Microsoft is giving Windows Copilot an upgrade with Power Automate, promising to banish boring tasks thanks to AI

Microsoft has revealed a new plug-in for Copilot, its artificial intelligence (AI) assistant, named Power Automate that will enable users to (as the name suggests) automate repetitive and tedious tasks, such as creating and manipulating entries in Excel, handling PDFs, and file management. 

This development is part of a bigger Copilot update package that will see several new capabilities being added to the digital AI assistant.

Microsoft gives the following examples of tasks this new Copilot plug-in could automate: 

  • Write an email to my team wishing everyone a happy weekend.
  • List the top 5 highest mountains in the world in an Excel file.
  • Rename all PDF files in a folder to add the word final at the end.
  • Move all word documents to another folder.
  • I need to split a PDF by the first page. Can you help?

Who can get the Power Automate plug-in and how

As of now, it seems like this plug-in is only available to some users with access to Windows 11 Preview Build 26058, available to Windows Insiders in the Canary and Dev Channels of the Windows Insider Program. The Windows Insider Program is a Microsoft-run community for Windows enthusiasts and professionals where users can get early access to upcoming versions of Windows, features, and more, and provide feedback to Microsoft developers to improve these before a wider rollout.

Hopefully, the Power Automate plug-in for Copilot will prove a hit with testers – and if it is, we should hopefully see it rolled out to all Windows 11 users soon.

As per the blog post announcing the Copilot update, this is the first release of the plug-in, which is part of Microsoft’s Power Platform, a comprehensive suite of tools designed to help users make their workflows more efficient and versatile – including Power Automate. To be able to use this plug-in, you’ll need to download Power Automate for Desktop from the Microsoft Store (or make sure you have the latest version of Power Automate). 

There are multiple options for using Power Automate:  the free plan, suitable for personal use or smaller projects, and there are premium plans that offer packages with more advanced features. From what we can tell, the ability to enable the Power Automate plug-in for Copilot will be available for all users, free and premium, but Microsoft might change this.

Once you’ve made sure you have the latest version of Power Automate downloaded, you’ll also need to be signed into Copilot for Windows with a Microsoft Account. Then you’ll need to add the plug-in to Copilot To do this, you’ll have to go to the Plug in section in the Copilot app for Windows, and turn on the Power Automate plug-in which should now be visible. Once enabled, you should be able to ask it to perform a task like one of the above examples and see how Copilot copes for yourself.

Once you try the plug-in for yourself, if you have any thoughts about it, you can share them with Microsoft directly at [email protected]

Copilot in Windows

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Hopefully, a sign of more to come

The language Microsoft is using about the plug-in implies that it will see improvements in the future to enable it and, therefore, Copilot to carry out more tasks. Upgrades like this are steps in the right direction if they’re as effective as they sound. 

This could address one of the biggest complaints people have about Copilot since it was launched. Microsoft presented it as a Swiss Army Knife-like digital assistant with all kinds of AI capabilities, and, at least for now, it’s not anywhere near that. While we admire Microsoft’s AI ambitions, the company did make big promises, and many users are growing impatient. 

I guess we’ll have to just continue to watch whether Copilot will live up to Microsoft’s messaging, or if it’ll go the way of Microsoft’s other digital assistants like Cortana and Clippy.


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Microsoft is changing Windows 11 to help you save money on power bills

Windows 11 has received another preview build in the Dev channel, and it brings in a number of tweaks and additions, including beefing up a feature that should help your PC use a bit less electricity.

That would be Content Adaptive Brightness Control (CABC), which as of preview build 23424, works not just with laptops on battery power, but when they’re plugged in – and indeed with desktop PCs too.

What CABC does is intelligently dim (or lighten) certain parts of the screen depending on what content is being displayed, the idea being that it can cut back power usage without hampering the ‘visual experience’.

In other words, the tweaking on the dimming front shouldn’t make any noticeable difference to the image you’re looking at on-screen, and it should save you a bit of power (and therefore cash, over time).

The feature can be set to be always on, or it can be disabled, or alternatively you can choose to have CABC kick in only if you’re on battery power (on a laptop of course).

Windows 11 Adaptive Brightness now works with desktop PCs

(Image credit: Microsoft)

What else is new for build 23424? There’s a new widget board which is now bigger, so it’s three columns wide (rather than two) and much roomier (assuming the device’s screen has enough real-estate to cope).

Along with this, there’s the usual gamut of fixes and minor tweaks, all of which are detailed in the usual blog post published with every preview build.

Notable pieces of minor tinkering include improving the speed of running searches within the Settings panel, and a change to produce better performance when playing games with a high polling mouse (a super-precise fancy gaming mouse, basically).

Analysis: Small savings that could add up (we hope)

Bringing adaptive brightness control to a desktop PC might sound a bit daft, considering it’s really more a battery-saving feature for laptops. But if like us, you have your PC turned on for about 60 or 70 hours a week, tiny little power savings will add up across the year – especially with energy pricing being what it is these days (sky-high where we are).

So, this is a useful addition we think, providing that as Microsoft asserts, there’s no noticeable hampering of the quality of the monitor image when the feature is turned on. Of course, you don’t have to switch it on if you don’t want to.

Microsoft’s work with widgets seems to be progressing at a speedy pace, too. The more expansive widget board was previously seen in limited testing in the Canary channel, which is the earliest test channel, just a week ago. Now it’s already in the Dev channel and more widely rolled out.

There are other widget-related changes theoretically in the pipeline that we might see soon, too. That includes Microsoft’s experiments with animated icons for widgets (which we have to say look quite nifty), and the rumored possibility has been floated that users may eventually be allowed to drop widgets onto the desktop. It seems fairly clear that widgets are quite a big thing for Microsoft, so expect to see more of them in Windows 11 down the line.

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Arm reveals the hardware that will power the smartphones of 2021

Arm has unveiled its next generation mobile CPU the Cortex-A78 and GPU the Mali-G78 which will be used to power the flagship smartphones of 2021.

The UK-based company provides the chip designs that Qualcomm, Huawei, Samsung and other chipmakers license and then use to to create their own customized system-on-a-chip designs that are found in high-end Android smartphones, tablets and now even laptops such as Microsoft's Surface Pro X.

The new Arm Cortex-A78 CPU will provide increased performance gains as well as greater power efficiency. According to Arm, the new CPU is its most efficient Cortex-A CPU ever designed for mobile devices. The Cortex-A78 will also be able to deliver more immersive 5G experiences as the result of a 20 percent increase in sustained performance over Cortex-A77-based devices with a 1-watt power budget.

The performance-per-watt of the chip will make it better suited for the greater overall computing needs of foldable devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Fold and devices with multiple screens like the LG V60.

Cortex-X Custom program and Mali-G78

Arm also announced a new engagement program called the Cortex-X Custom program which will give its partners the option of having more flexibility and scalability to increase performance. This will allow its partners to develop solutions for providing the ultimate performance for specific use cases.

The Arm-Cortex-X1 is the program's first CPU as well as the most powerful Cortex CPU to date. It features a 30 percent peak performance increase over the Cortex-A77 and offers an even more competitive solution for flagship smartphones as well as large-screen devices.

Last year Arm introduced the Mali-G77 GPU based on its new Valhall architecture and the company's new Mali-G78 builds on the advancements it made to deliver a 25 percent increase in graphics performance over its predecessor. The new GPU supports up to 24 cores and will help extend the battery life of mobile devices.

Finally, based on demand from partners, Arm made the decision to introduce a new sub-premium tier of GPUs. The first GPU in this new tier is the Arm Mali-G68 which supports up to 6 cores and has all the latest features from the Mali-G78.

It will still be some time before the Arm's partners begin to release chips based on its new designs but based on the information the company released, flagship smartphones in 2021 will likely have improved battery life, graphics and 5G performance.

Via The Verge

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