Windows 11 finally gets 3D-style emoji (about 2 years too late for some folks)

Windows 11 has a new preview build and it introduces 3D emoji, plus it takes an important first step for change on the security front.

You may recall that 3D emoji were promised by Microsoft in the past – the distant past, in fact, since this was something that was supposed to launch with Windows 11 – but they’re finally here. Putting paid to what was quite the controversy almost two years ago (we’ll come back to ‘emojigate’ shortly).

Build 25905 for the Canary channel gives us some smart-looking emoji that are nicely fleshed out with a 3D-like appearance.

As Microsoft notes: “These emoji use gradients to bring the design style that our customers have been asking for.”

Windows 11 3D Emoji

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Elsewhere in this preview build, security has been tightened thanks to the introduction of Rust in the Windows Kernel. Not rust as in metal-gone-bad, but Rust as in the coding language which offers advantages over C++ (the currently used programming language), notably in terms of memory safety (and defending against exploits that take this route).

At the moment, the initial steps with Rust are just a “small trial” as Microsoft describes it, but expect the Windows 11 kernel to get rustier as time goes on.

It’s also worth noting that the Microsoft Store now has an AI Hub, and not just for the Canary channel, but all testers who are running version 22306.1401.x.x or better of the store.

We discussed this in detail yesterday, but the idea is for Microsoft to highlight some top apps that make good use of AI (and more besides, eventually).

Check out the full details of everything going on in this new preview build by reading through Microsoft’s blog post on the release.


Analysis: Fiery feelings over emoji

What’s all this about ‘emojigate’ then? Well, as mentioned, Microsoft did tease 3D-like emoji before the release of Windows 11, promising that they’d arrive with the OS. However, when Windows 11 launched in October 2021, the redesigned emoji looked nothing like the promised 3D-style affairs, and were simply flat icons.

That caused quite an outpouring of rage on social media. While emoji may seem like a relatively unimportant facet of an operating system to some folks, to others, they’re a key part of the experience and communicating with friends. More to the point, people don’t like feeling duped, and indeed at the time, some threw accusations at Microsoft of ‘scamming’ them.

Over the top, yes, but that’s how folks can react when they feel they’ve been lied to in some way. Microsoft explained that the wrong graphics had been used for teasing the feature, and there had been some kind of a mix-up, but that didn’t sit well with some Windows 11 users back at the time, either.

At any rate, Brandon LeBlanc, Senior Program manager at Microsoft, told the disgruntled users that the 3D emoji could arrive in Windows 11 at a later date – and they finally have. At least in testing, anyway, and they should be in the release version of Windows 11 later this year.

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ChatGPT-powered Bing AI is getting a feature some folks desperately want

Microsoft’s Bing AI is getting a ‘no search’ feature and it’s coming soon, we’re told.

What does this ability do? Much as the name suggests, it instructs the Bing chatbot to answer off its own bat, and not search the web to use that data in the reply to your query.

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OnMSFT spotted that Mikhail Parakhin, who is head of Advertising and Web Services at Microsoft, let us know about the incoming functionality on Twitter.

Parakhin has actually mentioned the feature a few times in tweets over the past week, and in the most recent message, said that ‘no search’ is coming “soon” (as you can see above).

We shouldn’t be waiting long, then, to get this capability, and it’ll add to the growing armory of features that Microsoft is building out for Bing AI.

In case you missed it, Bing AI was recently furnished with improved sports knowledge for queries on the big game(s), and a major incoming feature is image recognition (so you can sling a picture at the chatbot, and have the location or building identified, for example). Bing Vision, as it’s called, is due to arrive for all users in the very near future.


Analysis: Another useful option for Bing AI

Another facet of the chatbot Microsoft is working on is to reduce the time it takes Bing AI to respond in the case of certain queries (eliminating so-called latency spikes). Presumably, using ‘no search’ will also have the benefit of speeding up the chatbot’s answers too (as Bing will be doing less in this case). We shall see, but better performance is clearly something Microsoft wants to gun for with the AI.

Why would you want to use a ‘no search’ query in general, though? Well, as the Twitter user who Parakhin replied to makes clear, with some questions, you don’t need Bing to go rifling around the web – and in some cases, scraping data from multiple websites could potentially make an answer less useful. (As another user points out, this affects Bing’s coding abilities detrimentally, for example).

Also, you may just want a quick and streamlined reply, rather than a heap of web references thrown at you. So, while this might be a somewhat niche feature, it’s going to be a very useful one to have for some folks.

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