Improved Copilot, Photos App, Widgets, and Other Highlights in the Windows 11 Update


Microsoft has announced a big update for Windows 11. It includes lots of improvements that have been tested for a few months. Some of the changes include updates to Copilot, a new feature called Generative Erase in the Photos app, better Snap layouts, and more.

This new update for Windows 11 doesn’t have its own special name like the one from last year, called Windows 11 23H2. Not all the features will be available at once. Microsoft mentioned in a blog post that “Most of these new Windows 11 features will be turned on by default in the March 2024 optional non-security preview release for all editions of Windows 11, versions 23H2 and 22H2.”

The main highlight here is the additional improvements to the Windows Copilot assistant, which you can find by clicking the Copilot button on the far-right side of the taskbar. The plugins that were previously available only in the Copilot web app and other modes are now also accessible in Windows Copilot. These include plugins like OpenTable, Instacart, and Kayak. Additionally, Copilot now has new commands to control Windows system functions, such as “turn off battery saver,” “display IP address,” “launch live captions,” and “empty recycle bin.”

In Windows 11, the Photos app is getting a new feature called Generative Erase. This lets you choose and remove unwanted things or flaws from your pictures. Microsoft had tested a similar feature called “Spot Fix” back in May, but this new version is more like the Content-Aware Fill feature in Adobe Photoshop.

Windows 11 is also introducing voice shortcuts. These let you automate certain tasks by speaking a phrase, similar to Shortcuts on macOS and iPhone. Microsoft explained in a blog post, “You can now make custom commands to quickly do what you want with just one phrase. This includes tasks like pasting text and media, pressing keys or clicks, opening folders, files, apps, or websites. Voice Shortcuts are there to make things easier for you.”

The update brings “intelligent Snap suggestions,” which have been tested since June last year. This feature suggests how to arrange your application windows based on your usual use. For instance, if you often switch between a web browser and a chat app, you might see these apps suggested to be split 50-50 in the Windows snap panel (which you can see by hovering over the maximize button on a window).

There are also some needed changes coming to the Widgets board. You can now completely hide the news feed, which is great because the news was usually not helpful. Microsoft explained, “With the new Widgets board experience, you can create a focused board and organize your Widgets into different categories – whether for work or play. If you want to catch up on current events, you’ll still find the usual news feed available through your feed on the discovery dashboard.”

Another change to mention is the improved Windows Ink. Now, you can write words in more apps like Photos, Paint, WhatsApp, and Messenger, not just in fields made for written input.

Some of these updates will come with Windows system updates, while others will be updates from the Microsoft Store. The new Copilot commands will start rolling out “in late March.”

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