ChatGPT-style tech brought to Microsoft 365

The technology behind the world’s most talked about artificial intelligence (AI) system, ChatGPT, is being added to its most ubiquitous work software, Microsoft 365.

Microsoft is calling the system Copilot and says it will be embedded into Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

Microsoft boss Satya Nadella said it would “fundamentally change the way we work.”

However, the firm admitted Copilot would sometimes make mistakes.

The functions of Copilot include:

  • Summarising the key discussion points of a conversation held on meeting software, Teams, and providing recaps for someone who joins late or misses the whole event
  • Creating PowerPoint presentations, including images, from prompts
  • Drafting emails
  • Analysing long email threads and documents
  • Creating summaries and graphs of data on Excel spreadsheets

Chat GPT has captured the world’s attention with its ability to quickly provide human-like responses to questions, even very complicated or abstract ones.

However, those replies are sometimes inaccurate or provide completely invented information.

While the tech being deployed by Microsoft in Office365 is not simply ChatGPT itself, it is based on the same language-learning model.

The firm acknowledged that Copilot may also sometimes be “usefully wrong”.

“We all want to focus on the 20% of our work that really matters, but 80% of our time is consumed with busy work that bogs us down. Copilot lightens the load,” the tech giant said in a statement.

It has not yet revealed roll-out details.

On Tuesday, OpenAI launched GPT4, un updated version of the model which powers ChatGPT. Microsoft has invested billions of dollars in the firm.

OpenAI said GPT4 had “more advanced reasoning skills” than ChatGPT – but warned that it may still be prone to sharing disinformation.

ChatGPT is a big runner in the worldwide AI chatbot race.

Google – whose lucrative search business could be threatened by ChatGPT – has launched a rival called Bard.

Meta has its own chatbot, named Blenderbot, and in China, the tech giant Baidu has released a more advanced version of its chatbot Ernie, also known as Wenxin Yiyan.

Make no mistake, this is a significant milestone for generational AI and, more importantly, for the world of work.

Bringing the powers behind ChatGPT to the humble Word, Excel and PowerPoint programmes, quite possibly the most used work programmes in most offices, plonks it directly in the daily lives of millions of workers.

I know people have been using ChatGPT to help them do their jobs – to write computer code, speeches, website copy. Students are using it to help them with their homework.

But most of us have been having fun, getting it to write poems, songs, jokes. I asked an audience at a live event recently who had tried ChatGPT. Most hands shot up. But most went back down immediately when I asked who was using it professionally.

Putting Copilot into Office365 is a real game-changer. Imagine instead of summarising that long dull report for your client meeting, you just get a chatbot to do it for you in a few seconds. But why stop there – do you even need to be at the meeting at all? Just get Copilot to recap it for you and send you the notes of it afterwards.

Watching a demo of it creating a stylish PowerPoint presentation in moments was really quite heartwarming for anyone familiar with the phrase “death by PowerPoint”.

Microsoft would argue that this frees up your time to do other jobs. But what if Copilot has one day beaten you to those things as well?