graph technology, whereas Microsoft Copilot (formerly known as "Bing Chat" and "Bing Chat Enterprise") is just tied to Bing search data from the Web.

Sales of the Copilot for Microsoft 365 product to Microsoft 365 Academic A3 and A5 faculty and staff licensees will begin on Jan. 1, 2024. Copilot for Microsoft 365 will be priced at "$30 per user per month with a 300-seat minimum per tenant." The January sales date is new information. Microsoft had announced the general availability of Copilot for Microsoft 365 for business subscribers last month, but had omitted describing Academic availability back then.

Microsoft also announced that Microsoft Copilot will be available in "early February 2024" for "all faculty users and Higher Education students who are 18 years or older." Microsoft Copilot was launched for "M365 A3 and A5 faculty in August," but the February 2024 availability will expand access for the following Academic licensees, Microsoft explained, in this other Thursday announcement:

  • Microsoft 365 A1 and Office 365 A1/A3/A5 for faculty
  • Microsoft 365 A1/A3/A5 and Office 365 A1/A3/A5 for higher education students 18+

Microsoft Copilot will be arriving in February at "no additional cost" for those licensees. Earlier this month, Microsoft had declared Microsoft Copilot as being at the "general availability" commercial-release stage, but back then described it as just being available to A3 and A5 faculty, so its availability is now getting expanded.

IT pros in academic institutions should do some preparation work for this Microsoft Copilot February rollout, such as validating their school type in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center and updating age group classifications using "PowerShell, the Graph API or manually." The announcement also described how to block the use of Microsoft Copilot, if wanted.

The Microsoft Copilot product and the Copilot for Microsoft 365 product both have so-called "commercial data protection," meaning that Microsoft doesn't see the prompt data that gets used in queries, nor does it store or leverage user session information to train its AI models. However, for Microsoft Copilot, commercial data protection is only in effect when users are signed in with "eligible work or school" Microsoft Entra ID accounts.

Microsoft, though, is going to require the use of Microsoft Entra ID accounts for academic Microsoft Copilot users. "Note: a working Microsoft Entra tenant with Microsoft Entra ID P1, or trial license, is required and currently available to Microsoft 365 A3 and A5 customers," the company said.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.