Microsoft is making good on its promise to release Windows Copilot to testers in June. Today’s Windows Insider Dev Channel build (23493) includes early access to Windows Copilot, native support for RAR and 7-Zip files, a new settings homepage, and even a better volume mixer.
Microsoft first announced Windows Copilot in build earlier this year, and the version testers can access today works as a sidebar docked on the right side of Windows 11. “It doesn’t overlap with your desktop content and will run seamlessly alongside your open app windows, allowing you to interact with Windows Copilot whenever you need to,” the Windows team said in a blog post today.
You can ask the AI-powered Windows Copilot questions that Bing Chat normally answers or even system commands like:
- Change to dark mode
- Take a screenshot
- Turn on do not disturb
Windows Copilot can also be used, similar to the Bing sidebar in Microsoft Edge, to summarize content you’re viewing on the web or to create AI-generated images and text. Microsoft says it will provide “inline recommendations we think are relevant through Bing ads,” so you’ll definitely see ads in this interface as well.
Since this is an early preview, Windows Copilot is not fully functional, so it only controls some basic Windows settings, and there is no third-party plug-in support yet. “Over time, features will be added as we refine the Windows Copilot experience with Windows Insiders.”
If you’re a fan of RAR or 7-Zip files, Microsoft is finally adding native support. Additional archive formats include tar, 7-zip, RAR, gz, and more using the libarchive open-source project. Microsoft warns that there should be some initial performance issues with this new support as it works to improve it in future Windows Insider builds.
Microsoft said at Build that improved archive format support will ship to everyone in September. “We also plan to provide support for creating those files in those formats in 2024,” said Sharla Soennichsen, a product manager at Microsoft, during a Build session.
Another feature that Windows Insiders can now officially try out is the improved volume mixer UI in the Quick Settings section of Windows 11. “The updated audio quick settings experience brings a modern volume mixer that provides -allows for quick audio customization on a per-app basis, with added control over switching devices on the fly, the Windows team said. “We’ve also added a new keyboard shortcut (WIN + CTRL + V) to take you directly to the volume mixer for a faster control experience.”
This new volume mixer was discovered earlier this year, and with the keyboard shortcut, it looks like a great addition to Windows 11. Microsoft was clearly inspired by EarTrumpet here, one of my favorite apps for Windows developed almost five years ago. I once called it “the Windows 10 volume control app that Microsoft should have made.” Ha.
Microsoft is also adding a new Settings homepage in Windows 11. It now includes an overview of the device you’re using with important settings. Right now, you dive straight into the Settings system section, so this new homepage is designed to be less confusing with up to seven information cards. You’ll be able to view information about Microsoft 365 or Xbox subscriptions, manage Bluetooth devices, quickly customize a wallpaper, and see how much OneDrive cloud storage you have left.
Finally, Microsoft is testing a new suggestion feature for Snap Layouts in Windows 11. When you hover over minimize or maximize, app icons will be displayed based on what apps will work best. -snap next to each other.
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