Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks at the company’s Ignite Spotlight event in Seoul on Nov. 15, 2022. Nadella delivered a keynote speech at an event hosted by the company’s Korean division.

SeongJoon Cho | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Microsoft is introducing an unorthodox pricing model for its new secure chatbot, which becomes available to the public on April 1.

As part of a flurry of generative AI announcements last year, Microsoft previewed Copilot for Security last March, which uses large language models to help cybersecurity professionals understand critical issues.

On Wednesday, Microsoft said it would use a consumption-based model, charging $4 per “security compute unit.” Andrew Conway, vice president of security marketing at Microsoft, said the types of prompts and summaries will vary dramatically in size depending on the customer and the type of workload.

“Customers can buy what they need, and that can easily change over time without friction,” Conway said in a statement.

Security is an important business for Microsoft, reporting revenue of over $20 billion in 2022, making it bigger than in-game ads or search at that time. The games are now bigger with the acquisition late last year of Activision Blizzard.

Microsoft is working extensively to add generative AI from OpenAI to Windows, Dynamics business applications, and other products. Wall Street was eager to see how Microsoft would be able to monetize AI after investing billions of dollars in OpenAI and AI-related data center equipment.

Pricing for Copilot for Security is designed to keep costs low for organizations experimenting with the tool while scaling for power users. Microsoft took into account input from early customers as well as the cost of tapping OpenAI’s LLMs handling user prompts, Vasu Jackal, Microsoft’s corporate vice president, told CNBC.

Microsoft charges for the use of its Azure OpenAI service based on the number of tokens a customer uses. Each token is equal to about four English characters.

It’s a much more complex pricing model than other Microsoft tools released recently, such as customer service and general productivity assistants. Copilot for Microsoft 365 costs $30 per person per month for companies.

BP is an early customer of the new security service. Chip Calhoun, the company’s vice president of cybersecurity, said in an email that “Copilot made us more efficient and helped us find attack patterns that could easily be missed without specific use cases.”

Copilot for Security can answer questions using information from Microsoft’s own security products and third-party vendors. It can explain security vulnerabilities, analyze scripts, answer questions about devices, and summarize incidents.

Other security software companies involved in generative AI include CrowdStrikewhich has a chatbot called Charlotte that costs $20 per year per device.

Cyber ​​attacks are becoming a bigger threat with each passing day. Microsoft said in January that a Russian intelligence group had accessed some of its executives’ email accounts. Roku and UnitedHealth also said they were hit by attacks this year.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said during the company’s latest earnings call that the latest wave of cyberattacks “underscores the urgent need for organizations to act even faster to protect themselves from cyber threats.”

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