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From Humble Beginnings: The Beginning and Steady Growth of AI In Microsoft Office

After the initial release of Microsoft Office products in 1990 they have seen significant improvement on a regular basis. A major advancement for the products was in 2016 when Microsoft Corp. announced it formed the Microsoft AI and Research Group.

This research organization, led by Harry Shum a twenty-year Microsoft Veteran, was composed of over 5,000 computer scientists and engineers whose main focus all went to Microsoft’s AI product efforts with its overall main goal for this group has always been to democratize AI and make it more accessible for everyone.

“Today’s move signifies Microsoft’s commitment to deploying intelligent technology and democratizing AI in a way that changes our lives and the world around us for the better. We will significantly expand our efforts to empower people and organizations to achieve more with our tools, our software and services, and our powerful, global-scale cloud computing capabilities.”
– Harry Shum, 2016

When initially introduced, Microsoft took a four-pronged approach to democratize AI which included:

  1. Agents that are used to harness AI to fundamentally change human and computer interaction through agents such as Microsoft’s digital personal assistant Cortana.
  2. Applications that infuse AI into every application, from the photo app on people’s phones to Office 365.
  3. Services that make these intelligent capabilities that are infused in Microsoft’s apps, cognitive capabilities such as vision and speech, and machine analytics, available to every application developer in the world.
  4. Infrastructure which is building the world’s most powerful AI supercomputer with Azure and make it available to anyone, to enable people and organizations to harness AI’s power.

Using this four-pronged approach, Microsoft set off with the end goal of harnessing artificial intelligence and infusing it into the daily lives of every person and organization, fundamentally changing how we solve society’s toughest problems.

Since its conception, Microsoft has done just that. As of today, AI has been incorporated into almost every aspect of Microsoft making their office products as proficient as ever, especially in a currently internet heavy business culture. With every update, we have seen Microsoft incorporate AI into all office products bringing the benefits of increased productivity, collaboration, and more accurate data reporting. Whether they are slight changes or large scale changes, Artificial Intelligence now plays a major role in how these applications operate while also remaining a top-pick for both personal and professional reasons.

Below is a table of AI influenced office products offered by Microsoft that range from classic office applications to newer additions. These helpful tools and applications aid in personal, business and enterprise use and manage a lot of the routine, repeatable work. By taking over these pre-selected tasks, AI gives the opportunity for individuals to concentrate on bigger, more purposeful tasks while improving overall productivity.

Examples of AI Based Microsoft Office Applications


Microsoft Office’s personal productivity assistant that works with the goal of helping save time and maintain focus. Cortana can help by:

  • Manage your calendar and keep your schedule up to date
  • Join a meeting/find out your next meeting
  • Create and manage lists
  • Set reminders and alarms
  • Find definitions and other information
  • Open apps on your computer


This personalized application uses AI to analyze work patterns and help individuals to work smarter, not harder. AI plays a role by:

  • Analyzing your work in an instructive way and dissect how you manage your time
  • Leadership insights – this feature helps individuals spend less time on remedial tasks, picks up communication trends, and tracks tendency to allow effective performance.


A Microsoft Office staple that benefits from the inclusion of AI for completing tasks such as:

  • Sync email drafts between multiple devices automatically with Draft Sync
  • The ability to translate emails with high-level of intuition and user-friendless
  • Outlook assistant Cortana can read emails aloud and summarizes details such as sender and time sent

Power BI

This application is critical for an organization to make confident decisions and access reliable data insights. AI also helps with:

  • Self-service analytics that allow an individual to confidently reduce added cost and security risks
  • Data security with capabilities that include sensitivity labeling, end-to-end encrypting, and real-time monitoring.


Another Microsoft Office staple that has been revolutionized by AI. Artificial Intelligence can oversee the following tasks such as:

  • Inserting data from a photo (i.e. – taking a photo of data from a piece of paper and replicating it to a spreadsheet
  • Ask questions about your data and receive institute, data-driven answers (this comes especially in handy when it comes to applying the correct formulas)
  • Using visual summaries, AI can notice correlations between data points


A newer scheduling application that has the benefits of AI managing tasks such as:

  • Incorporating the Cortana application and can access those functions
  • Process scheduling requests
  • Send emails to negotiate times
  • Finding available locations within the office
  • Manage and send invite


Probably one of the most frequently used Microsoft Office products and one that benefits immensely from incorporating AI which can handle tasks such as:

  • Translation of up to sixty different languages without losing meaning
  • The resume assistant tool that allows an individual to create an engaging, dynamic resume. This tool also includes professional insights from partners such as LinkedIn.
  • Tasks lists – AI can help create tasks lists in words that can be accessed by colleagues to make the flow of information easier.

Microsoft Pix

An intelligent camera app where AI is used to improve photo quality. Artificial Intelligence helps by:

  • Enhancing, sharpening and fine tuning
  • Producing sharp, clear images even in low light
  • Face detection and setting adjustment to get the possible shot
  • Scanning, downloading, and cleaning up document photos

AI as of 2022

In true Microsoft fashion, their office applications and products grow and adapt with time. In a hybrid working word, Microsoft Office saw the need for better collaboration, communication, and an overall easier remote work experience. With this need, Microsoft introduced “Context IQ” to define a set of integrated AI experiences across Microsoft 365 that predicts, seeks, and suggests information they might need for their daily workload. Integrating this new AI application introduces:

  • Mesh For Microsoft Teams a 2D and 3D meeting space with personalized avatars and immersive spaces.
  • Updates to the team meeting experience.
  • New capabilities to Microsoft Teams Connect allowing for more fluid and secure collaboration for individuals inside and outside of the organization.
  • The virtual green room with a host of new webinars and broadcasting abilities to ensure an engaging experience. Virtual green room organizers can socialize, monitor chat, conduct Q & As, manage attendee setting and share content.
  • Next level collaboration with Microsoft’s new collaborative apps from partners including Atlassian, SAP, and ServiceNow.
  • All-in-one digital contact center solution, powered by Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service and Teams.
  • Microsoft Editor is taken to a new level of proficiency by helping with suggesting relevant files, suggesting colleagues to tag in emails, and finding available calendar times with collaborators.