Microsoft has unveiled a new add-in for Excel that enables users to utilize the power of generative AI to create and manipulate data in spreadsheets. The add-in, named Excel Labs, is available as a Microsoft Garage project only.
This represents vry early-stage ideas for the service that Microsoft is exploring and evaluating. While some of these ideas may make it to the end user Excel app, none are guaranteed. The add-in is available through the Office Store, but the features are considered experimental, not in preview and only available to those with the add-in.
If you are unfamiliar with generative AI, it is a type of intelligence model that can generate content such as images, audio, and text. OpenAI's GPT-4 – which powers services like Microsoft's Bing Chat – is an example of a generative AI. It is also multimodal, which means it can do several generative tasks, such as create audio, images, and text.
Excel Labs allows users to access generative AI models from within Excel and apply them to their data sets. For instance, users can generate realistic product images from text descriptions, synthesize customer reviews from ratings, or create new data points from existing ones. Users can also customize and fine-tune the models to suit their specific needs and preferences.
Microsoft claims that Excel Labs will enhance the productivity and creativity of Excel users by allowing them to generate new insights and solutions from their data. The company also states that Excel Labs will democratize access to generative AI technology and make it more accessible and user-friendly for everyone.
Microsoft Excel Embracing AI to Automate Tasks
Microsoft has been upping the AI game of Excel in recent months. Back in February, the company discussed its Flame AI which automates formulas on the app. It is an AI that will make automation on the Microsoft Excel app more efficient. Because it is designed for Excel, it is more accurate and cost-effective than third-party alternatives.
Last month, Microsoft introduced Microsoft 365 Copilot, an AI integration that brings GPT-4 capabilities to its core Office apps. That includes Microsoft 365 Copilot for Excel.
With Copilot, users can ask the chatbot queries about their spreadsheet and data, whether natural language or formulas. The AI can surface relationships between data, offer what-if scenarios, and even offer new formulas.
Tip of the day: With a single registry tweak, it's possible to add a ‘Take Ownership' button to the right-click context menu that performs all of the necessary actions for you. You'll gain full access to all possible actions, including deletion, renaming, and more. All files and subfolders will also be under your name.
The Take Ownership context menu will set the currently active user as the owner of the files, though they must also be an administrator. They can then enter the folder or modify the file as they usually would.