Intelligent Office tools, SQL Server 2019 preview and Microsoft 365 Search head up AI-themed releases at Ignite | Artificial intelligence

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has announced a range of new AI-assisted for existing products and cloud services.

These updates seek to provide new automated features and behaviors for simplifying daily workflows and were revealed at the Microsoft conference today.

These updates include:

Microsoft

Microsoft Search is a new feature that will be available to businesses running Microsoft 365, the suite of software and services that includes Windows 10 Enterprise and 365.

Windows 10 and Microsoft 365 apps will be able to use the built-in search tool to locate documents, content, and other data — both inside and outside of an organization — without leaving the Microsoft 365 app.

The new service uses both the Microsoft Graph and machine-learning technology from Bing to make results relevant. Microsoft Search will be available in from today in select apps and services, and will eventually come to the Edge web browser, Windows 10, and Office apps.

2019 public preview

This latest release updates the relational database with new big data capabilities that enable it to be used for a wide range of tasks, including OLTP, data warehousing and Business (BI), as well as what Microsoft calls “AI and advanced analytics”.

Microsoft says these new features are designed to turn SQL Server into a “hub for data insights”, allowing data to be analysed without being moved between silos.

Built-in support for Spark and Hadoop Distributed File System also makes it easier for data scientists to ingest, store and analyze large amounts of data, and new connectors enable other databases like Oracle, Teradata and MongoDB to be queried directly from SQL Server.

Ideas in Office

Starting with Excel and PowerPoint, users will be able to click the lightning bolt icon in Excel or PowerPoint to launch the Ideas pane, which provides app-specific suggestions for designs, layouts, and images, tailored to what the user is working on.

For instance, in PowerPoint, Ideas recommends designs, layouts, and images, and in Excel, it recognizes trends, suggests charts and identifies outliers in data.

Ideas is generally available in Excel today and will begin rolling out in preview soon to the other apps starting with PowerPoint Online.

Excel upgrades

Excel gains several minor upgrades, including the AI-powered Data Types tool being now generally available, and a new image recognition capability that lets users convert a picture of a data table into an editable Excel file. This Insert Data from Picture functionality is now available in public preview.

Other Excel improvements include faster lookup-type functions, which now take seconds, instead of minutes.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams also gains the ability to automatically transcribe recorded meetings, providing a searchable transcript and automatic captions, alongside a new automatic background blur feature for video meetings.

Office 365

Office 365 will be able to be connect to LinkedIn accounts, allowing users to send emails and share documents with people directly connected to you on LinkedIn. Users will be able to share content directly from Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Microsoft also announced that, later this year, meeting invites will display LinkedIn information about other participants.

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