Microsoft hosted a live Surface and AI event on Thursday 21st September where they announced a lot of new and exciting features and products across its various platforms and services. In this blog post, I have tried to summarise the most notable ones and explain how they might benefit you and your organisation.
Disclaimer (and product plug) - Since this was an AI event in whole, I also want to state that other than some slight tweaks, this blog post was written by Bing Enterprise Chat - Microsoft Designer created the image. The whole thing took less that 10 minutes.
Copilot: Your AI Assistant at Work and Beyond
Copilot is a new feature that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help you with various tasks, such as drafting emails, summarizing texts, creating images, and more. You can access Copilot from Windows 11, Microsoft 365, Edge, and Bing, and chat with it in natural language. Copilot will understand your intent and provide relevant assistance based on the context and your data.
For example, you can ask Copilot to draft an email for you with a specific tone, or to generate a graphic art based on your description. You can also use Copilot to answer questions, troubleshoot your PC, control your settings, and access recommendations. Copilot is designed to save you time, reduce your cognitive load, and ignite your creativity.
Copilot will be generally available for enterprise customers on November 1st, and for a select group of consumers and small business customers as part of the Early Access Program (EAP). It will initially be limited to three hundred licenses and will cost $30 per user per month.
Windows 11: The Most Powerful and Personal Windows Ever
Windows 11 is the latest (and IMO best) version of the Microsoft’s desktop operating system that powers millions of devices around the world. Windows 11 offers a fresh and modern design, improved performance, and security, and a more personalised and connected experience. They announced the latest update coming next week (Sept 26th). Some of the new features in Windows 11 will include:
- An updated Start menu that gives you quick access to your apps, documents, and settings.
- An updated Taskbar that lets you easily switch between multiple instances of each app, hide the time and date, and end tasks with a right-click.
- A new Dev Home that helps you set up your development environment by downloading apps, packages, or repositories, connecting to your developer accounts and tools, and accessing experimental features in WSL.
- A new Dev Drive that provides a fast and secure storage volume for developers, with a file system that delivers both performance and security.
- A new WinGet Configuration that simplifies the setup process for developers by reducing it to a single command.
- New Gallery in File Explorer that makes it easy to access your photo collection across all your devices.
- A new Snipping Tool that lets you record your screen with audio and mic support, copy and redact text from a screenshot, and edit your images with Paint.
- A new Photos app that has new editing capabilities to achieve stylish background blur effects and makes it easier to find specific images backed up in OneDrive.
- Updated Narrator that uses natural human voices in new languages, and lets you use voice access to log in to your PC and access other areas on the lock screen.
- Refreshed Notepad app that automatically saves your session state, allowing you to close Notepad without any interrupting dialogs and then pick up where you left off when you return.
- A new Instant Games feature that lets you play your favorite casual games directly from the Microsoft Store without the need to download and install them on your device.
- Windows Copilot – Your Copilot for Windows.
Windows 11 also announced general availability of Windows 365 Boot and Windows 365 Switch, which allow you to log into your Windows 365 Cloud PC as the primary Windows experience on the device or easily switch between the Cloud PC and the local desktop. Windows 365 is a cloud PC service that lets you stream a full Windows experience from anywhere on any device and is fully managed from Intune.
This update will start rolling out as a free update on September 26th.
Surface: The Ultimate Devices for Work and Play
Surface is Microsoft’s line of devices that combine innovative design, powerful performance, and versatile functionality. Surface devices are built to work seamlessly with Windows 11 and Microsoft 365, offering the best productivity and creativity tools for work and play. I am a massive fan of Surface
The new / refreshed Surface devices include:
- Surface Laptop Studio 2: The most powerful Surface ever built, with the latest Intel Core processors, NVIDIA Studio tools for creators, touchscreen display, and flexible design with three unique postures.
- Surface Laptop Go 3: The lightest and most portable Surface Laptop, with touchscreen display, premium features like an incredible typing experience and a Fingerprint Power Button, and four stylish colours.
- Surface Go 4: The baby Surface Pro is this time, available only for corporate and not consumer market (why??), the device is the same dimensions as before but is more repairable (the most repairable and sustainable device int he Surface Fleet). It ditches the 4GB RAM option (good) and brings a higher spec entry level processor. Pricing increases too which is a shame as is ditching consumer market. These are great for school kids.
- Surface Hub 3: The ultimate collaboration device for teams, with a large interactive display that runs the Microsoft Teams Rooms experience. Surface Hub 3 pairs seamlessly with Teams-certified devices and supports Hub on day one. There was also an upgrade announced for Surface Hub 2S customers to upgrade to Surface Hub 3,
The new Surface devices are available for pre-ordering now.
Microsoft 365: The World’s Productivity Cloud
Microsoft 365 is a cloud-based subscription service that offers the best productivity apps for work and life. Microsoft 365 includes apps like Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, Teams, Stream, Loop, Clipchamp, and more.
Microsoft 365 Copilot (which will be available from 1st November) is an add-on service at $30 per user per month and provides in-built AI-powered features and services that help you get more done across all your Office 365 apps and services – with support also coming to Microsoft Designer, Loop and Clipchamp and more.
Some of the new features and services in Microsoft 365 include:
- Copilot in Outlook, Excel, Word, Loop, OneNote, Stream, and OneDrive: Copilot is integrated into various Microsoft 365 apps to provide AI assistance for different tasks. For example, you can use Copilot in Outlook to draft emails, in Excel to create charts, in Word to summarize documents, in Loop to generate content blocks, in OneNote to take notes, in Stream to transcribe videos, and in OneDrive to find files.
- Generative Expand, Fill, and Erase in Microsoft Designer: These features let you manipulate images in creative ways, such as expanding the canvas, filling in missing areas, or erasing unwanted objects. Generative Erase is generally available now, and Generative Fill and Expand are coming soon.
- Copilot Lab: Copilot Lab is a feature that lets you learn how to use Copilot effectively, share your favorite prompts with coworkers, and get inspired by other users. Copilot Lab will be accessible to all Microsoft 365 Copilot users once it’s generally available in November.
- Mobile Application Management (MAM) for Windows: This feature allows employees to access organisational resources through Microsoft Edge from an unmanaged device, while giving IT the ability to control the conditions under which the resources can be accessed.
Bing and Edge: The Smartest Way to Search and Browse
Bing and Edge are Microsoft’s search engine and web browser that offer a fast, secure, and personalized way to search and browse the web. Bing and Edge use AI to provide relevant information and assistance based on your needs and preferences.
Some of the new features and improvements in Bing and Edge include:
- DALL-E 3 in Bing Image Creator and Microsoft Designer integration: Bing Image Creator is a feature that lets you create images from text descriptions using AI. Bing Image Creator is now powered by DALL-E 3, which produces more realistic and detailed images. You can also access Bing Image Creator directly from Microsoft Designer for further editing.
- Content Credentials: Content Credentials is a feature that uses cryptographic methods to add an invisible digital watermark to all AI-generated images in Bing. This helps you verify the origin and authenticity of the images. Content Credentials will be supported in Bing Image Creator, Microsoft Designer, and Paint soon.
- Bing Chat Enterprise: Bing Chat Enterprise is a feature that lets you chat with Copilot from the Edge mobile app. You can also use multimodal visual search and Image Creator from Bing Chat Enterprise.
- Copilot in Microsoft Shopping: Copilot in Microsoft Shopping is a feature that helps you find what you’re looking for more quickly. You can ask for information on an item, and Bing will ask additional questions to learn more. Then, Bing will use that information to provide more tailored recommendations. This feature will be available soon on both PC and mobile.
- Personalised Answers: Personalised Answers is a feature that uses your chat history to inform your results. For example, if you’ve used Bing to track your favorite soccer team, next time you’re planning a trip it can proactively tell you if the team is playing in your destination city. Personalized Answers will begin to roll out soon.
Microsoft Advertising: The Best Way to Reach Your Customers
Microsoft Advertising is a platform that helps businesses connect with their customers across the web. Microsoft Advertising offers various solutions and tools to create effective and engaging ads that reach the right audience at the right time.
Some of the new features and improvements in Microsoft Advertising include:
- Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform: Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform is a feature that simplifies and enhances every aspect of your experience with the platform. You can use Copilot to create campaigns, get content recommendations, optimize your performance, and more. This feature will be coming soon.
- Compare & Decide Ads: Compare & Decide Ads are a new type of ads that pull relevant data of various products or services into a succinct table. This helps users easily evaluate different options based on their criteria. Compare & Decide Ads will be available for cars initially and will be brought to closed beta in early 2024.
These are just some of the highlights from the Microsoft September 2023 News. There are many more features and products that we didn’t cover here, but you can find them on the current web page context. I hope you are excited about these new developments, and I would love to hear what you are most excited about.