AI tools
December 3, 2023

Copilot AI Arrives in Windows 11

What is Copilot AI and how to enable it Windows 11.

Jim Clyde Monge
by 
Jim Clyde Monge

Microsoft released one of its biggest updates to Windows 11 — Microsoft Copilot. It is a new AI-powered digital assistant that reminds me of Cortana. It is deeply integrated into the operating system and can be used to perform a variety of tasks, such as changing system settings, launching apps, and answering questions.

I was surprised to see Microsoft release Copilot today as part of the Windows 11 22H2 (KB5030310) update, as I thought it was scheduled for Windows 11 23H2.

One important thing to note is that this release does not include all that was announced during the Surface and AI event last week.

John Cable, Microsoft’s vice president of Windows servicing and delivery, mentioned in a blog post:

“Windows 11 devices will get new functionality at different times, as we will be gradually rolling out some of these new features over the coming weeks initially via controlled feature rollout (CFR) to consumers”.

So, what’s inside the Copilot for Windows 11 22H2? Let’s delve in.

How to enable Windows Copilot

The first thing you have to do is update your OS to the latest version.

Go to the settings menu, and under the Windows Update tab, click on the “Check for updates” button.

Windows update Copilot AI screenshot
Image by Jim Clyde Monge

This will download and install the 2023–09 Cumulative Update Preview for Windows 11 Version 22H2 for x64-based Systems (KB5030310). You can learn more about this update here.

Restart your system, and you should see the brand new Copilot icon on your taskbar.

Windows Copilot icon on taskbar
Image by Jim Clyde Monge

Clicking on the button will open a “Copilot” panel on the right side of your screen. The user interface looks very similar to the Bing Chat on the Microsoft Edge browser.

Windows Copilot side bar screenshot
Image by Jim Clyde Monge

Currently, you can’t adjust the window size or layer other apps on top.

To disable and remove the app icon from the task bar, go to Settings > Personalization > Taskbar and toggle the Copilot (preview) menu.

Windows Copilot enable in settings
Image by Jim Clyde Monge

Enable via Registry

If you can’t see the shortcut after installing the latest OS update, you can still enable Copilot via the registry.

Open the registry editor and navigate to this key:Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced\ShowCopilotButton

Double-click on the ShowCopilotButton DWORD and set its value to 1.

Enable Windows Copilot from Registry
Image by Jim Clyde Monge

Restart your system, and you should be able to see the Copilot shortcut button on your task bar.

What are the features you can try?

I hate to break it to you, but most of the features they showed in the announcement are not readily available in today’s release of Copilot.

In its current preview state, these are the only interactions you can do with the AI:

  • Answering questions
  • Changing system settings
  • Launching apps
  • Generating images

Here’s an example:

switch to dark mode

The AI took a few seconds to start changing my desktop theme. It kept asking for permission before making any changes outside of the chat box, which was a bit annoying. But in the end, it was able to switch my theme to dark mode, which is pretty cool.

Windows 11 dark mode enabled by Windows Copilot AI
Image by Jim Clyde Monge

You can also try some of these fun commands:

  • “Organize my windows”
  • “Play pop songs” — This will open Spotify
  • “Set timer for 5 minutes” — This will open the Clock app

Now let’s try to generate an image.

Prompt: an image of an astronaut riding a horse in space

Windows Copilot Prompt: an image of an astronaut riding a horse in space
Image by Jim Clyde Monge

From what it looks like, the image generator is still powered by Dall-E2. The next version of Dall-E will begin to roll out in the coming weeks.

Dall-E3 is going to be a huge improvement, so I am really excited once it comes out and is enabled via Copilot.

How much does it cost?

If you expect Copilot to be completely free, it's not. The final version of the AI assistant will cost $30 per month, which is an additional cost on top of any existing Microsoft 365 subscriptions.

This means that the total cost for home users will be around $37 per month, and for business users, it will be around $43 per month.

Is the $30 price tag fair?

I think it’s a bit high. But I kind of understand Microsoft charging $30 for Copilot, given the sheer amount of computing power required to run these AI tools.

Final Thoughts

Honestly, this early preview of Copilot is not at all impressive—at least not yet. Many touted features are missing in this release, as the final version is scheduled to be released during the fourth quarter of 2023.

However, I remain confident in Microsoft’s ability to deliver a refined and feature-rich final version. I am particularly excited about the potential of Copilot to help with more complex tasks such as writing documents, creating presentations, and coding.

If you want to get early access to more features coming in Windows 11 Copilot, like the super cool Paint Cocreator, you can do so via the Windows Insider program.