Microsoft Build 2023: Microsoft announces AI Assistant “Windows Copilot” for Windows 11

Microsoft held its annual Build Developer Conference beginning with a keynote address from CEO Satya Nadella, who made some big announcements. Similar to other developer conferences like Google I/O and Apple’s WWDC. Normally pretty focused on software and services, Microsoft uses Build to make feature announcements for its platforms and provide in-depth sessions for developers and other professionals that rely on its tools.

This year’s Build centrally focused on AI, with new additions of the CoPilot experience to Windows 11 and Edge, as well as new Bing AI and Copilot plugins for OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Microsoft has been busy in recent months building generative AI into many of its products and services, including search engine Bing, browser Edge, GitHub, and Office productivity suite, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

AI is coming to Windows 11
Microsoft is not slowing down on its investment into AI anytime soon. The company revealed that not only is Bing Chat coming to every Microsoft 365 app, but it is also coming to Windows 11. The AI ‘personal assistant’ for Windows 11, called Windows Copilot, will be integrated directly into Windows 11 and available to open and use from the taskbar across all apps and programs.

In the demos shown by Microsoft, Copilot can summarise, explain or rewrite content you’re viewing in apps. It looks similar to the dialog box found in Bing Chat. It won’t replace the search bar on the Windows taskbar, but will be a separate Copilot button, just like how Cortana had it’s own space in the taskbar in Windows 10.

Just like Bing’s AI chat, you can use it as a search engine by typing in general questions. It’s integration with Windows 11 means you can ask it to accomplish tasks within the OS, like changing your desktop background, turning on Focus Mode or changing the theme, without looking around for specific settings.

“Once open, the Windows Copilot side bar stays consistent across your apps, programs, and windows, always available to act as your personal assistant. It makes every user a power user, helping you take action, customize your settings, and seamlessly connect across your favorite apps.”

Panos Panay, Microsoft’s head of Windows and devices.

Growing the AI Plugin ecosystem
Microsoft also said that Windows Copilot will adopt the same open plugin standard that OpenAI introduced for ChatGPT, enabling interoperability across ChatGPT and the breadth of Microsoft’s copilot offerings.

Developers can now use one platform to build plugins that work across both consumer and business surfaces, including ChatGPT, Bing, Dynamics 365 Copilot and Microsoft 365 Copilot.

And for users who want to develop and use their own plugins with AI application built on Azure OpenAI Service, it will, by default, be interoperable with this same plugin standard. This means developers can build experiences that enable people to interact with their apps using the most natural user interface: the human language.

As part of this shared plugin platform, Bing is adding to its support for plugins. In addition to previously announced plugins for OpenTable and Wolfram Alpha, we will also have Expedia, Instacart, Kayak, Klarna, Redfin and Zillow, among others in the Bing ecosystem.

In addition to the common plugin platform, Microsoft is announcing that Bing is coming to ChatGPT as the default search experience. ChatGPT will now have a world-class search engine built-in to provide more up-to-date answers with access from the web. Now, answers are grounded by search and web data and include citations so users can learn more, all directly from within chat. The new experience is rolling out to ChatGPT Plus subscribers starting today and will be available to free users soon by simply enabling a plugin.

Microsoft Edge will also have 365 Copilot Integration
Copilot is also coming to the Microsoft Edge browser. Microsoft said Copilot in Edge uses whatever website the user is currently visiting as context to complete tasks elsewhere — such as in Office documents, Outlook emails, and other places with Microsoft 365 Copilot reach. The Copilot will exist in the browser’s sidebar and will remain active as you browse.

“Microsoft 365 Copilot offers new capabilities that combine the power of large language models, Microsoft 365 apps, and your data in the Microsoft Graph—such as your calendar, emails, chats, documents, and more—to do things you’ve never been able to do before. For example: You can type natural language requests like “Tell my team how we updated the product strategy today,” and Microsoft 365 Copilot will generate a status update based on the morning’s meetings, emails and chat threads. In combination with Edge, Microsoft 365 Copilot becomes even more intuitive by following the context of what you’re looking at in the browser to provide better answers.”

Lindsay Kubasik, Microsoft Group Product Manager for Edge Enterprise

Microsoft Fabric
Microsoft Fabric is a unified platform for analytics that includes data engineering, data integration, data warehousing, data science, real-time analytics, applied observability and business intelligence, all connected to a single data repository called OneLake.

It enables customers of all technical levels to experience capabilities in a single, unified experience. It is infused with Azure OpenAI Service at every layer to help customers unlock the full potential of their data, enabling developers to leverage the power of generative AI to find insights in their data.

With Copilot in Microsoft Fabric in every data experience, customers can use conversational language to create dataflows and data pipelines, generate code and entire functions, build machine learning models or visualize results. Customers can even create their own conversational language experiences that combine Azure OpenAI Service models and their data and publish them as plugins.

Windows Copilot will be available for testing publicly in June before rolling it out more broadly to existing Windows 11 users.

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