Microsoft is giving two Windows 11 apps nifty extra powers – and one of them is AI-related (surprise, surprise)

Microsoft is trying out some interesting new changes in testing for Windows 11, including bolstering a pair of core apps for the OS – with one of them getting supercharged by AI.

Those two apps are Notepad and Snipping Tool, with new versions rolling out to testers who are in the Dev and Canary channels.

The big one is Notepad which is getting an infusion of AI in the form of an ‘Explain with Copilot’ option. This allows you to select any written content in Notepad and via the right-click menu (or Ctrl + E shortcut), summon Copilot to explain more about the selected text, as you might guess.

As Microsoft notes: “You can ask Copilot in Windows to help explain log files, code segments, or any selected content directly from within Notepad.”

Windows 11 Notepad Copilot Panel

(Image credit: Microsoft)

This feature should be available to all testers in those earlier Windows Insider channels in version 11.2401.25.0 of Notepad, though Microsoft observes that some folks may not see it right away. (This is labeled as a ‘known issue’ so it’s seemingly a bug with the deployment).

What’s going on with Snipping Tool? Well, a previously leaked feature is now present in version 11.2401.32.0 in testing, namely the ability to annotate screenshots with shapes and arrows.

That’s pretty handy for composing screen grabs for the likes of instructional step-by-steps where you’ll be pointing out bits to the person following the guide.

Elsewhere in Windows 11 testing, the Beta channel has a new preview version, but there’s not all that much going on here. Build 22635.3140 does make a small but impactful change, though, for Copilot, moving the icon for the AI in the taskbar to the far right-hand side (into the system tray).

Microsoft observes that it makes more sense for the Copilot button to be on the right of the taskbar, given that the panel for the AI opens on the right, so it’ll be directly above the icon. It’s worth remembering that regarding the Copilot panel, Microsoft just made it larger, apparently as a result of feedback from users of the AI.

Analysis: Cowriter MIA?

Regarding that Beta channel tweak for the Copilot icon, that seems a fair enough adjustment to make. Although that said, rumor has it the next update for Windows 11 – which will be Moment 5 arriving later this month in theory – will allow for the ability to undock the AI so it isn’t anchored to the right side of the desktop. Still, that remains speculation for now, and even then there will be those folks who don’t undock Copilot, anyway.

As mentioned, the big testing move here is the new Notepad ability, and it’s no surprise to see more Windows 11 apps getting AI chops. The integration with Copilot here is on a pretty basic level, mind, compared to previous rumors about a fully-featured Cowriter assistant along the lines of the existing Cocreator in Paint. Still, it’s possible this is an initial move, and that a more in-depth Cowriter function could still turn up in the future at some point.

That said, Notepad is not supposed to be a complex app – the idea is it’s a lightweight and streamlined piece of software – so maybe further AI powers won’t be coming to the client.

You might also like…

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Windows 10’s next update might come with a predictable but annoying extra – yet more badgering to upgrade to Windows 11

Some Windows 10 users are apparently being treated (ahem) to a multi-panel pop-up that takes over the whole screen, and consists of three pages of persuading those with eligible PCs to get the upgrade to Windows 11.

This kind of effectively long-winded nag – three full screens of selling the upgrade to Windows 11 – has been seen before, but it’s now appearing again as shown by Windows Latest.

The tech site observed that they stumbled on this sprawling pop-up after installing the optional update (in preview) for January 2024.

The first screen informs the user about the available free upgrade to Windows 11, and suggests allowing it to download in the background (while still using the PC).

As we’ve seen before, there are sneaky tactics with the buttons too – both available options in the center of the screen are saying ‘yes’ to the upgrade (the choice is either get it right now or schedule the upgrade for later). If you want to ‘Keep Windows 10’ that selection is sort of tucked away towards the bottom of the screen.

Clicking to keep the current OS, mind, means you still have to navigate through another two pages, the first of which tells you that the best choice is to switch to Windows 11, and the second of which makes you confirm that you want to stay on Windows 10.

We should note that Windows Latest calls this a four-page pop-up, but that’s not strictly true. There is a fourth panel, but you’ll only see that if you click the ‘See what’s inside’ button to learn more about Windows 11 (which most upgrade avoiders won’t, of course).

Analysis: Stop it already – or at least go more succinct

And that’s the point for the aforementioned upgrade avoiders, really – we all know what Windows 11 is by now, and we know if our PC is eligible for a free upgrade. Mainly because Microsoft has repeatedly told us so with overly lengthy ads for Windows 11 like this one. In fact, we’ve had something like 10 counts of badgering to upgrade our Windows 10 PC (at least), with the last three (or maybe even four) being this multi-panel effort that takes some clicking through.

So, why is Microsoft still doing this, given that this is definitely not new info at this stage of the game? Okay, so we get that Windows 11 is struggling to attract users, so there’s that obvious problem to rectify. But if you’re going to do this sort of thing, Microsoft, we suggest at least coming up with a new, more succinct nag screen to point out the upgrade (if you must).

Given that this pop-up appeared after installing the latest preview update in testing, it’s quite possible that Windows 10 users will experience this after installing the February cumulative update, which rolls out a week today (and is the finished version of that preview). So, steel yourself appropriately, and get that mouse index finger in training now in order to facilitate as fast a click-through the panels as you can manage.

That said, it’s not a foregone conclusion this will happen, of course, but these kind of sprawling pop-ups are appearing fairly regularly anyway on eligible Windows 10 PCs, as noted.

You might also like…

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Wordle hard mode adds an extra layer of challenge – here’s how to turn it on

Wordle is the word-a-day game taking the internet by storm. The popular word game present a daily challenge in which you must guess a five-letter word in six guesses or fewer. Wordle will then keep track of your stats, including win rate percentage, and a breakdown of the number of tries it takes you to reach the correct answer each day.

While Wordle's strict ruleset already makes the game quite challenging, there's actually a secondary mode tucked away in the options menu – for those wanting an even greater challenge. It doesn't change up the words you'll be guessing in any way, but it does impose further restrictions that could make your Wordle experience that much tougher.

Under normal rules, Wordle will notify you of letters you've guessed correctly. A green tile indicates you've got the right letter in the right place, while a yellow tile tells you that letter is in the word, albeit in a different spot. Meanwhile, a greyed out tile tells the player that letter isn't in the word at all.

That's also the case on hard mode, but there's one big difference. With hard mode, you're forced into using all the yellow tiled letters you've accrued so far. So for example, if you've guessed the word to be “CHIMP” and “I” and “M” flag as yellow, you'll be required to use those letters in your next guess.

To many of you, this may not seem like much of a restriction. After all, using the correct letters gives you a better chance of guessing the word, right? Well, yes and no. The more yellow letters you have in your guess, the fewer new letters you'll be able to play with on subsequent guesses, and this can be especially strict when you consider you only have six guesses to begin with.

Wordle on iOS

(Image credit: Wordle)

How to access Wordle hard mode

Activating hard mode on Wordle is simple enough, and just requires you to head into the site's settings menu. You can do so by tapping or clicking the cog icon in the top right of the screen. It's just right of the title, and next to the option to view your overall statistics.

Once you're in the settings menu, the very first option, “Hard Mode,” is what you're after. By turning that on, you'll now be required to use all correct letters you've uncovered in subsequent guesses.

The settings menu also contains options for a dark theme and a color blind mode for those who may need it. The former might be a good option to reduce eye strain if you tend to spend a lot of time thinking about each guess.

And that's it! With hard mode activated, you can back out of the settings menu and experience your daily Wordle challenge with added restrictions. Do note that there doesn't seem to be any added benefit to playing on hard mode, and it can be turned off at any time by simply re-entering the settings menu and tapping the option once again, reverting Wordle to its default rules.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More