Microsoft gives Word a boost with new interactive, AI-enabled placeholders

Alonzo Simpson
November 10, 2018

In an announcement blog post, Microsoft says distractions can hamper progress and being in the flow can create focus.

Microsoft this week announced that it is adding some new AI-powered features to Word across Windows, Mac, and the web. For example, if you write "TODO: finish this section" or "insert closing here" Word will turn them into to-do lists it tracks. Microsoft looking to streamline the workflow with a set of new productivity features for Word that it unveiled today. When this happens, you likely do what research tells us many Word users do: "leave a placeholder in your document and come back to it later to stay in your flow". The organization is trying another component in its word processor that will consequently identify notes and messages left for yourself as well as other people and transform them into actionable lists.

"Over time, Office will use AI to help fill in many of these placeholders". As these options grow, Microsoft explains that if you select a suggestion such as , you'll be able to search for appropriate content from other files and insert relevant information right into the document. These are all presented as links that can be clicked to navigate to the exact spot in the document.

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When you return to the document, Word will pop-up a to-do list it generated from the notes you made so it's quick and easy to recall what needs doing.

For enhanced collaboration, the feature also lets users @-mention colleagues to notify them to perform certain tasks on a shared document and Word will send them a deep link via email to the right place in the document.

Microsoft plans to enable these linked contacts to reply with their contribution, which the software would automatically insert into the document. This is still a Fast Ring release so is still some way off reaching all users. Apparently, the feature will arrive for all other Office 365 subscribers "soon".

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