Even though some Windows 11 features are arriving throughout the year, Microsoft is still sticking to a once-a-year schedule for significant Windows updates. Windows 11 22H2 rolled out last year with a new Task Manager, drag-and-drop in the taskbar, tabs in the File Explorer, and other improvements. The next big update, which is bizarrely not called Windows 11 23H2 (just “new Windows 11 update”), will start rolling out this month with many of the features that have been in public testing for months.
Microsoft says this update has “over 150 new features,” and many of them are the features that we’ve covered over the past few months as they arrived in Windows Insider testing builds. Paint now includes background removal and layer support, “as well as a preview of Cocreator that brings the power of generative AI to the Paint app.” The Photos app now has a background blur feature and can now search across your PC and OneDrive account. Snipping Tool now has optional sound capturing with audio and microphones when recording the screen, as well as a way to extract text content from images. Notepad now has autosave, the File Explorer has more interface improvements (but not the Gallery page currently in testing), and Windows Backup is now available.
The headline feature is Windows Copilot assistant, which was announced in May and can be opened with the new Win+C keyboard shortcut. It’s basically Bing Chat AI attached to your desktop, but with some level of integration with the underlying Windows system. It can organize your application windows, search for files, and complete some other tasks that can’t be done in a web browser.
Microsoft is also including the new Outlook for Windows in this update, replacing the Mail and Calendar applications that were originally built for Windows 10 (and don’t really work well anymore). You can also install Outlook through the Microsoft Store, if you don’t want to deal with a full operating system upgrade right now — it even works on Windows 10. If you’re using the paid Outlook app from Microsoft Office or Microsoft 365, don’t panic, the new app isn’t replacing that one anytime soon.
The Windows 11 update will start rolling out on September 26, 2023, but if previous major updates are any indication, it could be a few months before it starts automatically rolling out to most PCs. Unlike last year, there won’t be a corresponding fall update for Windows 10 — Microsoft already confirmed that there will be no more feature updates for Windows 10.