Word is ubiquitous these days (as are the rest of its Office app counterparts), which is possible thanks to decades of development and advancement by Microsoft. But despite the fact that Word may have a few grey whiskers jutting from its chinny chin chin, this old dog is definitely up for learning some new tricks. And today, Microsoft has revealed that its machine learning prowess has resulted in a new feature that will make it easier for researchers to search for information without impeding their workflow.
If you’re writing a research paper, Microsoft’s new Researcher tool for Office 365 brings in the power of the Bing Knowledge Graph via a sidebar that pops up on the right-hand side of your screen. You can then use the Researcher sidebar to search relevant topics without once having to leave your Word window, and are presented with reliable sources in the results.
“Right within your Word document you can explore material related to your topic and add it—and its properly-formatted citation—in one click,” writes Microsoft’s Kirk Koenigsbauer. “Researcher uses the Bing Knowledge Graph to pull in the appropriate content from the web and provide structured, safe and credible information.”
It’s an incredibly handy service that Microsoft plans to expand upon in the coming months with additional sources “like national science and health centers, well-known encyclopedias, and history databases.”
In case you were wondering, yes, you will soon be able to invoke Researcher from a mobile device with Office 365 installed. That way you can get a jumpstart on finding materials for your paper before you sit down in front of your desktop PC or laptop to begin the real grunt work.
In addition to Researcher, Microsoft has also uncorked Editor, which is a new tool that improves your written work with advanced proofing and editing services. Microsoft once again leverages machine learning and natural language processing to scour your text, and pinpoint rough spots or potential wordiness.
Microsoft promises that Editor’s cloud-based roots will far outpace what’s possible with the current built-in Spelling and Grammar tool:
This fall, it will expand upon Word’s current spelling and grammar tools to inform you why words or phrases may not be accurate—teaching at the same time it is correcting. In the same release, Editor will overhaul Word’s visual proofing cues so you can distinguish at a glance between edits for spelling (red squiggle), grammar (blue double underline) or writing style (gold dotted line).
Researcher is available right new for Office 365 subscribers that use the Windows version of Word 2016. Editor will be rolled out at a later date.