Microsoft has a lot of news at this year’s Build conference around its AI “copilots” for Windows 11 and other products, but it wants third-party developers in on the action too. The company announced that it has expanded its AI plugin ecosystem and provided a framework for building AI apps and copilots. At the same time, it’s adopting the same open plugin standard that OpenAI uses for ChatGPT to ensure it’ll work alongside its Windows 11, 365 and other copilots.
Microsoft introduced the idea of copilots nearly two years ago. Those are applications that use AI and LLMs (large language models) to help users with complex cognitive tasks like writing sales pitches, generating images and more. For example, ChatGPT on Bing is actually a copilot, and Microsoft has also launched copilots for Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Security, among others.
Now, it’s adding features that let developers build their own using new “plugins” that allow copilots to interact with other software and services. “You may look at Bing Chat and think this is some super magical complicated thing, but Microsoft is giving developers everything they need to get started to go build a copilot of their own,” said Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott. “I think over the coming years, this will become an expectation for how all software works.”
In addition, Microsoft said it’s adopting the same open plugin standard used by Open AI so that all of Microsoft’s copilots can potentially work with ChatGPT. “That means developers can now use one platform to build plugins that work across both business and consumer surfaces, including ChatGPT, Bing, Dynamics 365 Copilot, Microsoft 365 Copilot and Windows Copilot,” it wrote.
As part of that platform, Bing is adding plugin support for third-party companies including Instacart, Kayak, Klarna, Redfin and Zillow. That’s on top of those previously announced by Open AI including OpenTable and Wolfram. Developers can also extend Microsoft 365 Copilot using ChatGPT and Bing plugins, as well as Teams message extensions and Power Platform connectors. Developers will also be able to build their own plugins with the Microsoft Teams Toolkit for Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio.
Finally, Microsoft announced that Azure AI Content Safety is now in preview. It’s designed to ensure copilots avoid creating outputs that are “biased, sexist, racist, hateful, violent” or encourage self-harm, said Microsoft product manager Sarah Bird. The models detect inappropriate content across images and text, then flag them and assign severity scores so that human moderators can see anything that requires urgent action. “It’s part of the safety system that’s powering the new Bing… [and] we’re now launching it as a product that third-party customers can use,” said Bird.