Microsoft Word gets AI-powered to-do lists and collaboration feature

Brittany A. Roston - Nov 7, 2018, 6:04 pm CDT
Microsoft Word gets AI-powered to-do lists and collaboration feature

Microsoft has revealed new Word features powered by artificial intelligence. The new tools make it simple to create to-do lists for catching back up on things that still need done, as well as a simplified ability to collaborate with other users. The features are arriving first for Mac beta users, but they’ll eventually be launched on both Mac and Windows, as well as online.

The to-do feature, according to Microsoft, is an AI-powered tool that allows users to easily pick up where they left off in a document. Microsoft says that most Word users add a placeholder in a document to mark an area they need to return to later on. This enables them to keep working without breaking their flow, but isn’t ideal for managing a document.

The new AI-based tool automatically creates a to-do list with these placeholders. The user merely types “< words here >” or “TODO: finish this section,” as two examples, and Word will automatically recognize them as to-do placeholders and create a to-do list involving them.

Users will be presented with the to-do list when the return to the Word document, enabling them to easily find their placeholders and finish those elements. Clicking on a to-do item, says Microsoft, takes the user directly to that placeholder within the document.

In addition to AI-based automatic to-do lists, Microsoft has also made is easy to bring someone else into a document by using an @mention. To utilize this feature, the user types the mention as a placeholder; that contact then gets a notification with a deep link to the mention, enabling them to see what the user wrote.

Microsoft plans to enable these linked contacts to reply with their contribution, which the software would automatically insert into the document. Under that scenario, someone could, for example, type a paragraph for the document into an email as a response and Word would take care of the rest.

Microsoft is launching both new features to Mac Word users who are Office Insiders. In the future — Microsoft didn’t say when — it’ll release these feature on the web, Mac, and Windows for Office 365 customers.

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