As an early adopter of new technology, I was eager to get access to the preview of Windows Copilot as soon as it was announced. Copilot is Microsoft's new AI assistant that integrates directly with Windows 11 to provide suggestions, automation, and helpful information while you work.
After signing up for the preview program, I was fortunate enough to receive my access to start testing out this new AI capabilty in Windows. In this post, I wanted to share my initial experiences and discoveries using Windows Copilot during these first few hours of hands-on time.
Although some capabilities are still in development, the potential to have an AI-powered "copilot" integrated natively into Windows working alongside me each day was enticing. I was eager to take these first steps with the preview to see what this technology may enable me to do moving forward.
What is Windows Copilot?
Windows Copilot is a new AI assistant that integrates with Windows 11 to provide helpful suggestions and automation.
- Copilot sits in a side panel and functions similarly to the Bing Chat AI.
- It can interact directly with Windows and currently Microsoft Edge.
- Still in preview so some features are limited, but more integration expected.
Here are some of the features I took a look at:
Interacting with Webpages in Edge
One useful capability of Windows Copilot is its ability to summarize webpages you have open in the Edge browser. When you prompt Copilot while viewing a webpage, it will analyze the contents and provide a concise summarization of the key information.
For example, I had the homepage of the Collab365 community site open in Edge and asked Copilot "Using this page, tell me what Collab365 can do". Copilot responded with a short paragraph picking out details like Collab365 being an online learning platform, mentioning community features, and listing some of the core capabilities outlined on the site.
The summarizations aren't perfect, but provide a quick overview of a webpage's main points. You can also tweak the wording of your prompt to focus Copilot on extracting specific details you're interested in from the page. Asking "What are the key features of Collab365?" or "What types of training does Collab365 offer?" can yield different summarized responses.
Having Copilot summarize pages you have open can save you time in gleaning the core information from lengthy webpages. It can also call out details you may have missed or not noticed yourself when scanning the content. While the AI-generated summaries aren't foolproof, they provide a handy supplemental lens for digesting web content.
When a page is open in Edge, Copilot can summarize it or extract key info when prompted.
Once an answer is provided Copilot also provides follow-up questions about the page content for more info to help you get to the answer you are looking for. You can also choose to get web answers instead for broader knowledge questions.
Reading and Summarising Documents Open In Edge
In addition to webpages, Windows Copilot can also digest the contents of documents you have open in the Edge browser. For example, I opened an eBook called "Beginner's Guide to Power BI" in Edge. Since the document contained a lot of detailed information, I prompted Copilot to "Teach me about visualizations" to get a summary focused specifically on that topic covered in the eBook.
Copilot responded with a short explanatory paragraph highlighting some key points about data visualizations in Power BI based on the content in the open document. It pulled out and summarized relevant information from the long eBook based on my prompt.
You can also ask Copilot to revise or rewrite sections of text from a document open in Edge. I copied a paragraph from the eBook and asked Copilot to revise it, which triggered it to rephrase and expand on the original text.
Having Copilot parse documents and pull out key snippets on demand can be useful for digesting and condensing long reports, eBooks, articles, or other text files without having to read through yourself. It can also synthesize information from multiple open documents to auto-generate summaries on specific topics.
The quality of the output will vary, but the capabilities show potential to enhance document comprehension and revision, especially for lengthy materials. As Copilot's language and reading skills improve over time, this functionality is worth keeping an eye on.
Windows Copilot Interaction with the ClipBoard
A handy capability I noticed with Windows Copilot is its ability to automatically detect when you copy text and then suggest relevant actions.
For example, when I highlighted and copied a paragraph of text from the eBook open in Edge, a prompt immediately popped up asking "Do you want to send this to chat?".
If I select yes, it lets me choose what I want Copilot to do with the copied text such as summarize, expand, rewrite, or rephrase it. I can simply copy any chunk of text - whether from a webpage, document, or other app - and Windows Copilot will pick it up and offer to work with it.
This is a useful integration as you can seamlessly copy text in the course of your normal workflow and feed it to Copilot to digest without having to switch contexts or paste it directly into the Copilot window.
Some examples of how this could be helpful:
- Copying an error message and asking Copilot to explain or rewrite it in plain language
- Copying a passage from a research paper and asking Copilot to summarize the key points
- Grabbing a paragraph from an email and asking Copilot to revise it more concisely
Having Copilot detect and integrate with your clipboard opens up convenient opportunities to process blocks of text instantly as you capture or select them. Over time, this tight integration between Copilot and the broader Windows environment could lead to streamlined text-based workflows.
Controlling Windows Settings
In addition to working with content, Windows Copilot can also integrate directly with Windows settings and system functions.
During my initial testing, I asked Copilot questions like "Can you turn on dark mode?" and it automatically toggled the Windows display setting to switch into dark mode. I then asked it to revert back to light mode and it switched the theme once again.
This opens up the potential for Copilot to provide voice-driven control over many aspects of the Windows OS. Some examples of settings it may be able to adjust in the future based on voice commands include:
- Changing display brightness, resolution, orientation
- Toggling audio input/output sources
- Configuring power saving options
- Opening accessibility settings like high contrast mode
- Modifying network and internet configurations
- Enabling/disabling services and background apps
- Controlling user permissions and security policies
The ability to modify core Windows configurations just by speaking natural language requests to Copilot could enable much more convenient control and automation. It may also help surface customization options that users may not think to explore on their own within the depths of the Windows Settings app.
As Copilot becomes more deeply integrated with Windows over time, the breadth of system functions it can control through conversational interactions will likely expand greatly. This could truly transform how users manage their desktops and laptops day-to-day.
While my initial experiences using the preview version of Windows Copilot showed promising capabilities, there are still clear limitations given the current stage of development.
One major constraint is that Copilot currently cannot directly interact with or access local files and documents on your device. For example, asking Copilot to summarize a Word doc on your desktop does not work. It can only process files viewable within the Edge browser. Accessing resources beyond the browser window is on the roadmap, but not enabled yet.
Additionally, Copilot's integration with Microsoft's own apps like Excel seems restricted right now during the preview. Asking Copilot to perform functions within Excel itself provided limited functionality, suggesting deeper integration is still in progress.
However, given Microsoft's ambition and the rapid pace of AI advancement, Copilot's capabilities are likely to expand greatly over time. I expect future versions will provide broader access to local files, tighter integration into Microsoft apps and services, and more advanced automation that can streamline workflows spanning multiple programs.
The core functionality I demoed represents only the beginning of Copilot's potential. As the AI assistant continues learning and evolving, it could eventually transform how we interact with Windows PCs on a fundamental level. I look forward to seeing how this technology progresses as Microsoft rolls out further improvements and refinements in the coming months and years.
Even at this early preview stage, small glimpses of how AI could reshape computing are visible. Windows Copilot provides an intriguing first look at how that future may unfold.