Microsoft Paint could get Midjourney-like powers soon thanks to a surprise AI upgrade

Microsoft has been paying quite a lot of attention to its once-forgotten Paint app recently, which had gone years without any meaningful updates or new features. Now, it seems like the app is getting yet another upgrade – a Midjourney-like ability to generate AI art in real-time. 

So, what does that mean? If you’re unfamiliar with the popular image generator Midjourney, it’s an AI-powered tool that allows you to type in a text prompt to generate an image in a style of your choosing – be it paintwork, photorealism, or even pixel art.

The rumor comes from the credible Windows leaker PhantomOfEarth on X (formerly Twitter), who made a post stating that “The upcoming AI feature for paint may be something known as ‘LiveCanvas’”. While the leaker isn’t entirely sure what exactly the feature will be, it does sound very familiar to Leonardo.Ai’s Real-Time Canvas.

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Real-Time Canvas allows you to draw in one window and watch in a second window as generative AI brings your art to life – like a sort of artistic auto-fill. This would fit perfectly in Microsoft Paint – users would be able to sketch out their ideas or create art and use the generative AI technology to add to it. Microsoft already has some basic (and, if I’m being honest, kind of average) AI-powered image generation within Paint, so it would make sense to add a more interactive feature like this rather than simply a repeat of something they already have. 

We’re quite excited to see how this tool could help budding artists looking to experiment with generative AI, since it’ll be available free in Windows. With the ability to draw in one window and edit in another, you can create the barebones of your outwork and add finer details with the AI. It's approaching a more 'moral' application of generative AI – one that doesn't simply cut out the human creator entirely.

We don’t know much about expected release dates or even have a rough idea of what the feature would look like outside of PhantomOfEarth’s post – and, as always, we should take leaks like this with a side of salt. Likely, the feature will eventually make its way to the Windows Insider Program, which allows Windows enthusiasts and developers to sign up and get an early look at upcoming releases and new features that may be on the way. So, we’ll have to wait and see if it comes to fruition – and get doodling. 

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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.

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Windows 11’s Snipping Tool could get new powers for taking screenshots – but is Microsoft in danger of overcomplicating things?

Windows 11’s Snipping Tool is set to get a handy feature to embellish screenshots, or at least it seems that way.

Leaker PhantomOfEarth discovered the new abilities in the app by tinkering with bits and pieces in version 11.2312.33.0 of Snipping Tool. As you can see in the tweet below, the functionality allows the user to draw shapes (and fill them with color) and lines.

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That means you can highlight parts of screenshots by pointing with arrows – for an instructional step-by-step tutorial you’ve made with screen grabs, for example – or add different shapes as needed.

Note that this is not in testing yet, because as noted, the leaker needed to play with the app’s configuration to get it going. However, the hidden functionality does seem to be working fine, more or less, so it’s likely that a rollout to Windows 11 testers isn’t far off.

Analysis: A feature drive with core apps

While you could furnish your screenshots from Snipping Tool with these kinds of extras simply by opening the image in Paint, it’s handy to have this feature on tap to directly work on a grab without needing to go to a second app.

Building out some of the basic Windows 11 apps is very much becoming a theme for Microsoft of late. For example, recently Snipping Tool has been testing a ‘combined capture bar’ (for easily switching between capturing screenshots or video clips), and the ability to lift text straight from screenshots which is really nifty in some scenarios.

Elsewhere, core apps like Paint and Notepad are getting an infusion of AI (with Cocreator and a rumored Cowriter addition), and there’s been a lot of work in other respects with Notepad such as adding tabs.

We think these initiatives are a good line of attack for Microsoft, although there are always folks who believe that simple apps like Snipping Tool or Notepad should be kept basic, and advanced functionality is in danger of cluttering up these streamlined utilities. We get where that sentiment comes from, but we don’t think Microsoft is pushing those boundaries yet.

Via Windows Central

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ChatGPT will get video-creation powers in a future version – and the internet isn’t ready for it

The web's video misinformation problem is set to get a lot worse before it gets better, with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman going on the record to say that video-creation capabilities are coming to ChatGPT within the next year or two.

Speaking to Bill Gates on the Unconfuse Me podcast (via Tom's Guide), Altman pointed to multimodality – the ability to work across text, images, audio and “eventually video” – as a key upgrade for ChatGPT and its models over the next two years.

While the OpenAI boss didn't go into too much detail about how this is going to work or what it would look like, it will no doubt work along similar lines to the image-creation capabilities that ChatGPT (via DALL-E) already offers: just type a few lines as a prompt, and you get back an AI-generated picture based on that description.

Once we get to the stage where you can ask for any kind of video you like, featuring any subject or topic you like, we can expect to see a flood of deepfake videos hit the web – some made for fun and for creative purposes, but many intended to spread misinformation and to scam those who view them.

The rise of the deepfakes

Deepfake videos are already a problem of course – with AI-generated videos of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak popping up on Facebook just this week – but it looks as though the problem is about to get significantly worse.

Adding video-creation capabilities to a widely accessible and simple-to-use tool like ChatGPT will mean it gets easier than ever to churn out fake video content, and that's a major worry when it comes to separating fact from fiction.

The US will be going to the polls later this year, and a general election in the UK is also likely to happen at some point in 2024. With deepfake videos purporting to show politicians saying something they never actually said already circulating, there's a real danger of false information spreading online very quickly.

With AI-generated content becoming more and more difficult to spot, the best way of knowing who, and what, to trust is to stick to well-known and reputable publications online for your news sources – so not something that's been reposted by a family member on Facebook, or pasted from an unknown source on the platform formerly known as Twitter.

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