There have been some reports over the past few days that Microsoft is looking to add the ChatGPT chatbot – which relies on artificial intelligence, developed by OpenAI – in a group of office applications, namely: Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook.
Earlier reports said Microsoft was planning to release a version of its Bing web browser that would use ChatGPT to answer search queries.
Microsoft is in talks to invest $10 billion in OpenAI, in which it invested $1 billion in 2019.
All this news puts us in front of an important question, how will artificial intelligence change the work applications used by millions of companies around the world, especially since Google will enter the competition very soon as it is currently working to integrate its Generative AI capabilities into its Google Workspace cloud applications?
Will we see Clippy with artificial intelligence?
The news of the integration of the ChatGPT bot into Word reminded the previous technology generation of the assistant (Clippy) – launched by Bill Gates in 1997 – which was a smart user interface compatible with Microsoft Office in the form of an interactive animated icon in the form of a paper clip that helped users, and it was included in Microsoft Office in 1997 and continued until the release of Office 2001.
My clip would appear in Word as soon as I typed the word dear on the page to say things like: “Looks like you’re writing a letter. Do you want to help”.
But it had a reputation for having one of the worst user interfaces ever, stopping users to ask if they needed help with basic tasks, like writing a letter or making a spreadsheet, but it was so annoying to users that Microsoft abandoned it.
But in 2021, Microsoft revived Clippy in another way, turning the paper clip into a pack of animated stickers in its Teams program.
The ChatGPT bot will of course be more than just a new Clippy, it can potentially perform many tasks in Office applications, from writing entire articles, suggesting replies to emails, and translating texts, to analyzing data in Excel.
Will Microsoft face obstacles in integrating ChatGPT into its products?
Microsoft is now using some artificial intelligence features in Office applications, such as the (At a Glance) feature that summarizes Word documents, the auto-complete feature, and the natural language model (Turing) for quick search in Windows, Office applications, the Bing engine, and others.
But to integrate OpenAI’s ChatGPT bot into its products there will be a lot of hurdles to overcome, most notably:
- The problem with its inaccurate answers: The company (OpenAI) itself has warned users that ChatGPT may sometimes provide incorrect answers or biased content, and this makes creating company documents or integrating with work services currently prohibited.
- Privacy Issue: How Microsoft Will Keep Businesses Using Its Office Apps Private With a ChatGPT Bot It’s hard to imagine a law firm or financial services firm that uses Office apps all day getting help from ChatGPT now.
This step from Microsoft will change the office work forever:
In the end, it cannot be denied that this step will give Microsoft a great competitive advantage in the office applications market, and it will change office work forever. Think about the speed of writing daily text output for regular organizations, such as emails, presentations, and reports. ChatGPT may be the key to increasing the market share of Office applications and increasing the efficiency of office work.
But it may take some time before it becomes clear how Microsoft and Google can make generative AI tools work at scale with high efficiency, and how organizations can handle what employees create with these tools.
Experts and analysts say there are a lot of open questions about the controls institutions and companies will put in place on how these tools are adopted at work.