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AI Is Coming to Microsoft Word, Excel as Copilot Announced

Microsoft stresses it made responsible choices when building its new offering.

Generative AI tools are coming to Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel, Microsoft has announced during the launch of its Microsoft 365 Copilot productivity tool.

During a virtual press conference, the company showcased the new offering, which is integrated into platforms like Word and PowerPoint. Users can generate presentations via a text prompt, for example, “make a presentation about my daughter's graduation.”

Copilot in Word can write and summarize text, and Copilot in Excel can identify trends or create professional-looking data visualizations. And the AI tool can produce real-time summaries from Teams calls.

Copilot is also available via a new platform, Business Chat, which can generate things like status updates on meetings based on a user’s email, chats, documents and meetings.

Business Chat can be accessed via the Microsoft 365 website, Bing or Teams chats.

Microsoft said Copilot isn’t just OpenAI’s ChatGPT plugged into Word. Instead, the AI is built off what it describes as ‘the Copilot System’ – a combination of 365 apps, Microsoft Graphs and a large language model, which the company did not name.

The team behind it said Copilot was designed as a connected system with “grounding” built into the underlying LLM, a technique designed to improve prompt quality to generate relevant and actionable results. Microsoft said that Copilot won’t always get responses right, however, but can give you a head start.

Microsoft employees showcasing the new offering in the press conference routinely stressed that humans have control of the product, including being able to discard or alter responses entirely, and that Copilot has gone through rigorous privacy checks as well as external examination.

“Copilot combines the power of large language models with your data and apps to turn your words into the most powerful productivity tool on the planet,” said Jared Spataro, Microsoft corporate vice president, of modern work and business applications.

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