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Microsoft’s Copilot AI will have an ‘energy,’ apparently

Microsoft has just unveiled the latest version of Windows 11, and it features updates across the operating system, from AI to new tools and features.

Among the updates are changes to Microsoft’s Copilot AI tool, which will have more features to help users in apps like Word and Excel, as well as within Windows 11 itself. Copilot can be used to summarize meetings, write emails, help with analysis, and much more.

Microsoft's Satya Nadella speaking at Microsoft's September 2023 event.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi explained that “Copilot is going to have an energy” and will understand user intent across all of Microsoft’s apps, including Excel, Word, Teams, and more. Copilot is also going to be available on the Windows 11 desktop, Microsoft added.

One of the main upgrades to Copilot is that it will better understand the context of your requests. It will do this by having a view across your apps, the web, and your devices, which should allow it to pull in more information and respond to you more accurately.

AI is going to spread to other aspects of Windows, with the Snipping Tool getting support for Copilot, for example. This will let you bark out a command to Copilot and it will be able to blur backgrounds and perform other tasks simply based on your requests.

Copilot will also be able to fetch information on one device and send it to another. For example, you could ask Copilot to find information for an upcoming flight while on your desktop PC, and then have it send that data to your mobile device.

Windows 11 and Microsoft 365

The Microsoft logo at the company's September 2023 event.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Aside from AI — which Microsoft clearly wants to weave ever more densely into its operating system — Microsoft took a detailed look at Windows 11 and the updates coming to the operating system. There are upgrades for numerous Microsoft apps, for instance, with Paint getting support for layers and the Photos app being able to blur backgrounds in your images.

Inking support is being improved with what Microsoft calls Windows Ink Anywhere. This will allow you to use a Microsoft Pen to write into any text field and have your handwriting converted into text that works in that field. This can even extend to things like math problems.

The event also covered Microsoft 365, which is going to be infused with Copilot. The focus was on a new feature called Microsoft 365 Chat, which will provide summaries and recommendations for you at the beginning of your day. It combs through your meetings, messages and emails to find the most pertinent information for you, then breaks it down into digestible data.

It can also use files you attach to generate output like blog posts, slideshows, and more. Microsoft says the aim is for this whole process to feel like a conversation.

Getting creative

A Microsoft employee demonstrating the company's Copilot artificial intelligence tool.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

For anyone wanting to try out some more experimental features of Microsoft’s AI tools, there’s Copilot Lab. This is designed to be a place to try new things with the tool and learn “the art and science of prompting,” Microsoft says.

If you want to create a banner for an event in Word, Copilot can help there too. Microsoft says it can generate images and artwork using just a few prompts. The Microsoft Designer app, meanwhile, will let you remove image backgrounds or add new objects to a picture, thanks to AI.

Microsoft further explained that Copilot will help you find apps that you need for any given purpose. In one example, the company said you could ask Copilot to help you find an app to help you plan a party.

The company unveiled the updates at its special event in New York City on September 21, where it also introduced new Surface laptops and software features.

Despite this being a Surface-themed event, Microsoft’s well-known hardware chief Panos Panay did not take to the stage. That’s because earlier in the week, Panay had announced his departure from Microsoft. The timing of the move — just days before the launch of products that he would surely have introduced — led some to believe that there was a degree of acrimony in Panay’s exodus.

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