Excel Labs is a new Microsoft Garage add-in that adds OpenAI-based generative AI to Excel

Excel Labs add-in

A few weeks ago, Microsoft announced the Copilot feature for Microsoft 365. It will allow users to access generative AI to help automate tasks in, for example, Excel spreadsheets. Right now, Microsoft 365 Copilot is only being used in a few businesses for testing. However, almost anyone can now use generative AI features inside Excel via a new Microsoft Office add-in.

The official Excel blog has announced the launch of this new add-in, Excel Labs. It's being released as an experimental program from the Microsoft Garage division. It's actually an improved version of an earlier add-in called Advanced Formula Environment, which Microsoft says lets Excel users "more easily author, edit, and reuse complex formulas and LAMBDA functions."

The new Excel Labs add-in combines the features found in the earlier Advanced Formula Environment program with the new LABS.GENERATIVEAI custom function. Microsoft states that it is using large language models from its partner OpenAI to let users type in prompts directly into an Excel grid to obtain results.

Microsoft states:

For example, you can prompt it to parse out keywords in a survey response or you can ask it to analyze the sentiment of a table of tweets. In general, we encourage you to experiment with different prompts to see how being more general or more specific impacts the responses you get. Instead of “Write a poem about Excel”, try something like “Write a poem about Excel that mentions PivotTables”.

Users will have to register for an OpenAI account and then request an API key from the company to use Excel Labs. You can then download the add-in from the Office Store.

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