Microsoft Office 365, Cortana, Bing get AI upgrades, expanding productivity and analytics

Desktop view of Bing’s cross-platform Reddit community search experience

The hope is that Microsoft, lacking a credible smartphone OS of its own, will instead be able to battle the likes of Google and Apple by playing up integration with Windows and Office 365. Further, the representative added that in the US alone, almost one-third of desktop searches are done on Bing. The AI promises to have a useful impact on our day-to-day lives. "Sometimes, people have been using AI for a long time and they don't even realize it".

Other new features include an AI-powered whiteboard app that can recognise freeform drawings and turn them into standard shapes, and an extension of capability within OneDrive and SharePoint to automatically recognise the content within images and automatically extract searchable text. Microsoft also announced a new partnership with Reddit created to bring information from the site's forums and community to Bing. And thanks to a partnership with Reddit, some of the results might come from the aggregation site's posts and AMAs.

Such changes may help consumers and business leaders alike access information more related to their question, and have greater confidence that the results are trustworthy. "At Microsoft, we believe it's important to understand where information comes from", said Kristina Behr, partner design and planning program manager for Microsoft's AI and research. These features will help browsers to better phrase a query in order to fetch more desirable answers on the first search.

Microsoft Office 365, Cortana, Bing get AI upgrades, expanding productivity and analytics
Microsoft Office 365, Cortana, Bing get AI upgrades, expanding productivity and analytics

"As Bing, what we want to do is we want to provide the best results from the overall web". Similar results can be found for more sensitive questions. "Often people are seeking answers that go beyond something that is a mathematical equation". "We want to be able to frame those opinions and articulate them in a way that's also balanced and objective". In addition to being able to access calendar appointments and trigger reminders, users can also use voice commands with Cortana-powered speakers like Harman Kardon Inc.'s Invoke device, to access their calendar. AI helps spell check to make writing suggestions, something that users might not have realized according to Microsoft.

Additionally, the Seeing AI app is getting new features like currency, handwriting, colour recognition, and light detection that will be available for users across 35 countries.

Microsoft is adding new artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities to its Office 365 productivity suite aimed at simplifying complicated Excel spreadsheets, demystifying corporate Jargon and ensuring that its users never miss a meeting again. That will allow users to do things like add charts to a presentation without searching through hundreds of documents to find it.

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