Microsoft finally teaches Copilot AI some new tricks – but is this enough to stop Windows 11 users getting impatient?

Windows 11 laptop showing Copilot
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Windows 11 just received improvements in testing to make its Copilot AI more useful with implementing changes in the actual OS environment – in other words, the features that we’re all waiting for.

Copilot has a pretty limited repertoire in terms of what the AI can do for manipulating Windows settings (as opposed to its standard tricks in terms of replying to queries, image creation and so forth).

However, the bag of settings tricks just got considerably heavier, with a raft of additions having just been made to preview build 26058 of Windows 11 (in the Canary and Dev testing channels).

That build was actually released a week ago, but Microsoft just ushered in these extra improvements as Neowin noticed.

So, what can Copilot do for you now? There are a number of important accessibility changes, so for example the AI can be instructed to turn on Narrator or Live Captions, or voice functionality (Voice Access or typing).

And you can get Copilot to take out the trash (empty the Recycle Bin), turn on battery saver mode, or even tell you the IP address of your device.

Here’s the full list of the new capabilities of Copilot when it comes to engaging with Windows settings:

  • Ask for available wireless networks
  • Ask for system or device information
  • Ask for battery information
  • Ask to clean storage
  • Ask to empty Recycle Bin
  • Ask to toggle Battery Saver
  • Ask to show startup apps
  • Ask for your IP address
  • Ask for system, device, or storage information

And the new accessibility features are as follows:

  • Ask to turn on Narrator
  • Ask to open Voice Access
  • Ask to turn on Magnifier
  • Ask to change text size
  • Ask to start Live Captions
  • Ask to turn on high-contrast
  • Ask to start voice typing

This expands on Copilot’s existing powers to tweaks settings, which already includes taking a screenshot, or changing between the dark and light themes, for example.

Analysis: Expansion pack

There are 16 new abilities introduced in testing here, which should be coming through to the finished version of Windows 11 soon enough. That more than doubles the existing abilities of Copilot at the moment – there are just 12 ways to operate Windows 11 settings via the AI right now – so it’s a welcome expansion.

At the same time, progress on this front feels rather sluggish, given that Copilot and more broadly AI is such a major focus for Microsoft, ever since Bing Chat burst onto the scene about a year ago.

Windows 11 users were sold Copilot partly on its features related to operating various settings and modes easily and conveniently, rather than having to dive into a search deep in the Settings app (or hunting elsewhere in the interface). And thus far, not a lot of capabilities have been added, really.

We’re hoping Microsoft will get its foot to the floor on this side of the Copilot experience later this year, with the Windows 11 24H2 update, but for now, a doubling of numbers is at least a sign of some decent forward momentum.

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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).