Home Microsoft Windows 11, debuts the virtual assistant Copilot and many other news

Windows 11, debuts the virtual assistant Copilot and many other news

by Andrew

In the past few hours Microsoft has released to Insiders in the Dev Channel a new build of Windows 11 definitely full of interesting news: a new homepage for the Settings app, new options and features to manage, suggestions for Snap Layouts, multiple quality improvements … But above all, the first public preview of Windows Copilot, the AI virtual assistant announced this spring during the Build 2023 conference.

Microsoft explains that in this initial preview phase it focused on the experience of integrating with the operating system UI. To start Copilot, simply click on the new dedicated button on the taskbar, or using the key combination Windows+C. Copilot consists of a vertical bar anchored to the right side of the display, which does not overlap any open windows. As one of the official screenshots below shows, Copilot actually reduces the area of the deskop accessible to applications, like the taskbar.

On a functional level, for the moment it is possible to ask Copilot a series of questions or give some commands; Microsoft provides some examples:

Turn on the dark theme
Turn on do not disturb
Take a screenshot
Summarize the page (Copilot will process the featured Microsoft Edge tab)
Create the image of a relaxing koi pond with water lilies.
Copilot is based on Bing Chat, which in turn uses OpenAI’s GPT technology. In addition to this build of Windows, the 23493, Microsoft reports that you must have the Edge browser updated to at least version 115.0.1901.150.

As you can see from the screenshot below, the new Settings home page is much richer and more articulated than in the past. Microsoft explains that the goal is to provide “a dynamic and personalized experience”: the new home includes an overview of key device specifications, a section dedicated to suggested settings, and quick links to managing your Microsoft account.

The page is organized in card; Each of them, the company says, is optimized to offer quick access to the most relevant information and controls in the moment. In total there are seven ballots, and more will come in the future.

Suggested settings. The tab adapts to the user’s habits, and shows in the foreground the options and parameters that it considers most relevant based on the current context.
Cloud storage. It shows an overview of the use of your Cloud storage service (it’s not clear if other services besides OneDrive will be supported) and alerts you when space is running low.
Account recovery. It helps to improve the security of your account by allowing you to add additional information for recovery in such a way as to avoid, or at least limit, the risk of being “locked out”, so to speak, even if you forget your password.
Personalization. Bring to the forefront the aesthetic customization options of the operating system, such as changing the background or color scheme.
Microsoft 365. It provides a quick overview of your subscription, a quick list of key benefits, and the ability to change some parameters directly from the app without needing to go to the web.
Xbox. Conceptually similar to the card for Microsoft 365, but naturally dedicated to gaming.
Bluetooth devices. With this tab, Microsoft aims to simplify the management of wireless devices for the user.
Microsoft reports that this new settings page will only be available to the Home and Pro editions of Windows 11. It’s also important to keep in mind that the rollout will be gradual: not all Insiders will receive it right away, regardless of the build number.

New volume mixer in Quick settings. Now you can quickly change the levels for each app, and there are also new controls to change output on the fly. The panel can also be called up with a new keyboard shortcut: CTRL+Win+V.

Support for new types of compressed files, including RAR and 7z. Microsoft warns that it is aware of occasional slowdowns and performance dips. The full list of extensions is as follows:
Natural and realistic voices for voice assistants in Japanese and British English.

The ability to restore applications when reinstalling the operating system or configuring a new device extends to more types of applications. Desktop apps that are available in the Microsoft store can be restored by simply clicking on the respective pin in the taskbar or Start menu.
Tips on how to fill a snap layout with relevant apps, also based on the user’s usage habits.
Switch to a new API to pin apps to the taskbar.
Performance improvements to File Explorer in managing compressed files.

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