Microsoft made its latest move in an ongoing battle with Google for AI supremacy, previewing a new feature to integrate the technology with its Microsoft 365 Office suite.
Dubbed Copilot, Microsoft stated the feature is currently being tested with select corporate customers and has been built on an AI software called large language models (LLMs), which has been developed in recent years to be capable of understanding and responding to text.
Through Copilot, Microsoft said users of its popular business apps including Word, PowerPoint and Excel will benefit from “an entirely new experience”, using AI to generate drafts of documents, emails, presentations and even chats.
For example, by using the feature on Microsoft Word, users communicate with Copilot on a sidebar and it will then write, edit, summarise and create a document based on text prompts. Naturally, users retain the ability to keep, modify or discard what is written. Microsoft claims this could save hours in “writing, sourcing and editing time”.
Copilot is powered by GPT-4, the latest upgrade to ChatGPT by OpenAI, a developer Microsoft has invested billions in to propel AI-based products into the mainstream.
Interestingly, the company made a point of announcing Copilot had been built with existing commitments to data security and privacy, and was “grounded in AI principles and responsible” standards involving “decades of research”.
This comes in the same week the spotlight fell on Microsoft’s attitude towards ethical AI after it emerged it had sacked its entire team focused on the field during a recent round of cuts.
Also this week, Google, which is emerging as Microsoft’s main rival in the segment, launched AI assistant Claude, an apparent competitor to ChatGPT.
Separately, it also announced the integration of AI features in its own suite of business offerings including Docs and Gmail.