Microsoft is releasing a big update to Windows 11 today that adds the company’s new AI-powered Bing search to the taskbar. The new Windows 11 update will offer quick access to the new Bing chat feature alongside a bunch of new features. Windows 11 is also getting improvements to widgets, a better touch mode, a screen recording feature, tabs inside Notepad, and more.
The new Bing integration is a surprise addition that Microsoft hasn’t been testing with its Windows Insiders. A new Bing icon will appear within the search box in the taskbar, with Microsoft highlighting the new chat answers experience in the search flyout. While chat answers won’t be available directly within the search flyout, Windows 11 users will be able to quickly start a Bing chat in Edge from here — providing they have access to the Bing preview.
“We’re reimagining what I think of as an increasingly AI-powered Windows for the future,” says Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s head of consumer marketing, in an interview with The Verge. “This is a very important feature, today the search box is used by over half a billion people on a regular basis.”
More than a million people are now testing the new Bing preview in 169 countries, and Windows chief Panos Panay says in a blog post that “soon hundreds of millions of Windows 11 users can get access to this incredible new technology to search, chat, answer questions and generate content from right on their Windows taskbar.” That suggests that Microsoft is planning to greatly expand the new Bing preview.
The expansion of Bing chat to the Windows 11 taskbar comes just a week after Microsoft rolled out the same mode to Bing on mobile and in Skype conversations. Microsoft is also getting ready to demo its ChatGPT-like AI in Office apps soon.
This big new Windows 11 update isn’t just all about Bing, though. Microsoft is also opening up a preview of its Phone Link app for iOS, meaning iPhone users can link their devices to Windows. This will include access to send and receive messages (yes, even iMessage), calls, and notifications. You can read more about Microsoft’s new Phone Link app for iOS right here.
Microsoft is also improving its widgets system in Windows 11 to include third-party options from Meta and Spotify. Even the touch experience in Windows 11 is getting improved today thanks to a new tablet-optimized taskbar. If you have a device like a Surface Pro, then disconnecting a keyboard will now collapse the taskbar to make it more compact, with a simplified taskbar designed for touch.
Windows 11 is also finally getting an official screen recording tool. While Xbox Game Pass has offered the ability to record apps, the Snipping Tool now includes screen recording to let you capture an entire screen or crop for apps.
Elsewhere, Microsoft is also improving its built-in Teams experience to allow people to preview their video more easily and access conversations more quickly. The Quick Assist app in Windows 11 has also been redesigned to make it easier to help friends and family you might need to provide with technical assistance.
If you’re a Notepad fan, then you’ll probably be pleased to hear that tab support is part of this Windows 11 update. Microsoft is also including new Braille display support and bringing its voice access feature out of preview, alongside new toggles to improve energy efficiency for laptops.
These new Windows 11 features are all available today by manually checking for new updates from Windows Update. Microsoft says these will roll out broadly in the March 2023 monthly security update release on March 14th.