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Microsoft has announced a slew of new features and capabilities for Windows 11, including new skills for Microsoft Copilot and an AI-powered “generative erase” tool for photo editing, as well as various features for users targeting patching, security and accessibility.

Many of the new features will begin rolling out today via Windows Update and as new apps available on the Microsoft Store. Most features will be enabled by default in the March 2024 optional non-security preview release for all editions of Windows 11 versions 23H2 and 22H2, according to Microsoft.

New features announced for Copilot Preview for Windows 11

As part of the Copilot Preview for Windows 11, Microsoft’s generative AI tool is receiving new integrations with popular apps as well as accessibility features to help users navigate Windows 11 via prompts and voice commands.

For example, starting in late March 2024, Windows 11 users will be able to change system settings through prompts typed directly into Copilot in Windows, currently accessible in the Copilot Preview via an icon on the taskbar, or by pressing Windows + C.

Microsoft Copilot will be able to perform the following actions:

  • Turn on/off battery saver.
  • Show device information.
  • Show system information.
  • Show battery information.
  • Open storage page.
  • Launch Live Captions.
  • Launch Narrator.
  • Launch Screen Magnifier.
  • Open Voice Access page.
  • Open Text size page.
  • Open contrast themes page.
  • Launch Voice input.
  • Show available Wi-Fi network.
  • Display IP Address.
  • Show Available Storage.

The new third-party app integrations for Copilot will give Windows 11 users new ways to interact with various applications. For example, making business lunch reservations through OpenTable.

In a blog post, Yusuf Mehdi, executive vice president and consumer chief marketing officer at Microsoft, said the company would be “adding new ways to connect and get things done” via integrations with apps including Shopify, Klarna and Kayak over the next month.

AI-powered Generative Erase features for photos and videos

Other new AI features for Windows 11 rolling out today include a new, AI-powered Generative Erase tool, which sounds reminiscent of Google’s Magic Eraser tool for Google Photos. Generative Erase allows users to remove unwanted objects or artifacts from their photos in the Photos app.

Likewise, Microsoft’s video editing tool Clipchamp is receiving a Silence Removal tool, which functions much as the name implies ­— it allows users to remove gaps in conversation or audio from a video clip.

Voice controls get accessibility enhancements in this new Windows 11 update

Voice access is another focal point of Microsoft’s latest Windows 11 update, detailed in a separate blog post by Windows Commercial Product Marketing Manager Harjit Dhaliwal.

Users can now use voice controls to navigate between multiple displays, aided by number and grid overlays that provide easy switching between screens. Voice access now supports multiple languages, including French, German and Spanish, and users can create custom voice shortcuts for frequently-used commands.

Also, improvements to Microsoft’s built-in screen reader tool, Narrator, will make it better at detecting handwriting and text inside of images, said Microsoft. It will also be capable of detecting and announcing bookmarks in documents and comments in Microsoft Word.

Users will be able to preview different narrator voices before choosing to download them, with a new keyboard command enabling users to navigate between images on their screen more easily.

Windows Autopatch to offer “unified enterprise update management”

For business users, Microsoft has overhauled update management for Windows 11 to offer a more streamlined experience that gives users more granular control over apps and devices.

Significantly, Windows Autopatch — Microsoft’s update service — is being integrated with the Windows Update for Business deployment service, which Microsoft said was being done in response to customer feedback and to “make the update ecosystem easier to understand.”

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According to Mehdi, Windows Autopatch will now “leverage AI to program the necessary updates and reduce the impact on team productivity.” Other Autopatch updates include:

  • The ability to import Update rings for Windows 10 and later (preview).
  • Customer defined service outcomes (preview).
  • Improved data refresh speed and reporting accuracy.

“Autopatch will now become the unifying Windows update management solution, providing a single way in which organizations can manage updates while maintaining the highest level of control,” Medhi added.

More Windows 11 updates: Sharing, Casting and Cloud PC

Rounding out the updates for Windows 11 include:

  • More options for sharing content to nearby Windows devices, as well as faster transfer speeds.
  • Improved detection and suggestions for Casting to nearby devices.
  • Passwordless sign in for Cloud PC via a dedicated mode for Windows 365 Boot and fast account switching via Windows 365 Switch.
  • A hover function for Snap layouts that makes it easier to view and switch between layout options.

How and when can I access the new Windows 11 features?

The new features and capabilities for Windows 11 will be rolling out from today until April 2024, at which point all eligible users should have access to them. Most features will be available via Windows Update, and new apps will be available via Microsoft Store updates.

“Windows 11 devices will get new functionality at different times, as we will be gradually rolling out some of these new features over the coming weeks initially via controlled feature rollout (CFR) to consumers,” said Medhi.

He continued: “We anticipate broad availability for most new features by the April 2024 security update release for all eligible devices. Most of these new Windows 11 features will be enabled by default in the March 2024 optional non-security preview release for all editions of Windows 11, versions 23H2 and 22H2. IT admins who want to get the new Windows 11 features can use the enable and control optional updates policy to enable optional updates for their managed devices.”

To ensure they get the updates when they become available, users with eligible devices running Windows 11 versions 22H2 and 23H2 can go to Settings | Windows Update and turn on Get The Latest Updates As Soon As They’re Available and then select Check For Updates.

A summary of all the new features is available in the Windows Update configuration documentation. Users can also stay up to date on rollout plans via the Windows release health dashboard.


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