Windows 11 update could predict what you do next – but will it be the next Clippy?

Clippy rising from the grave
(Image credit: Microsoft / sutlafk / JamenPercy / amber_85)

A new Windows 11 feature has leaked, giving us not only a glimpse at what Microsoft has in store for its operating system in the future, but also confirming that the next major update will be called Sun Valley 2.

Many had assumed that the upcoming update, also known as Windows 11 22H2 would be called Sun Valley 2, as that was the name Microsoft was reportedly using internally. However, as WinCentral points out, a page on Microsoft’s public Feedback page (which has since been removed) mentions ‘SV2’ – essentially confirming that Microsoft will be using the name Sun Valley 2 when talking in public about the new update – and not just using it as an internal codename.

However, more interestingly, a hidden new feature has been found in Windows 11’s latest Dev channel release, known as “Suggested actions” – and it could one of the biggest changes yet for the new operating system.

Predicting the future

The “Suggested actions” feature looks like Windows 11 will guess what you want to do next depending on how you’re using the PC.

So, if you highlight a date, for example, a prompt could appear suggesting you make an event in your calendar for the day you’ve selected.

There’s not much to go on at the moment, apart from a few screenshots, but as WinCentral suggests, Microsoft may use machine learning to better understand how you use your PC, then offer up relevant suggested actions.

This feature has the potential to be quite useful if implemented well, and could speed up some of the most common tasks we use on our PCs. Depending on how often these suggested actions appear, it could also be one of the most noticeable changes that Microsoft has introduced to Windows.

While there’s plenty of potential for this new feature, there’s also a lot of risk, as well.

Analysis: Bad memories of Clippy

Microsoft Teams

(Image credit: Microsoft)

This isn’t the first time Microsoft has tried to guess what you’re going to do next, then suggest your next steps. Most famously, Microsoft added a particularly unlovable ‘helper’ to its Office 97 suite known as ‘Clippy’. This ‘smart’ paper clip would pop up when you were working, and would offer help depending on the task it thought you were doing.

So, if you typed in an address, then typed ‘Dear’, Clippy would appear and say “It looks like you’re writing a letter” then offer help based on that.

The problem was, Clippy was immensely unpopular, with many people complaining that it would pop up at inopportune moments and offer poor advice.

Clippy was so annoying, it became famous, and not for the reasons Microsoft had wanted, and ended up being a joke. Microsoft stopped shipping it with Office, but would occasionally reference it in self-deprecating digs (including a few April Fool’s jokes where the company pretended it was bringing it back, much to people’s horror).

So, the “Suggest actions” feature needs to be carefully implemented. If it pops up too regularly, and bugs users and offers incorrect help, it could quickly get a reputation as Clippy 2.0 – and no one wants that.

The new feature is only in an early build aimed at developers, so it may not even make it to Windows 11. We’re sure that Microsoft will be closely monitoring feedback from early users – and if there’s even a slightest hint of it being compared to Clippy, the plug could be pulled.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.