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Tech Matters: What to know about the Windows 11 update

By Leslie Meredith - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Mar 8, 2023

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Leslie Meredith

On March 14, Windows 11 will receive a big update as part of Microsoft’s “Patch Tuesday” that offers far more than the usual security fixes. While insiders have already begun using the new features, they will become available to the public in just about a week. In today’s column, we’ll cover some of the most interesting and useful new features.

But first, you must have Windows 11 installed on your computer, which means either you have a relatively new PC or your Windows 10 unit is compatible with the upgrade. If you’re running Windows 10, you can check compatibility with the PC Health Check app, which should be installed on your computer. For some, the Windows 11 update may already be available. You can check by going to “Settings,” “Windows Update” and then selecting “Check for updates.” Otherwise, it will be a short wait.

Bing search with built-in ChatGPT

The feature that’s getting all of the attention is Microsoft’s rapid integration of ChatGPT into its search engine Bing. The pairing comes to the forefront of this update as the search bar returns to the task bar at the bottom of the screen. You can quickly perform an ordinary search by typing into the box. Hit the Bing icon and a new chat window will open where you can ask questions, get answers and generate content such as email drafts and article outlines. Here’s a tip: Be as specific as possible with your prompt to get the best results, going so far as to tell Bing what role it should take on (journalist, travel guide, business executive) when formulating its response.

Bing Chat is available only with Edge, Microsoft’s browser. If you switch the default search engine to Chrome, you won’t have access to the new chat. Further, you must sign up on the waitlist for the new Bing preview. You will receive an email when you’ve been granted access. Microsoft says you can set your computer default to Bing and download the Bing app to your phone to speed the process.

Easier remote assist

Whether you’re on the giving or the receiving end of troubleshooting computer problems, you’ll appreciate this next improvement. With the update, you will be able to open Quick Assist from the Start menu and get connected more quickly than before. You’ll also be able to switch between screen sharing and full control during a session to give or get help. Microsoft has also added a laser pointer you can use to highlight an icon, menu, or anything else on screen. These improvements make built-in remote assistance easier to use than most third-party apps.

Snipping tool adds video recording

Microsoft has long offered a handy tool for capturing screenshots, one that an astonishing number of people do not know about. Type “Snipping Tool” in the search box on the taskbar at the bottom of your screen and it will pop up. Until now, it could only be used to capture precise areas of your screen, which could than be saved as a photo. With the update, you’ll now be able to record video playing on your computer as well — an easy way to record a quick tutorial for colleagues.

Energy recommendations

The update comes with a list of energy recommendations to help minimize the impact of your computer use on the environment. You can opt to do things like turn off your screen after three minutes and turn off screen saver altogether. Adjusting screen brightness automatically in response to changing light conditions is also on the list of options. The great thing here is that you can use the settings that work best for you, which vary from user to user based on visual acuity and preferences. (The update also includes new Braille display support.) To access these recommendations, go to “Settings,” “System,” “Power & battery” and then you’ll see the new “Energy Recommendations” menu.

Finally, if you are an iPhone user, Microsoft and Apple have devised a way for PC users to use their phones via Phone Link for iOS. You will be able to answer a call or text with your computer in the same way as Mac users do. According to Microsoft, once this feature becomes publicly available, you will go through a guided process to pair your PC with your iPhone. Once the pairing is complete and verified, you will be able to manage your iPhone communications while working away on your computer.

Leslie Meredith has been writing about technology for more than a decade. As a mom of four, value, usefulness, and online safety take priority. Have a question? Email Leslie at asklesliemeredith@gmail.com.


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