Microsoft has announced a number of new cloud powered artificial intelligence driven services that are coming to Office 365 this month. These include writing style coaches and research assistants in Word, as well as “Focused Inbox” email management for Outlook on the Mac.
Microsoft Word Researcher is a new service that helps users find and incorporate reliable sources and content for papers in fewer steps. Within a Word document, users can explore material related to their topic and add it—and its properly-formatted citation—in one click. Researcher uses the Bing Knowledge Graph to pull in the appropriate content from the web and provide structured, safe and credible information.
The Researcher function is available as of today for Windows users, with Mac and mobile support for the feature on its way “soon,” although Microsoft hasn’t announced a firm rollout date for those platforms.
Microsoft Word Editor is a new digital writing assistant that assists users to polish their documents via an advanced proofing and editing service. The new feature machine learning and natural language processing, along with input from Microsoft’s own team of linguists, to make suggestions to improve a user’s writing. It will flag unclear phrases or complex words, such as recommending “most” in place of “the majority of.”
Editor is a cloud-based service, and Microsoft say it will get better with time. This fall will see the service expand on Word’s spelling and grammar tools, and will inform users why a word or a phrase might not be accurate. Word’s visual proofing tools will also get an overhaul, so users can tell at a glance between edits for (red squiggle), grammar (blue double underline) or writing style (gold dotted line).
Outlook: Focused Inbox and @mentions
Focused Inbox, which has been available in Outlook on iOS and Android devices comes to Outlook on Mac, Windows, and Outlook on the web. The new feature is designed to help users focus on the emails that matter most, by separating emails into two tabs, “Focused,” and “Other.” As a user moves emails in or out of the “Focused” Inbox, Outlook will learn what their priorities are moving forward.
@mentions have come to Outlook on Windows and Mac for Office 365 subscribers, making it easy to identify important emails, as well as flag emails for actions by other users.
Users flag someone by typing the “@” symbol in the body of an email, and then picking the desired person. That person’s name will automatically be highlighted in the email and their email address automatically added to the To: line.
If a user is mentioned, the @ symbol will show up in Outlook, and they can filter to quickly find all emails where they are mentioned. Within the emails, names are highlighted in blue, helping users find where they’ve been flagged. @mentions are available today for Office Insiders using Outlook 2016 on Windows and Mac. The feature is already available in Outlook on the web, and are on the way to mobile devices.
Office 365 Home is available for up to five users for $100 per year, or $10 per month. A single user license is $70 per year, or $7 per month.