Windows 11 Photos and Paint apps are set for major upgrades with new AI features – but most users won’t get them

Microsoft demonstrating Cocreator in Paint
(Image credit: Microsoft)

The Microsoft AI hype train is now well on its way and the next stop is Windows 11’s Photos and Paint apps getting another helping of AI integration. 

Microsoft is currently holding its Build 2024 conference, where the company has already introduced its line of new AI-focused Copilot+ PCs, including a feature called ‘Recall’ that records the activity on the PC and makes it searchable. Microsoft has also brought in an upgraded Cocreator feature for the Paint app.

Cocreator will run locally on Copilot+ PCs and make use of the more powerful NPUs (Neural Processing Units) on these devices to generate images based on text prompts that you provide. The current Paint app does have an AI-powered Image Creator feature, but it’s not the same as Cocreator. 

Cocreator is different because it will work locally on your computer and won’t need to go online to tap the computing power to generate images. Furthermore, it’ll produce images faster than Image Creator, although the latter isn’t being dropped - the two options will run side-by-side.

The new feature was demonstrated by Microsoft on a Surface Pro, showing the presenter putting in a prompt and drawing a basic outline of what they wanted the image to look like. Cocreator then used this information to generate the image based on the rough shapes that were drawn.

A screenshot showing the new Cocreator, demonstrating an image being generates from a rough drawing

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Cocreator is also shown to have a ‘Style’ dropdown menu, presumably to choose the style you’d like the image to be generated in, and a ‘Creativity’ slider.

Increasing that Creativity slider produces a higher quality image filled in with a greater level of detail, with the AI exercising its abilities more, whereas towards the lower end of the scale, the generated image sticks more closely to the rough sketch provided by the user.

The ability to experiment with styles in the Photos app

The Photos app in Windows 11 is also getting an AI boost on Copilot+ PCs in the form of a feature named ‘Restyle Image.’ This enables you to transform your own photos with preset artistic styles, for example taking a photo of your pet and making it an anime-style picture. 

There is a text box where you can enter prompts to give the feature your own specific instructions about what kind of style you’d like it to transform your photo into, and a ‘Creativity’ slider that apparently works similarly to the one in Cocreator. 

One interesting aspect that was picked up on by Windows Latest is that there doesn’t appear to be a fixed number of credits limiting the amount of times you’re able to use either feature. Both Cocreator and the ‘Restyle Image’ capabilities can be run as many times as you like locally on your PC using small language models. 

Both features will also require the PC to have a processor with a suitable NPU, so they won’t be available on all Windows PCs, including existing devices running Windows 11. This will be for laptops using the new Snapdragon X chip only, or other Copilot+ PCs with future AMD or Intel silicon.

For those keen on AI assistance, this is good news, as are the other AI tools Microsoft is introducing to Windows 11. It’ll make things that were unimaginable to most people not all that long ago easily accessible with a few clicks without even going online.

If you’re not a fan of AI-powered apps, then I can imagine this news will simply be a continuation of issues you may have with AI getting everywhere these days.

Either way, it doesn’t seem like Microsoft is going to be remotely discouraged from forging on this path, and it will continue to try and push to become the industry standard for AI-focused consumer products. 


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.