Microsoft announced new features for Office 365, which include Researcher and Editor for Word, Focused Inbox and @mentions for Outlook, and Zoom for PowerPoint.
Researcher pops up as a sidebar in Word document for users to explore material related to the topic of the document they are writing and add it with proper formatting and citation, all in one click. Researcher is powered by Bing Knowledge Graph to appropriate content from the web and provide structured, safe, and credible information.
Microsoft says that it will continue to expand Researcher’s body of reference materials to include sources like national science and health centers, well-known encyclopedias, history databases and more. Adding to Word’s already extensive set of tools is Editor, an advanced proofing, and editing service.
@mentions is made for Outlook on Windows and Mac for the Office 365 subscribers. It identifies emails that need attention, and flag those that don’t. Users just need to type the @ symbol in the body of the email and pick the desired person, and their name will automatically be highlighted in the email and their email address automatically added to the To: line.
Outlook received two updates: Focused Inbox for iOS and Android which helps users focus on their most important emails. It automatically separates the inbox into two tabs thus making the important emails more easily accessible. It tracks the user’s usage pattern and behaviour and customises itself based on the user’s preference.
Researcher is available today for Office 365 subscribers using Word 2016 on Windows desktops. It uses machine learning and natural language processing plus input from Microsoft’s team of linguists to make suggestions to improve the language on a document.
The cloud-based service will improve with time. Initially, it will simplify and streamline written communications by flagging unclear phrases or complex words. Later, said Microsoft, it will expand Word’s current spelling and grammar tools to inform users why words or phrases may not be accurate.
Finally, PowerPoint gets Zoom, which lets users create interactive, non-linear presentations. With this tool, presenters may present their slides in whatever order that makes sense based on their audience, without exiting slide show mode and interrupting the flow.
These features are currently being launched for all Office 365 subscribers and will evolve with time and use thanks to their cloud-based nature.