Microsoft Copilot vs Copilot Pro: Is the subscription fee worth it?

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Microsoft Copilot vs Copilot Pro

Maria Diaz/ZDNet

Microsoft’s Copilot tool is already freely available as a dedicated webpage, mobile app and built-in Windows tool, providing quick and easy access to an AI chatbot that will answer your questions, create content and generate images. But now, Microsoft has updated its game with a Pro version of Copilot that brings more features and better access for $20 per month.

Also: Microsoft adds Copilot Pro support to iPhone and Android apps

The Pro version offers three current features and a fourth on the way:

  • Faster performance and priority access to GPT-4 and GPT-4 Turbo at peak times.
  • Copilot availability in certain Microsoft 365 apps (requires Microsoft 365 Personal or Family subscription)
  • Fast AI image creation with 100 boosts (100 images) per day using Designer (formerly Bing Image Creator)
  • and coming soon, Microsoft promises, with a new Copilot Builder tool you will have the ability to create your own custom and tailored Copilot GPT. Currently, this is something you can only do with one Copilot Studio Subscription, which runs $30 per month.

Besides using Copilot Pro on the Copilot website through any browser, you can launch it directly on Windows 10 or 11. Just click the Copilot icon on the taskbar. Pro flavors are also accessible on the iPhone and Android Copilot apps. Also, those of you with a Microsoft 365 Personal or Family subscription can use Copilot Pro with the Microsoft 365 app on Windows, MacOS, and iPadOS.

Also: How to use Image Creator from Microsoft Designer (formerly Bing Image Creator)

First, let’s see how to access both the free and paid flavors of Copilot.

Access the free version on the website

Browse Copilot webpage. Choose a conversational style and then type your question or request at the “Ask me something” prompt. On the right, you can see specific Copilot GPTs, including a designer for image creation, a vacation planner, a cooking assistant, and a fitness instructor, though these GPTs are still being rolled out and not fully available.

Plus, there’s access to Copilot plugins, like Instacart, Kayak, and OpenTable. You should also see a link to turn on personalization. By enabling this option, Copilot provides personalized replies based on your chat history over the past 90 days.

Access the free version on the website

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNet

Access the free version on Windows

More easily, click the Copilot icon on the Windows 10 or 11 toolbar. A similar interface appears where you choose a conversation style and then dive into your questions.

Access the free version on Windows

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Access the free version on the mobile app

To use Copilot on your mobile device, download the app for iOS or Android. Choose your preferred conversation style and then submit your request.

Access the free version on the mobile app

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Access to the paid version on the website

To sign up for a paid version of Copilot, visit Microsoft Copilot Pro webpage. Click the button to get Copilot Pro. On the subscription page, confirm your payment method and then click the Subscribe button.

Also: This iPhone app fuses AI with web search, saving you time and energy

After the payment process is completed, click on the “Start” button. You will be taken to the Copilot webpage where you will see Pro as part of the Copilot logo. Copilot GPT, plugins and personalization options are all accessible in the Pro model.

Access to the paid version on the website

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Access the paid version on Windows

After subscribing to the website, log back in to Windows 10 or 11. Click on the Copilot taskbar icon and the Pro version will pop up.

Access the paid version on Windows

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Access paid version in mobile app

Open the iOS or Android Copilot app and you’ll see that Pro is now part of the logo, indicating that you’re tapping into your Pro subscription.

Access paid version in mobile app

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Now that you know how to access both versions, here are the differences between the Pro and Free versions

You should use Copilot Free if…


Maria Diaz/ZDNet

1. You don’t use Microsoft 365

For most people, the main advantage of Copilot Pro is the support for Microsoft 365. This means you can use AI to create and edit text and perform other advanced tasks in the suite’s Word, Excel and other apps. If you don’t have a Microsoft 365 Personal or Family subscription, the other benefits by themselves probably aren’t enough to justify the $20-per-month price tag.

2. You can get by with non-peak usage of GPT-3.5 and GPT-4

GPT-4 offers some clear advantages over GPT-3.5, including faster and more accurate responses, longer prompts, better understanding of context and nuance, greater creativity, ability to solve complex problems, and fewer biased responses and hallucinations.

Also: ChatGPT vs ChatGPT Plus: Is it worth the subscription fee?

You can access both GPT models with the free version, although you can’t use GPT-4 during peak loads. In that case, Copilot will downgrade to GPT-3.5. For many people, though, sporadic GPT-4 access should be sufficient.

3. Your image generation needs are modest

Using the built-in designer tool with DALL-E 3, Copilot is able to create images based on your text description. The free flavor limits the number of photos you create, giving you 15 boosts (15 photos) per day. If you don’t need more, Copilot’s free flavor will do just fine.

4. You are already subscribed to ChatGPT Plus

ChatGPT Plus duplicates some of the features of Copilot Pro and offers additional features such as the GPT Store and the ability to create your own custom chatbot. If you’re already paying $20 per month to subscribe to ChatGPT Plus, there’s little reason to subscribe to Copilot Pro. Save yourself some money and stick with the free Copilot flavor.

You should use Copilot Pro if…


Maria Diaz/ZDNet

1. You run Microsoft 365 and want generative AI support for apps

With its AI capabilities, Copilot Pro lets you write and edit text and summarize documents in Word, create formulas and analyze data in Excel, create presentations in PowerPoint, compose text in OneNote, draft answers and Help organize your inbox in Outlook If you subscribe to a Microsoft 365 personal or family subscription and want those AI smarts to help you write, create, and work faster, Copilot Pro is easily worth it.

2. You rely heavily on GPT-4 and GPT-4 Turbo

With the Pro version of Copilot, you won’t be stuck with GPT 3.5, even at peak times. Instead, you can switch between GPT-4 and the latest GPT-4 Turbo model.

If you use GPT-4 heavily and frequently throughout the day and need fast and reliable access all the time, Copilot Pro gets the nod over the free version.

3. You need to create many images

Whereas Free Copilot limits the number of images you can create to 15 per day, the Pro version allows as many as 100. Also, image creation tends to be much faster. If you want to create batches of artwork, logos, and other images as part of your work, you won’t run into as many bottlenecks with the Pro version.

Also: Best AI Image Generator

4. You will not subscribe to other premium AI services

Depending on your work and workload, a paid AI service can help you be more productive. If you don’t already subscribe to ChatGPT Plus or a similar service, Copilot Pro may be just what you need. And remember, you can always try it for a month and then decide if you want to continue or cancel.

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