Microsoft still has tricks beyond just ads and AI: Windows 11’s File Explorer set to get a slick new ‘Shared’ section

It looks like Microsoft is still making time to work on functional improvements to Windows 11, such as a recent update to File Explorer – and I’m not just talking about its enthusiasm for holistically peppering adverts all over the operating system and integrating AI into every part of it. The new development is looking to add a ‘Shared’ section into File Explorer and is currently being tested with Windows 11 beta users. 

The new File Explorer section is included as part of the Windows 11 Preview Build 22635.3640, available through the Beta Channel of the Windows Insider Program. Even if you install this preview build, the feature is disabled by default and has to be enabled using ViveTools, an open-source software that allows you to test out experimental features. 

The addition of this new section to File Explorer was discovered and shared by X user and occasional Windows leaker @PhantomOfEarth who described their experience of the upgrades that Microsoft is toying with introducing for File Explorer, including ‘fancy visuals’ for sections (even if they are empty) and the introduction of the ‘Shared’ section. 

See more

The first of these discoveries indicates that Microsoft is currently testing changes to the File Explorer user interface (UI), specifically three sections appearing in a sort of horizontal ribbon layout below your file folders: ‘Recent,’ ‘Favorites,’ and ‘Shared.’ Formerly (well, currently, for those of us not using a preview build of Windows 11), these appeared in a vertical list below your file folders. 

A screenshot of locating the old Task Manager using File Explorer's address bar

(Image credit: Microsoft)

How you can set up and try out the new 'Shared' section for yourself

If you’re absolutely itching to get the newly introduced ‘Shared’ section, as well as the changes to the UI, Windows Report recommends that you download ViveTool from its official GitHub page. You’ll have to install Windows 11 Preview Build 22635.3640 first, and then download ViveTool. ViveTool is a third-party app, but it’s widely used and I don’t see any immediate issues that strike me as cause for concern on its GitHub page. 

Once you’ve downloaded ViveTool, you’ll want to open Command Prompt or PowerShell, which are easiest to find by typing either one of those into the search bar in the Windows Taskbar. Then, copy and paste the following code into the window that opens: 

vivetool /enable /id:45130483

Again, this is a feature that’s currently in the testing stage; it’s not even enabled by default in the preview build, and this tracks with what users who have used it have been reporting – the new section appears to not be fully integrated into File Explorer yet and can be buggy at times. One user reported a bug that affected the whole of File Explorer, with the left-hand menu being automatically populated with copies of pinned shortcuts. 

The new section’s bugginess is probably why it’s currently disabled by default, and as Windows Report cautions, you should only enable it at your own risk. You can disable the new features and changes by modifying the ‘enable’ part of the above code to ‘disable,’ so you don’t have to panic even if you do choose to try this out and end up encountering some glitches. 

The new functionality for File Explorer seems useful, and I hope Microsoft continues to work on it to sharpen it and make it functional. It’s easy to see how a ‘Shared’ section would make it easier to collaborate with others your device is connected to. Also, these are the kinds of changes that I think users welcome, as they’re not too big, but have the potential to become part of how we use Windows in our regular routines.


TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Beyond copy and paste: Microsoft set to debut Bing Chat feature to help transform your writing

Microsoft is preparing to introduce a new feature to its AI-powered Bing Chat in Microsoft Edge, offering users a quick and easy way to rewrite any text they write on the internet (such as in forms).

As spotted by Leopeva64 on X (formerly known as Twitter), Microsoft’s latest attempt to add OpenAI’s GPT technology into its Bing and Edge products is accessible only to users who have access to the Canary Channel, which gives them a chance to try out experimental new features that need more extended preparation and development time ahead of their introduction to the broader user base. The feature will include options to adjust settings like text length, the tone of the text, and the format. 

See more

 Resemblances to Bing AI’s inclusion in SwiftKey 

This feature update follows Microsoft incorporating a similar feature into the SwiftKey keyboard on iOS and Android devices. The feature also allowed users to rewrite text in different styles with Bing AI, and it seems like Microsoft is looking to bring this ability to Microsoft Edge. 

According to Neowin, the SwiftKey version of the feature lets you choose from four tones: professional, casual, enthusiastic, and informal. You can then change the format to suit a paragraph, an email, a blog post, or an ‘idea’. Finally, you can choose a length to your preference: short, medium, and long. Hitting the ‘Rewrite’ button will apply these preferences to your highlighted text and prompt Bing AI to generate a rewrite. 


(Image credit: Future)

Bing Chat, now with added functionality and accessibility 

Bing Chat is Microsoft Edge’s AI sidekick that can assist you while browsing, and has seen ongoing updates and improved functionality. 

Another recent feature has been the inclusion of voice input support, offering more options for how users can use Bing Chat. Windows Central speculates that this is because Microsoft wants to get Bing AI in front of more and more users with each update. 

Microsoft is clearly trying to capitalize on the recent surge in interest and hype with AI chatbots such as ChatGPT. I'd wager that it wants to be able to say it offers an operating system and browser that has the best integration of both ChatGPT itself and with generative AI technology in general.

There’s a lot more information to come as Microsoft hasn’t officially announced when this feature will officially debut. Again, if you sign up for the Canary Channel and get early access to the Windows Insider Program, you can try it on your Windows device early. It’s still in a “controlled rollout” phase of its development, however, so access isn’t guaranteed even if you sign up. 

 Rephrase your text instantly: How it works 

GIFs posted by Leopeva64 show how you can access the feature by highlighting the text you’d like to reword and clicking Rewrite.

You can also press the Alt + I keys to activate the feature. Once the feature is selected or activated, you’ll see Bing Chat pop up, and the text will be rewritten. Then you’ll be met with a Replace button, which when selected, will swap your text for the generated newly reworded text. 

You’ll always be presented with an Adjust button, and this will give you options to calibrate the rewritten text where you can alter its tone, length, and format. 

Bing AI chat YouTube script generation

(Image credit: Future)

Exciting potential 

This feature could be a very effective tool for those who write and edit writing, especially if you’re looking to get some help with creative undertakings. It can reword things to possibly help when you feel stuck in your writing, helping your writing flow, and even help write better to meet specific deadlines. 

One of my concerns, however, is perhaps one of the broader ones; I’m not sure it helps improve individual originality in writing, especially as Bing Chat and OpenAI’s models were trained on online data and existing written works. There's a danger that relying too much on a relatively small pool of writing could lead to a lack of innovation, and could strip the personality from people's writing. The quirks, jokes, and even mistakes that make our messages unique could be eradicated. From a creativity perspective, that could prove to be too high a price to pay.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More