Microsoft’s Power Automate no-code platform adds AI flows

Microsoft wants to put its Copilot everywhere. It’s only a matter of time before Microsoft renames its annual Build developer conference to Microsoft Copilot. Hopefully, some of those upcoming events will be a bit less lackluster than this year’s edition, which lacks any real standout announcements after Microsoft already announced its new Arm-based laptops and AI features in Windows 11 at a separate event the day before Build.

One of the more interesting announcements at Build, however, is about how the company is bringing generative AI to Power Automate, its process and workflow automation platform. And while process automation may not exactly be a topic that sets your world on fire, this may be one of the areas where generative AI can create real value.

Starting soon, for example, you will be able to take any repetitive desktop workflow and not just record it with Power Automate Desktop but also narrate what you are doing to Power Automate’s AI Recorder. Through this, the service can then combine voice and a screen capture to create more resilient workflow automation. One nifty aspect of this is that those automations are less likely to break when there are small changes to the user interface, too.

In a demo ahead of today’s announcement, Sangya Singh, Microsoft’s VP of Power Platform, described Recorder as a way to “disrupt how [Robotic Process Automation] is done.”

As of now, even these desktop flows will be created in the cloud. Singh noted that the team is looking into using smaller models to maybe run some of this on the desktop. She also stressed that even today, Recorder uses multiple foundational models to do its job.

Power Automate is also getting a new feature called AI flows, which are now available as part of an early access program. With AI flows, users describe the kind of workflow they want to create in natural language — augmented with additional parameters and source documents — and the generative AI system then creates the actual Power Automate flow.

An events company could use this to triage booking cancellations based on their terms of service, for example, or allow a company to see if an employee’s business travel booking request conforms to their guidelines.

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