Typically, when writing a report or essay, researching for relevant information plays a large role in the writing process, and Microsoft has been determined to make it easier for Office users to get the information they’re looking for quick and easy.
“It’s our goal to reinvent productivity and create the tools that will empower every person and organization to do more and achieve more. New innovation in Office including Insights for Office and Bing Image Search in Sway Preview are the most recent examples of our Bing as a Platform vision” - Ryan Gavin, Bing General Manager at Microsoft
Microsoft plans to accomplish this with the rollout of the new Insights for Office feature in Office Online. Now, Office Online users can get access to Bing-powered search results from right within the document they’re working on. The software giant took things a step further by making Insights for Office a smart tool that understands the context of what users are searching for rather than just offering the same search results presented on Bing.com.
If for example one was writing about Abraham Lincoln and wanted to know when the former president was born, searching for term “Lincoln” within Office would result in a snapshot of the Wikipedia article on him. Insights for Office would know that the user was not searching for the car company Lincoln, or the Lincoln the movie, or Lincoln the town in Nebraska. It would know this because it had scanned the document and noticed the phrase “Abraham Lincoln”. The same applies for other terms like “Amazon”, which could represent the online retailer, the river, or the jungle.
Insights for Office makes use of Bing’s advanced machine learned relevance models to index information in the web and present them in a pleasant-on-the-eye, and organized manner. Information needs to be easily consumable so it isn’t a chore for users to quickly find what they need, and continue writing the document.
“This capability is derived largely from patterns of text analysis developed in collaboration with Microsoft Research. The results deliver the most relevant web links, images, etc. for a given request in the form of entity cards – a quick overview of the most important attributes (description, date of birth, etc.) about a real world person, place or thing.” – Gavin
Of course even if users don’t find what they’re looking for through Insights, they could click on the “More quick insights” or “More web results” to keep on searching without having to open a new tab and re-type their search query.
Insights for Office will be rolling out to Office Online over the next few days, although it is currently only available in English. While the feature is now exclusive to Office Online, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Microsoft bring it over to Office on the desktop, likely as part of the next major release or update for Office 2013.