There’s now an app to ditch Copilot AI from Windows 11 – but we wouldn’t recommend doing that

Debloating Windows is quite the tradition among some users, and there are apps out there to make this task easier – and a new version of an existing client takes things further with the ability to strip out AI functionality from Windows 11 (and Windows 10, which also has Copilot).

This is BloatyNosy, an app that has been around for quite some time (it was previously known as ThisIsWin11). Now, there’s a fresh incarnation: BloatyNosyAI.

It’s the first version of the new take on the app – still in preview, officially – and the idea is that it can help ditch AI features from Windows 11.

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Neowin spotted the launch and tried out BloatyNosyAI, which is handy as the app itself doesn’t make it clear exactly what it can do in terms of Windows 11 AI extraction on its GitHub page.

All the developer, Belim, observes is that the app offers the “ability to remove AI features in Windows” and that: “Plugins can be accessed, for example, via the keyword ‘Plugin’ or ‘AI’ to remove AI in Windows 11/10.”

Neowin tried those keywords – note that the app itself is AI-powered (ironically), which is what the name refers to, as well as debloating AI – and discovered options to remove the Copilot button from the taskbar, or to remove AI from the Edge browser.

The overall philosophy of BloatyNosy is suggested by the name; it’s not just about removing bloat from Windows and speeding it up a touch, but also tweaking privacy settings to combat Microsoft’s ‘nosier’ measures in the OS.

Analysis: Caution first

As already observed, we’d recommend being cautious with this one. It’s interesting to see the new angle and version of BloatyNosy here, but it is still a preview, and this kind of software can have unintended side effects. We’d avoid installing a preview update from Microsoft for Windows 11, let alone a third-party app, just because you never quite know what might go wrong with code that’s still in testing.

Especially when it’s messing around with the internals of Windows 11 (or Windows 10) and stripping out features.

It is, of course, possible to remove Copilot yourself as Neowin pointed out, but that involves fiddling around with the Registry, which is not a recommended pursuit for anyone except the highly tech-savvy.

There are measures you can take to minimize the appearance of Copilot in Windows 11, mind – such as turning off the taskbar icon for the AI, so at least you won’t see it. (Even if that’s hardly the same as removing the assistant from your desktop – or indeed your keyboard where it could set up home in the future).

For now, we’d treat this app purely as an emerging sign of the interest in banishing Copilot from Windows 11, as not everyone wants AI on their PC. Whether Microsoft itself will ever offer an option to strip out Copilot from Windows 11 completely (only available via a Registry hack currently, as mentioned), well, put it this way: we wouldn’t bank on it.

The good news is that Microsoft is making efforts to debloat Windows 11 in one way or another, to some extent, though.

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Seeing your own spatial video on Vision Pro is an immersive trip – and I highly recommend it

Every experience I have with Apple's Vision Pro mixed reality headset is the same as the last and yet also quite different. I liken it to peeling an onion: I think I understand the feel and texture of it, but each time I notice new gradations and even flavors that remind me that I still don't fully know Apple's cutting-edge wearable technology.

For my third go around wearing the Vision Pro I had the somewhat unique experience of viewing my own content through the powerful and pricey ($ 3,499 when it ships next year) headset.

A few weeks ago, Apple dropped a beta for iOS 17.2, which added Spatial Video capture to the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max (the full version landed this week). It's a landscape-only mode video format that uses the 48MP main and 12MP Ultrawide cameras to create a stereo video image. I started capturing videos in that format almost immediately, but with the caveat that not every video is worthy of this more immersive experience (you can't be too far away from your subject, and keeping the phone level and steady helps). Still, I had a solid nine clips that I brought with me for my second and by far more personal Vision Pro Spatial Video experience.

I tried, during this third Vision Pro trial, to pay more attention to some of the headset's setup and initialization details. As I've mentioned previously, the Vision Pro is one of Apple's more bespoke hardware experiences. If you wear glasses, you will need to pay extra for a pair of custom-made Zeiss lens inserts – I provided my prescription details in advance of this test run. It's not clear how long consumers might have to wait for their own inserts (could Apple have an express optician service in the back of each Apple Store? Doubtful).

Not everyone will need those lenses, or have to endure that extra cost and wait. If you don't wear glasses, you're ahead of people like me, and likewise if you're a contact lens wearer.

Man using Apple Vision Pro

Not me wearing the Vision Pro, because Apple still won’t allow me to photograph myself wearing them. That said, pressing the digital crown is part of the initial setup process (Image credit: Apple)

Getting the custom experience right

Still, there are other customizations that I didn't pay attention to until now. The face cushion that rests on your face and connects magnetically to the main part of Vision Pro comes in a few different curve styles to accommodate the differing contours of of a range of typical human faces. I don't know how many different options Apple will offer.

One thing that's critical for a comfortable AR and VR experience is matching your eye's pupillary distance – the distance between the centers of your eyes. This was the first time I paid attention to one of the first steps in my Vision Pro setup. After I long-pressed the headset's digital crown, a pair of large green shapes appeared before my eyes. They measured the space between my eyes and inside the Vision Pro, and then the dual micro-LED displays and their 23 million pixels of imagery moved to match the space between my eyes. If you listen carefully, you might be able to hear the mechanics doing their job.

I also noted how the Vision Pro runs me through three distinct sets of eye-tracking tests, where I looked at a ring of dots and, for each one, pinched my index finger and thumb together to select them. It might feel tedious to do this three times (okay, it did) but it's a critical step that ensures the Vision Pro's primary interaction paradigm works perfectly every time.

Now, at my third wearing, I've become quite an expert at the looking and pinching thing. A gold star for me.

The Apple Vision Pro headset on a grey background

This cushion is magnetic, and detaches so you can get one that better fits your face. The band also detaches when you pull on a small, bright orange tab (Image credit: Apple)

Spatial computing is kind of familiar

Las Vegas panorama

Can you find me in this photo? (Image credit: Lance Ulanoff)

We AirDropped my spatial video and panorama shots from a nearby phone. It was nice to see how smoothly AirDrop works on the Vision Pro – I saw that someone was trying to AirDrop the content and simply looked at 'Accept' and then pinched my thumb and finger. Within seconds, the content was in my Photos library (spatial video gets its own icon).

When Apple's panorama photography was new in iOS 6, I took a lot of panoramic photos. I was tickled by the torn humans who moved too fast in the shot, and the ability to have someone appear twice in one trick panoramic photo. Apple has mostly cleared up the first issue – I noticed that fewer of my recent panos feature people with two heads. These days, though, I take very few panos and only had four decent ones to try with the Vision Pro.

Even with just a few samples, though, I was startled by the quality and immersive nature of the images. My favorite by far was the photo I took earlier this year from my CES 2023 hotel room with an iPhone 14 Pro. Taking these shots is something of a ritual. I like to see what the view and weather are like in Las Vegas, and usually share something on social media to remind people that I'm back at CES.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that this one shot, taken from fairly high up at the Planet Hollywood Hotel, was a revelation. Not just because the vista which virtually wrapped almost around my head was gorgeous, but for the first time I noticed when I looked at the far-right side of the image a complete reflection of me taking the photo. It's a detail I never noticed when looking at the pano on my phone, and there's something incredibly weird about unexpectedly spotting yourself in an immersive environment like that.

A vista from Antigua was similarly engaging. The clarity and detail overall, which is a credit to iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max photography, is impressive. I viewed most of my panos in immersive mode, but could, by using a pinch-and-push gesture with both hands, put the panoramic image back in a windowed view.

Spatial view

Train spatial video

I promise you, this is much cooler when viewed on the Vision Pro (Image credit: Lance Ulanoff)

In preparation for my spatial video experience, I shot videos of Thanksgiving dinner, Dickensian carollers, walks in the park, model trains, and interactions with a friend's four-year-old.

Each of these videos hit me a little differently, and all of them in immersive mode shared a few key features. You can view spatial video on the Vision Pro in a window, but I preferred the immersive style, which erases the borders and delivers each video in almost a cloud. Instead of hard edges, each 3D video fades away at the borders, so there's no clear delineation between the real world and the one floating in front of your face. This does reduce the field of view a bit, especially the vertical height and depth – when I viewed the spatial videos on my iPhone (on which they look like regular, flat videos), I could see everything I captured from edge to edge, while in immersive mode on the Vision Pro, some of the details got lost to the top and bottom of the ether.

With my model train videos, the 3D spatial video effect reminded me of the possibly apocryphal tale of early cinema audiences who, upon seeing a film of an oncoming train, ran screaming from the theater. I wouldn't say my video was that intense, but my model train did look like it was about to ride right into my lap.

I enjoyed every video, and while I did not feel as if I was inside any of them, each one felt more real, and whatever emotions I had watching them were heightened. I suspect that when consumers start experiencing the Vision Pro and spatial videos for themselves they might be surprised at the level of emotion they experience from family videos – it can be quite intense.

It was yet another short and seated experience, and I'm sure I didn't press the endurance of the Vision Pro's external two-hour battery pack. I did notice that if I were about to, say, work a full day, watch multiple two-hour movies, or go through a vast library of spatial videos, I could plug a power-adapter-connected cable right into the battery pack's available USB-C port.

I still don't know if the Apple Vision Pro is for everyone, but the more I use it, and the more I learn about it, the more I'm convinced that Apple is set to trigger a seismic shift in our computing experience. Not everyone will end up buying Vision Pro, but most of us will feel its impact.

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Microsoft pulls the plug on WordPad – these are the alternative text editors we recommend

Nearly thirty years ago, Microsoft unveiled WordPad, a basic text editing software that later often came pre-installed on Windows machines, but now it’s going the way of Windows Movie Maker and Internet Explorer, and getting discontinued. 

WordPad was packaged as a part of Windows 95, which was Microsoft’s flagship operating system back in the day, and has been included in each release of Windows since then. It allowed a user to perform basic text edits without any additional software, with capabilities like being able to include images and links to other files, and supported multiple popular text formats. 

Now, Microsoft has decided to retire WordPad, as detailed in an updated version of the latest Windows software documentation. It explains that as part of planned development lifecycles, some features get introduced and some get removed to improve user experience. To this end, WordPad will not see any new developments or updates, and it will be removed from Windows 11 in a future software update.

Windows 95

(Image credit: Microsoft)

A potential security risk

There is also speculation by Bleeping Computer that WordPad posed a security risk. Earlier in the year, some computers running Windows were infected with Qbot malware, which dodged detection by exploiting a hijacking flaw in the WordPad app for Windows 10.

So, despite our nostalgia for the software, it’s perhaps best if Microsoft does indeed drop it.

If you are an avid WordPad user, or just looking for some good free text editors, don’t worry, I’ve got you. Here are some alternative program recommendations you can get for free both from Microsoft and from third-party developers. 

Microsoft’s own recommendations 

Microsoft’s first recommendation is one you are probably already familiar with: Microsoft Word.

You can use Microsoft Word online for free with an Outlook account. You can then sign into Microsoft 365 online, accessing Microsoft’s cloud-based suite of Office apps including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. You can also download Word as a standalone app with a Microsoft 365 subscription, but this is not free.

A screenshot of Microsoft 365 and all of the apps it offers.

(Image credit: Future)

Microsoft Word continues to be a favorite choice for many users, offering a wealth of features for writing, editing and formatting text, as well as document sharing, and uses rich text file types, most notably .docx, a proprietary file type that not every text editor can open or edit. You can access Word online free here. 

Its second recommendation is another staple text editor that’s been featured in Windows for years: Notepad. It’s primarily intended for plain text documents such as .txt files. While WordPad is being dropped, Notepad continues to see updates to its functionality. 

You can now open multiple files at the same time with its new tabbed interface, have sessions be autosaved, and carry on working on a file in a different program like Word. 

Updated Notepad in Windows 11

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Notepad is a favorite tool among programmers, especially for developing Windows programs and applications. One big feature it doesn’t have besides the rich text format features is spell check, so it’s worth checking your text by copy and pasting it elsewhere.

If your device came with Windows installed on it, you should already have Notepad installed. You can search for it in the search box in your taskbar.

Free third-party substitutes for WordPad 

The first substitute I would recommend is a favorite among modern professionals and students: Google Docs. All you need is a Google account, which you can sign up for using any valid email address for free.

Microsoft Word does offer more layout and formatting options, but Google Docs is optimized for collaboration between users and changes are constantly saved in real time. If you’re already familiar with text editors, it’s pretty easy to pick up. It’s part of the Google Suite of apps that you can use in conjunction with Google Docs, such as Slide, Google’s presentation software.

A screenshot of the Google Docs starting screen.

(Image credit: Future)

Next up, I’d recommend LibreOffice Writer. LibreOffice is a suite of free open-source software that’s an alternative to Microsoft Office, and Writer is the suite’s word processing software that has a ton of text formatting and layout features, as well as compatibility with Microsoft Word document formats, including the newer .docx format.

LibreOffice also sees active development, and frequently receives updates and new features. LibreOffice has a polished interface that is very user-friendly, and you’ll be up and running in no time.

My final recommendation is WPS Office Writer. In order to get this, you’ll have to download WPS Office.

Once installed, you’ll either have to create or sign in with a WPS account, or alternatively you can sign in with Google, email, or Facebook.

WPS Office Writer has an interface that’ll be familiar to Microsoft Word users and it even has a built-in WPS AI assistant to improve your writing and help generate ideas (you can also download the WPS AI assistant separately).

You can then integrate WPS Office with Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive.

Screenshot of WPS Office Writer software.

(Image credit: Future)

Other features that are being disabled 

There are other features that will also be discontinued in a future Windows update. Cortana, its voice assistant challenger to the likes of Alexa and Google Assistant, will be turned off

Microsoft is also ending support and functionality of the Microsoft Support Diagnostic Tool (MSDT) and it will be turning off the old Transport Layer Security to improve Windows 11’s security. Cortana’s been replaced by Microsoft Copilot, which debuted at this year’s Microsoft Build conference, and aims to bring artificial intelligence features to Windows 11 in the future.

A Microsoft Copilot page on a blue background

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The full details and explanation of changes, including the discontinuation of features, can be found in the full updated software documentation for Windows. As far as we know, Wordpad will remain functional and accessible until the Windows update is actually installed. Microsoft hasn’t yet specified a date for when this will be, however.

If you really miss WordPad, and are reluctant to use one of the programs I’ve listed above, Neowin speculates that Windows enthusiasts will likely do their best to preserve the program. Microsoft Paint was also headed for a similar fate, but after an outcry from users described by Bleeping Computer, it wasn’t killed off entirely, and made available for download in the Microsoft Store. If there’s enough demand, Microsoft may consider doing something similar to WordPad.

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Windows 11 preview shows a File Explorer ready to recommend what you open next

Microsoft is currently rolling out new File Explorer features via Insider Preview Build 23403 on Windows 11 with a big focus on streamlining work.

One of the more interesting features of this package is File Recommendations.  As the name suggests, the File Explorer will begin suggesting which files you should open on the home tab. It appears Microsoft created this tool for business-centric users, at least initially. The tool will only recommend cloud files associated with a particular account, “either owned by the user, or shared with the user.” You also have to be signed in to your Azure Active Directory account otherwise it doesn't work. Additionally, the company is limiting the number of people who will get to try out File Recommendations at this time. Microsoft states it wants to keep a close eye on feedback “before pushing it out to everyone.”

Less restricted are the new Access Keys for File Explorer. They’re simple, single keystroke shortcuts for “quickly [executing] a command.” For example, hitting the “O” key opens a file whereas pressing the “B” key sets it as a desktop background. To use this feature, you’ll have to first click on a file in File Explorer and then press the Menu key on your keyboard to make Access Keys pop up. If you don’t have a Menu key, hitting Shift and F10 at once does the same thing.

File Recommendations on File Explorer

File Recommendations on File Explorer (Image credit: Microsoft)

New updates

Moving past File Explorer, the rest of the features affect other native Windows 11 apps, namely the language side of things. For starters, Live Captions will be available in more languages including Japanese, and French, as well as other English dialects like Australian English. Speaking of which, the Voice Access app will now support those different dialects. Upon activating the app, “you will be prompted to download a speech model” for a specific dialect. Microsoft also redesigned Voice Access to make it more streamlined and easier to use. Each command will now have a description explaining what it does next to an example of how it can be used.

For the rest of the build, it’s all a collection of small tweaks; nothing really major. Changes include a VPN icon now appearing in the System Tray if you have one active, a new copy button for “quickly copying [2FA] codes in notification[s]”, and some bug fixes. If this piques your interest, you can try out Preview Build 23403 by joining the Dev Channel of the Windows 11 Insider Program.

It's worth mentioning that Microsoft has been working on overhauling File Explorer for some time now. It's unknown exactly what it'll have, but we’ve got a few hints like File Explorer being redesigned to make it more user-friendly. However, it’ll probably still be a while until we see the final product. If you don’t feel like waiting til then, be sure to check out our list of the best file managers for Windows

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