Microsoft has just made Windows 11 even better with improvements to Copilot, WidgetsMicrosoft has just made Windows 11 even better with improvements

Stay up-to-date with the latest improvements to Windows 11, featuring enhanced Copilot, Widgets, and more from Microsoft. Explore the new features today!

In the latest Windows 11 update, Copilot is getting more ways to help you control your computer. Also, there’s a new feature in Photos called Generative Erase, Voice Shortcuts for easier access, better Snap layouts, and changes to Widgets.

Although the update is available now, not all features will be turned on right away. Copilot’s new options will start rolling out in late March. With these, you can ask Copilot to do things like turn on battery saver mode or open accessibility features like Narrator or Magnifier. It can even show you available Wi-Fi networks, storage space, and help you empty your recycling bin.

The built-in Photos app is getting smarter too. There’s a new Generative Erase feature that lets you easily remove unwanted objects from photos. It works like the magic eraser tools on Google and Samsung devices. Plus, Microsoft’s video editor, Clipchamp, can now remove awkward silences from videos.

Microsoft is also improving the Widgets and built-in Snap layouts features in Windows 11. Widgets have always been useful but marred by Microsoft’s feed of junk news from MSN. Now, you can finally disable the “Microsoft Start” feed, and the Windows Widgets board is also interoperable as part of Microsoft’s Digital Markets Act commitments to the European Commission. That means Google could build a plug-in for the Widgets board that shows content from Google News.

The Snap feature in Windows 11 that makes it easy to resize app windows is getting smarter in this update, so it will now remember your frequently snapped apps and automatically suggest layouts.

If you own a Windows-powered tablet that has a stylus, this latest Windows 11 update also includes the ability to write directly into text boxes across the OS. This includes Windows Ink support in apps like Photos, Paint, WhatsApp, and more.

Windows 11 settings screen with a floating stylus handwriting “start menu” in the find field.
Windows Ink now works across more apps and anywhere you can input text.Image: Microsoft

The built-in casting feature that lets you send content to a nearby display in Windows 11 is also getting tweaked for the better. You’ll now get notifications for suggestions to use the Cast feature when multitasking, and there are improvements to Cast to offer help to find nearby displays and fix connection issues.

If you’re someone who shares Windows content to other devices or you own an Android phone, this latest Windows 11 update has some improvements to make it easier to share content to and from devices. Nearby Share now has faster transfer speeds if you’re sharing with people or devices on the same network, and you can also give your PC a friendly name so it’s easier for others to recognize you.

Three screenshots, showing the controls on a connected Android phone, the settings controls on a Windows PC connected to the phone, and the new window where users can manage the mobile devices linked to their PC, and whether or not they’re allowed for use as a connected camera.
Camera controls for a linked Android device and Windows PC, and the new settings window for managing connected mobile devices.Image: Microsoft

The Phone Link system in Windows 11 will now include the ability to access recent photos or to use your phone as a webcam on video conferencing apps. The feature is rolling out starting today for Windows Insiders to test, using devices running Android 9 or higher, and a Link to Windows app that is version 1.24012* or higher. To turn it on, look under the settings menu for Bluetooth and mobile devices, select manage devices, and enable your PC to access your Android phone.

Last but not least, Microsoft is making some accessibility improvements in Windows 11. A new Voice Shortcuts feature lets you create custom commands to automate tasks in the voice access feature of Windows 11. This is like a macro for your voice, so in a single voice command, you could do things like automatically open a URL and perform a number of actions.

You can finally remove the junk news feed in Windows Widgets.

You can finally remove the junk news feed in Windows Widgets.Screenshot by Tom Warren / The Verge

You’ll also be able to use voice access on multiple displays, including number and grid overlays on secondary displays. Microsoft is also improving its built-in Narrator feature in Windows 11, adding natural voices that use on-device text-to-speech once they’ve been downloaded to a device.

Microsoft will start rolling out this new Windows 11 update today, but it may take some time to be available on your own device. If you want to get it immediately, you’ll need to enable the “get the latest updates as soon as they’re available” option in Windows Update and then check for updates.

“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,” explains Yusuf Mehdi, executive vice president and consumer chief marketing officer at Microsoft. “As is our normal practice, we will closely monitor the rollout of these new Windows 11 features and continue to share timely information on the status of the rollout and known issues (open and resolved) via the Windows release health dashboard and @WindowsUpdate.”

Other big changes should be coming to Windows soon in the European Union. Microsoft is making changes to comply with the Digital Market Act, which include allowing users to remove Cortana and choose their search provider for Windows Search. The features will begin rolling out on an optional basis ahead of the March 6th compliance deadline.

“We’ll start enabling DMA changes via our controlled feature rollout technology in February’s optional non-security releases and we will post a public update on DMA progress soon,” Aaron Grady, a product manager for Windows, said in an emailed statement.

Update February 29th, 3PM ET: Added details for the Windows Insider rollout testing support for Android devices as webcams.


By Tom Brokaw

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