At a New York event on Monday, Microsoft announced new artificial intelligence (AI) features across its Windows, Edge, Bing and Microsoft 365 platforms. The tech giant also debuted two new laptops, with all the products being powered by the redesigned ‘Microsoft Copilot’, a unified AI assistant.

According to CEO Satya Nadella, the current AI race is ushering in the “age of copilots”. He stated that Copilot will “fundamentally transform our relationship with technology”, reflecting Microsoft’s original vision to “put a PC in every home and every desk”.

The next Windows 11 update, arriving on 26 September, will introduce over 150 new Copilot-powered features. Microsoft also plans a 1 November release of Microsoft 365 Copilot for enterprise customers.

Everyday users will access the features through an updated Bing Chat, which can now personalize results using past conversations. Other updates include more personalized online shopping and free image creation with DALL-E 3. However, some of the most impactful tools are for Outlook, Excel, OneNote, Word and other business programs.

Among the new Copilots is one for Microsoft’s advertising platform. It will help answer questions, recommend content and enable other advertising features in coming months. The Copilot will provide insights about campaigns and generate new images based on products and search trends.

Although non-advertising tools were the focus, Microsoft has also created new ‘compare and decide’ ad formats inside Bing Chat. These let advertisers participate in shoppers’ buying decisions. The format is currently in Alpha testing, with a closed Beta planned for January.

According to corporate VP Kya Sainsbury-Carter, the ad format stems from data showing people use Bing Chat to research and compare products. For example, a car shopper might see an ad with a table comparing makes and models. She said “there are some really interesting use cases” that “map very closely to what the user is interested in”.

Sainsbury-Carter noted that chat ads already have double the clickthrough rate of other Bing ads. She said Bing Chat also increases dwell time, while AI shopping ads see an 11% clickthrough increase.

Microsoft is also progressing its chat API for publishers announced in May, starting with Snap and Axel Springer. For Snapchat, the API will power ads in the ‘My AI’ bot. For Axel Springer, it’s integrating with the ChatGPT-powered ‘Hey’ bot from German newspaper BILD.

So far, publisher chat ads use existing Bing formats like text, shopping and compare ads. According to Sainsbury-Carter, the focus is on publishers where chat “makes sense”.

The AI features will help advertisers create targeted profiles, noted analyst Patrick Moorhead. He said Microsoft and rivals want more ad revenue, so “look at the data they have” to see their approaches.

Microsoft’s news follows AI updates from Google and Amazon. On Tuesday, Google announced Bard chatbot improvements and app integrations. On Wednesday, Amazon revealed an updated Alexa model for its new smart devices.

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