Microsoft Begins Rolling Out Copilot for Windows 11 to Dev Channel Testers
Microsoft on Thursday announced that an "early look" preview of Windows Copilot for Windows 11 is starting to roll out to Windows Insider Program testers on the Dev Channel.
Microsoft had introduced Copilot for Windows 11 in May during its Build event for developers. Back then, Panos Panay, Microsoft's Windows and Devices chief product officer, had said that "Windows Copilot will start to become available in preview for Windows 11 in June," and that's apparently now the case.
Microsoft is gradually rolling out this Copilot tool to some Dev Channel testers via its "controlled feature rollout" process, which delivers features to systems deemed eligible. These Dev Channel testers need to be using a certain Windows 11 build, plus a certain Microsoft Edge browser version.
"To use Copilot in this flight you must have Windows Build 23493 or higher in the Dev Channel, and Microsoft Edge version 115.0.1901.150 or higher," the announcement indicated.
The Dev Channel is somewhat experimental. It offers "features and experiences that may never get released," the announcement noted.
Microsoft also on Thursday announced the release of a new Beta Channel release of Windows 11 to Windows Insider Program testers, which is deemed closer to a production quality than a Dev Channel release. The Beta Channel release (build 22631.1972) is notable for enabling authentications across Microsoft's clouds with Conditional Access support and also showing account notifications to users, which Microsoft calls "notification badging."
Copilot in Windows 11 Preview
For Dev Channel testers, Windows Copilot for Windows 11 will show up on the right side of the screen (see image).
Users can prompt Copilot to provide responses to questions, summarize text and create images. They also can ask Copilot to perform actions in Windows 11, such as changing the screen theme for an application to dark mode or taking a screenshot.
Currently, Copilot in Windows 11 has support for "a basic set of Windows settings plugins." Non-Microsoft-built plugins aren't supported in this test build.
Microsoft is experimenting with serving up ad content with Copilot for Windows 11 via Bing search advertising. To that end, it directed Windows Insider Program testers to read the Microsoft Privacy Statement. It's a lengthy publication that might make a good summarization prospect for Copilot, perhaps.
Pinned Apps Restore
This Windows 11 test build (build 23493) for Dev Channel testers also is bringing the ability to resurface apps after a backup and restore operation has occurred in cases when those apps had been pinned to the Taskbar or available on the Start Menu. App restoration happens by simply clicking the pinned link.
The pinned apps restore feature is designed to work with non-Microsoft Store apps, too. In such cases, users get directed to download the app from the app publisher when clicking a pinned link.
Back in March, Microsoft had announced a common way for application developers to "make their app the default or pin their app to the taskbar" in Windows using a coming "new publicly available API."
Native Support for More Archive File Types
This build of Windows 11 can natively read additional archive file types, such as .TAR, .RAR, .7Z and more.
This test build of Windows 11 is introducing a new "Settings home page" for Windows 11 Home and Pro edition users. It shows an overview of the device, the available cloud storage space, desktop personalization options, plus account and subscription details.
Also, a Quick Settings feature in this build will permit "quick customization of audio on a per-app basis."
The Snap Layouts feature that currently lets Windows 11 users customize how apps are arranged on the screen is getting additional layout options. Users can select from the new display options, which show up as icons when hovering over the "Minimize or Maximize button on an app."
The Narrator feature, which will read text on a screen, is getting new Japanese and English speaker options (male and female voices).
AI-Powered Bing Search
In an another Thursday announcement, Microsoft indicated that AI-powered Bing search in the Microsoft Edge browser is getting shopping research capabilities.
Bing search now has a new "Buying Guide" feature. When users search for a product, the Buying Guide feature will show product suggestions, plus a comparison table. Users can ask Bing Chat what to look for when buying certain products. They can also ask for summaries from online product reviews.
A coming Price Match feature in Bing search will help users find the best pricing deals on products.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.