Microsoft recently said that artificial intelligence will have as much of an impact on our lives as PCs and the internet—an expectation from a company that just invested billions in OpenAI, maker of ChatGPT.
However, Microsoft is far from alone in making these claims — ChatGPT’s talents, including advanced text generation and question answering, are potentially transformative. But how exactly will AI tools and machine learning change Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Microsoft Office)?
Currently, there is no timetable for Microsoft to integrate OpenAI’s technology into its suite of productivity applications, which include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Teams. But the process has already begun, and recent reports suggest that Microsoft will soon add ChatGPT talent to its Office suite and Bing search engine, which could change the way we use them.
Based on what we know about ChatGPT’s talents and how they apply to Microsoft 365, here are five ways AI technologies could change the way we use apps like Outlook, Word, and PowerPoint.
5 ways ChatGPT is changing Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office, now called Microsoft 365, already has some AI tools of its own thanks to Project Turing (opens in a new tab). Since 2017, the latter has provided features such as Assisted AI for suggesting email responses (see below) and “Smart Lookup” for searching documents.
But OpenAI tools like ChatGPT promise to dovetail with Microsoft’s own AI research to enhance those capabilities and unlock new ones. Thanks to its skills in language processing and data analysis, Microsoft’s partnership with ChatGPT can help…
1. Solve your email woes
For most of us, email has become an outdated chore that lacks the immediacy of the best online collaboration tools like Slack. But generative pretrained transformers (or GPTs) promise to tame our inboxes, thanks to their ability to process vast amounts of text and tease out their meaning.
According to The Information (opens in a new tab), Microsoft “recently looked at how Outlook and Word use GPT to suggest automatic replies to other email.” This could go well beyond the simple auto-complete suggestions we have now – Microsoft apparently also talked about creating “chatbot-style programs that write whole paragraphs of text in Word and Outlook”.
Ultimately, your role in email might be to approve or respond to minor edit suggestions, rather than spend an hour going through them. ChatGPT can also help arrange meetings or organize trips, all of which are great news for us.
2. Makes you (seemly) a better writer
One of the great strengths of ChatGPT is generating text based on prompts. An AI chatbot’s replies aren’t always as authentic as its confident tone might suggest, but the writing itself can convincingly adopt a particular author’s nuance and personality.
This is where ChatGPT, and especially its upcoming GPT-4 model, may have some of the biggest impacts on Outlook and Word, among others.third-party applications, such as Hemingway (opens in a new tab) Already acting as our virtual associate editor, these tools will increasingly be built into applications like Microsoft Office to improve our writing.
You’ll be able to click a button and get a more compact version of the report you just wrote, or get suggestions for removing jargon. How will auto-generated text end up affecting our writing skills? That’s a sticking point for another day, but in the short term it smooths out wrinkles such as over-reliance on passive voice in our documents and emails.
3. Wrap up your meeting
Microsoft’s “at a glance” feature already has the ability to summarize your Word documents with a summary of key points, but the integration of ChatGPT can take this to the next level and spread it to Microsoft 365 applications.
For example, a long report can be automatically condensed into an easy-to-understand PowerPoint presentation. The same technology also automatically aggregates transcripts created during Teams meetings, saving you from the task of creating follow-up emails from scratch.
This combination of Turing’s ability to understand text and ChatGPT’s ability to automatically generate it could act like a sickle to repeat what many of us experience when creating documents or written text in multiple formats, from presentations to emails. You still have the final sign-off, but the legwork of creating PowerPoints and post-meeting emails can quickly be crossed off your “to-do” list.
4. Create beautiful PowerPoint visuals
ChatGPT’s AI capabilities also complement OpenAI’s other creation, Dall-E, which was all the rage last year before chatbots. As a powerful text-to-image generator, Dall-E can create visuals (with mixed results) from simple prompts – which can be a very useful way of bringing your PowerPoint presentations to life.
According to The Information (opens in a new tab), Microsoft has internally discussed “a plan to let PowerPoint customers use OpenAI’s Dall-E 2 image generation model to create new visual effects for presentations.” This works in tandem with ChatGPT’s ability to summarize blocks of text with a summary of key points, effectively creating a draft presentation for you.
This visual aid, which Adobe calls a “creative co-pilot,” lets you simply describe what you want to add to a scene or image. While it has a big impact on digital art, it can also make PowerPoint presentations less of a waste of time.
5. Let you become an Excel master
Not everyone enjoys spending time with Microsoft Excel, but ChatGPT’s data analysis and query response features can make spreadsheet tools a more layman-friendly place.
The discovery of a way to plug ChatGPT into Excel has already caused a stir on the Reddit forum (see video below). Microsoft’s massive investment in OpenAI brings with it the promise of integrating these skills directly into applications like Microsoft’s spreadsheet king.
For example, it can pull data based on a simple prompt (“Top 5 companies in the world by profit”), create Excel formulas and macros, or make data visualization charts for you.
Having a chatbot that sits in Excel ready to analyze data and help you with visualizations is a huge boon for beginners and a huge time saver for experienced users.