Microsoft said Tuesday that a new operating system update will let PC users talk to Bing’s chatbot by typing requests and questions directly into Windows 11’s search field. And for some of Microsoft’s customers, that update will be available as early as today.
It may have seemed inevitable that Microsoft’s most vibrant new product in years would somehow be folded into Windows; after all, access to the chatbot is already added to some of the mobile apps, not to mention Skype. But the company’s push to make its new chatbot even more accessible comes with caveats.
First, the chatbot has not been modified in any way to be able to “see”, search for or interact with any of the files stored on your computer. When you start typing a question or request in Windows 11’s search bar, you’ll be given the option to complete that process with Bing – from there, the chatbot will continue the conversation in the same way as in a web browser.
And even if you have the new software installed, you still can’t chat with Bing unless you’ve gotten off the waiting list — a list that, according to Microsoft executive vice president Yusuf Mehdi, includes “many millions” of people.
(When asked if the company would move people off the chatbot waiting list more quickly in response to the software update, a Microsoft spokesperson said there was “no change in pace or approach.”)
Microsoft’s reluctance to allow access to the Bing chatbot more broadly means that for now, at least, many people downloading this new Windows 11 update won’t be able to use its most high-profile feature. But that doesn’t mean you should wait to install it—the update also comes with a handful of new and tweaked tools that fix some long-standing pain points.
Here are three features coming to Windows 11 soon that you might want to try for yourself.
1. Send iMessages from your PC
A new version of Microsoft’s Phone Link utility will finally let Windows PC owners connect and communicate from Apple’s iPhones. (Previously, the feature only worked with Android devices.)
Once you’ve completed a quick setup process that involves pairing your PC and iPhone via Bluetooth, you’ll be able to see incoming calls, messages, and app notifications right on your computer screen. The catch? It’s only available in preview form for now, which means you’ll need to be a member of Microsoft’s Early Access Software Testing Program to try it out. And even if you’re chosen to try the feature, you won’t be able to reply to group chats or send photos – it’s not yet clear if that will change over time.
2. Remote debugging just got easier
Microsoft has also made some changes to its Quick Assist tool, which we’ve recommended in the past as a great way to remotely troubleshoot PC problems for friends and loved ones who aren’t quite up to the task themselves. A new “laser pointer” tool should make it easier to show people you help what they need to see, and you can more easily switch between screen sharing – where you just look and give directions – and take full control yourself.
Help Desk Quick Fix: How to Remotely Access Another Computer
3. Super easy screen recording
The Windows Snipping Tool is invaluable for capturing and saving screenshots you need to hang on to, but now you can also use it to record on-screen actions as a video. Okay, it might not sound like the most exciting add-on ever, but we use tools like this regularly, and it’s great to not have to research and download third-party software to get the job done.
Hopefully these three tools make getting through the day easier. There’s a lot more to Microsoft’s latest update to unpack—we’ll update this story as we continue testing.