We are entering the era of premium chatbots with Microsoft the latest to join the fray with its $20 per month Copilot Pro subscription. It is going head-to-head with ChatGPT and uses the same underlying technology that powers OpenAI’s chatbot.
Google is expected to launch Bard Advanced, a premium version of the chatbot that will be powered by the new Gemini Ultra model later this year. Anthropic also offers its own premium version of Claude 2 and there are multi-model services from Perplexity, Poe and others.
For the moment, ChatGPT Plus and Copliot Pro are the more high-profile offerings. They also both charge the same per month and offer the same underlying functionality. This gave me the perfect platform to see which is worth your $20 subscription.
What is the link between ChatGPT and Copilot?
Microsoft is a major investor in OpenAI. Its money and computing power through the Azure cloud platform has helped train the models designed by the startup including GPT-3.5, GPT-4 and the DALL-E 3 AI image generation model.
In addition to powering ChatGPT and its various add-ons, those models also power all Microsoft AI projects — including Copilot Pro. Under the hood both ChatGPT and Copilot are fine-tuned, custom instruction set wrappers for the GPT APIs from OpenAI.
There are some differences in the way they handle responses, in the guardrails and limits placed on them by either Microsoft or OpenAI and in additional features.
What features do both chatbots have?
Outside of the underlying technology, both Copilot Pro and ChatGPT Plus give you the ability to generate images using DALL-E 3. This is OpenAI’s most advanced AI image generator and can even create legible text on the picture — most of the time.
Both chatbots also have access to custom versions of themselves built by third-parties. Known as GPTs, these tools have links to specialist data, functions and API access not available in the main chatbot and custom instructions to perform certain tasks such as show a recipe.
With the premium plan you can also build your own custom chatbot on top of either Copilot or ChatGPT using your own custom instructions or personal data.
What are the unique features of Copilot Pro?
Confusingly, Microsoft has also used the Copilot brand for its other products such as Windows Copilot, GitHub Copilot and 365 Copilot for office products. However, the company is now trying to unify those systems and Copilot Pro is the first step.
Unlike the free version of Copilot, the pro subscription includes access to all of the 365 Copilot features, which is the most significant difference between it and ChatGPT Plus.
This still requires a separate subscription to 365 but once activated you’ll be able to create text in Word from a simple prompt, generate a PowerPoint from a text prompt and do a deep dive into the data in an Excel spreadsheet and use it to create new datasets.
Copilot Pro is accessible through a Microsoft account and that will tie into your Windows Copilot account if you are a Microsoft Windows user. It also has some plugins not available to ChatGPT such as Suno, the AI music-making app.
What is unique to ChatGPT Plus?
ChatGPT is the origin, or at least the first high-profile large language model chatbot. It has grown from a simple conversational tool into a fully-fledged productivity platform since its launch in November 2022.
While many of its features have been replicated in Copilot Pro, including the ability to generate images and the underlying AI models, it does have a wider selection of plugins and GPTs than the Microsoft chatbot.
ChatGPT Plus is also more flexible than Copilot Pro, with the ability to easily set custom instructions that persist across any new chat. The user interface for ChatGPT is also cleaner, making it easier and faster to get the information you need.
Which is the better choice?
The two tools are pretty similar and its hard to distinguish between them. They are both the same price, have the same core feature set and serve more or less the same purpose.
If you exclude integration with 365 because you use other office products like Google Workspace then ChatGPT wins outright. It has a cleaner interface, a wider selection of plugins, better integration with GPTs and it sits outside of your Microsoft account.
However, if you are a 365 subscriber or are looking for a productivity suite then I think you’d have to give it to Copilot Pro. The Copilot 365 integration is impressive and tailored to each of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook and Teams. It is seamless and a major productivity boost.
Your other option, if you want a simpler life, is to consider Claude Pro. This is completely independent of either Microsoft or OpenAI and has the cleanest interface of all the big chatbots.
It is the same price as ChatGPT Plus and Copilot Pro, offers a significantly larger 200,000 token context window and access to new features — including rumored image and video analysis — as they become available.
More from Tom’s Guide
- Leonardo AI image generator adds new video mode
- Pika 1.0 AI video generator is free to try right now
- I just tried Runway’s new generative AI video features
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