Microsoft is getting a text predictive feature; and that may happen as early as March. For those familiar with Google Docs, this feature uses machine learning to predict the next word you are about to type in order to speed up your writing. Word prediction was spotted by Neowin, and is now a part of the Microsoft 365 roadmap, and is expected to reach every Word user on Windows as early as March.
According to Microsoft, the new feature will help “users write more efficiently by predicting text quickly, timely and accurately.” Grayed out predictions that can be accepted by pressing the ‘Tab’ key will appear when using word prediction. To accept the suggestion, tap the ‘Tab’ key or the ‘Esc’ key to reject. The word prediction feature is designed to get better based on your writing style. You will however, be able to turn it off if you are not interested.
For those with privacy concerns, Microsoft said no data will “leave the tenant boundary;” which means you are covered. However, the company adds that nobody will see it unless “donated as part of the feedback mechanism.”
Still talking about privacy and the safety of the data being shared with Microsoft, the newly launched Microsoft’s Productivity Score came under the hammer for being a workplace surveillance tool last November. Privacy experts knocked down the feature because it possesses all the ability to work as a surveillance tool for employers.
The tool allows employers to break down how much time employees are spending on work tools such as Word, email, and Microsoft Teams. Managers can use Microsoft 365 to track employees’ activity at an individual level. Interestingly, the tool lets employers drill down into data on individual employees. Employers are able to find those who participate less in group chats, send fewer emails, or failed to collaborate in shared documents.
Austrian researcher Wolfie Christl in a tweet said “this is so problematic at many levels.” Indeed it gives cause for concern, and could be a topical issue among some European countries especially as it concerns users’ privacy.
“Employers are increasingly exploiting metadata logged by software and devices for performance analytics and algorithmic control,” Christl added per The Guardian. “MS is providing the tools for it. Practices we know from software development (and factories and call centres) are expanded to all white-collar work.”
Nothing much has been heard about this since it was reported in November; but it would be interesting to find out how data collated in the process of using the new Microsoft text prediction feature is used.