Copilot Pro vs. ChatGPT Plus: Which is AI chatbot is worth your $20 a month?

These Microsoft and OpenAI subscriptions cost the same, so which AI tool do you choose? That depends on what features are most important to you. Let's review the options.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor
CoPilot vs. ChatGPT Plus comparison
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Microsoft's Copilot and OpenAI's ChatGPT are both available in free and paid-for editions. For $20 per month, you can subscribe to Copilot Pro or ChatGPT Plus and enjoy a range of advanced AI-powered features not found in the free flavors.

With either subscription, you're able to tap into GPT-4 and GPT-4 Turbo, get real-time information, generate images with DALL-E 3, and analyze specific types of documents and files. But from there, Copilot Pro and ChatGPT Plus each offer unique advantages. Here's how to decide which one is the better option for you.

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Initially, Copilot Pro required a subscription to Microsoft 365 if you wanted to use its AI skills in Word, Excel, OneNote, and other apps in the suite. Now, however, you can use Copilot Pro in both the desktop and web versions of Microsoft 365 with nothing more than a Microsoft account required.

As for ChatGPT, OpenAI has added a few perks from the Plus version to the free flavor. The free edition now offers limited access to several features, including the latest GPT‑4o model, advanced data analysis, file uploads, web browsing, and custom GPTs from the GPT store.

ChatGPT Plus includes the following benefits:

  • General access to ChatGPT, even during peak times
  • Full access to GPT-4, GPT‑4o, and GPT-3 
  • Faster response times
  • Early access to new features
  • Ability to analyze a variety of file types
  • AI image creation with up to 200 images per day
  • Access to the GPT Store, with more than three million custom GPTs available
  • Ability to create your own custom GPTs

Copilot Pro offers several key benefits:

  • Faster performance and priority access to GPT-4 and GPT-4 Turbo during peak times
  • Copilot availability in core Microsoft 365 desktop and web apps (Microsoft account required)
  • Faster AI image creation with 100 boosts (100 images) per day using Designer (formerly Bing Image Creator)
  • The ability to create your own custom and tailored Copilot GPTs via a Copilot Builder tool

You should use ChatGPT Plus if…

ChatGPT Plus window introduction on a laptop
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

1. You want to analyze and ask questions about any type of file

Copilot Pro limits its AI-powered analysis to images and Microsoft Office files. With ChatGPT Plus, you're able to upload and analyze a wider range of files, including Microsoft Office files, text files, PDFs, images, audio files, code files, and archived files.

2. You want access to custom GPTs from the GPT Store

OpenAI provides a GPT store where you can browse and search for custom GPTs created by businesses and fellow subscribers. You can even invoke a specific GPT within an existing conversation, though that feature is now available for free users as well.

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Though not all the GPTs are worth your time, you'll find many with interesting and useful skills. At this point, Microsoft has promised -- but doesn't yet offer -- a custom Copilot GPT store.

3. You want to create your own custom GPTs

Another perk with ChatGPT Plus is the ability to create your own custom GPTs. The process is relatively smooth and straightforward thanks to ChatGPT's own AI-based assistance. After creating your GPT, you can use it privately, share it with other people in a business or organization, or publish it in the GPT store for both free and Plus users to try.

4. You need to generate more than 100 images per day

Copilot Pro will generate up to 100 images per day. That certainly sounds like a lot of images. But if you need more, ChatGPT Plus lets you double your fun by creating up to 200 images each day.

Also: 6 ways OpenAI just supercharged ChatGPT for free users

You should use Copilot Pro if…

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

1. You use Microsoft 365 and want AI-driven help

With a subscription to Copilot Pro and nothing more than a Microsoft account, you can ask the AI to help you write and edit text and summarize documents in Word, generate formulas and analyze data in Excel, create presentations in PowerPoint, compose text in OneNote, and draft replies in Outlook. This capability extends to the paid desktop version and the free web version of Microsoft 365. Though ChatGPT Plus can analyze Office files, the integration between MS Office and Copilot Pro is more powerful, effective, and user-friendly.

2. You want easy access from Windows

Both ChatGPT Plus and Copilot Pro are accessible as dedicated websites and mobile apps. But Copilot goes one step better by integrating directly into Windows. Whether you use the free or paid-for version of Copilot, just click the Taskbar icon in Windows 10 or 11, and Copilot pops up as a sidebar ready to take your requests.

3. You want more thorough and visually appealing information

Depending on your request, ChatGPT Plus will provide text but not much more. Copilot Pro, however, is more likely to flesh out the information with a more visual look and layout.

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For example, I asked both chatbots to name 20 top attractions in London. ChatGPT Plus responded with a numbered list and brief descriptions of each attraction, but no links. Copilot Pro produced a more engaging and useful response with links, photos, maps, and sources for each attraction.

4. You want better image creation skills

Though ChatGPT Pro will let you generate more images in a typical day, Copilot Pro's image creation skills are far superior. By default, Copilot Pro's Designer tool will generate four different images from which to choose, while ChatGPT Pro will generate only one image at a time. Copilot also suggests follow-up questions to help you fine-tune the image. With Copilot, you can select a specific style to apply if you wish to regenerate an image. Plus, you can now directly edit your images within Designer without leaving the tool.

5. You want more options for managing a response

With a response from ChatGPT Pro, you can typically copy it, regenerate it, or rate it. But with Copilot Pro, you can also easily share it, export it to Word or another program, and ask that it be read aloud.

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6. You want sources for the generated content

Ask ChatGPT to generate certain content, and it will respond. But it won't necessarily display the source or sources of the information. Ask Copilot Pro to generate the same content, and it will clearly list its sources underneath the information.

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