Microsoft is bringing AI to its productivity apps, in another strike at Google

Microsoft (MSFT) on Thursday announced that it’s bringing its generative AI capabilities to its most important software: its Microsoft 365 productivity suite.

Called Microsoft 365 Copilot, and using some of OpenAI’s large language model technology, the feature is designed to serve as a kind of on-hand expert to help you speed up your productivity.

Microsoft promises its Copilot will be able to help you do everything from drafting emails and putting together PowerPoint presentations to generating ideas in Word and summarizing key points during meetings via Teams.

Is it a coincidence that Google (GOOG, GOOGL) announced its own similar feature for its Workspaces productivity apps days before Microsoft’s debut, just as it showed off its Bard AI ahead of Microsoft’s Bing AI event? Who’s to say? But the back and forth is certainly fun to watch from the sidelines.

According to Microsoft, Copilot 365 offers different functionality across the company’s Microsoft 365 apps. In Office, for instance, Copilot can put together a first draft of a document based on your suggestions, which you can then edit and rewrite on your own. Microsoft says that Copilot will occasionally be wrong when generating content, but that will still help you move forward.

That’s likely to be a boon for white collar workers who don’t want to have to type up tedious reports, but will likely face some pushback from educators, just as Bing and ChatGPT have already.

Microsoft is bringing ChatGPT-style AI to its productivity apps. (Image: Microsoft)
Microsoft is bringing ChatGPT-style AI to its productivity apps. (Image: Microsoft)

With Copilot for PowerPoint, the software can quickly assemble an editable presentation for you based on your own prompts. As someone who was never fond of putting together PowerPoints in high school or college, I could see this being a major help in getting things off the ground when starting out on a new project.

In Excel, Microsoft says Copilot can pull out different trends from your data and turn them into visualizations. As for Outlook, Copilot will summarize long email threads and pull out pertinent information while offering you suggested replies.

One of the more interesting ways Microsoft is using Copilot is in Teams, where the company says the bot will be able to summarize important points during meetings, down to who said what about specific topics, and then create action items for moving forward.

While Copilot is based on technology from OpenAI like ChatGPT, Microsoft says it goes further than what’s found in its Bing chatbot and Edge browser. That’s because Copilot takes advantage of your own data including your documents, emails, calendar, chats, meetings, contacts, and more to provide better, more personalized context for your work apps.

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Microsoft says Copilot will start rolling out to Microsoft 365 apps in the coming months, with pricing and licensing information coming soon.

The feature sets up another faceoff between Microsoft and Google, which are vying to be known as the big-name A.I company in Silicon Valley. Microsoft spooked Google with the announcement that it was investing billions into OpenAI, and further scared the company by not only debuting its Bing with ChatGPT technology, but rolling it out to select users.

Google, meanwhile, is still testing its Bard AI chatbot via what it says are trusted users, giving the perception at least that the company is falling behind Microsoft in what many see as the next big platform war.

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