Microsoft says it’s curtains for Cortana in Windows 11 (and 10) – but that’s no surprise

Microsoft has announced that it’s killing off Cortana, at least in Windows, where the assistant will be dropped in the not-so-distant future.

Windows Central reported on Microsoft’s revelation that the Cortana app will no longer be supported in Windows late in 2023 (as tipped by @Perbylund on Twitter).

However, the aged assistant will still remain in other Microsoft services, including various bits of Microsoft Teams and Outlook mobile, so Cortana hasn’t entirely been binned.

As for Windows 11, though, you won’t be needing Cortana anyway, because as Microsoft reminds us, the operating system already has elements in place to replace the digital assistant.

For voice controls, there’s now a comprehensive Voice Access feature which Microsoft has been beavering away honing considerably of late.

And for queries and assistance, naturally there’s the new Bing AI (ChatGPT-powered bot) on tap, plus there’s something bigger in the pipeline – Copilot.

In case you missed it (somehow), Microsoft recently revealed it’s bringing Copilot to Windows 11 to sit at the heart of the operating system, offering help with whatever you’re doing.

Analysis: An inevitable move from Microsoft

While Copilot isn’t here yet, the AI will be far more extensive in terms of its scope than Cortana. When it comes to assistance with doing stuff in Windows 11, it’ll not just tell you about useful features for any given task, but offer to automatically enable them if needed. Copilot can also summarize a Word document, for example, Bing AI-style, and its far more wide-ranging skills and utility make Cortana irrelevant as a result.

Just on that basis, it’s no surprise to see Microsoft giving Cortana the elbow from Windows. Indeed, with Cortana getting cut off late in 2023, that perhaps is a further suggestion that this is when Copilot will step up to be incorporated in Windows 11 – perhaps with the 23H2 update? We know Copilot will be in Windows 11 preview builds this month (or at least that’s what Microsoft has told us), so it seems everything is all lining up.

Although there’s always a chance that Copilot is such a big feature addition, Microsoft may want to save it for next-gen Windows (Windows 12, maybe) which is set to arrive next year (rumor has it).

Whatever the case, Cortana is not exactly going to be missed outside a niche of users, at least in Windows, anyway. As a digital assistant, rather than being an all-rounder, Microsoft had already angled Cortana more to business-related use (hence Cortana remaining in Teams and so forth after being ditched from Windows). So, none of this is a shock, and it just makes sense for Microsoft to eject Cortana with Copilot now incoming for Windows 11.

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Surprise Windows 11 update fixes some of our biggest issues – here’s how to get it

Microsoft has just released a much-publicised Windows 11 update that finally brings Android apps to your PC, but the company has also slipped out a surprise update. Windows 11 Build 22557 brings some really cool new features – and addresses many of our complaints.

Unlike the recent update, which is available to all Windows 11 users, and had a blog post from none other than Microsoft’s Panos Panay, Chief Product Officer, Windows + Devices, Windows 11 Build 22557 has only been released on the Nickel Release branch. This is an active development branch that allows developers to get access to early versions of the operating system to help ensure their apps and products work well with the update.

Usually, we wouldn't pay attention to these kind of updates, but this one is noteworthy as it gives us an idea of what will be coming in Windows 11’s major update later this year, which is currently known as Windows 11 22H2.

It also brings some tweaks and fixes to Windows 11 that many of us have been waiting for since the operating system’s launch last year.

Start menu showing pinned apps organized into folders.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

New features coming to Windows 11

One of the biggest features that’s arrived in Windows 11 Build 22557 is the ability to drag and drop files onto an app in the Taskbar in order to quickly open the file in the chosen app. It’s a handy feature in previous versions of Windows that many people use every day, so the fact that it wasn’t included in Windows 11 frustrated a lot of users.

Adding app shortcuts to the Windows 11 Taskbar is also getting easier, as you’ll be able to drag and drop apps from the Start menu to the Taskbar, automatically pinning them there.

The Windows 11 Start menu is also getting updated, and will get support for folders. Again, this is a handy feature that has been present in previous versions of Windows, and its absence in the latest version was certainly perplexing.

Folders in the Windows 11 Start menu will can be created by dragging and dropping one app onto another, and these folders can be named for easier organization.

As we expected, Focus Assist is getting a big overhaul. In the new update, it’s now just called “Focus” and will allow you to easily mute notifications from some apps and start a “Focus Session” with a focus timer and calm music from Spotify. This allows you to minimize distractions when you need to focus.

Microsoft has also introduced a useful accessibility feature known as Live Captions which cleverly displays subtitles for any audio content you play.

Live captions (launched from Quick Settings Accessibility flyout) generating captions for a video playing in the web browser.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Other tweaks include the ability to pin files to the Quick Access part of Windows Explorer (which yo can already do with folders), and integration between Windows 11 and services such as OneDrive and have been improved.

Snap Layouts for quickly organising your desktop have got a new design and animations, and the useful Task Manager tool has got a visual makeover as well to better fit in with Windows 11’s aesthetic.

Analysis: should you download this Windows 11 update now?

Windows 11 Build 22557 certainly sounds like a feature-packed update that will address many of our problems with the operating system. But how do you get the update right now – and should you?

As we mentioned earlier, this is a preview build for developers, and that means you can’t just go into the Windows Update tool and find it there.

Instead, you’ll first need to sign up to the Windows Insider Program and then choose to join the Dev channel. You can find out more about doing this at Microsoft’s Windows Insider website.

Once signed up, you should be able to download and install Windows 11 Build 22557.

However, we recommend that you think carefully before doing this. As exciting as the new features sound, because this is an early build there will likely be bugs and unfinished features that could cause problems for your computer.

So, for most people, we’d recommend holding on tight until the official release of Windows 11 22H2 arrives, which will be some time in the second half of 2022. This will hopefully give Microsoft a chance to iron out any problems, making the wait for these much-needed Windows 11 improvements worthwhile.

Via Windows Latest

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Surprise! Frozen 2 is coming to Disney Plus this weekend

Update: Disney will now release Frozen 2 this coming Sunday, March 15 on Disney Plus in the US. In Australia, you'll be able to watch it on Tuesday March 17.

Original story: Frozen 2 is coming to Disney Plus in the US on June 26, according to a new listing on the streaming service. This update was spotted by user jonnyslats on the Disney Plus subreddit, and it means that only two of Disney's big movies from 2019 lack release dates on the service now – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

On Disney Plus Australia, the listing page says Frozen 2 is coming on July 31. Since Disney Plus UK hasn't launched yet, we're unsure when the film will, ahem, show itself on the UK version of the service.

Over the last few months, Disney Plus has kept things ticking along with a mix of big movies from 2019 and the slow trickle of films arriving from other services as licensing agreements expire. Since January, the live-action versions of The Lion King and Aladdin have released on the service, as have notably-missing movies such as Black Panther.

Frozen 2 will likely be a massive draw for the streaming service: it was the third highest-grossing film of 2019 at $ 1.449 billion, only behind two other Disney films, Avengers: Endgame and The Lion King. Frozen 2 was released on digital home video on February 25 – so the waiting time for it to land on Disney Plus is almost exactly four months. 

What's worth watching in the meantime?

While Disney Plus continues to have new originals like Diary of a Future President, the movie Timmy Failure and the last season of The Clone Wars, its biggest originals are coming later in the year. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (August), The Mandalorian season 2 (October) and WandaVision (December) are still a little while away.

That's a long wait, but Disney Plus remains pretty good value at a flat $ 6.99 / £5.99 / AU$ 8.99 a month or $ 69.99 / £59.99 / AU$ 89.99 a year, particularly if you have children. They should really get around to fixing The Simpsons' aspect ratio, though. 

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