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Let’s start with an indiscretion, which has come from many quarters and which Intel (in the figure of its Chief Financial Officer, David Zinsner) has somehow made official in recent days: Windows 12 (the name is not confirmed) will arrive in 2024 and will be increasingly devoted to the verb of generative AI. The opinion of the Californian chip giant is understandably interested, because on the advent of the new operating system, and the consequent need to strengthen PC hardware, the Santa Clara company is counting on making an immediate success with its first processors, code-named “Meteor Lake”, to integrate a Neural Processing Unit dedicated to artificial intelligence. Returning to Microsoft, it is clear that the Redmond company’s attention towards deep learning algorithms and large format language models is currently at its highest level. And this is also confirmed by the latest updates released for Windows 11 in the name of the Copilot assistant, in fact the first concrete step towards an increasingly massive use of AI in PC software par excellence.
Two different upgrade packages: Moment 4 and 23H2
Last September 26th was an important crossroads for the Microsoft operating system, with the progressive roll out of Windows 11 Moment 4, arriving (or already arriving) also on the computers of European and Italian users but without the “gem” of Copilot , which we will talk about later. This is an update intended for users who have installed Windows 11 22H2 and which introduces a series of features awaiting release which collects all previously released updates. In the eyes of users, Moment 4 therefore presents itself as a “mandatory” upgrade, identified with the code KB5031354 and containing over 100 security patches marked as critical (it is strongly recommended to install it quickly). The update also adds features of a different nature, such as the possibility of not grouping apps on the taskbar and showing complete labels, a new interface to manage all the RGB lighting technologies of installed accessories and components and some new features in the “file explorer” command. Windows 11 23H2, however, belongs to the category of so-called “feature updates”, and therefore all-inclusive updates that are distributed on an annual basis (usually in autumn). Essentially a new version of Windows 11, while Moments 4 is an evolutionary stage of the operating system, which introduces some of the new features provided by the complete update and which brings the co-pilot powered by machine learning into the world of Microsoft applications. All with an eye to security and privacy: the new Windows 11 embraces and integrates the so-called “passkeys”, which allow biometric authentication of the user without having to type a username and password anymore.
What the Copilot assistant does
However, the main innovation that Moments 4 brings with it is Copilot, a tool perfectly integrated with the Windows environment that acts as an all-round digital assistant to help the user carry out various types of activities (starting with searching for information) and to be more productive: by exploiting the generative artificial intelligence that underlies its operation, Copilot can in fact create and perfect “original” content and images without switching from one application to another. From a technical point of view, many define it as an advanced chatbot capable of providing answers to any type of question (more or less complex, such as the request to write code), of analyzing a wide spectrum of data sources (including images) and to simultaneously support both text and voice interaction. A sort of Bing Chat (the AI-based assistant integrated into the Microsoft search engine) integrated directly into the Windows operating system, in short, which has Microsoft 365 Copilot as its alter ego for the world of professionals and businesses with a series of features aimed at improving individual productivity and team collaboration.
The trick to activate it also in Italy
As previously mentioned, Copilot for Windows 11 is not currently accessible for European users due to the restrictions imposed by the Digital Markets Act, the EU regulation that monitors all digital services (and Windows is among these) that can be considered sufficiently widespread to risk a monopoly to the detriment of users’ interests. While waiting to adapt the software enriched by the new conversational AI to EU regulations and to guarantee full compliance for European countries (a version of Windows with Copilot compatible with EU laws is expected by March 2024), there is however a solution, a trick, better said, to overcome these restrictions. There are two possible ways: add the chatbot icon to the Windows 11 desktop or set up a keyboard procedure to quickly call up the assistant from any operating system window and from any running application. Instead of pressing the Windows + C keys to start the co-pilot (as expected by default thanks to the Windows 11 update), you can fall back on a specific combination (Windows key + R to access the “Run” window and then enter the text “ microsoft-edge://?ux=copilot&tcp=1&source=taskbar”) to obtain the same result and start using the assistant on your PC. The warning, while waiting for Microsoft to confirm the release times for the new Windows 12, is only one: Copilot is currently a “technology” still in the development phase, not entirely complete as regards the possibilities of interaction with the operating system and with features that cannot therefore be considered “best of breed”. But the road is clear, and it leads to the full integration of generative AI into the operating system for personal computers used by two out of three users worldwide.