4.5 min to readDigital Workplace

Ready, set, buy! A beginners guide on how to buy Copilot for Microsoft 365

Levi Wolff
Levi WolffMarketplace Enablement Manager
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Microsoft’s much anticipated Copilot for Microsoft 365 (also referred to as Microsoft 365 Copilot) is now available with no minimum quantity on the number of licenses required. Until now, only large enterprises with 300 or more licenses on an Enterprise Agreement had access. However, the power of workplace AI is now available to everyone, even for single users.

But before you pull out your credit card, here’s what you need to understand about Microsoft 365 Copilot licensing.

What is Copilot for Microsoft 365?

This blog is going to assume you know what this game-changing technology is all about, but in case you need a refresh, Copilot for Microsoft 365 is Microsoft’s generative AI technology that is now integrated into the Office 365 suite of products that most people use on a daily basis, like Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel and Teams.

The combination of Copilot for Microsoft 365, the power of large language models (LLMs) and your business data working inside Microsoft 365 apps has created what is arguably the most powerful productivity tool on the planet. Research conducted by Microsoft with early users confirms this claim, with 81% saying they spent less time searching for information, 73% said it makes meetings more efficient, 79% spent less time processing email, and 94% said it makes it easier to get started on a first draft.

If you want to learn more about Copilot for Microsoft 365, read this guide. For now, we’re going to dive into the licensing complexities.

How does Copilot for Microsoft 365 licensing work?

You’re excited to feel the power of this new Gen AI technology in your day-to-day work, but the licensing can be complicated if you’re unfamiliar with the different licensing levels. We break it down here:

CSP vs EA vs DWE

CSP (Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider license program) allows companies of any size to buy their licenses through an authorized Microsoft partner as opposed to an Enterprise Agreement (EA), where a customer buys their licenses directly from Microsoft.

Until now, Copilot for Microsoft 365 was only available via an EA, but Microsoft has now announced that you can buy the license through their CSP license programme.

SoftwareOne is part of the CSP programme - in fact we resell and manage more than $22bn of licenses for Microsoft and provide the backbone to more than 175 million Office 365 users around the world. What’s more, we were part of Microsoft’s pilot programme to ready our Enterprise Agreement customers who were early adopters of the technology. In short, we have already worked hands-on with this new technology that many others are only now getting the right to sell.

We sell our CSP licenses through a bundle called Digital Workplace Essentials (DWE). Our DWE bundle gives you access to SoftwareOne support, provides the Copilot for M365 license and includes access to an online training portal so that you can rapidly get up to speed on the new technology. Additional benefits like enablement will be added going forward.

What kind of license do you need for Copilot for M365?

The Copilot for M365 is an ‘add-on’ license, which means that to buy it, you need to add it to an existing license. There are six choices for an existing license you can add it to:

  • M365 Premium

    Core security controls recommended but get guidance

    For organizations with 300 users or less but it includes security features which are important to the data/AI conversations needed for Copilot for M365.

  • M365 Business Standard

    Baseline security, caution needed

    Also for organizations with 300 users or less. If this is your current license type, we recommend taking time to review your security technology before moving forward with a Copilot purchase.

  • Microsoft 365 E5 or A5 (A licenses are for schools)

    Best in class security, recommended

    Microsoft 365 is a bundle which includes Office 365, Windows and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS), a Microsoft security suite which includes a range of security technologies important to the data/AI conversations needed with Copilot. One of the important differences is that the E5 level includes advanced security and compliance capabilities over and beyond what is included in E3.

  • Microsoft 365 E3 or A3

    Core security controls recommended but get guidance

    As above, Microsoft 365 bundles Office 365 and EMS, however, it does not include Microsoft Defender. We advise you review your security technology before moving forward with a Copilot purchase.

  • Office 365 E5

    Baseline security, caution needed

    A license for the Office 365 suite, without EMS, but with Defender and other security features like identity access and management, information protection and insider risk management. While this has some security features, they may not be robust enough for the data/AI conversations needed with Copilot without the inclusion of EMS.

  • Office 365 E3

    Minimal security, extreme caution needed

    This just includes a license for the Office 365 suite, without any security or compliance features added.

How does a Copilot for M365 license affect existing licenses?

Copilot for M365 is only available as an annual license, not monthly. If you have existing annual licenses you can co-term your Copilot purchase to the same expiration date of your existing annual licenses. This means your existing licenses and the Copilot licenses will renew at the same time, making license management easier.

If you’re an existing SoftwareOne DWE customer (remember DWE is what we call our bundle offering that includes CSP licenses from Microsoft), then your SoftwareOne Account team can help with the steps to add a Copilot for M365 license to your existing licenses. It should be as easy as understanding your business case for adding Copilot, verifying the quantity needed, providing you with a quote, and placing the order.

If this is your first time ordering a Microsoft license like this from SoftwareOne, our Account teams will make sure you are set up with a new DWE contract to enable a purchase.

What are the technical requirements needed to implement Copilot for Microsoft 365?

For Copilot to work, you must have certain applications deployed. If you already use Microsoft 365 E3 or E5, A3, or A5 today, then you likely already meet most of the prerequisites.

At a top level, they include:

  • Microsoft Enterprise Apps for 365
  • Microsoft Entra ID
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Microsoft Loop - this must be enabled on your Microsoft tenant
  • Microsoft Whiteboard

Details on how to set all of these up, network requirements, conditional access and access control can be found in this article.

Navigating the license and security impact of Copilot for M365

Implementing ground-breaking technology like Copilot for Microsoft 365 to transform the way your organization works may be tantalizing, but there are many areas for consideration and caution before diving in headfirst, not least the impact on your licensing and security.

Our advice, don’t suffer from FOMO (the fear of missing out). But test it out on a small number of licenses first - less than five - while you ready your organization for a full adoption. Play with it, see where there may be issues with your organizational set up and speak to SoftwareOne about how to prepare your organization for full-scale Gen AI adoption in your workplace.

In our second blog on getting started with Copilot for Microsoft 365, we will cover other areas of readiness to ensure a successful roll out of this exciting new technology.


Levi Wolff

Levi Wolff
Marketplace Enablement Manager