Microsoft Copilot gets a new feature that creates a summary of a Word document using AI. Pixabay

Microsoft's AI assistant Copilot can now summarise Word documents that are shared through OneDrive. However, you will need to shell out extra to access the feature.

In a blog post, Microsoft noted that the feature will be available to "customers with a Copilot for Microsoft 365 license or Copilot Pro license".

The Redmond-based software giant launched Copilot Pro with a $20 (£15.78) per month subscription earlier this month. According to Executive Vice President, Consumer Chief Marketing Officer at Microsoft, Yusuf Mehdi, Copilot Pro is a new premium subscription for individuals.

Aside from providing a higher tier of service for AI capabilities, Mehdi noted that the Pro subscription brings Copilot AI capabilities to Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscribers. It also allows users to create Copilot GPTs. Notably, Microsoft recently rolled out the GPTs feature to the free version of its AI assistant.

Microsoft Copilot gets a useful new feature

Copilot's document summarisation feature, identified with Feature ID 379972, allows users to include an AI-generated document summary when they share Word documents through OneDrive.

With Copilot's summaries, time-pressed professionals can now quickly grasp the gist of lengthy documents, eliminating the need for tedious scrolling.

The summaries will be included in the share notification email that recipients receive, according to a report by MSPowerUser. Here's how you can create a summary:

  • Open an existing document.
  • To open the Copilot pane, select Copilot from the ribbon.
  • Enter "summarize this document" in the Copilot compose box.
  • You can view citations of where Copilot pulled information from inside the document by selecting References in Copilot's summary.

Microsoft also recommends for users to review the summary Copilot generated and check whether it is ready to share or needs a little more work. The company acknowledges that usually, the first response isn't perfect.

"Artificial intelligence (AI) works best with a little back-and-forth conversation," Microsoft clarified. To get better results, you can provide more context and details about what you're after.

What can Copilot in Microsoft 365 do?

There are multiple use cases for AI in Microsoft 365 productivity software. For instance, you can include meeting summaries in Teams, generate images in PowerPoint and generate text in Word.

Microsoft has hinted at the arrival of more advanced features such as detailed analysis and automation in Excel and the ability to convert Word documents into PowerPoint presentations. However, most of these features are currently in development and it is unclear when will they roll out to all users.

Also, it will be interesting to see whether features like document summaries for shared files, which are available with a subscription, will be available as a part of the standard Microsoft 365 plan in the future. In the meantime, Microsoft has enabled Copilot Pro for both iOS and Android users.