Microsoft brings Copilot to more Windows 11 testers – but it doesn’t seem confident in the AI

Windows Copilot, Microsoft’s AI assistant for Windows 11, is now rolling out to many more testers.

Neowin spotted that Microsoft quietly updated its blog post for build 23493 in the Dev channel to let us know that Copilot is being made available to every tester.

You may recall that when this build was first released at the end of June, Copilot was only made available to a limited number of testers in the Dev channel, as Microsoft noted that it was going to “monitor feedback and see how it lands before pushing it out to everyone”.

Well, the feedback has evidently been received, and going by it, the software giant clearly feels it was sound enough to fully roll out Windows Copilot to everyone.

Microsoft updated its blog post to say: “The Windows Copilot Preview is now available to all Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel. Insiders may need to reboot to have it show up.”

Analysis: Mixed messages with confidence levels here

This is a slightly odd one. On the one hand, Microsoft must have a certain level of confidence in how Copilot is doing in testing to flip the switch to broaden the rollout to everyone.

On the other hand, Microsoft did this very quietly with just a quick update on its blog, and hardly made any fuss about what is in fact quite a major move. In that sense, the tech giant's confidence in Copilot appears shakier, and it all feels a bit under the radar. (Why not announce a full rollout with the next preview and blog post? Because it seems like a sizeable step forward for Copilot).

Maybe we’re reading too much into this – it wouldn’t be the first time – but we find it difficult to believe Microsoft is all that happy with Copilot, not based on the online feedback we’ve seen from Dev testers thus far. Those comments mainly revolve around how very barebones Copilot is – with barely any Windows settings that can be adjusted in this initial incarnation – and also how buggy it is.

Neowin underlines the latter point in its report, noting that Copilot currently has a lot of bugs that make it rather a ‘frustrating’ feature to use.

Thus far, then, the Copilot rollout seems a bit of an odd process, and compounding this matter is that the AI turned up in Dev first, and Canary testers – the earliest channel for cutting-edge additions to Windows 11 – haven’t got a look in yet. Indeed, some people have switched from Canary back to the Dev channel because of this.

Mind you, Canary testers, or anyone else, could always avail themselves of an alternative to Copilot on the Windows 11 desktop – namely a resurrected ChatGPT-powered Clippy (yes, really).

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The Apple Vision Pro has a comfort problem, according to early testers

Apple’s Vision Pro headset is making it into the hands of more testers following its announcement, but according to reports early reactions are underwhelming, with some users reporting that it's not comfortable to wear for long periods.

The eagerly anticipated VR device offers several innovative and performance improvements over the current best VR headsets, including unique hand-tracking controls and Apple's powerful M2 processor. Unfortunately, it looks like it could have the same flaw that's affected several models before it.

In our hands-on Apple’s Vision Pro review, our US Editor-in-Chief Lance Ulanoff described the headset as feeling “snug and comfortable” after he'd made the necessary adjustments, although he was only able to try the Vision Pro for a short time.

But in a report that also provided leaked details of 18 Apple products that are set to launch in the coming years, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman highlighted early testers' critiques of the Vision Pro VR headset, chiefly that it feels too heavy after they've worn it for a couple of hours.

Some of the testers, who at this stage are said to mostly be senior Apple engineers and executives, have also reported experiencing motion sickness, although to a lesser degree than when wearing other headsets. 

We've experienced comfort issues with the Meta Quest Pro (we tried wearing it every day for a week for work and it wasn't fun), and we hoped the Vision Pro could overcome this shortcoming, in part due to the external battery back reducing the weight of the headset itself. However, it appears that the external battery could be causing problems in the comfort department rather than solving things. 

Most VR headsets tend to be front-heavy, as all the components are housed in a box at the front that sits over your eyes. More recent designs like the Meta Quest Pro offer better weight distribution by moving the internal battery to the back of the headset’s strap, and while this solution isn’t perfect the Quest Pro does generally feel more comfortable to wear than the front-heavy Oculus Quest 2.

While we think the Apple headset’s external battery could overall be a smart choice, it’s not able to serve as a counterweight like the internal battery used by the Vision Pro’s rivals. Apple could have tried moving other components to the strap to serve the same purpose, but for this first iteration that’s not the case.

Another problem is the apparently lack of an overhead strap, which serves as another weight-balancing tool. A few brief shots in Apple’s Vision Pro introduction video show someone using the Vision Pro with such a strap, but Apple hasn’t gone into much detail about it – and according to Gurman, Apple might sell you the strap as an add-on accessory rather than include one in the box.

Considering that the headset already costs $ 3,500 (about £2,750 / AU$ 3,240 – Apple hasn't yet revealed pricing outside the US), and that this strap appears to basically be a fairly thin elastic band that would alleviate a potential issue with the gadget, we hope Apple wouldn’t try to sting its customers for the extra. It wouldn’t be the first time, however – let’s just hope this strap isn’t as ridiculously priced as the $ 700 / £700 / AU$ 1,049 Mac Pro wheels.

We’ll have to wait and see how Apple chooses to address potential comfort issues with the Vision Pro, but it might be a problem that won’t get fixed for a generation or two, perhaps in the two follow-up Apple headsets that are reportedly on the way.

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Microsoft is arming intrepid Windows 12 testers with free flash drives

Some Windows testers are receiving the offer of a free flash drive from Microsoft, although exactly who is being given the chance to pick up a freebie USB stick is slightly confusing.

Windows Latest reports that they received an email from Microsoft regarding the new Canary Channel, which is the channel created for testing the very earliest builds. In other words, next-gen Windows (quite possibly Windows 12, though we don’t know that for sure, although the name has already been leaked by Intel).

That email offered the tech site a free flash drive (with at least 8GB of storage) with the goal of performing a clean installation of Windows, a task that is recommended to be undertaken with a blank flash drive from scratch.

Those getting this offer from Microsoft have to request the drive by filling out a simple form, and the company notes that: “Items are available on a first-come, first-served basis.”

There’s a limited supply, so those USB sticks could quickly run dry by the sound of things.

Analysis: Canary confusion?

What’s slightly confusing here is that we thought only those wanting to stay in the Dev Channel would need to reinstall Windows – and therefore might need a flash drive.

The way Microsoft has implemented this fork of testing channels works like this: the old Dev Channel has effectively become the Canary Channel, and anyway whoever stays in it gets moved to these cutting-edge earliest builds (with the most chance of hitting problems). Those who want to move to the new Dev Channel have to reinstall Windows 11, perform a clean installation of the OS, and then sign up for the new Dev path.

So, it would make sense that the latter are the folks who get a free USB stick if they need it for reinstallation media. That said, Windows Latest makes it clear that Microsoft is offering USB drives to “testers who want to support the road to the platform changes,” which presumably refers to next-gen Windows (Windows 12 possibly). And the screenshot provided as evidence is clearly on the topic of the Canary Channel.

What might be happening, then, is that a limited set of testers on either side of the fence – Canary and Dev – are being offered flash drives, or at least the chance to grab them before the freebie stock runs dry.

Whatever the case, if you get this offer emailed over to you and want to take advantage, we’d advise you act pretty swiftly. Microsoft notes that delivery of the USB stick could take up to 6-8 weeks, but hopefully that’s a seriously pessimistic estimate and the hardware may turn up a good deal quicker.

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The new and improved Notepad arrives for all Windows 11 testers

The new year has started with the refreshed Notepad app being made available for all Windows 11 Insiders who can test upcoming updates.

Similar to what Clock and Office 2021 brought, Notepad is also getting the Fluent Design makeover, which brings rounded corners to windows, a softer font to menu dropdown lists, and dark mode compatibility.

The update has been available in the Insider Build Dev Channel of Windows 11 since December, where you can test features under development, but the company has decided to roll it out to users who are testing out upcoming features of Windows 11 on all channels. 

It’s the most significant update of Notepad in years, similar to Paint’s update a few months ago, but don’t expect this simple text editing app to replace Microsoft Word anytime soon.

Analysis: A unified effort

Microsoft has been making efforts to make its apps match the new look and feel of Windows 11, and it’s overdue.

In previous releases of Windows 8 and Windows Vista, some apps had felt out of place, such as Mail and Disk Management. But there’s a concerted effort from the company to ensure that these apps have a unified design where users don’t feel lost, whilst ensuring that the apps and the operating system look similar, but modern.

We’ve been encouraged by this effort from Microsoft so far, and there are other apps that we believe should also benefit from this as well. Other apps are also making a comeback in Windows 11, with Windows Media Player recently returning to replace Groove Music.

But Notepad is an app that you use almost without thinking. It’s a go-to app where you jot down lists or thoughts for the day to save for later. But it’s also a great example of an app that’s not seen an update since 2001.

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Something as minor as dark mode and rounded corners will be welcomed here, alongside a new Settings option to switch between themes and font options as well. But Notepad’s appeal is in its simplicity, which makes it a good alternative to Microsoft Word or other fully-featured (and overcomplicated) office apps.

Other apps that have seen updates in their design have either been included in a Windows update or are available to download on the Microsoft Store. We suspect that the updated Notepad will be a part of a bigger Windows 11 update coming soon – so you won’t need to be a Windows Insider to try it out.

Via Windows Blog

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