Microsoft on Thursday trumpeted its latest plans to put artificial intelligence (AI) into the hands of more users, answering a spate of unveilings this week by its rival Google with upgrades to its own widely used office software.
For its Microsoft 365 product suite, which consists of Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and Outlook emails, the technology corporation demonstrated a new AI “Copilot” feature. According to Microsoft, AI will provide a version of these applications, first available for testing to about 20 businesses. This will speed up content development and free up workers’ time.
The Redmond, Washington-based company showed off an innovative “business chat” experience that can collect data and execute activities across applications in response to a user’s textual demand, outperforming competitors through investments in OpenAI, the company that created ChatGPT.
“We believe this next generation of AI will unlock a new wave of productivity growth,” Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, said in an online presentation.
On the news, Microsoft’s share price increased by nearly 4%.
The continuous trickle of news this week, which includes additional funding for AI company Adept, shows how big and small businesses are engaged in a tight rivalry to introduce software that might fundamentally alter how people work.
The two main players are Microsoft and Alphabet, the owner of Google, which on Tuesday boasted about its own word processor’s “magic wand” and AI features for Gmail. Both Microsoft and Google showed comparable capabilities.
With the release of ChatGPT last year, the chatbot sensation that made the world aware of the possibilities of so-called large language models, the rush to invest in and create new products got underway.
Such technology develops fresh material by learning from the past. That has quickly changed. Just this week, OpenAI started disseminating GPT-4, a more potent version. According to Microsoft, this, together with an older GPT-3.5 model, business data, and application data serve as the foundation for some of the Copilot functionalities.
The new capabilities – offered through Microsoft’s cloud – are poised to attract business and turn around slowing revenue growth, RBC analyst Rishi Jaluria said.
The Copilot will “drive more usage of Microsoft Office and increase the separation versus competitors,” Jaluria said.