Microsoft Office is no longer flying solo.
Just about a month after announcing the newest version of Bing with AI, Microsoft announced Thursday (March 16) that it is bringing an AI-assisted chatbot called Microsoft 365 Copilot to its office tools: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams.
If you’re late to the video meeting, you can ask the chatbot to catch you up on what was said in the meeting, and it will generate a response summing it up. You could also ask Copilot to rate how the meeting went. The chatbot can also create a first draft of a PowerPoint, and can pull information from documents you drop into the interface. There are also options to draft text that is “fun” or “minimal,” among other styles.
The chatbot “will fundamentally change the way we work and unlock a new wave of productivity growth,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, in a statement.
The AI-powered assistant is built on OpenAI’s technology, a large language model, combined with Microsoft’s apps that contain vast amounts of information on its users.
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Microsoft said Copilot is currently in test mode and that it will preview the product more broadly in coming months.
The new rollouts come after Microsoft had announced a $10 billion investment into OpenAI, the startup behind generative AI tools ChatGPT and Dall-e, earlier this year.
The world of office productivity tools
Microsoft is not the first tech company to roll out a tool aimed to help workers be more productive. Think: Slack, Notion, Asana, Airtable, the list goes on. Just last week, Salesforce announced it will integrate ChatGPT into Slack.
The idea that Microsoft’s chatbot can ease a writer’s block when it comes to creating drafts pushes the envelope, as it won’t merely help with organizing tasks, but also fulfilling them. Whether these tools will ultimately succeed in making people more productive, however, remains to be seen.
Big Tech’s AI race
Along with the ambitious bet that AI will transform work, Microsoft was quick to say it will be collecting user feedback to improve on the tool. “We’re going to make mistakes,” admitted Jaime Teevan, the chief data scientist at Microsoft, in a livestream on Thursday.
In recent weeks, a string of tech giants announced how they’re adding generative AI—the label for technology that generates new content like text, visuals, code—to their software. Google said it was bringing AI chat to Gmail and Docs, after having rolled out Bard, the rival Microsoft’s AI bing. Amazon has partnered with startup Hugging Face to create generative AI applications. And, just this week, nimble startup OpenAI announced a more advanced version of ChatGPT.
The speed at which these tools are released, and the warning about mistakes, suggests tech companies have rediscovered their appetite to move fast and break things.
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