Earlier this month, Microsoft held its TechFest event where Microsoft Research team members showed a number of their projects. One of those efforts that was released to the public involved automating various tasks inside the Excel spreadsheet.
As it turns out, the public reveal of this Excel research project may have been just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Microsoft is working on for future versions of the spreadsheet application. MSFTKitchen has now posted yet another leaked video from Microsoft TechFest, showing off a previously private demo of yet another Excel research project.
As you can see in the video, the demonstration shows off what Microsoft calls Project Analyze. It uses Microsofts efforts in machine learning and natural language to create a way for Excel users to simply type in commands in the spreadsheet in order to accomplish various jobs.
For example, an owner of a business might look at a Excel document and want to quickly complete a pay column. Instead of simply typing in the numbers, Project Analyze allows the business owner to simply type in the command, "Add the base pay and the OT (overtime) pay." The natural language programming, combined with the machine learning features, automates those tasks and puts the results in the Excel spreadsheet.
Its a pretty amazing demo and its one that, quite frankly, should have been part of Microsofts public TechFest demonstrations. Indeed, the end of the demo has the Microsoft presenters bragging that if the press were shown the demo they would be "throwing their hotel keys on the stage." Well, we would go that far, but it certainly shows that using Excel could become much easier in the future.