GitHub is opening up access to Copilot Chat, its AI-powered programming assistant, for all individual GitHub Copilot subscribers, the company announced on Wednesday. The chatbot is designed to provide real-time guidance and support to developers as they write code, troubleshoot bugs, and analyze complex concepts.

Previously only available to enterprise customers, the Copilot Chat beta is now enabled for free for all individual GitHub Copilot users across Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code. The company touts the combination of Copilot Chat and Copilot’s existing pair programming capabilities as forming a powerful AI assistant to “help every developer build at the speed of their minds.”

“We believe this cohesion will form the new centerpiece of the software development experience, fundamentally reducing boilerplate work and designating natural language as a new universal programming language for every developer on the planet,” stated Shuyin Zhao, company’s VP of Product for GitHub Copilot in the announcement.

The chatbot is accessible through the IDE’s sidebar, allowing developers to pose queries related to their ongoing work or any programming-related inquiries.

According to GitHub’s announcement, Copilot Chat allows developers to get explanations of code snippets, learn new languages faster, identify and suggest fixes for security vulnerabilities, and troubleshoot bugs through conversational interactions. The goal is to streamline the development process by reducing context switching.

GitHub positions Copilot Chat as part of its vision to enable natural language as a new universal programming language that will “democratize software development” and empower a diverse, global community of developers. The company believes conversational AI assistants like Copilot Chat will enable anyone to more easily build innovations and accelerate human progress.

Critics have raised concerns about the implications of Copilot’s code generation capabilities and its potential to introduce new bugs or security flaws. Others argue it could stifle creativity or lead to developer overreliance on automation. GitHub maintains it is committed to transparency and responsible AI practices.

Microsoft, which owns GitHub, recently launched the Copilot Copyright Commitment program, to offer legal protection for Copilot users against potential copyright infringement issues. The program covers GitHub Copilot, Microsoft 365 Copilot, and Bing Chat Enterprise.

GitHub Copilot for individuals costs $10 per month, with Copilot Chat now included for free. The public beta is open to existing subscribers.