Windows 11 cleans house as long-standing apps like WordPad and Cortana get the axe in new preview build

A laptop with the Windows 11 desktop on screen, glowing, while on a work desk
(Image credit: Shutterstock/Ham patipak)

Microsoft is gearing up to roll out a pretty substantial update for Windows 11, 24H2, with the update currently making its way through the final stages of testing. According to recent reports, it will see the end of several long-standing Microsoft products, including Cortana and WordPad, along with a few of Windows 11’s other old features. 

There is a provisional list of Windows features that are in the process of being deprecated on the official Microsoft Learn blog, although not all of them have a confirmed date. However, Swedish tech news site Sweclocker has shared that the first 24H2 release candidate version is now available via the Windows Insider Program. The final version that will roll out to all Windows 11 users is expected to be released in September or October.

We wrote about the announcements of WordPad’s and Cortana’s deprecation a while back, with Cortana giving way to Microsoft’s new all-purpose digital AI assistant, Copilot. Tips is another app that’s going to be absent in this build, along with Step Recorder. Steps Recorder is a built-in Windows assistance tool that has the ability to record user actions and analyze them to help troubleshoot their device.

These are just some of the apps and features being sent to the Microsoft Graveyard, but the preview release candidate build also brings new features, as detailed in an official Windows Blogs post. This includes HDR background support, the ability to create 7-zip and TAR archives directly in File Explorer, and improvements to Bluetooth connectivity for certain devices. 

Copilot is also getting a ramp-up in this update, with the dedicated app rolling out to all Windows 11 users. It will also grant users the ability to move, resize, and snap the Copilot window. 

screenshot of Windows Copilot features

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Reflecting on bygones and Windows 11's future

Cortana wasn’t the biggest hit with Windows users and I doubt many will miss it, but there was a pretty vocal response from users who lamented the news that WordPad was on its way out. WordPad is a basic text editor that’s been a default application on Windows devices since the 90s, and many people have grown fond of it, especially as an increasing number of familiar apps have become more complex and been injected with often-unwanted AI features. 

If enough people continue to voice their thoughts and positive sentiments about WordPad, we might see it return as an optional download from the Microsoft Store - like what happened with the Paint app that’s since gone on to have a second life. PCGamer speculates that for most of these apps and features, with the exception of Cortana, perhaps Microsoft doesn’t feel like continuing the upkeep of these apps and would prefer to dedicate those resources elsewhere - a move that might see more users take up Microsoft 365 subscriptions. 

Some of these features and apps, like Steps Recorder, won’t be especially missed by me, but I do personally hope that Microsoft reconsiders giving WordPad a permanent chop. It would be an easy win that would remind users that Microsoft doesn’t completely plug its ears when it comes to users’ opinions and that it’s still willing to leave things that aren’t broken - even if they’re not the biggest money makers. 


Computing Writer

Kristina is a UK-based Computing Writer, and is interested in all things computing, software, tech, mathematics and science. Previously, she has written articles about popular culture, economics, and miscellaneous other topics.

She has a personal interest in the history of mathematics, science, and technology; in particular, she closely follows AI and philosophically-motivated discussions.