Microsoft Expands Machine Learning to Office Apps

The knowledge graph and machine learning tools that Microsoft uses to provide smarts to digital assistant Cortana are now also bringing new intelligence to Word, Outlook and other tools in Office 365.

Researcher, one of the Office updates announced today, is designed to help students writing research papers more easily incorporate relevant quotes and materials from reliable sources into their work. The cloud-based service lets users search for references directly from within their Word documents and can even automatically add citations to a list of references.

Another update, Editor, is aimed at improving writing for a variety of users by providing style suggestions for avoiding unnecessary wordiness and repetition. Built using Microsoft's machine learning and natural language processing capabilities, Editor will "get better with time," according to Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for Microsoft's Office team.

'Safe, Structured, Credible Information'

By drawing on Microsoft's Bing Knowledge Graph, Researcher is designed to help those writing academic papers to "pull in the appropriate content from the Web and provide structured, safe and credible information," Koenigsbauer wrote today in a post on the Office blog. Over time, he added, Microsoft will expand the scope of sources used in Researcher to include national science and health centers, history databases and well-known encyclopedias.

Available starting today for Windows desktop users with Word 2016 and a subscription to Office 365, Researcher will also roll out for mobile devices "soon," Koenigsbauer said.

According to Microsoft, the Bing Knowledge Graph incorporates information from more than one billion sources to help power everything from online Bing searches, Xbox, Office and the Cortana digital assistant. Last fall, Microsoft introduced a new application programming interface to allow developers to develop apps that can tap into those knowledge graph resources.

New 'Digital Writing Assistant'

Microsoft calls its new Editor service a "digital writing assistant"...

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