Microsoft says it plans to integrate OpenAI technologies throughout its product lineup, but one entrepreneur has already put ChatGPT into Microsoft Word, and he’s eyeing additional Microsoft Office products next.

A new third-party add-in for Microsoft Word, called Ghostwriter, allows users to query OpenAI’s ChatGPT in a Word sidebar and watch content generated by the natural language chatbot unfurl directly in the document they’re drafting.

Ghostwriter is the creation of Patrick Husting, a Seattle-area business leader, serial entrepreneur, and software developer who worked in Microsoft’s consulting business in the late 1990s. He came up with the idea last fall when he was using ChatGPT for writing assistance, and got tired of cutting and pasting, and switching between windows.

After receiving approval from Microsoft, Ghostwriter is available as of today inside the Office Add-in store. It comes in a Basic edition ($10 one-time fee) that uses ChatGPT and limits responses to about two paragraphs; and a Pro edition ($25 one-time fee) that offers all available OpenAI language models and a configurable response length.

Users also need a free OpenAI account for an API key to make calls to the OpenAI service.

Software developer and entrepreneur Patrick Husting on his horse, Black Stretch Limo, the great-great-great grandson of the legendary Secretariat. (Photo courtesy Patrick Husting).

Speaking with GeekWire earlier this week, Husting wasn’t sure if Microsoft would approve Ghostwriter for the Office Add-in store, given the potential conflict with its own plans, but it went through without any problem.

“They might kill it off in a year or two, when they add something to Office, and I’m cool with that, too,” he said. “What I’m doing is available for everybody to use and take advantage of now, because why wouldn’t you?”

Husting is now working on a larger bundle of ChatGPT add-ins for Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook, as well. He makes software through his Creative Data Studios one-person development shop.

He previously founded and ran business-intelligence consulting company Extended Results, which was acquired by Tibco Software in 2013. He also currently develops and runs The Equestrian app for horse owners and businesses, which has more than 35,000 members representing more than 45,000 horses worldwide.

Microsoft’s partnership with OpenAI is the subject of intense speculation in the tech industry in recent weeks — fueled by the buzz around ChatGPT, the Redmond company’s additional investment in OpenAI, and the related partnership that gives Microsoft rights to commercialize the San Francisco-based company’s technologies.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said recently that every Microsoft product will eventually have AI capabilities. A report Tuesday by Semafor said Microsoft is preparing to integrate GPT-4, the next version of OpenAI’s natural language processing technology, into its Bing search engine, potentially challenging Google’s dominance in search.

ChatGPT’s take on this story, created in Microsoft Word via the new Ghostwriter add-in, created by Patrick Husting. (Click for larger image.)

Microsoft said recently it will soon make ChatGPT available as part of its Azure OpenAI Service.  Existing integrations of OpenAI technology in Microsoft products include GitHub Copilot, which gives software developers a virtual AI pair programmer to suggest code and functions as they write programs.

Husting acknowledges that Microsoft’s future integrations of OpenAI technologies into Microsoft Office, when they come out, will no doubt be more sophisticated and native to Word and other Office apps.

But Ghostwriter solves a basic problem in the meantime.

“Whatever they do is going to be beautiful, it’s going to be fantastic, and it’s going to be so well-integrated to the Office experience when you buy or when you subscribe to Office 2025, or whatever the version is,” he said.

However, he predicted that Microsoft’s integrations will probably require upgrading to the latest Office version. Ghostwriter, for its part, works in Word for Office 2019 and newer versions of the software.

Husting had planed to make Ghostwriter available for the 2013 and 2016 versions of Office, but he discovered in the final stages of the process that those older Office versions have a dependency on Internet Explorer 11 that made the add-in incompatible with the JavaScript framework commonly used for Office add-ins.

He has been working on Ghostwriter since November, using the Office JavaScript Framework. And yes, he did use ChatGPT once while coding the add-in, to better understand how to use the OpenAI “temperature” parameter.


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