Microsoft said Tuesday that a new operating system update will let PC users converse with Bing’s chatbot by typing requests and questions straight into Windows 11’s search bar. And for some of Microsoft’s customers, that update will be available as early as today.
It may have seemed inevitable that Microsoft’s buzziest new product in years would somehow get folded into Windows; after all, access to the chatbot has already been added to some of its mobile apps, not to mention Skype. But the company’s push to make its new chatbot even more accessible comes with caveats.
For one, the chatbot hasn’t been modified in any way to be able to “see,” search for, or interact with any of the files stored on your computer. When you start typing out a question or a request in Windows 11’s search bar, you’ll be given the option to complete that process with Bing — from there, the chatbot will carry on the conversation the same way it would in a web browser.
And even if you do have that new software installed, you still can’t chat with Bing unless you’ve made it off the waitlist — a list that, according to Microsoft corporate vice president Yusuf Mehdi, contains “multiple millions” of people.
(When asked whether the company would move people off the chatbot waitlist more quickly in response to the software update, a Microsoft spokesperson said there was “no change in pace or approach.”)
Microsoft’s hesitance to more broadly allow access to the Bing chatbot means that, for now at least, many who download this new Windows 11 update won’t be able to use its highest-profile feature. But that doesn’t mean you should hold off on installing it — the update also comes with a handful of new and tweaked tools that fix some long-standing pain points.
Here are three features coming to Windows 11 shortly that you may want to try for yourself.
1. Send iMessages from your PC
A new version of Microsoft’s Phone Link tool will finally let Windows PC owners connect to and communicate from Apple’s iPhones. (Previously, the feature only worked with Android devices.)
Once you’ve completed a quick setup process that involves pairing your PC and iPhone via Bluetooth, you’ll be able to see incoming calls, messages and app notifications right on your computer’s screen. The catch? It’s only available in preview form for now, which means you’ll have to be a member of Microsoft’s early-access software testing program to try it. And even if you get selected to try out the feature, you won’t be able to respond to group chats or send images — for now, it’s not clear whether that will change in time.
2. Remote troubleshooting just got easier
Microsoft has also made some changes to its Quick Assist tool, which we’ve recommended in the past as a great way to remotely troubleshoot PC issues for friends and loved ones who aren’t quite up to the task themselves. A new “laser pointer” tool should make it easier to show the people you’re helping what they need to be looking at, and you can more easily switch between screen sharing — in which you’re just watching and giving directions — and taking full control yourself.
3. Super-simple screen recording
The Windows Snipping Tool is invaluable for capturing and saving screenshots you’ll need to hang on to, but now you can also use it to record on-screen action as a video. Fine, that may not sound like the most thrilling addition of all time, but we use tools like this regularly, and it’s great to not have to vet and download third-party software to get the job done.
Hopefully, these three tools make getting through your day a little easier. There’s lots more in Microsoft’s latest update that needs unpacking — we’ll update this story as we continue our testing.