Microsoft introduces ChatGPT technology in Word, Excel and Outlook

(CNN) Microsoft on Thursday outlined plans to bring artificial intelligence to its most recognizable productivity tools, including Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel and Word, with the promise of changing the way millions do their work every day.

At an event on Thursday, the company announced that Microsoft 365 users will soon be able to use what the company calls an AI “Co-Pilot” that will help edit, summarize, create and compare documents. But don’t call it Clippy. The new features, which are built on the same technology that underpins ChatGPT, are far more powerful (and less anthropomorphized) than its wide-eyed, paperclip-shaped predecessor.

With the new features, users will be able to transcribe meeting notes during a Skype conversation, summarize long email threads to quickly draft response suggestions, request the creation of a specific chart in Excel, and turn a Word document into a PowerPoint presentation for seconds.

Microsoft is also introducing a concept called Business Chat, an agent that essentially moves with the user as they work and tries to understand and make sense of their Microsoft 365 data. An agent will know what’s in a user’s email and on their calendar for the day, as well as the documents they’ve been working on, the presentations they’ve given, the people they’re meeting with, and the chats happening on their Teams Platform, according to the company. Users can then ask Business Chat to perform tasks, such as writing a status report summarizing all documents across platforms on a particular project, and then draft an email that can be sent to their team with an update.

Microsoft’s announcement comes a month after it brought similar AI-powered features to Bing and amid a renewed arms race in the tech industry to develop and deploy AI tools that could change the way people work, shop and create . Earlier this week, rival Google announced it was also bringing AI to its productivity tools, including Gmail, Sheets and Docs.

In a presentation to its customers on Thursday, Microsoft outlined its roadmap for how it plans to bring artificial intelligence to its Microsoft 365 services, including Outlook, Teams, PowerPoint, Excel and Word.

The news also comes two days after OpenAI, the company behind Microsoft’s artificial intelligence technology and creator of ChatGPT, unveiled its next-generation model, GPT-4. The update wowed many users in the company’s early tests and demo with its ability to draft court cases, take standardized exams and create a working website from a hand-drawn sketch.

OpenAI said it added more “railings” to keep conversations on track and worked to make the tool less biased. But the update and moves by larger tech companies to integrate this technology could add to challenging questions about how AI tools could upend professions, empower students to cheat and change our relationship with technology. Microsoft’s new Bing browser now uses GPT-4, for better or worse.

A Microsoft spokesperson said 365 users who have access to the new AI tools should be reminded that the technology is a work in progress and information will need to be double-checked. Although OpenAI made huge improvements in its latest model, GPT-4 has similar limitations to previous versions. The company said it can still make “simple errors in reasoning” or be “overly gullible in accepting patently false claims from a user” and does not fact-check.

However, Microsoft believes the changes will improve people’s experience at work in a significant way, allowing them to complete tasks more easily and less tediously, freeing them to be more analytical and creative.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *