As expected, Microsoft is bringing the powerful and somewhat controversial AI-Enabled Bing to Windows 11, and putting it right inside your taskbar.
The update arrives today (February 28), but if you don't already have access to AI Bing (perhaps you're still on a waiting list) you won't see it.
For those that do have access, and are running at least Windows 11 version 22H2 on one of the best Windows PCs, they'll see the same OpenAI ChatGPT-enabled Bing chatbot at least a million people have been running for almost a month.
AI-Enabled Bing is designed to be like a search-engine copilot. You can use the new Bing in the standard search fashion, or in a more conversational mode, where you ask the chatbot anything, even a series of questions that stay in context and, when all goes well, help you to elicit better answers.
Now, that experience will live inside Windows 11's centered and quite popular search box in the taskbar.
While Microsoft, in the blog post announcing the update, points to some of the inspiring information discovery stories generated by the AI-powered Bing, the decision to introduce it on a platform used by millions of people is not without controversy.
Since its introduction at a surprise event a few weeks ago, users have pushed AI-enabled Bing to its limits. It's been accused of making stuff up, cheating at Tic-Tac-Toe, and basically going off the rails. Microsoft responded by putting some guardrails on the new technology, such as limiting interactions to five responses at a time.
None of that, though, has slowed Microsoft's expansion plans. Just last week, Microsoft unveiled the mobile version of AI-enabled Bing that includes voice interaction.
Microsoft is, in a way, hedging its bets here by introducing AI-enabled Bing to Windows 11 and not the much more widely-used Windows 10, which may be on well over one billion devices.
Even so, this is a significant expansion in AI-enabled Bing availability, and the roadmap is clear. This ChatGPT-powered search will eventually be a part of all Windows 11 installs, which means its learning could grow at an exponential rate. It might also mean that Microsoft encounters even more unforeseen chatbot challenges.
Along with the AI-enabled Bing Taskbar update, Microsoft is finally bringing Phone Link to iOS devices.
For years, Microsoft has offered a direct Windows connection to the best Samsung phones through Phone Link, enabling browser hand-off, and the ability to send texts and other notifications from the phone to the Windows screen.
This Windows 11 update finally adds support for iPhones, allowing Windows users to view messages and notifications from their iPhones on their Windows 11 PCs and sync contacts. You'll even be able to manage phone calls through your PC.
Unlike the Bing update, this one is still only available as a preview for Windows Insiders, a beta-release program that you can sign up for here (opens in new tab). Just remember that running unreleased software comes with its share of risks, including data loss in the event of a system crash.
There are a bunch of other notable Windows 11 updates in today's full public release including:
• The ability to adjust Windows Studio Effects directly from the taskbar in Quick Settings.
• A slide-away taskbar when you use Windows 11 in tablet mode. A swipe up from the bottom of the screen will bring the taskbar back into view.
• The ability to open Quick Assist from the help menu to receive and deliver tech support. It will even let you switch between screen-share mode and full remote control of your or someone else's system (assuming you trust who you're working with).
• Finally, Microsoft is adding Screen Recording to its Snipping Tool, which has traditionally been used to capture screen images. We would love to see it add the ability to create GIFs from these screen caps, maybe in a future Windows 11 update.
As we mentioned earlier, this major Windows 11 update rolls out today (February 28) and while most of the updates will be available to everyone, the AI-enabled Bing will only show up if you're already part of the Bing preview program.