Microsoft has sparked confusion among its business customers after announcing a big new update – including the Windows Copilot AI – will be rolled into the existing version of Windows 11.
The company said that the Windows Copilot AI will be available via Windows Update from September 26, just a few days away. Much to everyone’s surprise, this will be delivered as a feature update to the current version of Windows 11 (22H2).
That announcement created concern amongst Microsoft’s business and enterprise customers, who were worried that AI features would be delivered to end users before companies have had time to evaluate whether they are suitable. However, the company insists sysadmins will have control over whether or not Windows Copilot is deployed to their desktops.
“On September 26, Copilot in Windows will start to roll out in September 2023 optional non-security update for Windows 11, version 22H2 – and will be available behind the commercial control for continuous innovation,” said Harjit Dhaliwal, senior product marketing manager for Windows Enterprise, in a Microsoft blog post.
“It will later be included in Windows 11, version 23H2, the annual feature update for Window 11, which will be released in Q4 of this calendar year. With the feature update, Copilot in Windows will be on by default, but under your control with Microsoft Intune policy or Group Policy.”
Sysadmins will still need to be on their toes when deploying the update, with the AI features turned on by default. Small businesses that don’t use Intune or Group Policy may also find the AI features simply appear on staff computers as part of the regular Windows Update cycle.
Windows 11 Copilot features
The Windows Copilot appears on the Windows 11 taskbar, in a prominent position right next to the search bar. It’s also activated with the Windows + C shortcut and appears in a pane on the right-hand side of the screen.
The big question will be how deeply integrated it is into the operating system. The beta version is little more than the Bing chat assistant with occasional – and often erroneous – access to Windows settings. However, Microsoft’s demonstrations yesterday showed Windows Copilot interacting with applications such as Calendar, the new Outlook mail app and more.
Windows Copilot will be free, but the Microsoft 365 Copilot used to provide AI tools for Word, Excel and other “Office” apps will cost $30 per month when it’s launched on selected Enterprise and Business plans from November.
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