Microsoft has reportedly been exploring implementing OpenAI’s language Artificial Intelligence technology into its Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook apps. According to a report, Microsoft has already integrated an unidentified version of OpenAI’s text-generating GPT model into Word’s autocomplete feature and has been working on further integrating it into Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Microsoft is said to be using OpenAI’s GPT technology to enhance Outlook search results, allowing users to find what they’re looking for without needing to use keywords in emails.
According to The Information report, Microsoft has also investigated how these AI models could suggest email responses or document changes to improve Word users’ writing. It’s unclear whether Microsoft intends to launch these features or if they’re just being used for testing purposes for the time being.
If Microsoft builds in the features found in ChatGPT, the conversational AI that hit the headlines last year, Outlook could write entire emails based on simple queries. Consider Outlook sending an email to your colleagues explaining why you’re sick based solely on a “write an email to my team explaining I’m out sick” query. Microsoft is also reported to be working on a version of Bing that will use ChatGPT to respond to search queries. This new feature, designed to make Bing more competitive with Google, could be readily accessible as early as March, according to the report.
When it comes to bringing more advanced AI text-generation features to its productivity apps, Microsoft will face numerous challenges. The most important of these is accuracy. ChatGPT continues to present incorrect information as fact, making any type of document generation or advanced integration difficult. Another significant barrier is privacy. Microsoft will have to tailor its models to individual users without jeopardising their data. According to The Information, Microsoft has been working on privacy-preserving models based on GPT-3 and the yet-to-be-released GPT-4. According to reports, Microsoft researchers have had initial success in training large language models on private data.
These models could be used by Microsoft to scoop and summarise information from Teams Meeting transcripts, as well as add images generated by OpenAI’s Dall-E 2 image generation model to Powerpoint slides. Researchers are said to have introduced their Office integration work to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, but it’s unclear whether or not these GPT- or Dall-E 2-powered models will be accessible in Office products.
Microsoft’s productivity apps already make use of a variety of AI. Word and PowerPoint use AI algorithms to suggest image and slide deck captions, Microsoft Teams uses artificial intelligence to boost echo, interruptions, and acoustics, and Microsoft created an AI-powered code autocomplete using GPT-3 two years ago. Microsoft Editor also improves your writing by using artificial intelligence to perform spellchecking, grammar checking, and text predictions.
After investing $1 billion (roughly Rs. 8200 crore) in OpenAI in 2019, Microsoft acquired an exclusive licence to the technology involved behind GPT-3 in 2020. It has maintained a close relationship with OpenAI since then, with plans to add an AI text-to-image model driven by OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 to Bing. Microsoft’s Surface team has also demonstrated a willingness to develop new hardware to take advantage of AI, such as the new Surface smart camera.
If Microsoft moves forward with GPT-powered versions of Word, Outlook, and PowerPoint, it will mark an important commercialization of OpenAI’s GPT models. Bing appears to be on track to join PowerApps, Microsoft’s first commercial use case for GPT, with its own AI-powered search results in the near future. The incorporation of OpenAI’s language models by Office and Bing would put a great deal of pressure on Google, which pervades search and has been making headway with its Workspace services to businesses.