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Microsoft 365 'Copilot' uses AI to automate everyday tasks in multiple apps

You can create PowerPoint presentations from Word docs, among other feats.

Microsoft

Microsoft is using artificial intelligence to help eliminate drudgery at the workplace. At its "Future of Work" event, the company has revealed an AI-powered Microsoft 365 Copilot that, as suggested by leaks, can create content in Office apps using text requests. You can ask PowerPoint to create a presentation based on a Word document, for example, and even get it to apply animations or styles across all your slides.

Other apps have similar functionality. Word can create a proposal based on spreadsheet data, or change a report's entire tone. Excel can break down data or predict the effect of a variable change. Outlook can summarize your emails or draft responses, while Teams can recap meetings or even weigh the pros and cons of a discussion topic. A new Business Chat tool brings in information from multiple apps to deal with project developments, customer incidents and planning.

The new technology is running on the same OpenAI GPT-4 model that powers the upgraded Bing search rolling out to everyone. The technology is more factual, higher performance and less likely to venture out of accepted boundaries than the GPT-3.5 predecessor that currently powers ChatGPT.

Microsoft is already testing 365 Copilot with 20 business customers. It plans to expand access in the "coming months," and will share details of IT administrator controls to help deploy the technology. Pricing and other details will be available in the months ahead, the company says.

The additions come just days after Google said it would bring generative AI to Gmail and Workspace apps like Docs and Slides. The tools will let you draft and revise content, and even autogenerate images and videos for presentations. The feature will only be available to English-language US users by the end of March, but it should reach more languages and countries in the future.

The introduction underscores the race between Microsoft and Google to weave AI into their products. Microsoft is using AI to claim an edge in search, video chat and other common productivity tasks. Google, meanwhile, is treating AI as a defensive tool. Systems like Bard may help it protect its core search business against ChatGPT and other AI systems that Google reportedly sees as threats. However this race ends, it's safe to presume AI is becoming more of a mainstay in the working world.