Microsoft strips Windows 11’s Control Panel of another tool – is the writing on the wall?

The sun continues to set on the iconic Windows Control Panel, as another key part, the Fonts page, makes its way to the Settings app instead. The Control Panel isn’t on the way out just yet, but it's directing users to the Settings app for an increasing number of functions. And now, reports suggest that later this year, if you try to open the Fonts page from the Control Panel you’ll be automatically redirected to the Settings app. 

The Fonts page can currently be found in the following location:

Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization  > Fonts

This is the latest development in an ongoing migration process that Windows Latest has been documenting for several years, which has seen features transition from the Control Panel to the Settings app. Windows Latest reports that Microsoft doesn’t currently seem to have plans to completely remove Control Panel from regular Windows 11 versions. 

Windows Control Panel

(Image credit: Future)

The next version of font management in Windows 11

Over in the Settings app, there will be a modern font management interface and it will work similarly to its Control Panel predecessor. At the moment, the legacy version of the Fonts page still exits and can be found in Control Panel, and it can be located using Windows Search. 

Here, you can browse the fonts available on your system and use the legacy font management page. 

That said, Microsoft wants to guide users to the Settings app for font management and Windows Latest writes that Fonts will be completely removed from the Control Panel in a future Windows update. Instead, users will be redirected to Settings > Personalization > Fonts, which is where the new Fonts page resides.

This will be a noticeable change, but it shouldn’t be too disruptive as it apparently has all of the functionality and features of the legacy page. Also, the future update probably won’t remove the legacy Control Panel Fonts page right away, and users will still be able to find it in C:\Windows\Fonts within File Explorer

If you’re particularly annoyed by the change and want to stick to the classic interface, you can create a shortcut link in your Settings page which will open the above location in File Explorer as well. 

Again, Microsoft is pretty insistent that it would like users to get used to performing font management through Settings, and when Windows Latest opened the Fonts page in File Explorer, it got this message: 

“This page is being decoupled from Fonts Control Panel. For more font settings, go to the Fonts page in the Settings app.”

A lot of users are used to Control Panel, which has been a part of Windows since the very first version in 1985, so Windows Latest thinks it’s here to stay. What will change is that with every new feature that’s migrated to the Settings app from Control Panel, users will be redirected to the new analogous page in Settings. 

I think this is a wise decision from Microsoft as it makes sense to have a single place where you can manage all of your computer’s settings, especially as new generations of people are introduced to the operating system. It’s preserving the interface and (it seems like) full functionality of Control Panel, while attaching it to the new architecture that’s being built in a way that isn’t especially disruptive or difficult for existing users.


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Microsoft Edge may introduce a new AI-generated writing feature – and that makes me nervous

Microsoft Edge could drastically change the way we interact with written content on the web with a new AI writing feature that copies existing content and regurgitates the information in a more ‘personal’ tone at the click of a button. 

According to Windows Latest, the GPT-4-powered feature allows users to select text on a webpage and have it rewritten in a tone and length of their choice. Microsoft Edge’s AI offers customizable tones like professional, casual, enthusiastic and informational, as well as format options that include a simple paragraph, email or blog post layout. 

The feature is integrated into the browser itself, allowing more users to access it much quicker. This is helpful if you want to generate ideas or make a quick change to the tone. 

So far Microsoft has been testing the feature with a small group of users in the Canary version of Chromium Edge, so we’ll have to wait and see if the feature ends up making its way officially to Microsoft Edge. 

It’s not all bad is it? 

I don’t mean to harp on about the doom and gloom aspect of a feature like this, but we do have to think about the negatives of AI before the positives because once the technology is out there, it can’t be taken back.

Microsoft Edge’s AI could allow more people to break into blog writing who may feel a little nervous about getting their work out there without any mistakes in the copy. It would be useful while you’re researching and looking for a springboard for ideas and would help write boring but important emails without too much effort. 

However, because the tool is web-integrated and uses text on the web, it’ll become virtually impossible to detect whether or not a person's blog email or pitch has been plagiarized and AI-generated. Anyone could feed the tool a site’s copy, alter it slightly super quickly and pass it off as their own without any of the skill or hard work that goes into actually writing their own work. 

Microsoft’s efforts to cram artificial intelligence into its own products as quickly as possible, particularly after the success of Bing AI could have some unforeseen repercussions if it’s not careful. We can only hope that if Edge AI writer does make its debut, it proves me wrong and stays a writing tool, not a crutch.

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Following Bing AI, Google could bring AI writing tools to Chromebooks

Google is supposedly preparing to introduce an AI-aided feature that will help users write, rewrite and edit text – and it could be coming to Chromebooks.

Google is putting in major efforts in this direction, already having announced Project IDX at its I/O conference earlier this year

Project IDX is a program that is currently in a preview stage that will help developers with all kinds of actions, from code development to previewing their projects on different platforms, and is enhanced with AI. Throughout I/O 2023, Google explained how it was adding artificial intelligence capabilities into its products and services in the near future.

Google's generative AI tools

There are already a range of AI-charged writing features incorporated into Google products. 

In Gmail and Google Docs, you may have seen “Write for me” or “Help me write” which give you ideas and suggestions to help you write for professional purposes. On mobile devices, Google has also added a “Magic Compose” option in Google Messages to revise a reply you’ve written, or to draft a reply based on the context of your ongoing conversation.

Two phone screens drawn in a cartoony style, the space around the phones and screens are covered in messages, drawings of file types and emojis

(Image credit: Google)

Rumblings around Google's new works

As for this latest rumor, 9to5Google suggests that there are five codenames for it at present, including “Orca,” “Mako,” and “Manta.” Apparently, “Orca” will appear in the ChromeOS right-click menu when you are editing a piece of text. After you select the text and click on Orca (whatever it looks like in the version it’s presented in), Orca will prompt the “Mako” UI to appear in a “bubble.” 

The Mako feature will then give you three choices for what it can do with your text, according to inspection of the code. The first is that you can “request rewrites” for the selected text and possibly give you some options of AI-revised versions. The second option will let you choose from a list of “preset text queries,” which 9to5Google proposes will suggest styles to rewrite your text. The final option will let Mako swap your text for a version that it suggests into whatever program, app, or page you’re working in. 

When you ask Orca to open a Mako suggestion bubble, then the Manta UI will send your original text input to Google’s servers, and then receive the generated suggestion to present to you. 

This means that the process of reworking your text doesn’t happen on your local ChromeOS machine. Presumably like the Magic Compose feature, you ‘ll have to provide clear consent to send your writing to the Google servers in this way.

9to5Google found that these mechanisms seem to be embedded into an upcoming version of ChromeOS, assuming it will show up in a future update. This will mean that it might be possible for the Orca UI to show up in nearly any app on your ChromeOS device (such as any of the best Chromebooks). It suggests this new writing assistant might be in the 118 ChromeOS update, due in mid-October. We don’t know this is the case definitely, and if you’re interested, be on the lookout for more intel from Google itself. 

Asus Chromebook

(Image credit: Future)

Possible Chromebook X exclusive?

There are also signs that Orca/Mako/Manta might only be incorporated into Chromebook X devices. Chromebook X is set to be a line of high-end laptops and tablets that was reported earlier this year. As Chromebook X will have higher spec requirements than existing Chromebooks, it could mean that when this feature is rolled out, it may not be available for all existing ChromeOS devices. 

This would be a pity and maybe a missed opportunity, in my opinion, and I hope that this won’t be the case. Microsoft has also recently debuted an AI assistant writing feature for its Bing AI chatbot in the Edge browser, and as far as we know, that won’t require any hardware beyond that which can run the latest versions of Windows 11 and Edge. 

Based on my experience of Bard, it still has a way to go to match ChatGPT (another AI tool, which Microsoft’s Bing AI is based on) in terms of writing (and rewriting) ability. We’ll see how widespread the availability of this AI-assisted tool is, but the more users that have access to it, the more it can improve.

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Beyond copy and paste: Microsoft set to debut Bing Chat feature to help transform your writing

Microsoft is preparing to introduce a new feature to its AI-powered Bing Chat in Microsoft Edge, offering users a quick and easy way to rewrite any text they write on the internet (such as in forms).

As spotted by Leopeva64 on X (formerly known as Twitter), Microsoft’s latest attempt to add OpenAI’s GPT technology into its Bing and Edge products is accessible only to users who have access to the Canary Channel, which gives them a chance to try out experimental new features that need more extended preparation and development time ahead of their introduction to the broader user base. The feature will include options to adjust settings like text length, the tone of the text, and the format. 

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 Resemblances to Bing AI’s inclusion in SwiftKey 

This feature update follows Microsoft incorporating a similar feature into the SwiftKey keyboard on iOS and Android devices. The feature also allowed users to rewrite text in different styles with Bing AI, and it seems like Microsoft is looking to bring this ability to Microsoft Edge. 

According to Neowin, the SwiftKey version of the feature lets you choose from four tones: professional, casual, enthusiastic, and informal. You can then change the format to suit a paragraph, an email, a blog post, or an ‘idea’. Finally, you can choose a length to your preference: short, medium, and long. Hitting the ‘Rewrite’ button will apply these preferences to your highlighted text and prompt Bing AI to generate a rewrite. 


(Image credit: Future)

Bing Chat, now with added functionality and accessibility 

Bing Chat is Microsoft Edge’s AI sidekick that can assist you while browsing, and has seen ongoing updates and improved functionality. 

Another recent feature has been the inclusion of voice input support, offering more options for how users can use Bing Chat. Windows Central speculates that this is because Microsoft wants to get Bing AI in front of more and more users with each update. 

Microsoft is clearly trying to capitalize on the recent surge in interest and hype with AI chatbots such as ChatGPT. I'd wager that it wants to be able to say it offers an operating system and browser that has the best integration of both ChatGPT itself and with generative AI technology in general.

There’s a lot more information to come as Microsoft hasn’t officially announced when this feature will officially debut. Again, if you sign up for the Canary Channel and get early access to the Windows Insider Program, you can try it on your Windows device early. It’s still in a “controlled rollout” phase of its development, however, so access isn’t guaranteed even if you sign up. 

 Rephrase your text instantly: How it works 

GIFs posted by Leopeva64 show how you can access the feature by highlighting the text you’d like to reword and clicking Rewrite.

You can also press the Alt + I keys to activate the feature. Once the feature is selected or activated, you’ll see Bing Chat pop up, and the text will be rewritten. Then you’ll be met with a Replace button, which when selected, will swap your text for the generated newly reworded text. 

You’ll always be presented with an Adjust button, and this will give you options to calibrate the rewritten text where you can alter its tone, length, and format. 

Bing AI chat YouTube script generation

(Image credit: Future)

Exciting potential 

This feature could be a very effective tool for those who write and edit writing, especially if you’re looking to get some help with creative undertakings. It can reword things to possibly help when you feel stuck in your writing, helping your writing flow, and even help write better to meet specific deadlines. 

One of my concerns, however, is perhaps one of the broader ones; I’m not sure it helps improve individual originality in writing, especially as Bing Chat and OpenAI’s models were trained on online data and existing written works. There's a danger that relying too much on a relatively small pool of writing could lead to a lack of innovation, and could strip the personality from people's writing. The quirks, jokes, and even mistakes that make our messages unique could be eradicated. From a creativity perspective, that could prove to be too high a price to pay.

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Hate writing emails? Gmail will soon do it for you on iOS and Android

Tired of writing emails from your phone? Google’s AI-powered Help Me Write tool for Gmail is coming to Android and iOS to help you draft replies in no time.

Since Google I/O 2023, Google has been releasing a bunch of in-development AI tools such as its updated Google Bard chatbot and Help Me Write, its new writing assistant. Help Me Write was previously only available to enrolled Workspace testers on desktop, but now those users will be able to use it in the Gmail app on their smartphone. This hopefully points towards a wider rollout soon.

Help Me Write works in two main ways. It can edit an email you’ve already written – for example, it can shorten it if it’s too wordy, make it more sound more formal, or insert emojis to create a more casual vibe with the ‘I’m feeling lucky’ option. 

Alternatively, if you’re in a rush you can provide the tool with a quick prompt and it’ll draft the whole thing for you. You can then edit it yourself, or use the same refinements (see image below) as before to tweak the length and tone.

In testing we’ve found the AI is generally better as an editor than a writer, but if you’ve got to draft a bunch of replies to tedious emails, then letting the AI take over the bulk of the work can be a major time-saver.

To get started with Help Me Write on Android or iOS you’ll need to download the Gmail app and sign into the account that has access to the Workspace prototype. Then, when you next compose an email you should see a Help Me Write prompt appear in the bottom right corner of your screen.

The update is steadily rolling out, so even if you’re signed up for Workspace Labs you might not yet see the Help Me Write option in Gmail on mobile yet.

How to get Help Me Write

A phone on an orange background showing the Gmail Help Me Write feature in an email

(Image credit: Future)

To get access to Help Me Write and some other AI tools it’s working on you’ll need to sign up for the invite-only Google Workspace Labs and get approval.

To request this, make sure you’re logged into your Google account on your browser of choice and go to the official Workspace Labs sign-up page. After reading through some details you’ll find some consumer acknowledgments that you’ll need to check off before you can hit ‘Submit’. Do this and you’ll be signed up to Workspace Labs.

As the tools are only in beta don’t expect them to be perfect – we’d recommend reading any AI-written emails before sending them off in case you find any huge errors. You’ll also find that the AI currently uses US English – so if you’re living in a region that uses 'colour' instead of 'color' or calls aubergines 'eggplants', you might find you have to correct the AI a fair bit.

If you want to try out some other powerful AI tools, check out our guide to the best ChatGPT alternatives.

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Grammarly’s ChatGPT upgrade won’t just improve your writing, it’ll do it for you

Grammarly will soon no longer just recommend ways for you to improve your writing, it’ll do the writing for you.

The writing assistant Grammarly already uses AI in several ways to help it act as a clever tool. Not only can it pick up common grammar and spelling mistakes, but it can also recommend ways to better structure your sentences, and can even tell you the tone your writing portrays (with adjectives like Formal, Confident, Accusatory, and Egocentric).

Come April, Grammarly will be taking its help a step further with the introduction of GrammarlyGo.

Built on OpenAI’s GPT-3 large language models (OpenAI is the team behind ChatGPT), GrammarlyGo will be able to perform a slew of different functions. If you have a document that’s already been written, GrammarlyGo will be able to edit it to portray a different tone or change the length to make your writing clearer or more succinct. Alternatively, if you’re experiencing a writing block its ideation tools will supposedly help unlock your creativity by creating brainstorms and outlines based on prompts you provide.

The press release announcement says it won’t stop at outlines either. GrammarlyGo will be able to compose whole documents for you, and it can even generate replies to emails based on the context of the conversation.

(Image credit: Grammarly)

We haven’t yet had a chance to try GrammarlyGo for ourselves, but we expect it’ll perform similarly to other ChatGPT alternatives we've tested. Specifically, we imagine it’ll show a lot of promise, but its compositions will almost certainly need to be proofread and tweaked by a human – especially while it’s still in beta. Even when given prompts to work with we’ve found that AI writing bots can struggle to generate content that sounds authoritative. Sure, they can produce 400 words about, say, VR headsets, but the writing is often full of chaff and sprinkled with buzzwords rather than feeling like it’s written by someone that understands the topic.

GrammarlyGo’s beta will launch in April (we don’t have an exact date yet) and will be available to all Grammarly Premium, Grammarly Business, and Grammarly for Education subscribers. It’ll also be accessible to people using the free version of Grammarly in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

It’s not just writing that OpenAI’s tech is helping to improve. Spotify has launched an AI DJ that can talk to you while mixing your favorite tracks, and Microsoft has incorporated ChatGPT into its search engine to create the impressive Bing Chat tool.

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Google Docs will now practically do your writing for you

Google is rolling out an upgrade for Docs that could help users improve the quality of their writing.

As explained in its latest blog post, the company is adding a number of new “assistive writing features” to the word processing software, including synonym and sentence structure suggestions.

The service will also flag up any “inappropriate” language, as well as instances in which the writer would be better served by using the active rather than passive voice.

Google Docs update

In the form of the Smart Compose feature, which offers autocomplete suggestions as the user types, Google Docs has long been equipped with a measure of intelligence.

However, the company has recently ramped up efforts to introduce artificial intelligence-powered functionality to its Workspace suite, with the goal of boosting user productivity and the quality of work.

In addition to this latest update, Google recently announced that Docs is now capable of summarizing the most salient information in any document, eliminating the need to wade through lengthy reports.

Separately, an update for Google Drive allows the cloud storage service to intuit which documents a user may want to work on at which time of day, cutting the time spent hunting for specific files.

The arrival of further recommendation features for Docs is another step in the campaign to make the company’s product suite more intelligent.

“Suggestions will appear as you type and help guide you when there are opportunities to avoid repeated or unnecessary words, helping diversify your writing and ensuring you’re using the most effective word for the situation,” Google explained.

“We hope this will help elevate your writing style and make more dynamic, clear, inclusive, and concise documents.”

When the tools are active, suggestions will be underlined in purple. Selecting the underline will bring up a small pop up that prompts the user to accept or decline the change.

These suggestions will be switched on by default, but can be deactivated under the Tools menu at the top of the page.

The new Google Docs features are currently in the process of rolling out and should take effect for all premium business customers by the end of the month. The updates will not be available to Workspace Essentials, Business Starter, nor Enterprise Essentials customers.

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