Microsoft will be launching the latest upgrade to its Windows 11 operating system for PCs on Tuesday, September 26. Unveiled at the Surface launch event held in New York last Friday, this year around, the tech giant is packing the OS with a wide range of features like a re-designed File Explorer, an Ink Anywhere tool for pen users, an updated Paint app, an AI-powered assistant called “Copilot”, and so much more.
The latest version of Windows 11, codenamed “23H2”, will be available out-of-the-box with the just-announced Surface Laptop Go 3 and the Surface Laptop Studio 2, and as an over-the-air software update for existing Windows 11 users.
New Features On The Latest Version of Windows 11
Here are some of the new features that were revealed by Microsoft:
Copilot dominated the Surface launch so much that at one point it started to almost feel like the whole event was set up just to showcase the merits of its AI tech. The generative AI made its debut with Microsoft’s Bing search engine earlier this year as a chat feature.
Now, the company is implementing the artificial intelligence technology directly on the Windows 11 desktop. Copilot has found a new home on the sidebar from where it will allow users to control settings, launch apps, or simply answer their questions using the AI.
Additionally, Copilot can also be used to send text messages or emails by referring to your calendar, set up reminders for events by picking out important information from your messages, create a Spotify playlist, and so much more.
Copilot replaces the Cortona digital assistant, which was shut down by the company last month due to it being largely unsuccessful in carrying out tasks as well as Amazon’s Alexa, the Google Assistant, or Apple’s Siri.
However, the generative AI the company is bringing to Windows will be more successful due to it being powered by OpenAI’s large language model (LLM) algorithm, which has shown its capabilities on the AI chatbot ChatGPT and Bing.
Microsoft is one of the investors in the artificial intelligence company that created ChatGPT and the image-generating model DALL-E.
File Explorer, the long-standing files app on Windows is getting a more modern look this year. The updated UI has a new home interface with larger file thumbnails for easier viewing and a separate interface that can show recently added files and ones that are listed as favorites.
The new search/address bar can intelligently recognize between local and cloud-stored folders and has a built-in status update to notify OneDrive users of their sync status and quota flyout.
The app will now natively support RAR and 7-zip filed formats so that users no longer have to download any third-party archiving or extracting tools.
Microsoft partnered with Acer, Asus, HP, HyperX, Logitech, Razer, and Twinkly to develop support for built-in RGB lighting on devices. The feature known as Dynamic Lighting will use the open HID LampArray standard to control keyboard and mouse lighting through the settings app on Windows 11.
Microsoft recommends using RGB-powered wired keyboards for the time being as there are connectivity issues faced by wireless devices. The company hopes to resolve the issue with future updates and support for more LampArray devices in 2024.
Windows users whose hybrid laptop/tablet devices have stylus are getting a new feature called Ink Anywhere. The tool allows users to handwrite or draw with the Surface Pen or any other stylus in any text box on the OS and it will automatically convert their scribbles into text that can be added to documents or other applicable areas.
The new Windows 11 also brings much-needed updates to the Backup app. The tool now lets users back up their PCs when they want to migrate to a new device. The app saves all the existing settings and automatically applies them to the new PC by loading the backup data from the cloud.
The application can also transfer pinned apps on the Start menu and taskbar, and automatically restore any apps downloaded from the Microsoft Store.
The Snipping Tool is getting a new feature that can detect text in a screenshot or other images, copy it, and allow users to share the text in other apps. A similar feature already exists on iOS and Android.
Microsoft also added an extra privacy feature to the Snipping Tool where it can automatically redact and hide emails and phone numbers from images.
Coming to the Photos App is a new background blur option that will automatically highlight the subject and blur out the background in any given picture. Users can customize the intensity at which the blur is imposed and even change the sections in the image that need to get blurred out.
Leave the heavy lifting to Copilot in Windows 💪 Organize and store photos easily with the new Photos Search feature pic.twitter.com/mTk05KUO8h— Windows (@Windows) September 22, 2023
Copilot will now power the infamous Paint app, where users can enter prompts into a text box, pick their preferred artistic style, and wait for the AI to generate an image that follows the description.
Users can now continue from where they left off on the Notepad even after exiting the app. Notepad will autosave whatever data is typed, allowing users to seamlessly use the application without worrying about saving each file after every single use or risk losing important notes.
Other upgrades promised for Windows 11 include a new volume mixer, Copilot access to the Bing Image Creator, native integration of Bing Chat on the sidebar, Copilot on Microsoft 365 Suite apps, and more. Some of these features will be available at launch, while others will be launched later this year or in early 2024.