Microsoft Commits to Plugins for AI Applications


Microsoft is continuing to push the boundaries in AI-powered apps with its latest announcement on plugins. At its annual Build conference, the tech giant unveiled a new framework, supported by closely associated OpenAI, that allows developers to create plugins that work across a variety of apps and services. These plugins will allow users to access real-time information, incorporate company data, and even take action on their behalf. Microsoft 365 Copilot Early Access Program customers (plus ChatGPT Plus subscribers) will see these new plugins made available from a range of partners, including Adobe, ServiceNow, and Moveworks.

Plugins are a way of creating a bridge between an AI system and third-party data sources, allowing companies to keep their information private but still remain accessible to the AI tool. Microsoft’s plugin framework can be used to build and debug plugins through Visual Studio, Codespaces, and Visual Studio Code. These plugins can be used to source data from apps like Jira and Confluence, or even to query a search engine like Bing and send the results back.

Privacy concerns have become a major issue with generative AI, leading to some companies like Apple and Samsung to ban employees from using ChatGPT and similar AI tools. Plugins provide a way to keep confidential data protected while still allowing the AI tools to use them.

The new plugin framework lets customers leverage existing Message Extensions or Power Platform connectors to create plugins for uses with Microsoft 365 Copilot. These plugins allow for automated tasks based on internal business policies and will be made available through the Developer Portal for Teams.

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Microsoft’s CTO, Kevin Scott, believes this new plugin frotework will become the expectation for how all software works in the future. By encorporating a combination of both microsoft and third-party plugins, Microsoft looks set to continue their dominance in the AI applications market.

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