What is Microsoft's mysterious new AI feature for PowerToys?

Microsoft PowerToys
(Image credit: Future)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft Build will run from May 21-23 and showcase several new AI features in the works.
  • Among those features is "Advanced Paste with Local AI" for PowerToys.
  • Microsoft has not detailed what the feature will do, but a page dedicated to the session is now online.

PowerToys is a handy collection of utilities on Windows. The app will soon feature another tool, though we don't know exactly what is on the way. What we do know is that Microsoft will discuss the new feature at Build 2024, which runs from March 21-23 in Seattle, Washington.

"Learn how PowerToys leverages AI through the use of AI backed APIs and on device ML models to power the new Advanced Paste feature," reads the session's description. The title of the session is "PowerToys Advanced Paste with Local AI." 

Clint Rutkas, lead for developer experience on Windows teased the new feature a bit more on X. "PowerToys will introduce a new feature at Build. [Craig Loewen] and [Nikola Metulev] will be chatting about the [feature,] what it does and the thought process behind it.

That doesn't give us much more regarding what the feature does or how local AI will advance pasting. But the team that works on the feature seems excited about Advanced Paste.

Metulev will also speak at a session titled "Use AI for "real things" in your Windows Apps" at Build 2024.

"Why should you care about AI? Learn about what kind of problems AI can solve across the full spectrum of AI - all through demos, demos, demos," reads the session's description.

"From what tech is out there and what real life problems can it solve in real apps, consideration around privacy, performance, responsible AI and more. All for the audience of an everyday Windows developer."

Build 2024 will focus heavily on AI and the tech that makes artificial intelligence more useful on personal computers. 

PowerToys | Free at GitHub | Free at Microsoft Store

PowerToys | Free at GitHub | Free at Microsoft Store

This collection of utilities includes a large library of features to enhance the Windows experience. PowerToys is designed with power users in mind, but it has handy features for people who just use their PC for everyday computing too.

What else to expect at Build 2024

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 rear

Microsoft is expected to unveil the Surface Pro 10 in May and then discuss the AI capabilities of the device at Build 2024. (Image credit: Future)

In many ways 2024 is the year of AI. When it comes to computing, it could also be the year of Windows 11 on Arm. So unsurprisingly, both of those categories will receive heavy focus at Build 2024. The first batch of Build sessions we discussed after the schedule came out were "Introducing the Next Generation of Windows on Arm" and "Designing for a brand new Windows AI feature."

Similarly to the new PowerToys feature, Microsoft did not detail the brand new feature it teased or confirm details about the next generation of Windows on Arm. But unlike the new PowerToys feature, we have a good idea of what Microsoft will announce in relation to AI PCs and the specific new feature mentioned.

There's a good chance that the new feature Microsoft will announce is "AI Explorer," which is an "advanced Copilot," according to our Senior Editor Zac Bowden. AI Explorer will let you search for any moment from your computer by using natural language. For example, you could ask the tool to find a list of restaurants a specific person likes, and then AI Explorer would find the conversation.

"Today, we're showcasing brand-new features that allow users deeper interaction with their digital lives on Windows through advance AI features," says Microsoft in its page about the brand new feature. "Come discover how your apps can integrate with these experiences and increase user engagement and satisfaction."

Microsoft is also expected to discuss the next generation of Windows on Arm. The tech giant has a special Windows and Surface event the day before Build, so there's a good chance Microsoft will talk about those devices during its developer-focused event.

With Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite processor on the way and the Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 expected soon, there's a lot of excitement around Windows 11 on Arm. Windows 11 version 24H2 will ship to new Arm PCs first before rolling out to other devices later this year.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.