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Bing AI is coming to the Windows 11 taskbar, of course

Well, that didn't take long.

Microsoft

Three weeks after introducing the new AI-infused Bing, Microsoft is ready to shove it into Windows 11 with an update coming today. If you're in the Bing AI preview, you'll be able to access all of its new features from the search box in the Windows 11 taskbar. Just imagine a slightly more streamlined version of what we saw with the Bing AI on Edge: In addition to general web searching, you can ask Bing natural language queries and its intelligent chatbot will reply conversationally. If you don't have access to the new Bing yet, you can still sign up for access on Microsoft's waitlist.

The impetus here is pretty clear. Now that people are finally talking about Bing in a less derogatory way, Microsoft is aiming to infuse it into the very core of Windows 11. No need to open up Edge or switch your primary web browser. Last week, the company also rolled out the Bing AI preview on its mobile apps and Skype. More so than the expanding access, though, we'll be keeping a close eye on how Microsoft is improving Bing's capabilities, while also trying to limit some of its bad behavior. Remember folks, chatbots are just very good predictive text generators, not arbiters of truth.

Showing Phone Link connectivity with an iPhone, including text messages and voice calls.
Showing Phone Link connectivity with an iPhone, including text messages and voice calls. (Microsoft)

If you don't give a lick about Bing AI, this latest Windows 11 update is still packed with plenty of intriguing new features. For one, Windows Insiders will be able to test out Phone Link for iPhones, which will let you make calls and send texts from within Windows. (This follows Microsoft's recent iCloud integration in Windows 11's Photos app.) Android users with Samsung phones, who have had access to Phone Link for a while now, will also be able to easily turn on their Wi-Fi hotspots and transfer their browser sessions. It'll be interesting to see how Microsoft's solution compares to Intel's Unison app, which supports calls, texts and file syncing between iPhones and select Windows 11 PCs.

Microsoft is also diving deeper into "touch" experiences with this update. If you've got a detachable or convertible PC, the taskbar will automatically shrink down to give you more screen real estate. A swipe up will let you use the taskbar as you normally would. For some users, this may be easier to deal with than having the taskbar hide itself entirely.

Showing the minimized taskbar for touchscreen PCs.
The new minimized Windows 11 taskbar for detached touchscreen PCs. (Microsoft)

Windows 11 is also expanding support for more braille displays, including three "Designed for Surface" devices from HumanWare. Microsoft this will make it easier to flip between its built-in Narrator screen reader and alternatives. Additionally, Windows' voice commands are coming out of preview, allowing you to have complete control of your PC without a mouse or keyboard. Microsoft expanded that functionality in its 2022 Windows 11 update — now it appears to be even more robust.

Here's a quick rundown of a few other features you'll find in today's Windows 11 update, which will roll out to users over the next few weeks. (As always, you can check for its availability in the Windows Update app.)

  • NotePad is officially getting tabs — it's no longer limited to Windows Insiders.

  • Windows Studio Effects, which includes AI-driven features like background blurring and eye contact during video chats, are now accessible through the taskbar's quick settings.

  • You'll be able to quickly preview your video from the taskbar's Team's video chat button.

  • The Quick Assist app is faster, and you'll also be able to quickly switch between screen sharing and full control of another users PC. (Troubleshooting your parent's PC just got a bit easier.)

  • There are more widgets coming, including Xbox Game Pass, Phone Link, as well as some from third parties like Meta and Spotify. (In the two years since Windows 11's release, I've yet to see anyone actually use its widgets regularly.)

  • The Snippet Tool can now record your screen.

  • Enhanced energy recommendations will help you save a bit more power.

  • The Windows 365 app is now in the Microsoft Store, giving you quick access to Cloud PCs.