Microsoft has announced that it will enhance its Office suite with generative artificial intelligence (AI) technology. In the process of commercializing AI technology, the tech giants are competing fiercely.
Microsoft showed off Copilot, an AI tool that works with software such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint in the Office suite. Microsoft says the new tools will help business customers write documents faster, generate art drawings and create diagrams, saving millions of employees a lot of time.
Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella said: “The next generation of AI will unleash a new wave of productivity gains, with a powerful Copilot removing the drudgery from our daily tasks and work.”
This week, Microsoft-backed OpenAI released its next-generation AI model GPT-4. Microsoft has integrated the new model into its Bing search engine.
Microsoft has been working with OpenAI for three years. OpenAI developed ChatGPT, a generative AI tool based on a large language model that responds to users in a way that mimics human speech. ChatGPT has attracted 100 million users in three months since its launch in November.
Microsoft said the new Office features would be rolled out “in the coming months” and were being tested in partnership with some businesses, but gave no further details.
This week, Google also announced AI enhancements to its Google Workplace suite. Google showed how the new tool could compose an email based on a small amount of input and adopt a somber or whimsical tone depending on the user’s needs.
Microsoft has already launched an AI-enhanced version of its Bing search engine based on OpenAI’s GPT technology, which is currently being tested with a small number of users.
Microsoft 365 marketing lead Jared Spataro acknowledges that Copilot can make mistakes, but stresses that the AI tool is meant to help, not replace, users.
“Sometimes Copilot gets it right, but other times it goes usefully wrong: giving you an imperfect idea that you can build on,” he says.
Credit Suisse estimates that if 10% of Microsoft’s 370 million business Office 365 users upgrade to an AI-enhanced version, IT could generate $14.9 billion in revenue over the next five years. Assuming Microsoft also charges more for simplified versions of new features, that could generate an additional $18.7 billion in revenue, according to Credit Suisse.
Microsoft said the Copilot package would be priced “at a premium,” but the half-hour presentation did not discuss specifics, focusing instead on day-to-day use cases for businesses and users.