Microsoft puts AI to work in Office 365

You'll hardly have to lift a finger to complete some tasks.

Reuters/Mike Segar

Microsoft isn't just trying out artificial intelligence through bots and voice assistants -- it's going all-in. The crew in Redmond has revealed that Office 365 is wielding cloud-based AI to automate many tasks. Tap for Word and Outlook surface relevant content from your company to help finish a project, for instance. PowerPoint and Sway will have a QuickStarter feature that gives you curated outlines for given topics, saving you the trouble of creating the foundation of a presentation from scratch. Excel, meanwhile, will have a way to turn raw geographic data into Bing-based maps.

Some of these intelligent features are available now, although you'll have to wait until later this year to get the Excel and PowerPoint helpers.

There are some more behind-the-scenes uses of AI as well. Microsoft's sales service, Dynamics 365, will use AI assistance to bring up relevant data and point sales reps in the right direction when they're trying to clinch a deal. The company is even using an AI agent in its American call centers to help staff answer your questions. While you might not notice these as much as the Office upgrades, they're evidence that Microsoft sees machine learning as useful in many parts of the computing world.