Microsoft’s AI-Powered Bing Comes to the Taskbar with Major Windows 11 Update

Microsoft is announcing today a major update for Windows 11, which follows the release of Windows 11 version 22H2 last fall. Even though Windows 11 is now on an annual release cycle, Microsoft is now able to release big updates with new features throughout the year, and the company is reportedly referring to these releases as “Moment” updates internally.

Panos Panay, Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer penned a long blog post today to detail everything that’s new in today’s update for Windows 11. The exec also emphasized that “since the launch, Windows 11 users continue to be more engaged than Windows 10 and customer satisfaction is higher than any version of Windows ever.”

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The main highlight of this new Windows 11 update is that Microsoft is bringing back a Windows Search box to the Windows 11 taskbar, which will replace the Search button that shipped with Windows 11. Moreover, Microsoft is integrating its new AI-powered Bing into this new search box, which will soon bring the chatbot to “hundreds of millions of Windows 11 users.”

Today’s update also includes many other improvements for the taskbar. It’s now optimized for touch on 2-in-1 devices, and Microsoft is also bringing Windows Studio Effects into the Quick Settings area of the taskbar. Microsoft is also rolling out several app updates today that will enable tabs in Notepad, screen recording in Snipping Tool, and More.

Here are the biggest new features included in this major update for Windows 11 version 22H2:

New taskbar search box with Bing AI: Microsoft is adding a new typable search box to the Windows 11 taskbar that integrates the new AI-powered Bing. Answers from the Bing chatbot will appear in the Windows Search pop-up window

Touch-optimized taskbar: The Windows 11 taskbar is now optimized for 2-in-1 devices with a detachable keyboard such as Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablets. Users can now switch between new “collapsed” and “expanded” states by swiping up and down on the bottom of their screen. When disconnecting the keyboard, the will also automatically switch to the new “expanded” state that makes all touch targets bigger.

Windows Studio Effects in Quick Settings: The AI-powered Windows Studio Effects, which are available on Windows on ARM devices with a neural processing unit are now available from the Quick Settings section of the taskbar. This allows users to quickly enable background blur, eye contact, and automatic framing during video calls.

Video preview in Chat app: The new Windows 11 Chat app powered by the Teams for consumers experience now lets users preview their video before they start a video call.

AI-powered recommendation in Start Menu: On people using Windows 11 Pro with a work or school account, the Start Menu will now surface recommended content including files you’re collaborating on, and more.

Quick Assist app: The Windows 11 Quick Assist app, which is now pre-installed on Windows 11 version 22H2 is now available right from the Start Menu. The app allows Windows 11 users to receive or provide PC assistance over a remote connection.

Third-party widgets: The Windows 11 Widgets board now supports new widgets for Xbox Game Pass and Microsoft’s Phone Link app, but there are also new third-party widgets for Facebook Messenger and Spotify.

New accessibility features: This update adds support for more braille displays, and it makes the experience of switching between Narrator and other screen readers while using a braille display more seamless. Microsoft has also made the Windows 11 Voice Access feature compatible with more Microsoft apps including Word and File Explorer.

Energy recommendations in Settings: The Windows 11 Settings app added an Energy recommendations section with tips to help Windows 11 users lower their carbon footprint.

Screen recording in Snipping tool: Microsoft’s Snipping Tool app, which lets users Windows 11 users take screenshots now includes a built-in screen recorder.

Tabs in Notepad: After receiving dark mode support, Notepad now supports tabs, just like the Windows 11 File Explorer.

Windows 365 app: Microsoft is making its Windows 365 app generally available on the Microsoft Store today. The app allows enterprise users to seamlessly connect to a Windows 365 Cloud PC.

Phone Link improvements: If you have a high-end Samsung phone, Microsoft’s Phone Link now lets you activate your phone’s personal hotspot right from the Wi-Fi network list on your PC. The Recent Websites feature will also let you pick up where you left off on your PC.

Microsoft also announced today that it’s launching Phone Link for iOS in Preview for Windows Insiders. The app will let iPhone users get notifications for phone calls and text messages on their Windows 11 PCs, and you can get more details about that in my separate post.

Overall, today’s update for Windows 11 is pretty massive, and it will be available as an optional update in Windows Update before it starts rolling out to all users with next month’s Patch Tuesday updates. Be aware that some of the new features will be enabled via Microsoft Store app updates, such as tabs in Notepad and the built-in screen recorder in Snipping tool.

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