Microsoft unveils AI for its office suite in increased competition with Google

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Microsoft Corp on Thursday trumpeted its latest plans to put artificial intelligence 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.

The company previewed a new AI “copilot” for Microsoft 365, its product suite that includes Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations and Outlook emails.

Going forward, AI can offer a first draft in Microsoft’s applications, speeding up content creation and freeing up workers’ time, the company said.

Also read: Microsoft brings Bing AI chatbot to Edge web browser

“We believe this next generation of AI will unlock a new wave of productivity growth,” Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, said in a livestreamed presentation.

This week’s drumbeat of news including new funding for AI startup Adept reflects how companies large and small are locked in a fierce competition to deploy software that could reshape how people work. At the center are Microsoft and Google-owner Alphabet Inc, which on Tuesday touted AI features for Gmail and a “magic wand” to draft prose in its own word processor.

The frenzy to invest in and build new products began with the launch last year of ChatGPT, from the Microsoft-backed startup OpenAI. Chatbot showed the potential of so-called large language models, technology that learns from past data how to create content anew. It is rapidly evolving. Just this week, OpenAI began the release of a more powerful version known as GPT-4.