Whether you believe AI will be the salvation of humankind or the death of it, whether you think it’s little more than a plaything to while away your time or the surest way to get onto the fast track at work, you’re going to use it someday. Maybe today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next week or next month. But one day, you’ll turn to it. And you’ll most likely be surprised at how helpful it can be, even in its earliest days. For many business users, that means using Copilot, Microsoft’s umbrella name for a variety of AI products. There are already highly targeted Copilots for various Microsoft products, notably Copilot for Microsoft 365, which integrates with Microsoft Office apps like Word, Outlook, and OneNote. That Copilot is only available for business customers willing to pay a hefty $30 per user per month, essentially doubling the price of the Microsoft 365 E3 plan, for instance. There’s also a $20-per-month Copilot Pro subscription for individuals that offers integration with Office apps and priority access during peak times. In this article, though, we’re going to give you tips about how to get the most out of the everyday, free version of Copilot, available directly inside Windows, inside the Edge browser, inside Microsoft’s Bing search engine, and on the web for anyone using Windows or macOS, as long as they have a Microsoft account. Before you start using Copilot, you need to understand exactly what it is — and what it isn’t. It’s what’s called generative AI, or genAI for short. It’s called that because it can create, or generate, different kinds of content — notably text, images, and videos. In this article, we’ll primarily cover text-based content. For text generation, Copilot uses a large language model (LLM) to do its work. It’s based on the GPT-4 model, developed by a company called OpenAI in which Microsoft is the largest investor. It’s trained on massive amounts of articles, books, web pages, and other publicly available text. Based on that training, it can respond to questions, summarize articles and documents, write documents from scratch, and much more. Like its more famous cousin, OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Copilot works as a chatbot. You ask it a question or feed it a prompt, and it generates a response. You can ask a series of follow-up queries in an ongoing conversation, or start over with a new query. Using Copilot can initially be somewhat eerie because its responses are often human-like. But don’t be fooled — it has no human intelligence. So when asking it for information, give it very precise detailed information about what you want, and be as concise as possible. Microsoft also recommends that you “avoid using relative terms, like yesterday or tomorrow, and pronouns, like it and they. Instead, use specifics, such as an exact date or a person’s name.” If you use Windows 11, Copilot for Windows (still in preview) is always just a click away — there’s an icon of it just to the right of the search box. (If you don’t see the icon, try updating to the latest version of Windows 11. If you’re using Windows in a business or educational setting, your organization may not yet have enabled Copilot.) As I write this, the Copilot preview in Windows 10 is available only for those who are Windows Insiders and have opted in to get the newest preview updates. Eventually, though, it will make its way to all Windows 10 users. Click the Copilot icon and Copilot appears in a right-hand pane. The pane stays open no matter what you’re doing in Windows — running an app, switching between windows, or just looking at the desktop. It always stays the same size and takes up the entire right side of your screen. So running it this way is your best bet if you run it regularly and use it throughout the day. Learn more by visiting OUR FORUM.