GitHub Copilot was launched in 2021 as an AI program co-development between Microsoft and partner OpenAI. The program launched fully in 2022, giving users AI automated code that fills in gaps in their own projects. Today, Microsoft is offering GitHub Copilot X, an updated version of the service that integrates OpenAI's GPT-4 AI model.
Microsoft invested billions on top of its initial investment into OpenAI in January. Any questions about what the company gets from the partnership have been quickly answered. Microsoft has taken the lead over Big Tech rivals in AI development.
In fact, Microsoft is currently the only major tech company streamlining AI. The company has released Bing Chat which recently also had an Image Creator upgrade. Furthermore, Microsoft has made Azure OpenAI Service generally available and announced Microsoft 365 Copilot.
Each of these products has OpenAI in common. More specifically, the GPT AI engine that is now up to GPT-4 and underpins the ChatGPT chatbot. So, Microsoft's partnershop with OpenAI is allowing the company to build AI across its ecosystem. By the way, Microsoft also reportedly takes 49% of all OpenAI's profits.
GitHub Copilot X is the latest push to adopt GPT-4 on as many services as possible. Copilot is a service that accesses available open-source code to help developers fill gaps in their own code. It taps into code from other developers on Microsoft-owned GitHub and gives programmers tools to write code more efficiently and quickly.
The core abilities of Copilot will remain the same, but Microsoft says GitHub Copilot X adds the following benefits:
- “A ChatGPT-like experience in your editor with GitHub Copilot Chat: GitHub Copilot now adds a chat interface to the editor for developer scenarios and natively integrates with VS Code and Visual Studio. GitHub Copilot Chat can recognize what code a developer has typed, what error messages are shown, and it's deeply embedded into the IDE. You can get in-depth analysis and explanations of what code blocks are intended to do, generate unit tests, and even get proposed fixes to bugs.
- Copilot for Pull Requests: Using OpenAI's new GPT-4 model, Copilot for Pull Requests adds AI-powered tags in pull request descriptions through a GitHub app that organization admins and individual repository owners can install. These tags are automatically filled out by GitHub Copilot based on the changed code. Developers can then review or modify the suggested description. GitHub is also working on a feature where Copilot will automatically suggest sentences and paragraphs as developers create pull requests by dynamically pulling in information about code changes. GitHub is also working on a feature where Copilot will automatically warn developers if they're missing sufficient testing for a pull request and then suggest potential tests that can be edited, accepted, or rejected based on a project's needs.
- Get AI-generated answers about documentation: GitHub Copilot for Docs is an tool that uses a chat interface to provide users with AI-generated responses to questions about documentation—including questions developers have about the languages, frameworks, and technologies they're using. For now, this tool supports React, Azure Docs, and MDN. GitHub is also working to bring this tool to any organization's repositories and internal documentation. So, developers can get their queries answered about their internal tooling and development practices.”
GitHub Copilot has been receiving widespread criticism from open-source copyright advocates since its launch. Many claim it is unfair that the project scrapes the code of other users without attributing it to them. It is a similar accusation that can be levelled at Bing Chat, which scrapes website content (albeit with attribution) without users needing to click on the source site.
Despite Microsoft's ongoing development of GitHub Copilot, it is not without its issues. The service is facing A class action lawsuit by Matthew Butterick, who claims Microsoft is violating GitHub's policies and code ethics such as attribution. Elsewhere, a recent study shows Copilot may produce less accurate and less secure code than human developers.
GitHub Copilot X is now available in limited preview. You can join the waitlist here.
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