Generative AI software like ChatGPT and spatial computers like Vision Pro are the future. You might not see it immediately, but these nascent technologies will change how we use computers, speeding everything up. And we’ll experience everything step by step, with each incremental update bringing us closer to realizing that exciting future. The Copilot feature that Microsoft announced for Windows 11 is a perfect example. One that, as a longtime Mac user, I already envy.
Microsoft is one of the big investors in OpenAI’s ChatGPT. That’s why it was able to integrate the revolutionary generative AI software into its Bing Chat software well before Google had a chance to release an alternative. And it so happens that Bing Chat offers access to GPT-4, OpenAI’s best possible generative AI program to date.
Windows Copilot was announced a few weeks ago at Build. It’s the natural evolution of ChatGPT integration in Microsoft software. Announced at the Build conference a few weeks ago, Copilot is now available to try on Windows 11. Microsoft did say the generative AI Cortana replacement would be available in beta in June. And it kept its word by releasing Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 23493 on June 29th.
Windows Copilot is the most important piece of software in the new Windows 11 beta. And the only way to get it is to sign up for the Windows Insider program.
You’ll also have to use Microsoft Edge version 115.0.1901.150 or higher for Windows Copilot access.
Once you install the new Windows 11 build, you’ll find Copilot inside the Taskbar. Once you open Copilot, you’ll have a powerful generative AI assistant at your fingertips:
Windows Copilot will appear as a side bar docked to the right where it won’t overlap with your desktop content and will run unobstructed alongside your open app windows, allowing you to interact with Windows Copilot anytime you need.
What’s great about the new Windows 11 functionality is that Copilot can get you immediate access to Bing Chat (and therefore ChatGPT). You can ask questions from your desktop rather than having to go to the web. Copilot will also let you perform local actions on your Windows 11 PC, like changing settings and taking a screenshot.
That’s why I’m jealous of Microsoft Copilot. I wish similar functionality was available on Mac. Natively. A Siri version that would let me control the Mac by voice better than before. And generative AI powers that are built into the Mac’s search options.
Windows 11’s Copilot is in beta, so you can expect issues. And features might be limited in the first build. The current preview will offer support for commands like these:
“Change to dark mode.”
“Turn on do not disturb.”
“Take a screenshot”
“Summarize this website” (Active tab in Microsoft Edge)
“Write a story about a dog who lives on the moon.”
“Make me a picture of a serene koi fishpond with lily pads.”
Oh yes, Microsoft Copilot also supports creating images with generative AI. That’s another reason to be envious of Windows 11 right now.
Microsoft said in its announcement that you can also send feedback on the issues you run into. It also warned you to see inline ads in your Bing Chat experience. While that might be annoying, Microsoft has to pay for ChatGPT access in integration. Remember that you won’t spend extra money to get Copilot working on Windows 11. That’s where the ads come in.
Aside from Copilot, the new Windows 11 build brings over a new Settings page support for RAR and 7-Zip files and a new volume mixer in Quick Settings. But Copilot is the most exciting feature coming to Windows 11 right now.
It’s unclear when the feature will reach non-Insiders, however. But it shouldn’t take long, given Microsoft’s clear interest in making the most of its OpenAI ChatGPT investment as fast as possible.