Microsoft is releasing a big Windows 11 update next week, on September 26. The catchily-named 23H2 is packed with some real game changing features, along with a whole bunch of quality of life improvements. The update arrives just in time for the launch of the just-announced Surface Laptop Go 3 and the Surface Laptop Studio 2.
The big news here is the inclusion of the new AI-powered Windows Copilot feature. This toolset already exists as part of the Edge browser, but now it’ll be natively implemented in Windows, which allows for some nifty use cases. This native implementation means that Copilot is available in nearly every aspect of the operating system, from Powerpoint to Teams and beyond.
You’ll be able to use Copilot, for instance, to craft text messages using calendar data, explore navigation options in Outlook, generate Spotify playlists and more. This is generative AI so Copilot will also shop for items based solely on a photo, remove photo backgrounds and access the Bing Image Creator, which will soon be based on the vastly-improved Dall-E 3. Bing Chat is also now a native feature that exists in the sidebar.
AI isn’t the only game in town, as this is also a traditional OS update with the usual quality of life improvements. There’s finally native support for RAR and 7-zip file formats, so you can get rid of those third-party archiving apps. The File Explorer has been completely redesigned to increase efficiency, with large file thumbnails and a carousel interface, and the Paint app underwent a similar transformation, with a new dark mode and forthcoming transparency layers. There’s a redesigned volume mixer and updated RGB lighting controls called Dynamic Lighting. The latter toolset uses the open HID LampArray standard and many of the big names in gaming PCs and accessories have vowed to support this effort, such as Acer, Asus, HP, Razer and Logitech, among others.
Some current Windows 11 features have received minor updates here. The passkey experience has been optimized and moving your data to a new PC has been streamlined, thanks to an official Windows Backup software suite. Additionally, voice controls have been expanded and the photos app boasts some new editing options.
Finally, there’s the just-announced Ink Anywhere feature. This intriguing toolset is exclusively for stylus users interacting with a touchscreen PC or hybrid device. Ink Anywhere lets you draw on the screen in any text box anywhere within the operating system. The OS converts the handwriting to text and uses it in a number of innovative ways. This is useful for instantaneously uploading notes, but the system also uses AI to automatically answer queries, with Microsoft showing off the tool being used to complete a handwritten math problem.