Windows 11 version 23H2: Microsoft previews BIG new features coming later this year, including a new AI assistant

Windows 11 Start menu dark
(Image credit: Future)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft has previewed a handful of big new features in the works for Windows 11.
  • These features include a new AI assistant, RGB lighting controls, Taskbar updates, and more.
  • Many of these features will likely ship later this year as part of the version 23H2 release in the fall.

Microsoft is holding its annual Build developer conference this week, and for the first time in years, the company is talking about Windows during the show. Today, 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

The new Windows copilot docked to the right side. (Image credit: Microsoft)

The big new feature announcement coming out of Build is that Microsoft is working on integrating AI into the Windows experience via a new "Copilot" app that integrates Bing Chat and ChatGPT plugins to create an all-encompassing virtual assistant that can analyze text and images within apps, answer simple and complex questions based on context, and even control Windows settings.

The Copilot experience can be docked to the left or right of your display, or moved around anywhere as an app window. The company says it will release the first preview build of Windows 11 with the Windows Copilot app sometime in June, meaning it's likely scheduled to begin shipping officially as part of the version 23H2 release this fall.

Additionally, Microsoft has announced that users will soon be able to control RGB peripherals directly from within Windows, without being forced to download third-party apps to do so. Windows 11 is getting a "Dynamic Lighting" feature that will offer basic customization options for RGB keyboards, mice, monitors, and other accessories and devices.

The new RGB lighting controls in Windows 11. (Image credit: Albacore on Twitter)

The Taskbar is also getting some updates, including the return of a classic feature with a new implementation. App ungrouping and show labels is coming back, but users will be able to initiate ungrouping with a single click when interacting with the Taskbar. Microsoft is also adding the ability to remove the date and time from the system tray.

The company has also announced that it's planning to natively support more archive formats out of box on Windows. These archive formats include 7zip, RAR, gz, and others using the libarchive open-source project. This means users will be able to create and extract these file types without being required to download third-party apps first.

Lastly, Microsoft has unveiled plans to bring AI capabilities to the Microsoft Store app, enhancing app product pages with AI summarized reviews that provide a general overview of the quality of an app, based on reviews from users. The company is also adding a dedicated AI Hub to the storefront, which will curate Windows apps that utilize AI capabilities.

Microsoft just unveiled the latest Windows 11 feature drop, which will begin being made available to users starting tomorrow. This latest update is a relatively minor one, adding some quality-of-life updates, improvements to the Widgets Board, a new Win32 app isolation feature, and more. 

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter and Threads