Microsoft updates Windows 11 with Bing chatbot and new enterprise features

Microsoft updates Windows 11 with Bing chatbot and new enterprise features

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Microsoft Corp. today debuted an update to Windows 11 that introduces integration with Bing’s artificial intelligence chatbot and new features for business users.

The update, which was detailed by Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay in a blog post, also brings a slew of other enhancements. Many of the enhancements are rolling for Windows 11’s lineup of preinstalled apps.

The search box in the Windows 11 taskbar is now integrated with Bing’s new AI-powered chatbot. The chatbot, which is powered by technology from OpenAI LLC, produces elaborate natural language responses to user questions. If a question is too vague, it can automatically ask the user to provide more details about the topic at hand.

“The search box is one of the most widely used features on Windows, with over half a billion users every month,” Panay  detailed. “Now with the typable Windows search box and the new AI-powered Bing front and center to this experience you will be empowered to find the answers you’re looking for, faster than ever before.”

The Bing integration is rolling outside alongside several features geared towards business users.

The first business feature is an enhanced version of the Start menu. According to Microsoft, it will be available on devices that run Windows 11 Pro or higher and are connected to an organization’s Azure Active Directory environment. The enhanced Start menu uses AI to recommend content relevant to users’ work, such as documents they’re currently working on.

File Explorer is receiving a similar capability. It can now recommend files relevant to the user’s work, even if those files are stored in the cloud rather than the user’s local machine. Microsoft has also made performance optimizations that will enable File Explorer to process searches faster.

The third enterprise-focused feature addition in today’s update is a native Windows 365 app. Originally introduced in 2021, Windows 365 is a service that enables companies to host Windows desktops in the cloud. The new native app enables users to access their cloud-based desktops through a simple point and click interface.

Today’s Windows 11 update also introduces numerous enhancements focused on the consumer market. One of the main highlights is the addition of iOS support to Phone Link, Microsoft’s tool for linking together handsets and Windows computers. The update will make it possible to wirelessly sync an iPhone to a Windows machine via Bluetooth.

According to Microsoft, the integration will enable users to send iMessage messages, make calls and view iOS notifications on Windows. The integration is currently in preview. Initially, it will become available to a limited percentage of the participants in Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program feature testing initiative.

In conjunction with the new iOS support, Phone Link is receiving two features geared towards Android users. The first feature, which focuses on handsets from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., will make it easier to activate a smartphone’s Wi-Fi hotspot via Windows. Additionally, the app now enables users to sync their recent Android browser history to their computer.

Phone Link is one of several built-in Windows 11 apps that Microsoft is enhancing as part of the update. Also on the list is the Snipping Tool app, which was originally designed for screenshot capture and now includes a screen recorder as well. Notepad, in turn, is receiving support for multiple tabs.

Certain parts of the Windows 11 interface are likewise being upgraded. The Widgets interface panel, which displays content from multiple apps side-by-side, is receiving support for Phone Link, Xbox Game Pass, Meta Platform Inc. services and Spotify. On two-in-one laptops that can be turned into a tablet, the Windows 11 taskbar now disappears automatically when a user switches their machine to tablet mode. 

Image: Microsoft

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