Microsoft has unveiled two new Word features for its Office 365 users. Researcher and Editor are two tools which harness machine learning to help you create better work.
Microsoft is aiming the first of its new tools at those who need to write quality essays, by giving them a single-click tool for adding in properly formatted citation. The second is for tidying up any grammatical errors once you're finished.
Researcher makes use of Bing Knowledge Graph to pull in relevant content from around the web which is "structured, safe and credible". In other words, it shouldn't just give you a bunch of links from Wikipedia to throw in to your thesis.
As the service develops, Microsoft will increase reference materials to include information from national science centres, respected encyclopaedias and history databases among others to ensure that all the information you could need is reliable, and easy to get to.
A few months ago, Microsoft purchased SwiftKey, the company most well known for its predictive Android keyboard app. And it seems as though it's putting the company's expertise in natural language processing to good use right away with Editor.
Editor uses machine learning and natural language processing to make suggestions that help improve your grammar and choice of words.
In its early state it will help you by simplifying any written work by flagging complex words, or phrases which aren't clear. An example given by Microsoft is something like recommending "most" instead of "the majority of".
Because it's cloud-based and uses machine learning, Editor will get better over time. From autumn this year it will be even be able to tell you why words or phrases may not be accurate in your Word documents, teaching you how to write better, as well as correcting you.
Microsoft Outlook - Focused inbox and @ mentions
Microsoft's Outlook apps for both iOS and Android have a really neat focussed inbox feature which helps filter out emails you want to read, moving them away from the spam you don't want to read.
This feature is now making its way to Outlook for both Windows and Mac as well as Outlook on the web.
In addition, Microsoft is rolling out @metions to Outlook on Windows and Mac. This lets you flag actions for other users just by typing the @ symbol in the email. Then you just choose the person you want to flag, and it's done. That person will then know that an action is required.
What's more, you can filter emails based on which ones you are flagged in, to find actions you need to complete more easily.
Lastly, Microsoft announced a new Zoom feature for PowerPoint which lets you create interactive and non-linear presentations.
It's essentially a way to smoothly transition from one slide to another, even if they're in different sections of the presentation. It's no longer a case of going from one slide to the next in sequence.