The latest Windows 11 preview build, which is now available to Insiders in the Dev Channel, ships with the first “beta” version of Windows Copilot, which is powered by the same AI technology that Bing Chat uses.
Microsoft initially annouced Windows Copilot last month at Build, and said it would be available in preview from June. In today’s Dev build (23493), Windows Copilot is available to preview, and is expected to roll out to all users later this calendar year.
Using Windows Copilot
Windows Copilot can be launched from the Taskbar and appears as a sidebar app that is docked to the right of your screen. Windows Copilot can do pretty much everything Bing Chat does, but also brings new experiences specifically for Windows 11. Whilst limited in this initial release, Windows Copilot supports commands such as:
“Change to dark mode.”
“Turn on do not disturb.”
“Take a screenshot”
“Summarise this website” (which uses an active tab in Microsoft Edge)
“Write a story about a dog who lives on the moon.”
“Make me a picture of a serene koi fishpond with lily pads
As you can see in the above screenshot, Windows Copilot does not appear on top of apps, but is instead docked to the right side of the screen so that you can use it without it getting in the way. This builds on Windows 11`s ability to work with other apps side-by-side.
As it stands today, the side bar is really just Edge running in a window, rather than a full native Windows App, and it just look just like (since it is) BingChat. Hopefully over time, this will be polished to look a bit more Windows 11 like, rather than just BingChat in a sidebar… But this is an initial release…
Asking a command like “Take a screenshot”, not only gives instructions on how to perform that task, Copilot also opens or performs the relevant task for me. Like I say, these are simple interactions in this initial release.
Feedback: I’d like the option to be able to turn off the confirmation unless Copilot isn’t sure of my command, this would make Copilot more streamlined and mean I dont have to confirm. Maybe show me how to open or peform the action (that is useful) but do the task first!
This initial version of Windows Copilot preview is missing a few of the things that were annouced last month, including third-party application support. There’s also still only a handful of settings and tasks it can perform – the aim of this beta is of course to get user feedback from the Windows Insider community (it’s far from ready for general availability).
Windows Copilot also requires you to be using Microsoft Edge (version 115 or higher). Edge is required since Windows Copilot is an extension of Microsoft Edge and uses WebView2 to display the chat window inside the Windows Copilot sidebar. It’s essentially BingChat currently, but again, it’s early days and this far from ready for mainstream release (it’s an early preview).
Microsoft said that Windows Copilot’s first preview doesn’t have everything shown at their Build conference. It cannot be used to try third-party plugins from OpenAI or modify advanced Windows Settings…. Yet!
They have said that new features or “actions” will be added over time as Microsoft continues to work on the update.
I will be attempting a hands on video with the new Windows Copilot soon. In the meantime, check out more on this in the official Microsoft Blog.
As well as launching avatars last month, Microsoft has just released (in Preview) animated backgrounds in Teams meetings. It’s designed to refresh the meeting experience by allowing users to change their existing background with “a dynamic animation for a more immersive virtual environment.”
Available to all Teams customers (commercial not personal), this brings a currently limited set of animated backgrounds to bring “creativity and personalisation to the Teams meeting”. Currently, it is only possible to select from the pre-defined backgrounds though we expect the ability to have company-wide a custom animated background to also be supported soon.
Using Animated Backgroundsin Meetings
Before you join: To use this new feature, upon joining a Teams meeting, you need to navigate to Effects and Avatars > Video effects and select one of the new animated background on the pre-join screen before you join the meeting.
When in a meeting: To use these when you are already in a meeting, you can click More > Effects and Avatars > Select a background can be used to add an animated background.
What images are compatible with Teams animated backgrounds?
Currently, only the stock animated images provided by Microsoft are supported. We expect organisations will have the ability to upload their own soon!
Known issues and limitations.
Microsoft have said that the following limitations apply to using animated backgrounds.
Animated backgrounds are not available on low-end devices – min requirement of 8GB RAM and CPU with 4 logical processors.
Only pre-defined backgrounds from Microsoft are currently supported.
Using video filters may slow down background animation, if your machine has a high workload and lots of apps running.
Windows 11 version 22H2, has started it’s rollout and of a huge configuration change, which brings loads of changes. After initially being released to Beta and Dev Windows Insiders, it is now rolling out to the Release Preview Channel with build number 22621.1926.
As well as the usual security updates and performace tweaks, the key changes and updates in tbis update include:
NEW Quick access to your Microsoft account information with notification badging
NEW redesigned in-app voice command help page
NEW ability to authenticate across Microsoft clouds
NEW Live captions languages added
NEW text selection and editing options in voice access commands
NEW VPN status icon in system tray
NEW ability to copy 2FA code information
NEW Multi-app kiosk mode
NEW USB4 settings page
NEW Live Kernal Dump collection in Task Manager
IMPROVEMENTS to Microsoft Defender for Endpoint
IMPROVEMENTS to Voice access with command support for a number of English dialects
IMPROVEMENTS to several simplified Chinese fonts and the IME
IMPROVED System Tray setting for adding seconds on the clock
IMPROVED sharing of files from File Explorer to Outlook
IMPROVED touch keyboard display settings
IMPROVED search within Settings
IMPROVED search suggestions
IMPROVED performance for high report rate mice
CHANGE to PRT SCR button which now opens Snipping Tool by default
CHANGE to the limit for Multitasking tabs to twenty
While not especially surprising given its lack of attention, Microsoft has quietly announced that it “will no longer support Cortana in Windows as a standalone app,” starting in late 2023 as we see the introduction of Windows Copilot which was announced at Microsoft Build last month.
Originally launching in 2014 for Windows and Windows Phone, Cortana was poised to be be the “the next big thing,” – a personal assistant to rival Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, that could look up things, take notes, answer questions and even book things in your diary or read your emails. There was even an iOS and Android app and Cortana also made it’s way into Microsoft Teams as an assistant for video conferencing.
Lack of investment, low consumer demand, and lack of “intelligent speakers” to allow Cortana to be heard. In 2020, Microsoft announced a new vision for Cortana instead positioning it as part of their “vision to deliver transformational AI-powered experiences in Microsoft 365 through Cortana, your personal productivity assistant for Microsoft Office and Teams“.
Earlier this year Microsoft announced they were dropping support for Cortana as an app on Apple iOS and Android and as of late 2023 it the final nail in the coffin will be it evicted from the Windows OS as well. I expect Cortana on Teams Rooms to be replaced by Copilot in Teams at some point though at this moment in time, Microsoft have said that “This change only impacts Cortana in Windows, and your productivity assistant, Cortana, will continue to be available in Outlook mobile, Teams mobile, Microsoft Teams display, and Microsoft Teams rooms.”
This year (and it’s only June), we have see the advent of Bing Chat (which is powered by ChatGPT- 4), voice access for Windows 11, Cortana’s voice functionality has all but now been replaced, as has its future.
Microsoft’s advice for anyone that still uses the Cortana app in Windows is to use something else!!
Introducing Windows Copilot
At Microsoft Build, Microsoft announced that a preview version of Windows Copilot would be coming to Windows Insiders later this June (most likley for the US first, before rolling out to other regions).
Windows Copilot will centralised AI assistance across Windows. In conjunction with Bing Chat and both first and third-party plugins, it will enable people to interface with Windows and Windows apps and services using Copilot chat, rather trying to find what app to use, find settings or work out how to do something.
Yesterday (6th June 2023) was the first day of Cisco Live which was hosted in Las Vegas.
CEO Chuck Robbins hosted the keynote, along with a host of product leads and Cisco executives who ran through their huge list of updates. The core focus for Cisco and the announcements made, were focussed on security, networking, cloud, AI, and sustainability. Some of the key announcements were:
Updates to their Full Stack Observability Platform (FSO), a cloud-based service that provides comprehensive visibility and insights into applications and networks.
Cisco Cloud Application Security, a new feature of their FSO ⬆️ that monitors and protects cloud applications from threats.
Cisco Networking Cloud, a unified cloud network management platform that simplifies connectivity and security across devices and networks.
Cisco Secure Access, a single sign-on solution that enables users to access any application from any device or network.
Cisco Multicloud Defense, a platform that unifies security controls across clouds and applications, with support for multiple firewalls.
Cisco Secure Firewall 4200, a new, faster, and more reliable firewall that works with their Multicloud Defense service
Cisco SOC Assistant, an AI-powered tool that helps security teams detect and respond to incidents, with optimized remediation tactics.
Cisco Key Themes
Chuck Robbins highlighted, Cisco’s five key themes going forward as:
Reimagine your applications.
Power your hybrid work.
Transform your infrastructure.
Secure your enterprise.
Your journey to sustainability.
Reimagine your applications
The first main product announcement was that of the general availability of Cisco’s Full Stack Observability (FSO) Platform which has been in preview for a few months.
The focus and need for FSO was positioned as the fact that “Every business is a digital business“. She discussed how that while having the right applications is critical to getting work done, they also need to work efficiently for people to be productive, wherever they work. Liz Centoni pointed out that the magnitude of apps used by businesses can “lead to an avalanche of data and insights that can be overwhelming, meaning delays in functions such as threat detection“.
Origibally announced last year, but now available to all, FSO is designed to let organisations gain insights and analytics almost any data source, helping reduce the number of monitoring tools needed, speed up support efforts and keep users online and productive. One of the key use cases for FSO is that in customer digital experience monitoring, whereby Cisco are able to measure predict and monitor the end-to-end user experience across various parts of a customer journey (for example, during an online e-commerce experience).
Joining FSO to Security, Cisco also announced that a new product – Cisco Cloud Application Security, is also coming FSO, which will bring a new layer of security insights into FSO to help understand, see, and act on threats affecting the organisation.
Power your Hybrid Work
The focus on this topic was really blended into Security and FSO which I cover later. There was not much talk about collaboration tools like Webex, though they did say that Webex was remains as a key part of Cisco’s collaboration strategy, which is now able to work seamlessly with Microsoft Teams with their support for Cisco Powered Teams Rooms. Cisco revealed how global organisations like Audi, Carhartt, and MGM Resorts International are using the end-to-end Cisco stack to enable hybrid work and improve productivity.
Journey to Sustainability
Sustainability was a key focus for Cisco, and they publicised a few key initiatives and some major pledges and initiatives to help both Cisco and their customers get greener, recycle more, and ensure sustainability manufacturer, supply chain and lifecycle management. “If you take our technology and put our ecosystem along it, it can help the transition to a modern and low-carbon economy” was a statement given by Cisco Chief Strategy Officer Liz Centoni.
Transform your Infrastructure
Jonathan Davidson, EVP and General Manager of Cisco Networking, announced the launch of Cisco Networking Cloud, a simplified, single cloud network management platform that aims to make cloud networking easier and more secure for organisations. During the announcement he said that Cisco Networking Cloud will provide
Unified experiences across technologies, applications, and networks
Radical simplification through platform consolidation
Cloud-first management with enhanced security and visibility
A simpler design experience with consistent interfaces
Cisco’s claim and message around Cisco Networking Cloud was “If it’s connected – it’s now protected“, and the key focus was about simplicity, with their vision being to bring unified visibility and management covering all an organisations’ technologies, applications, and networks. Cisco said that today, in the most, such unified experiences are being inhibited by operational complexity, but that Cisco is leading the fightback with what he called, “radical simplification“.
Secure your Enterprise
Liz Centoni said, in her presentation that “When it comes to security, we want to frustrate attackers, not users…..giving users safe and easy access to their apps and data“.
Security was the biggest talking point for at the keynote this year and was the topic for the last part of the presentation. The session was led Jeetu Patel, Cisco’s EVP and General Manager of Security & Collaboration. During this part of the keynote, he talked about Cisco’s vision and solutions for network, cloud, and application security. Some of the key points he shared were around how security services needs proper coordination and management to avoid discord and inefficiency – comparing them to an orchestra where everything needs to work in harmony to avoid just being lots of different noises.
Cisco also spoke about the issues and complexities that the traditional patchwork approach of the security has in most organisations and that these point products and solutions typically creates silos and complexity for customers as well increased cost and often areas of little or no protection.
This was used as a hook into announcing Cisco Security Cloud, which is an open, integrated security platform for multi-cloud environments that leverages generative AI capabilities to optimise performance and security of every connection.
Cisco shared how they now observe over four hundred billion security events every day, which provides them intelligence and trends and insights into the threats facing businesses. Cisco talked about the importance of AI within their products sets, which cuts around one hundred billion hours of work in threat detection and mitigation across their customer base.
Cisco emphasised the need for organisations to adopt zero trust and zero friction security, whereby users can connect to any application, from any device, or any network, without compromising on security or having a clunky and difficult user experience. Cisco talked about their Cisco Secure Access, solution – a single sign-on offering that is claimed to “enable seamless connectivity”. Linked to this was Apple iCloud Private Relay an integration with Apple devices and iOS that provides secure access to an organisation’s apps and services with the need to download anything extra on their iOS device. The words “Cisco makes security simple and magical for users” was one of my favourite quotes of the day!
Finally, Cisco talked about the integration of Cisco Secure Access and Thousand Eyes (which is their cloud-based network intelligence platform that provides visibility and insights SaaS applications network performance and user experience. Jeetus Patel, talked about the challenge of securing private and public clouds, which often have different admin consoles, firewalls, and security controls. Cisco said that that their new Cisco Multicloud Defense platform is a new solution that will provide a translation layer to enable seamless communication and unified security across an organisation’s multi-cloud environments.
Cisco also introduced the new Cisco Secure Firewall 4200, a faster (and more energy efficient) offering that improves redundancy and was built alongside their new Multicloud defense platform as well as Cisco SOC Assistant, an AI-powered tool that helps security teams detect and respond to incidents, with optimized remediation tactics.
Did you attend or tune into Cisco Live? What were you most excited about?
Microsoft Teams Meeting recap is now live for both Teams Standard and Teams Premium users. For users with Teams Premium licenses, they also get access to the AI powered “Intelligent recap” feature. In this blog I will cover.
What is Intelligent Recap
What is Teams Premium
How does Intelligent recap work in Teams
How do you summarize a team meeting transcript
How much does Intelligent recap cost?
What is Intelligent recap
Intelligent Recap is a Teams Premium (a service that provides an enhanced Teams experience, including many advanced features including several that use artificial intelligence to provide time saving tasks for meeting organisers and attendees.
Intelligent recap provides AI powered insights, automatically takes notes, recommended tasks, and highlights, as well as creating speaker-indexed video and transcriptions of the recording. It is available to use now for Teams Premium users.
According to research by Microsoft and feedback from their customers, this tool should save people a lot of time since who, more than 55% of people claim that actions and notes are often unclear or inconsistent following a meeting.
What is Teams Premium
Microsoft Teams Premium was released early this year and amongst other premium features, it brings new artificial intelligence powered tools to Teams designed to improve your productivity. The biggest AI feature within Teams Premium is intelligent recap, which after being in preview for while is now generally available.
How does Intelligent recap work in Teams
To be able to recap a meeting the meeting organiser (or permitted attendee) will need to ensure they choose (or set to automatic) to record and transcribe the meeting. You also need to have a Teams Premium license.
Intelligent recap is designed to help attendees to catch up on a meeting by reviewing the content, video, key content, and discussion points and to review suggested actions. It also useful for people that were invited to the meeting but were unable to attend and to ensure that everyone has notes from the meeting and are clear on the actions (which it suggests based on the meeting).
Intelligent recap uses Microsoft’s Generative AI to generate meeting notes, recommended tasks, and personalised highlights, which it takes from the transcription it creates.
Intelligent recap also creates personalised timeline markers that are only visible to a specific user. These highlight when someone is specifically mentioned by name, when something is shared by that person and when someone leaves the meeting. This is useful, if, for example, you had to leave an over running meeting because, you can then easily use the recap to catch up on what you missed at the end – particularly if you are given an action.
Intelligent recap also creates speaker timeline markers which make it quick and easy to jump to the most important (or specific parts) of a meeting. They speaker markers show when different people spoke and are organised based on who spoke the most, which is again useful to see the dynamic of a meeting.
Chapters, (which have been delayed but are coming soon), will divide meetings into sections and attempt to organise them by topic – this is currently in testing.
Meeting Recap in Teams “Standard”
It is worth noting that the standard version of Teams does have a meeting recap feature – but lacks the AI powered intelligent notes described above. Instead, the “Recap” tab of a Teams meeting provides links to the meeting transcript, recording, and any notes that were taken manually. You are also able to watch the meeting recording directly within Teams without needing to go to another app or web page. This will also support the new collaborative meeting notes feature when it rolls out in the next month
How do you summarize a Team meeting transcript
To summarise a Teams meeting transcript, you need to make sure the meeting is recorded and transcribed, and you need to have a Teams Premium license assigned.
There are no manual steps needed to summarise the meeting, since the Intelligent Recap feature will work automatically after the meeting ends and after it has processed and analysed the recording and transcription.
One the meeting has finished; you will see a recap tab within the meeting window.
In the Recap panel, you can watch the recorded meeting and access key information such as the agenda, meeting notes, shared content etc. You can also quickly see and navigate to where specific people spoke or where you were mentioned in the meeting for your mentions. You can do that by clicking on the @ over the video window.
The Recap panel is simple to use and very intuitive. From here you can access any notes manually taken during the meeting as well as access the AI notes generated by Teams.
Scrolling down further, shows the AI generated actions that Teams detected or has suggested if not explicitly stated. In my experience these are quite accurate, but it does mistakes – expect it improve over time with more user feedback!
How much does Intelligent recap cost
Intelligent meeting recap is part of Microsoft Teams Premium. Depending on your region and licensing agreement, pricing may vary but RRP is currently on promo for £5.80 pupm. It is due to increase to around £7.
Thanks for reading – as always welcome your comments and feedback.
Cisco have announced that they are to acquire Armorblox, a leading email security house whose portfolio (which is centred around email protection) includes email security, DLP, data encryption, impersonation protection, fraud protection, URL, and ransomware protection.
What do Armorblox do?
Founded in 2017 and now with over 58,000 customers, Armorblox protects organisations against data loss and targeted email attacks like business email compromise, vendor fraud, and account takeovers. Their tools leverage Generative AI and Large Language Models (LLMs). They have scored highly in the Gartner Peer Insights report and have invested heavily in their interoperability through APIs.
Cisco say that “Through this acquisition though, we see many exciting broad security use cases and possibilities to unlock“.
Cisilion plan to leverage this investment to bring new AI powered security offerings to their existing portfolio across as well as enable them to leapfrog their competition and offer compelling, integrated, and advanced threat protection.
I’m excited to see the ways in which Cisco leverage this acquisition to bolster security across all their offerings. Assimilating and embedding the technologies they aquire is one of their huge strengths.