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Microsoft Introduces AI

Just a month after announcing artificial intelligence integration with its search engine Bing and browser Edge, Microsoft is introducing Microsoft 365 Copilot, a tool that’ll work with you in its collection of apps including Excel, PowerPoint, Word and more. In a blog post on Thursday, Microsoft said the new AI tool will increase creativity and productivity.

“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,” Jared Spataro, an executive vice president at Microsoft, wrote of how the tool will work in Word. 

Generative AI technologies can create drafts of documents or emails that are useful, but they’re also prone to problems like “hallucinations,” fabricated responses that sound plausible but are inaccurate.

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The Microsoft 365 Copilot can also create PowerPoint presentations and Excel data visualization with a prompt, Spataro wrote. It’ll also draft email responses and summarize long email threads in Outlook.

Microsoft 365 copilot is currently being tested by 20 partners, though it’ll be available “more broadly in the coming months,” Microsoft said in a separate blog post.

The tech giant also announced Business Chat, which uses AI across your Microsoft apps to aggregate information and return it in response to a written prompt.

When it unveiled the new Bing in February, Microsoft promised to integrate AI into more of its products. The company is among a number of businesses racing to bring new AI capabilities to its services. Google earlier this week said it’s adding AI tools to its Workspace apps, including generative writing features in Gmail and Docs. Facebook parent Meta is experimenting with AI-powered chat on WhatsApp and Messenger, and Grammarly is launching an AI feature to craft email messages, social media posts and more.

The ability to use AI to summarize or synthesize within commonly used apps could have significant impacts on workflow, Rowan Curran, an analyst at Forrester, said in an email to CNET.

“Having capabilities to generate a summarization of a white paper into a blog post and the ability to do it within your core productivity app reduces the friction around integrating these tools into workflows, because the user doesn’t have to go to a different tool to use them,” he wrote.

On Tuesday, Microsoft confirmed that Bing is using OpenAI’s GPT-4 technology.

Editors’ note: CNET is using an AI engine to create some personal finance explainers that are edited and fact-checked by our editors. For more, see this post.

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