Microsoft Uses AI to Tighten Word's Translation Tool in Office Update

The latest batch of Microsoft Office updates includes a built-in translator in Word and search capabilities that help users connect with co-workers and their shared content.

Microsoft Office

Thanks to Microsoft's accelerated software release cadence, Word now features an improved built-in translation tool that can help users make sense out of documents from their overseas colleagues.

Microsoft is taking a cloudlike approach to software updates, meaning that Office 365 users can expect to see new features and enhancements crop up on a more regular basis. The latest update offers some new tricks for users who routinely use Word's translation tool to decipher documents authored in other languages.

"We've revamped the translation tools available within Word. You can now translate sections of text, or your entire document, and review or save the result as a regular document file," said Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president at Microsoft Office, in a blog post. "Translator supports 60 languages, including 11 that use neural machine translation, providing superior quality and fluency to help you work more confidently."

Like Google, Microsoft uses neural network systems to improve the quality of translated text, yet another example of Microsoft employing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies across its software ecosystem. The new language features in Word can be found under the Review menu item.

In addition to more flexible translation tools, Microsoft has expanded the reach of Tell Me, the search and support tool in Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Users covered by commercial Office 365 plans can search for people and files across the entire organization, or share their own documents using Tell Me.

Now that Office 365 supports 3D objects, which can be used to spice up Word files or create eye-catching PowerPoint presentations, Microsoft is making it easier to share and organize 3D content using the OneDrive cloud file storage and sharing service. Users can now open and view 3D objects in the OneDrive app. The browser-based OneDrive.com service, meanwhile, supports direct viewing without an added plugin.

Outlook.com users now have a new way to keep tabs on their colleagues. The web-based email application allows consumer users to view LinkedIn profile information without leaving their inboxes.

The MyAnalytics (formerly the Delve Analytics add-on for Office 365) dashboard gains three new charts that can help users maximize their time and strike a better work-life balance. Building on the weekly snapshot visualization that shows users how much time they spend emailing co-workers, in meetings and doing other work activities, a new Trends chart displays changes in those activities over greater stretches of time, allowing users to see how well they are progressing on their work goals.

Another chart, called Your Time Investments, displays a user's contacts in various "orbits." Those contacts whose orbits appear closest indicate a tighter work relationship. Finally, the Your Groups chart shows the top six Office 365 Groups in terms of engagement. This video on the new MyAnalytics features provides a closer look.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...