Microsoft Unveils New AI Offerings and Experiences Across its Products

At an event on 9/21/23, Microsoft unveiled a suite of new AI capabilities and experiences that will be rolling out across many of its consumer and enterprise products over the coming months. The overarching theme is the integration of large language models into Microsoft’s software and services to enable more natural user experiences powered by AI.

The AI Anchor: Microsoft Copilot

The anchor for many of these new offerings is Microsoft Copilot, an AI assistant that will be available across Windows 11, Microsoft 365, Bing, and Edge. Described as an “everyday AI companion”, Copilot will provide contextual suggestions and assistance to users based on their current task and past activity.

For example, if a user is browsing for a trip on Bing and has previously searched for a favorite sports team, Copilot may proactively notify them if their team is playing in the destination city during their planned travel dates. Copilot will start rolling out first in Windows 11 starting September 26, followed by Microsoft 365, Bing, and Edge later this fall.

New Windows 11 Update Brings AI to Key Apps

The next major Windows 11 update, version 22H2, will begin rolling out on September 26 and includes over 150 new features. Among these are several AI-powered capabilities and experiences designed to increase productivity and creativity.

Key highlights include Copilot in Windows to provide quick assistance across apps, AI drawing capabilities in Paint, background blur and improved search in Photos, text extraction and redaction in Snipping Tool, and auto video creation with Clipchamp. The update also brings a modernized File Explorer, integrated Outlook email client, and accessibility improvements like natural voices for Narrator.

Bing and Edge Get New AI Features

Microsoft also showcased several upgrades coming to its Bing search engine and Edge browser leveraging large language models like DALL-E 3. New personalization features will enable Bing to provide more tailored results and recommendations based on user search history and interests.

Bing is also gaining a new AI-powered shopping experience that asks clarifying questions to understand exactly what users are looking for and provide better product recommendations. The new DALL-E 3 integration will enable higher quality AI image generation.

For enterprise users, Bing Chat is getting visual search, image creation, and mobile support. Edge will gain new shopping features like finding the best price and visual search. And both Bing and Edge will have “Content Credentials” using digital watermarks to authenticate AI-generated images.

Microsoft 365 Chat Transforms Work with AI

One of the biggest announcements was Microsoft 365 Chat, a new AI assistant experience for enterprise users. Leveraging data across Microsoft 365, it aims to provide proactive recommendations and assistance with complex work tasks like writing documents, planning meetings, and catching up on emails.

Microsoft 365 Copilot, which brings AI capabilities into Office apps, will hit general availability on November 1. It is also being expanded with new AI features in Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other apps. This includes integration with the new Microsoft Designer app to suggest visuals for documents.

New Surface Devices Launch

To complement the new AI experiences, Microsoft also announced new Surface devices available for pre-order starting today. These include the Surface Laptop Studio 2, updated with faster performance to run AI workloads, and the portable Surface Laptop Go 3.

The Surface Go 4 debuts as a 2-in-1 for business and education customers. And the Surface Hub 3 is an improved collaborative device optimized for Teams Rooms. New adaptive accessories were also launched to make Surface Pen more accessible.

Looking Ahead

Microsoft states they are taking a responsible approach to integrating generative AI, with transparency, content authentication, and user control over personalization. The company has also invested in developing Copilot and other technologies using its own human-centered data sets and models.

According to analyst Brian McFarlane, “This is an impressive showcase of Microsoft’s AI capabilities across search, productivity software, and operating systems. Leveraging its data and cloud infrastructure, Microsoft is betting big that infusing AI throughout its stack will keep users wedded to its ecosystem versus alternatives.”

He notes that the success of these new offerings will depend on consistent execution and user adoption over time. “If Microsoft can deliver intuitive, delightful experiences powered by AI, they could drive increased usage across their products and services. But the space is getting highly competitive with other tech giants also racing to deploy AI.”

Microsoft’s extensive array of AI announcements signals its ambition to be an AI leader and integrate intelligent experiences into its core software and services. Over the next several months, consumers and business users will get access to new Copilot, Chat, and Designer experiences aimed at boosting productivity, creativity, and ease of use. According to Microsoft, this is just the beginning, with plans to add more AI capabilities across its portfolio going forward.