Microsoft adds AI tools to office apps like Outlook, Word

NEW YORK (AP) — Microsoft is infusing artificial intelligence tools into its suite of office software, including Word, Excel and Outlook emails.

The company said Thursday the new feature, named Copilot, is a processing engine that will allow users to do things like summarize long emails, draft stories in Word and animate slides in PowerPoint.

Microsoft 365 General Manager Colette Stallbaumer said the new features are currently only available for 20 enterprise customers. It will roll it out for more enterprise customers over the coming months.

Microsoft is marketing the feature as a tool that will allow workers to be more productive by freeing up time they usually spend in their inbox, or allowing them to more easily analyze trends in Excel.

The tech giant based in Redmond, Washington, will also add a chat function called Business Chat, which resembles the popular ChatGPT. It takes commands and carries out actions — like summarizing an email about a particular project to co-workers — using user data.

“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,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement.

Mattel, Instacart and other companies have also been integrating generative AI tools like ChatGPT and the image generator Dall-E to come up with ideas for new toy cars and answer customers’ food questions.

Microsoft rival Google said this week it is integrating generative AI tools into its own Workspace applications, such as Google Docs, Gmail and Slides. Google says it will be rolling out the features to its “trusted testers on a rolling basis throughout the year."

Microsoft's announcement came two days after OpenAI, which powers the generative AI technology Microsoft is relying on, rolled out its latest artificial intelligence model, GPT-4.