pilot and copilot on a plane that represents the idea of Microsoft 365 Copilot

Microsoft 365 Copilot Plugins: Boosting Productivity

A co-pilot can be defined as an ‘auxiliary pilot’. That shares with the pilot the responsibility for the controls of a vehicle. On the technology side, the Microsoft 365 suite of applications works like a vehicle. Its aim is to drive us towards excellence in service to our customers. In this context, the need for a co-driver has arisen. A co-pilot to guide and assist us in our daily tasks.

Microsoft 365 Copilot has emerged as a revolutionary assistant in the Microsoft 365 suite of applications. What sets it apart from other existing tools is its ability to understand natural language. It becomes an exceptional copilot that accompanies users on their journey to deliver quality work. Just as a co-pilot shares the responsibility of running the controls of a vehicle with the driver, Copilot shares the burden of technology tasks, making technology more accessible and effective through natural language.

In this article, we’ll explore the unique features of Microsoft 365 Copilot Plugins. We’ll see how it has elevated productivity and interaction with Microsoft 365 applications to a new level. Dive into the fascinating world of Microsoft 365 Copilot Plugins and discover its transformative role in the artificial intelligence and productivity landscape.

How does Copilot differ from existing tools?

To paraphrase Microsoft’s CEO, “This tool can make technology more accessible through the most universal interface: natural language”. In a context where tools such as ChatGPT or Github Copilot have gained popularity, there has been a growing need for applications to adapt to our language rather than requiring us to conform to them.

Microsoft 365 Copilot has taken this vision to heart and has become a true copilot for users of the Microsoft 365 Suite. What sets it apart from other existing tools is its ability to understand and process natural language accurately, enabling seamless and friendly interaction with artificial intelligence.

The integration of Microsoft Graph technology into all Microsoft 365 Suite applications has enriched artificial intelligence and advanced language modeling. Microsoft Graph provides access to a vast set of data and services in the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. In addition, it acts as a validator to ensure the accuracy of the answers generated by Copilot.

Thanks to this validation process, users can trust Copilot’s answers and recommendations. This increases the reliability and effectiveness of this innovative tool. Microsoft Graph is an integral part of the Microsoft 365 Copilot ecosystem, ensuring that the assistant is a reliable companion in making decisions and performing everyday tasks within the application suite.

Of course, this tool (still) needs us. Therefore, we must know exactly from which point we can ask our new co-pilot to lend us a hand. This will allow us to take our productivity to a new level.

El ecosistema de Microsoft 365 Copilot_Itequia
The Microsoft 365 Copilot ecosystem

What does Copilot offer to Microsoft 365 suite applications?

Microsoft 365 Copilot provides a rich and efficient experience when interacting with Microsoft 365 Suite applications. One of the most prominent tools is Business Chat. It uses Microsoft Teams chat as a natural means of communication to access relevant information.

For example, using Business Chat, we can request specifics about our daily meetings. Also, get summaries of email chains. And we can inquire about documents that have been sent to us during the month that we have not yet opened. In this way, we avoid wasting time searching for information in long lists of emails.

Plugins para Microsoft 365 Copilot_Business chat y Microsoft Teams_Itequia
Business Chat and Microsoft Teams 

The amazing thing is that Business Chat is not just limited to Microsoft Teams. We can leverage this tool in any other application in the Microsoft 365 Suite, such as Word. By providing simple input such as “Please generate me a summary for the meeting based on John Doe’s emails from yesterday”, we will get a detailed report. We can use this report as an introduction for our meeting.

Como solicitar datos a Copilot desde Word_Itequia_2
How to request data from Copilot from Word

Importantly, Microsoft 365 Copilot offers full integration with all Microsoft 365 tools. This allows for a cohesive and seamless experience between Copilot and our most used applications.
But that’s not all. The real power of Microsoft 365 Copilot lies in the ability to create custom plugins through endpoints.

Creating custom plugins for Microsoft 365 Copilot

Microsoft 365 Copilot offers an exciting opportunity to extend its functionality through the creation of custom plugins. These allow you to add specific features and enrich the user experience in Microsoft 365.

Plugins are managed through two valuable facilities:

  • Azure API Management: This functionality gives access to an API Gateway, allowing you to manage access, cache, monitoring, and authentication policies.
  • Teams Toolkits: A simple extension for Visual Studio Code that makes it easy to manage API instances through a connection to Microsoft Teams.

Next, we will explore two key scenarios for creating plugins:

Teams message extension

Teams Message Extensions (ME) allow interaction with services external to Microsoft Teams. This is achieved through additional messages, commands, or option boxes.

Inserción de Message Extension en Mixrosoft Teams_Itequia
Inserting Message Extensions into Microsoft Teams

The flexibility and ease of customization of these plugins is remarkable. Using a snippet of code, you can develop a simple Web Service. Depending on the input received, this service can provide a static page displayed within Microsoft Teams. It can also display a visual card to welcome a new member as specified in the command.

Plugins para Microsoft 365 Copilot_Implementación de un Teams Message Extension_Itequia
Implementation of a Teams Message Extension

Teams Message Extensions (ME) developed in version 1.13 or higher will automatically be transformed into plugins for Copilot. This is a major advantage for developers. This seamless integration opens a door of possibilities to enrich the tool. It also offers more advanced solutions to users.

Teams Toolkit for visual Studio Code

The Teams Toolkit for Visual Studio Code is an innovative and powerful tool for developing plugins in the Microsoft 365 Copilot environment.

Developers can join the Microsoft-enabled early access program to use the Teams Toolkit to turn OpenAI APIs or plugins into Copilot plugins. They will gain access to resources and tools to efficiently create, test, and enhance their plugins.

Plugins para Microsoft 365 Copilot_Flujo de desarrollo a través de Teams Toolkit_Itequia_2
Development flow through Teams Toolkit

Once developed, the plugin can be published directly to Azure. There it will be stored, deployed, and available for access in Microsoft Teams. This ease of distribution ensures that users can benefit from the additional, customized functionality that the plugin offers. Thus enhancing their experience within Microsoft 365.

Microsoft 365 Copilot is versatile and developer-friendly. By enabling the creation of custom plugins with Teams Message Extensions and the Teams Toolkit. These innovative solutions are tailored to the needs of users in Microsoft 365. Microsoft 365 Copilot provides greater customization in the Microsoft 365 ecosystem.

Plugins para Microsoft 365 Copilot_Pluggins de Microsoft 365 Copilot interactuan con el usuario a través de Adaptative Cards_Itequia
Microsoft 365 Copilot plugins interact with the user through fully customisable Adaptive Cards

Empowering the productivity of the future with Microsoft 365 Copilot plugins

Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing all aspects of our lives. Not just in programming, but in many areas. Microsoft 365 Copilot and other AI-based tools are making unprecedented advances in some areas.

These technologies open up new possibilities and opportunities. They make it possible to perform tasks more efficiently, make more informed decisions, and find innovative solutions to complex problems. Artificial intelligence is radically transforming the way we live and work. Its impact will continue to expand into an AI-driven future.

This exciting future has given rise to Microsoft 365 Copilot. This new tool leverages artificial intelligence and natural language. Improving productivity across the Microsoft 365 suite of applications. Copilot understands natural language and focuses on the user, making it a valuable ally in the daily workday. It offers integrations with various applications and the ability to create custom plugins.

Copilot offers users greater flexibility and customization in their interaction with Microsoft 365 tools. It is a powerful and versatile solution that boosts productivity and enhances the user experience.

Elio San Martín Gallart – Software developer at Itequia