2 min

Copilot is coming to Microsoft’s Visual Studio 17.10 as a unified version. The update eliminates the need for the separate extensions Copilot and Copilot Chat, and integrates them into one, which will have general availability in Visual Studio in May.

A GitHub Copilot subscription is required to use the feature, which was already the case with the old extensions. Users who don’t want to pay (yet) can opt for the free 30-day trial version. Incidentally, GitHub Copilot is free for students and maintainers of popular open-source projects on GitHub. Curious users can test the functionality right now in the Preview 3 version.

In the latest version, Copilot can be used in a separate chat window and via inline chat (previously, this functionality was split between two extensions). With a press of the tab key, a programmer can add suggested code immediately. In addition to context-dependent suggestions for completing code, Copilot suggests additions or even larger code fragments. It can help write commit messages, debug code, and generate unit tests.

The AI assistant also has an optimization feature that users can deploy by entering “/optimize” in the chat window. This should improve code performance, readability and security. Copilot also provides documentation and explanations for learning new programming languages and best practices and frameworks.

Copilot takes tedious tasks off of users’ hands

This ‘unified’ version of Copilot speeds up programmers’ tasks and saves time, especially by taking boilerplate code, iterations and other ‘tedious’ tasks out of their hands. The company’s blog post promises that this frees up time for programmers to focus on more creative or challenging tasks.

Copilot is part of Visual Studio 17.10 by default and is automatically installed with an update or new installation. Users who want to install GitHub Copilot themselves later can do so through the Visual Studio Installer by searching for it in the Individual Component tab.

Users of older versions of Visual Studio 17.8 or 17.9 can still install the ‘old’ GitHub extensions Copilot Chat and GitHub Copilot Completions through the Extension Manager. However, to take advantage of the latest features and get future features, updating to version 17.10 is necessary.

Also read: Visual Studio gets new SDK for extensions