san francisco The competition and the best business solutions based on artificial intelligence (AI) are coming to a head. On Thursday, Microsoft presented extensions for all Office applications such as PowerPoint, Word, Teams or Excel, in which many work steps are to be taken over by AI. “It’s a revolution,” said Microsoft manager Jared Spataro.
Copilot is what Microsoft calls the AI-supported assistants that will accompany customers in all Office products in the future. In the presentation, the assistant summarized the content of telephone conferences, created slides for presentations from text documents with suitable images and formulated lectures. Spataro did not give a specific date for the introduction, but said that the functions were currently being tested by 20 pilot companies.
The co-pilot for work will “turn your words into the most powerful productivity tool in the world,” announced Spataro. Microsoft executive Sumit Chauhan said, “The average person uses less than 10 percent of what PowerPoint can do. Copilot unlocks the other 90 percent.”
“We believe this next generation of AI will unleash a new wave of productivity growth,” added Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Within a few weeks, the company boss presented a number of new products based on AI. At the beginning of February Nadella presented the Bing search engine, which has been expanded to include AI functions.
After the product presentation, Microsoft shares rose by more than four percent. Microsoft didn’t say whether existing customers would have to pay for the additional features. In February, Microsoft expanded the Teams communication service with the first AI functions and introduced a premium version of the application for around ten dollars a month.
Estimated $13 billion investment in OpenAi
Behind Microsoft’s advance in the field of AI is a close partnership with the start-up OpenAI. The San Francisco company provides the language model that drives applications at Microsoft. OpenAI presented a revised version of its model called GPT-4 on Tuesday. This version is now being used in Microsoft products, Spataro said.
According to industry estimates, Microsoft has invested around 13 billion dollars in OpenAI. “We have a close partnership,” said OpenAI CEO Sam Altman at the time. Microsoft is using the cooperation to challenge rival Google.
Google also presented AI extensions for a number of office applications on Tuesday. By entering a few key points, it should be possible to write e-mails, for example. However, the tech group held back with specific information. In addition, the company – like Microsoft – did not specify when the functions will be rolled out for all customers.
Microsoft has a long history of developing office assistants — and they haven’t always been smooth sailing. A tool known as “Clippy” was a source of ridicule in the 1990s and early 2000s. The assistant in the form of a paper clip tried to give users of Office products more or less useful tips. However, the application was considered of little use and was deactivated by many users.
An AI-based chatbot called Tay, introduced in 2016, spread anti-Semitic and racist comments a few hours after it was launched and was shut down by Microsoft within a day.
Gartner analyst Adam Preset saw the announcements by Microsoft and Google as a major step towards making artificial intelligence accessible to a wide range of customers: “Microsoft 365 Copilot will have an impact on all Microsoft cloud customers and their employees to a certain extent.”
The competition between Microsoft and Google is good for customers. “The fascinating thing about these generative AI capabilities in workplace tools is that they can help us start or advance our work,” said Preset.
“It’s easier than ever to create a first draft, and finding a quick result will take less time and be more intuitive,” Preset said. However, the systems continued to produce errors. It is therefore always necessary for a human to check the results.
More: ChatGPT maker OpenAI presents improved version GPT-4