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Ignite conference: Smart search, LinkedIn profile info coming to Microsoft Office apps

Oct. 1, 2018


Microsoft announced new features coming to its Office 365 suite, including an AI-powered Clippy-like tool, at its annual Ignite information technology conference Monday in Orlando, Fla.

The laundry list of new tools underscores Microsoft’s drive to make its Office apps relevant to every piece of daily work as all types of workers spend more time using computers.

—The company launched a tool called “Ideas” that will offer suggestions for layout, design or document ideas, depending on which part of Office a customer is using. Ideas is powered by artificial intelligence, Microsoft said, to give relevant suggestions. It may be like a smarter Clippy — an animated device that provided user tips in older versions of Office — though without the bouncing paper-clip body. Ideas is available now in Excel and will come to other apps soon, the company said.

—Microsoft also said it was expanding its smart-search function across Microsoft 365 apps, such as Outlook, PowerPoint and Excel, over the next couple months. The search feature shows custom results based on what it thinks you might be looking for as soon as you put a cursor in the box, even without starting to type.

—Microsoft’s chat app, Teams, is getting built-in features in October that will let workers swap shifts and request time off. More than 329,000 organizations are now using Teams, up from 200,000 in March. A year ago, Microsoft announced that Teams, which is offered as part of Office 365, would replace Skype for Business.

—Information from LinkedIn, the professional social network that Microsoft bought for $26.2 billion in 2016, will soon appear in Outlook meeting invites. Microsoft didn’t give exact timing for the new feature, which it said would include LinkedIn profile information about people in the meetings.

Microsoft Ignite is taking place in Orlando through Friday.

 

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McClatchy-Tribune Information Services