Illustration created by Midjourney 5.2 with the prompt: “two transformer-style fighters in a boxing ring. they are made completely of computer parts. they are fighting. one fighter looks like it is Google because its parts are all painted with the colors of Google’s logo. the other fighter looks like its Microsoft because it parts are painted with colors associated with Microsoft. –ar 16:9 –v 5.2”
Google and Microsoft have unveiled AI add-ons to their respective software suites. “Bard for Google Workspace” and Microsoft’s “Office 365 Copilot” are vying for the attention of businesses and individuals alike. They share a common mission: to elevate collaboration and streamline workflows within their respective ecosystems. I’ve been using both products for a few weeks now. Let’s review.
What Are These Add-Ons?
At their core, both Bard for Google Workspace and Office 365 Copilot are AI-powered add-ons designed to augment the capabilities of their respective office suites. They are not just tools but AI companions, designed to understand, assist, and enhance the user experience in real-time.
What Do They Do, and How Do They Work?
Bard for Google Workspace: Google’s Bard is a generative AI tool that integrates seamlessly with Google Workspace applications. It offers real-time suggestions, automates repetitive tasks, and even drafts emails or documents. Using Google’s advanced machine-learning algorithms, Bard learns from user interactions, making its suggestions more tailored and relevant over time.
Office 365 Copilot: Microsoft’s Copilot acts as a virtual assistant within Office 365, helping users with tasks ranging from data analysis in Excel to designing PowerPoint presentations. It understands context, offers insights, and can even predict user needs based on past behaviors.
What Can You Do with Them?
With Bard, users can draft emails, automate document creation, and get content suggestions based on the context of their work.
Office 365 Copilot offers a broader range of services, from data analysis to presentation design, making it a versatile tool for various office tasks.
Similarities and Differences
At a glance, both tools aim to enhance productivity through AI. However, while Bard focuses more on content generation and automation within the Google ecosystem, Copilot offers a more holistic approach, integrating with various Office 365 applications and providing a wider range of services.
The Promise vs. the Delivery
Google and Microsoft promise a future where AI not only assists but also collaborates with users. That’s the promise. But at the moment, it’s only a promise. Compared with ChatGPT, the current Google and Microsoft tools are unimpressive (and more expensive to use).
That said, the generative AI wars have begun. This is an arms race, and for big tech, the stakes could not be higher. All of these products will improve at an incredible pace and the promise of AI co-workers will be fulfilled in short order.
My Experience with Both Tools
Having spent most of the last 10 days with Bard for Google Workspace open on my desktop, I’m sad to report that not only is Bard emotionally unsatisfying to use, but its responses are generally so bad that it is training me not to use it. It will get better, of course. But if the improvements don’t come soon, we’ll be canceling our subscriptions. The Bard add-on is way too expensive for something this objectively useless.
I also have Office 365 Copilot open all day long, and while it is better than its Google counterpart, it’s still not ready for primetime. As with Google, it’s early days, and we can expect this product to improve quickly. I am unlikely to cancel our Copilot subscriptions because its AI-powered integration of Office 365 is already foreshadowing how extremely useful it will be.
Microsoft’s Office 365 Copilot
- Can appear in Word to generate or alter text.
- Allows businesses to instantly summarize documents, generate emails, and speed up Excel analysis.
- Integrates into Microsoft Teams, enhancing the Teams phone-calling experience and Teams Chat threads.
- Around 600 enterprise customers, including companies like KPMG, Lumen, and Emirates NBD, and many of our clients have tested Microsoft 365 Copilot during a paid early access program. The feedback suggests growing enthusiasm for Copilot as users engage with it more.
Google’s Bard for Google Workspace
- Bard integrates with Google apps and services, offering generative AI capabilities.
- Bard’s accuracy is deemed reasonable, with fewer instances of “hallucination” compared with Bing’s AI Chat.
- Bard’s answers tend to be longer and more verbose compared with Bing’s more succinct responses.
- A significant criticism of Bard is its lack of proper citations or references for content creators. Google seldom includes citations. In its updated Bard FAQs, Google clarifies that Bard will probably cite sources when it extensively quotes from a webpage. In other instances, Bard doesn’t provide citations, since it produces unique content and doesn’t extensively duplicate existing material.
- Bard’s UI is simple and clean, aligning with Google’s product design. It also generates results faster than Bing, although it is not faster than ChatGPT.
- An early poll indicated that almost 70% of users felt Bing’s chatbot beta was superior to Google’s Bard.
The Bottom Line
Both Google and Microsoft are heavily investing in AI-powered tools to enhance their workspace offerings and it’s clear that the integration of AI into their respective office suites is the future.
Which means; it’s time to start testing these tools with your most proactive team members. The learning curve is substantial and the products are evolving so quickly, on-the-job training with these add-ons is the only way to understand and reasonably estimate how much productivity will increase when you fully deploy them.
If you need help with AI education and training, please reach out. We have a full suite of lectures, labs and workshops designed to help you increase productivity by integrating AI into your workflows and processes.
Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it. This work was created with the assistance of various AI models, including but not limited to: GPT-4, Bard, Claude, Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, and others.