Microsoft has started hinting at how it will integrate more AI features into Windows 11 ahead of a big AI-focused operating system update. The software giant this week began testing a “new experience” for Copilot on Windows, which includes an animated Copilot in the taskbar that appears when you copy text or images.
“The Copilot icon will change appearance and animate to indicate that Copilot can help you,” Microsoft explains in a blog post. “When you hover your mouse over the Copilot icon, a menu of actions you can perform is displayed, such as summarizing or explaining the copied text.”
I tested the experience in the latest versions of Windows 11 Canary, and it works well for text, summarizing everything you copy. Although the icon also animates when you copy images, this feature is not yet ready for testing. You’ll also optionally be able to simply drag and drop an image into the Copilot icon on the taskbar and enter it in a prompt. Copilot can then tell you what’s in the image, and in the future it can even help you edit images.
Alongside the Copilot changes, Microsoft also confirmed that its Notepad app will soon get Copilot AI integration. You will be able to select text and right-click to “explain with Copilot”. It will decrypt text, code segments or log files.
Microsoft has been gradually adding more and more AI features to Windows 11 in recent months, including the core Copilot. It’s all part of a broader initiative to position Copilot as Microsoft’s big AI brand, while preparing for a major Windows feature update. Microsoft wants 2024 to be “the year of the AI PC” and is already adding a dedicated Copilot key to keyboards.
Intel, Qualcomm and others have announced an AI-focused Windows “refresh” for 2024, but Microsoft has yet to officially acknowledge its plans. “The unique thing about Copilot in Windows is that it can be aware of the context you are in,” said Yusuf Mehdi, executive vice president and director of consumer marketing at Microsoft, in an interview with The edge this week. “He can understand the pages, so he can do richer things.”
We’re starting to see Copilot become more context-aware in Microsoft’s latest Windows 11 test builds, and the company is also set to take advantage of the NPU hardware that recently started shipping in Windows laptops.
While Windows 12 was rumored to be Microsoft’s big AI breakthrough, it appears that this push will now be part of a Windows 11 update later this year. Microsoft is calling this update “24H2,” the annual feature update that will be available in the second half of 2024. We’ll likely hear a lot more about Microsoft’s AI plans in Windows in the coming months, so as the company continues to test its redesign. Windows for “the year of the AI PC”.