Microsoft Bulks Up Office 365's Intelligent Services

Researcher and Editor were just the start. Microsoft announces new intelligent services that assist users in creating professional-quality Office content.

Office 365

Microsoft isn't stopping at helping users produce polished Word documents and become better researchers with the company's new cloud-enabled intelligent services for Office 365. During its Ignite conference in Atlanta this week, the software giant took the wraps off new features that can slash the time it takes to create informative and professional-looking Office content.

Among them is the Tap feature in Word and Outlook. Tap takes information from the Microsoft Graph, a machine-learning technology that surfaces relevant Office content, to recommend shared documents, documents, presentations or spreadsheets while users are composing a Word document or an email in Outlook.

With a click, users can incorporate and edit the recommended content without leaving the application. The feature is available now to Office 365 Enterprise E3 and E5 customers (First Release, Current Channel). Microsoft is working on bringing the feature to PowerPoint and other apps, the company said.

Another new feature, this time for Sway and PowerPoint, helps users "conquer the blank canvas," according to Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Office.

"Powered by the Bing Knowledge Graph, QuickStarter in Sway and PowerPoint provides carefully curated outlines for any topic, including recommendations on information to include, categories to consider and associated images tagged with Creative Commons licenses," wrote Koenigsbauer in a Sept. 26 blog post. "This provides a solid starting point to then continue building the rest of your presentation."

The Designer function in PowerPoint, which generates professional design options for a given slide, now supports bulleted lists. Microsoft plans to extend support to more types of text-based content including timelines, revealed Koenigsbauer.

In Excel, a new Bing Maps-powered chart type generates geographic data visualizations in just a few steps. Dubbed simply Maps, the feature will be available to the Windows desktop, Windows Mobile and Android versions of the app by the end of the year.

Delve Analytics, the work-life balance enhancing Office 365 add-on, has been renamed MyAnalytics. Microsoft plans to enable the technology to one day "deliver insights to teams and Office 365 Groups to help them establish better ways of working together, uncover hidden inefficiencies and align on priorities," Koenigsbauer said.

In terms of keeping Office 365 data secure, the company announced improvements to Advanced Threat Protection, including the ability to scan attachments for potential malware without slowing down the email delivery. Koenigsbauer also shared that his company plans to bring Advanced Threat Protection to the SharePoint Online and the Office desktop applications. The enhancements are scheduled to start rolling out by year's end.

The new Threat Intelligence capability uses the company's globe-spanning Intelligent Security Graph and expertise from the company's cyber-security experts to help Office 365 administrators monitor and protect against emerging threats.

Finally, the Advanced Data Governance in Office 365 helps businesses keep a tighter lid on sensitive information. Koenigsbauer remarked that Microsoft is "applying intelligence to make it easier than ever to retain high value data and ensure business continuity, while reducing your overall risk profile."

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 network of...