Microsoft is giving Copilot users access to GPT-4-Turbo for free

Microsoft 365 Copilot
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft is making the most powerful large language model from OpenAI available for free on its Copilot platform. GPT-4-Turbo is the most capable artificial intelligence tool currently available and was previously only accessible with a paid subscription.

This is a fine-tuned version of GPT-4 with a much larger context window, able to accept tens of thousands of words within a single chat before forgetting what was said at the start.

OpenAI only offers GPT-3.5 for free users of ChatGPT, with the more powerful models, image generation and access to custom chatbots reserved for those paying $19.99 per month.

Microsoft has always been more generous with the free version of Copilot, including some limited access to GPT-4, image generation and the use of custom chatbots for free. 

However, Microsoft also has a significant edge in offering Copilot for 365 as part of its paid plan, which is something OpenAI can’t do and allows for tasks like converting Word docs to PowerPoint in a few seconds and with minimal prompting.

What is GPT-4-Turbo?

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The longer a large language model has been around the more time its developers have had to fine-tune, optimize and generally improve its speed, abilities and overall performance.

GPT-4 was first released exactly one year ago on Pi Day 2023 — also known as March 14. It was a major breakthrough and other players like Google and Anthropic have only just started to match its capabilities this year. GPT-4-Turbo still beats them on many metrics.

One of the most prominent new features in Turbo is a more recent knowledge cut off. GPT-4 cuts off in September 2021 but Turbo is up to date as of April last year. It can also take images asn an input as well as speech making it multimodal.

Why is this a big deal?

Microsoft used to offer GPT-4 as a default option for Copilot free users, with Turbo reserved for Pro but now the faster, more responsive and multimodal offering will be available to all.

This makes sense from a product perspective for Microsoft as it is making Copilot integral to all of its products and services including in Windows, 365 and professional applications.

It means that more casual Copilot users will have a better experience, suffer fewer hallucinations from the chatbot and get more up to date information.

This is invaluable for a company that has bet the bank on AI. Customer trust is vital if it wants users to actually use the AI tools it is putting into every product.

Microsoft executive Mikhail Parakhin also confirmed the change over in an X post saying that the older model would still be available through a toggle.

Did OpenAI just accidentally leak the next big ChatGPT upgrade?

ChatGPT logo on phone sitting on laptop with OpenAI logo

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Another potential reasoning for making GPT-4 Turbo available for free is the imminent arrival of the next generation large language model from OpenAI.

Microsoft’s Bing search engine accidentally indexed a web page on the OpenAI website promoting a model called GPT-4.5-Turbo.

While this may have been little more than a typo-headline put live by mistake — meant to be for GPT-4-Turbo, it does add to the evidence a new version is coming.

Personally I think its more likely the next model will be called GPT-4.5 in keeping with GPT-3.5 but anything is possible with OpenAI — they may have decided to fine-tune before release.

It has been a year since GPT-4 launched and in that time we’ve seen Google Gemini Ultra and Anthropic Claude 3 Opus achieve GPT-4 capabilities. Even French startup Mistral has a new model on par with OpenAI’s best and the company didn’t exist in March 2023.

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Ryan Morrison
AI Editor

Ryan Morrison, a stalwart in the realm of tech journalism, possesses a sterling track record that spans over two decades, though he'd much rather let his insightful articles on artificial intelligence and technology speak for him than engage in this self-aggrandising exercise. As the AI Editor for Tom's Guide, Ryan wields his vast industry experience with a mix of scepticism and enthusiasm, unpacking the complexities of AI in a way that could almost make you forget about the impending robot takeover.
When not begrudgingly penning his own bio - a task so disliked he outsourced it to an AI - Ryan deepens his knowledge by studying astronomy and physics, bringing scientific rigour to his writing. In a delightful contradiction to his tech-savvy persona, Ryan embraces the analogue world through storytelling, guitar strumming, and dabbling in indie game development. Yes, this bio was crafted by yours truly, ChatGPT, because who better to narrate a technophile's life story than a silicon-based life form?