Microsoft's annual Build developer conference has started! Day one has just wrapped up, and while we do expect there to be more keynotes and sessions tomorrow, we wanted to round up all of the biggest news coming out of Build 2023 so far.
The company has published an online "Book of News" that rounds up all the announcements, but it's a super long list. We've riddled it down to just the biggest announcements coming out of Redmond, focused on Windows, Microsoft 365, and you guessed it, AI.
Microsoft is an AI company now, so you'll be unsurprised to hear that a majority of the announcements being made at Build this year are tied to AI in some form. Even Windows is getting in on the action with its own AI Copilot, which you can learn more about below.
Windows is the first PC platform to announce centralized AI assistance for customers. Together with Bing Chat and first- and third-party plugins, users can focus on bringing their ideas to life, completing complex projects and collaborating instead of spending energy finding, launching and working across multiple applications.
Windows Copilot provides personalized answers and helps users take action within Windows 11, like changing a setting, playing a specific playlist or opening a relevant app.
Microsoft says the new Copilot acts like your "personal assistant" for everything Windows, essentially replacing Cortana that came before it. You can ask it to configure Windows settings, open apps, analyze text and images within apps, initiate snap assist, check for updates, and more. It's a tool for controlling many aspects of your computer, turning everyone into a power user.
Unsurprisingly, the Windows Copilot is based on the same AI technology that Microsoft has been using as part of Bing Chat, meaning you can ask Windows Copilot to search the web in addition to helping out with tasks ongoing locally on your PC. It even supports Bing Chat and ChatGPT plugins, making Windows Copilot an extensible platform.
Windows Copilot will start to become available in preview for Windows 11 in June. Learn more in our announcement post.
Microsoft unveiled several new features that it's working on for the next version of Windows 11, much of which is expected to ship later this year.
Microsoft has been testing the next version of Windows 11 in preview for a handful of weeks. So far, we know the company is working on a major update to File Explorer with modern interfaces, and a new Gallery feature for viewing photos. Here's a rundown of all the features that Microsoft has announced are in the works for Windows 11 today:
- Windows AI Copilot
- Dynamic Lighting: In-box support for controlling RGB peripherals
- One-click Taskbar app ungrouping and show labels
- Ability to hide the date and time on the Taskbar
- In-box support for archive formats such as 7-zip, RAR, gz, and others
- Updated Microsoft Store with AI capabilities
- App backup and restore
Microsoft unveiled a number of new features and enhancements coming to the Microsoft Store app on Windows 11 later this year, many of which are focused on AI:
- AI Hub: Microsoft Store on Windows is introducing a dedicated section that will curate the best AI experiences, built by the developer community and Microsoft. AI Hub, generally available soon, provides users a simple way to discover, learn and experience the everyday benefits of AI. Developers can now submit their AI experiences to the Microsoft Store on Windows.
- Microsoft Store Ads expansion: Microsoft Store Ads will expand in two significant ways starting in June. It will serve more than 150 regions, supported by Microsoft Advertising, and will be available in Bing search results. There’s also the addition of a spotlight section on Microsoft Store on Windows, a new premium location for developers to promote content and the ability to leverage videos.
- AI-generated review summary: Microsoft Store on Windows makes it faster and easier for customers to scan app reviews. Using the power of AI, reviews are analyzed and compiled into a simple summary, making it easier for customers to discover new content. This feature will be generally available soon.
- AI-generated keywords: Developers will soon be able to reach more customers with AI-generated smart keyword suggestions, resulting in more precise SEO for their product description pages.
- Restore Apps: When transferring to a new Windows 11 device, app icons will automatically be pinned to their same location, whether in the start menu or taskbar, making a new device feel familiar from the first sign in while also helping developers retain customers. This update is in preview and available to Windows Insiders today.
Microsoft 365 Copilot, currently in private preview, will be natively integrated into Microsoft Edge, the AI-powered browser for the web. Microsoft 365 Copilot will bring powerful work-based capabilities to answer questions, complete tasks and more to the Edge sidebar.
Microsoft Edge is evolving into a dedicated work experience with its own visual elements, including an updated icon, the organization’s name and other cues. This new experience, called Microsoft Edge for Business, will have a rich set of enterprise controls, security and productivity features.
Microsoft Edge Workspaces, which lets users share, organize and browse the same set of browser tabs together, will be generally available in the next few months for enterprises and will add consumer access.
Lastly, Microsoft announced that a new Edge UI will begin rolling out with the next Edge update, expected in the first week of June.
Developers can now integrate their apps and services into Microsoft 365 Copilot with plugins, now in private preview.
Plugins for Microsoft 365 Copilot will include ChatGPT and Bing plugins, as well as Microsoft Teams message extensions and Power Platform connectors. And developers will be able to easily build new Microsoft 365 plugins with the Microsoft Teams Toolkit for Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio.
Developers will be able to extend Microsoft 365 Copilot by bringing their data into the Microsoft Graph, contextualizing relevant and actionable information with the Semantic Index for Copilot in preview.
Avatars for Microsoft Teams will be generally available for all Microsoft 365 Business and Enterprise licenses starting this week in the Teams desktop app on Windows and Mac. Avatars for Microsoft Teams offers an alternative to the current binary option of video or no video and features customizable avatars and reactions.
Microsoft is announcing that it 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 (in preview) and Microsoft 365 Copilot (in preview). If users want to develop and use their own plugins with their AI app 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, Microsoft also will have Expedia, Instacart, Kayak, Klarna, Redfin and Zillow, among many 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.
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