Microsoft is revealing today in a widely-awaited event an AI tool called “Copilot” that will be integrated into its flagship productivity solution Office 365 to help professionals and businesses work faster and more efficiently.
The Microsoft 365 Copilot solution will be powered by the most powerful language models that the company has created thus far and its job will be to “turn your words into the most powerful productivity tool on the planet”.
“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”, commented Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s Chief Executive Officer.
What Can Microsoft 365 Copilot Do?
Microsoft (MSFT) shared with the world what Copilot will be able to do on its three most-used productivity software – Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
In the case of Word, the AI tool should be able to create a first draft for the user based on a set of brief instructions, a title, a subject, and other similar prompts. This should save people hours when drafting long reports, writing content for a website, or developing policies for the departments their run.
Professionals can use these rough drafts as a starting point and they can fine-tune the outcome as needed. The tone and style of the document can be tweaked and the AI can also come up with suggestions to further improve the phrasing and wording.
Meanwhile, in Excel, the AI tool will be designed to identify patterns, correlations, and relationships between variables. It can also create graphs from scratch or suggest the best types of graphs for the data at hand.
Users will also be able to get more accurate and useful answers when trying to use formulas and it will be easier to organize and sort data by instructing the AI model to suggest the best formatting or indicate the one that will suit some columns and rows the best.
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As for PowerPoint, Copilot should be able to build presentations and pitch decks by using the information contained in a Word document or Excel file – or both – and it could be instructed to incorporate different elements such as images, templates, and animations into the document.
In the case of Microsoft’s corporate e-mail solution, Outlook, Copilot can summarize the most relevant information discussed in long e-mail conversations, create drafts responses based on what the user wants to communicate, change the tone and style of a response, and even come up with alternate versions of a first draft that are more concise.
Copilot will also be integrated into some other solutions offered by Microsoft such as Teams and Viva Sales. Earlier this month, the company also presented Dynamics 365 Copilot, a separate AI tool created to power the firm’s CRM and ERP solutions.
Only a Handful of Customers Will Have the Chance Test Copilot for Now
According to Microsoft’s Jared Spartaro, a selected group of customers will test the beta version of Copilot first. This group includes 8 Fortune 500 companies. Spataro, the head of the company’s 365 unit, acknowledged that the model that powers Copilot is not perfect.
“Sometimes Copilot will get it right, other times it will be usefully wrong, giving you an idea that’s not perfect but still gives you a head start”, he clarified during the live presentation.
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Microsoft will be using the feedback it gets from these early testers to solve any issues it encounters along the way, similar to what it did with its AI-powered version of Bing when it first rolled it out.
The announcement comes only a few days after OpenAI launched its newest and most powerful AI model called GPT-4. Microsoft owns 49% of OpenAI after it invested $10 billion into the tech company earlier this year.
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