Microsoft 365 gets a host of new AI-powered features

During an AI-focused press event today, Microsoft unveiled Microsoft 365 Copilot, its latest push to embed its suite of productivity and enterprise apps with AI. Currently in testing with select commercial customers, Copilot combines the power of models similar to OpenAI’s recently announced GPT-4 with business data and Microsoft 365 apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Teams.

“Today marks the next major step in the evolution of how we interact with computing, which will fundamentally change the way we work and unlock a new wave of productivity growth,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement. “With our new copilot for work, we’re giving people more agency and making technology more accessible through the most universal interface — natural language.”

Copilot handles different tasks depending on the app in which it’s used. For example, in Word, Copilot writes, edits, summarizes and generates text, while in PowerPoint and Excel, Copilot turns natural language commands into designed presentations and data visualizations.

Microsoft Copilot

Image Credits: Microsoft

In Outlook, Copilot can help synthesize and manage inboxes. Meanwhile, in Teams, Copilot provides real-time summaries and action items in the context of conversations.

One of the more intriguing elements of Copilot is Business Chat, which brings together data from across documents, presentations, email, calendar, notes and contacts to help summarize chats, write emails, find key dates or even write a plan based on other project files. With prompts like “Tell my team how we updated the product strategy,” Business Chat will generate a status update based on the morning’s meetings, emails and chat threads.

Microsoft Copilot

Image Credits: Microsoft

In a blog post, Microsoft stressed that the models driving Copilot’s aren’t trained on customer content or on individual prompts. Specifics on pricing and licensing will be shared soon, it said.

Copilot in Microsoft 365 follows the rollout of Copilot in Dynamics 365, Microsoft’s portfolio of enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management tools, and it’s more evidence that Microsoft isn’t slowing its investments in AI and automation. It was just in January that Microsoft invested billions more in OpenAI, the startup developing many of the technologies behind the various incarnations of Copilot, and the company’s eager to see a return on investment.




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