Microsoft unveils AI-powered ‘Copilot’ for Word, PowerPoint, Excel, others

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Microsoft on Thursday announced a new Artificial Intelligence-powered Copilot for its Microsoft 365 apps and services. The AI-powered Copilot is designed to assist users with generating documents, emails, presentations, and much more.

“Today, we are bringing the power of next-generation AI to work. Introducing Microsoft 365 Copilot — your copilot for work. It combines the power of large language models (LLMs) with your data in the Microsoft Graph and the Microsoft 365 apps to turn your words into the most powerful productivity tool on the planet,” the announced on its website.

The Copilot, powered by GPT-4 from OpenAI, “is integrated into Microsoft 365 in two ways. It works alongside you, embedded in the Microsoft 365 apps you use every day — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams and more — to unleash creativity, unlock productivity and uplevel skills,” the tech giant says.

“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,” said Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “With our new Copilot for work, we're giving people more agency and making technology more accessible through the most universal interface — natural language,” it added.

The company further stated, “Today we're also announcing an entirely new experience: Business Chat. Business Chat works across the LLM, the Microsoft 365 apps, and your data — your calendar, emails, chats, documents, meetings and contacts — to do things you've never been able to do before.

You can give it natural language prompts like ‘Tell my team how we updated the product strategy,” and it will generate a status update based on the morning's meetings, emails and chat threads.'”

According to Microsoft, the Microsoft 365 Copilot will transform work in three ways: unleash creativity, unlock productivity and uplevel skills

“Unleash creativity. With Copilot in Word, you can jump-start the creative process so you never start with a blank slate again,” is said, adding that “Copilot gives you a first draft to edit and iterate on — saving hours in writing, sourcing, and editing time.”

“Sometimes Copilot will be right, other times usefully wrong — but it will always put you further ahead. You're always in control as the author, driving your unique ideas forward, prompting Copilot to shorten, rewrite or give feedback.

Copilot in PowerPoint helps you create beautiful presentations with a simple prompt, adding relevant content from a document you made last week or last year. And with Copilot in Excel, you can analyse trends and create professional-looking data visualizations in seconds,” it stated.

With respect to unlocking productivity, the company said, “We all want to focus on the 20 per cent of our work that really matters, but 80 per cent of our time is consumed with busywork that bogs us down.

Copilot lightens the load. From summarising long email threads to quickly drafting suggested replies, Copilot in Outlook helps you clear your inbox in minutes, not hours. And every meeting is a productive meeting with Copilot in Teams.

It can summarise key discussion points — including who said what and where people are aligned and where they disagree — and suggest action items, all in real time during a meeting. And with Copilot in Power Platform, anyone can automate repetitive tasks, create chatbots and go from idea to working app in minutes.”

According to Microsoft, GitHub data shows that Copilot promises to unlock productivity for everyone. Among developers who use GitHub Copilot, 88 per cent say they are more productive, 74 per cent say that they can focus on more satisfying work, and 77 per cent say it helps them spend less time searching for information or examples.

“But Copilot doesn't just supercharge individual productivity. It creates a new knowledge model for every organisation — harnessing the massive reservoir of data and insights that lies largely inaccessible and untapped today.

Business Chat works across all your business data and apps to surface the information and insights you need from a sea of data — so knowledge flows freely across the organization, saving you valuable time searching for answers. You will be able to access Business Chat from Microsoft 365.com, from Bing when you're signed in with your work account, or from Teams,” it stated.

To uplevel skills, “Copilot makes you better at what you're good at and lets you quickly master what you've yet to learn. The average person uses only a handful of commands — such as ‘animate a slide' or ‘insert a table' — from the thousands available across Microsoft 365. Now, all that rich functionality is unlocked using just natural language. And this is only the beginning.

“Copilot will fundamentally change how people work with AI and how AI works with people. As with any new pattern of work, there's a learning curve — but those who embrace this new way of working will quickly gain an edge,” Microsoft stated.

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