Microsoft's NEW Windows 11 feature drop arrives with more AI features for Copilot and needed changes to the Widgets board

 Dell XPS 14 (9440) for 2024.
Dell XPS 14 (9440) for 2024.

What you need to know

  • Microsoft starting rolling out the latest feature drop for Windows 11.

  • This feature drop includes Windows Widgets, Snap Layouts, Copilot, Inking, and more improvements.

  • Unsurprisingly, Microsoft is touting new AI features as top billing for this release.

  • This update will enable the ability to uninstall Bing and Edge from Windows 11 in EEA markets to comply with the Digital Markets Act.

Right on cue, Microsoft has released the next Windows 11 feature drop for all users running Windows 11 version 22H2 or version 23H2, available to download today for those who manually request the update. This feature drop focuses on more quality-of-life improvements to the overall OS, including updates to Snap Layouts, Copilot, Widgets, and more.

Top billing for this release is a new AI-powered Snap Layouts feature that uses machine learning to identify your most commonly used apps and automatically suggest Snap Layouts based on the apps you have open. This interface will appear whenever you hover over the maximize button in an app.

Windows 11 24H2 features
Windows 11 24H2 features

Microsoft is also making changes to the Widgets Board, now allowing users to turn off the news feed outright for those who don't want to see MSN stories appear there. This change means the Widgets Board can now be used as an actual widgets panel, free from clickbait headlines.

Other quality-of-life changes coming in this feature drop include the ability to digitally ink directly into text fields across the OS, which should make using Windows with a pen easier. A handful of AI features are also coming to apps, including generative erase in the Photos app and the ability to remove gaps in audio in video files using Clipchamp automatically.

Windows Copilot gets an upgrade

Copilot Pro on Windows
Copilot Pro on Windows

Microsoft is touting several improvements to Windows Copilot launching with today's feature drop. These improvements include more plugins that enable additional abilities, such as making a dinner reservation with friends using OpenTable or managing your shopping with Instacart.

Over the next month, Microsoft will also enable new skills within Copilot to tie the assistant more closely with Windows. The following skills are being added to Windows Copilot over the coming month:

  • Turn on/off battery saver

  • Show device information

  • Show system information

  • Show battery information

  • Open storage page

  • Launch Live Captions

  • Launch Narrator

  • Launch Screen Magnifier

  • Open Voice Access page

  • Open Text size page

  • Open contrast themes page

  • Launch Voice input

  • Show available Wi-Fi network

  • Display IP address

  • Show available storage space

  • Empty recycle bin

Windows 11 becomes DMA compliant

Uninstall Edge on Windows 11
Uninstall Edge on Windows 11

Last month, Microsoft announced that it would be changing Windows 11 to comply with the Digital Markets Act in countries that fall under the European Economic Area. Today's feature drop includes these changes; however, they may not be enabled for everyone yet.

"We'll start enabling DMA changes via our controlled feature rollout technology in February's optional non-security releases, and we will post a public update on DMA progress soon," said Aaron Grady, Partner Group Product Manager, Windows.

Microsoft has until March 4th to enable the changes for everyone running this latest feature drop, as that's the EU's legal deadline date. Microsoft doesn't mention any changes it's making to Windows 11 to comply with the DMA in today's feature drop announcement post.

As a refresher, here are the changes coming to Windows 11 to comply with the DMA:

  • Ability to uninstall Bing from Windows Search.

  • Ability to replace Bing in Windows Search with a third-party search provider.

  • Ability to uninstall Microsoft Edge.

  • Ability to disable or replace the news feed in Widgets with a third-party provider.

Insiders in the Release Preview channel have been testing today's feature drop for a few weeks and have reported seeing these changes in the build. So, if you don't see it right away, you'll likely see it begin showing up over the next week or two.

How to get the Windows 11 February feature drop

Windows Update settings
Windows Update settings

To download today's update, head to Windows Update and ensure the "Get the latest updates as soon as they're available" toggle is switched on. Then, hit check for updates; you should see the update ready to download.

If you don't see the update right away, that's because Microsoft is making the update available in waves, so you might need to keep checking back. Microsoft anticipates the feature update will be broadly available by the April 2024 Patch Tuesday updates.