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Microsoft reveals Copilot extensions as the final name for expanding Copilot features

copilot for microsoft 365 in windows

Ever since Microsoft announced its generative AI services, first under Bing Chat and later under Copilot, it has also offered ways for third-party developers and companies to extend those services with their own features. Previously, those features were labeled as plugins.

Today, as part of its Build 2024 developer conference announcements, Microsoft revealed that all previous labels for expanding Copilot, including plugins, will now be covered under one name: Copilot extensions.

Microsoft stated:

Copilot extensions will enhance Microsoft Copilot by enabling new actions and customized knowledge for grounding within Copilot. With Copilot extensions, users will get a Copilot experience that is tailored with the data, systems and workflows they use every day — all in the flow of their work.

Microsoft indicated that developers who have already made Copilot plugins will now be able to add them to Copilot extensions with the use of the Teams Toolkit for Visual Studio Code, which is now available in a preview version. The company added that those same developers would also be able to access some new features, including "handoffs to other AI assistants." Developers can also make Copilot Extensions with Microsoft Copilot Studio.

There are already a number of Copilot extensions from companies like Jira, Priority Matrix, and Mural that can be accessed now. They are available in preview versions for Copilot for Microsoft 365 subscribers. Business IT admins can already control and manage these extensions from the Microsoft 365 Admin Center.

In related news, Microsoft will soon let companies with SharePoint access a way for their employees to make their own Copilots, using the data from company files and documents that are available via SharePoint. Microsoft added:

These copilots help individuals find the files they need and can even answer questions based on the contents of the SharePoint site. Easy to create in just a few clicks, with additional enhancements available using Microsoft Copilot Studio, these copilots can be easily shared within an organization.

Microsoft has launched an Early Access Program for this new feature, and it will launch a public preview of this Copilot development function later in 2024.

Finally, developers who use the Microsoft-owned GitHub service will soon be able to access GitHub Copilot extensions. The first ones, which are available now as a private preview, will allow GitHub users to get more from their GitHub Copilot assistant via these third-party extensions from companies like Docker, Sentry and more.

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