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What is the difference between Copilot and ChatGPT?

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Driek Desmet

If you're diving into the world of AI tools, you've probably heard about Microsoft Copilot and OpenAI's ChatGPT. Both are stellar examples of what AI can do, but they're crafted for totally different tasks. Let’s break down what sets these two apart so you can figure out which might be a fit for your toolkit.

In our previous blog article, we explained the various features of Microsoft Copilots. As Microsoft's smart work partner, Copilot helps users simplify their work across the Microsoft ecosystem using generative AI. 

Among other things, it uses Generative Pre-trained Transformer, better known as GPT, leading many to quickly confuse it with the most well-known AI tool, ChatGPT. Although both are AI technologies, Copilot and ChatGPT are very different tools, each with its own unique purposes in the evolving business world. 

DALL·E visualization of ChatGPT and Copilot playing chessBackground and functionality

Copilot was developed by Microsoft that licenses and supports a wide range of technology products services. This AI-based digital assistant was officially announced in February 2023. Throughout 2023, Microsoft's existing AI applications were brought under the Copilot branding and new AI applications were also developed.

ChatGPT was developed by OpenAI, a company specializing in artificial intelligence and research, and launched in November 2022. It works as a chatbot that carries on a conversation with the user. When giving a prompt, machine learning algorithms are used to understand the context and generate correct answers. 

ChatGPT is available as an API that can be integrated into various applications. For example, Copilot is one of many AI tools that integrates the OpenAI API. But Copilot does not just rely on ChatGPT; it combines the power of large language models (LLMs) with your data in the Microsoft Graph (including your calendar, emails, chats, documents, meetings and more) and it Microsoft apps to turn your words into the most powerful productivity tool in the world. 


ChatGPT works like a chatbot in that it is designed to have a conversation with you. After you give it a question or prompt, ChatGPT uses machine learning algorithms to understand the context of the conversation and thereby generate correct answers. To produce an answer, ChatGPT predicts the next word in a given sequence based on patterns learned from human language. The more details you provide in your prompts, the more accurate the answers ChatGPT can provide. 

The various Copilots act as booster for productivity by helping to simplify your work such as creating, editing, and improving documents, emails, presentations and so much more in the various tools of the Microsoft ecosystem. By automating tedious tasks, you save time and effort. Again, a good prompt will lead to a more quality result.

Data sources and privacy

Apart from the difference in developers of Copilot and ChatGPT, namely Microsoft and OpenAI respectively, the main difference is in the data sources employed:
  • ChatGPT uses data from the public Internet. Thus, it primarily channels information that is already public.
  • Copilot mainly uses the tenant's data. So the information comes from the user himself or the organization he belongs to, and is not public. Business data here is protected under Commercial Data Protection, a policy that Microsoft imposes on itself to protect user and business data.

This is an important difference, especially considering European privacy & security legislation, namely the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

In a nutshell...

ChatGPT acts as a versatile conversational partner to communicate in natural language to answer questions, generate ideas, and have conversations on a wide range of topics. It relies on context and draws on public information on the Internet.

In contrast, Microsoft Copilot acts as an AI assistant to increase productivity and efficiency through automation and contextual understanding. It primarily uses personal information that remains protected. As far as we are concerned, Copilot is not only the more comprehensive and better, but also the safer option in a professional work environment.

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