Microsoft introduces Fabric including Copilot for Power BI

Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft’s cloud and artificial intelligence group, speaks at the Microsoft CIO Summit on February 1, 2023 in Redmond, Washington.


Microsoft’s heavy investment in artificial intelligence chatbots has found its way into data analytics.

Following its $13 billion investment in OpenAI and its early efforts to embed AI technology into its Bing search engine and other products like email, Word and Excel, Microsoft is releasing a chatbot — or Copilot. Information stored in corporate databases

Beyond the chatbot, Microsoft is introducing a new brand called Fabric, which will bring seven data products under one umbrella. It’s similar to when it launched an office productivity software suite in 1990, and Microsoft is touting cost-saving opportunities at a time when customers are tightening their belts.

Fabric is designed to store a single copy of a customer’s data and work with it across multiple programs. For example, data can be tapped into Synapse Data Science to create graphs and dashboards to create AI models and Power BI business intelligence software.

“You have a meter, so if your BI system is underutilized, you can spend it on other areas, or if your data warehouse is underutilized, you can spend it on your BI meter,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft. Cloud and AI team. “You don’t have to pay for everything separately. And I think that ultimately gives customers some significant cost savings.”

A single copilot is available for tools in the Microsoft Fabric portfolio, including Data Factory, Synapse Data Engineering, Synapse Data Warehousing, Synapse Real-Time Analytics and a new monitoring tool called Data Activator, Power BI and Synapse Data. Science, a Microsoft spokesperson said.

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New technology does not require technical expertise to operate. Anyone can open Power BI and type an idea for a report into Copilot or click on some of the automatically generated ideas. After a screen full of adjustable charts appears, the user can type in a question about the data and get an answer in plain English.

Earlier this month, Salesforce announced that Table GPTCharts can be created in response to text prompts.

Arun Ulagaratsakan, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for Azure Data, said the fabric is “more comprehensive than what has been announced in the market so far.” Copilot formulas can be written using Microsoft’s Data Analysis Expressions language in Power BI, he said.

Data for Fabric sits on a single storage system called OneLake, similar to how Microsoft’s OneDrive file sync and sharing service works for Microsoft 365 productivity software subscribers. Users can view and take action on data stored in Amazon Web Services’s S3 and Google Cloud Platform’s Google Cloud Storage, and they don’t need to create copies.

Boris Evlson, an analyst at technology researcher Forrester, said that based on how Microsoft has built its technology architecture, it “will certainly help them gain a larger market share.”

Microsoft started working on Fabric two years ago, Ulagaratsakan said. The company is yet to finalize the pricing.

On Tuesday, Microsoft said it will begin previewing Windows Copilot in its Windows 11 operating system in June.

“Just as you would with Ping Chat, you can ask Windows CoPilot many questions, from simple to complex,” wrote Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer, in a blog post.

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