Windows 11 may have moved to once-a-year major updates, but that doesn’t mean new features aren’t showing up regularly. Case in point: This week, Microsoft suddenly and surprisingly dropped a huge update for Windows 11 that was absolutely packed with fresh stuff to play with.
My colleague Mark Hachman covered everything new in the February 2023 Windows 11 update, then moved on to more new features. There are a lot of things that don’t concern me, like better AI tools on Qualcomm-powered PCs, tweaks to the native Teams chat experience, Facebook widgets, improved tablet behavior, etc. But there are a lot of great new features with broader appeal that I can’t wait to try—and you can, too. Let’s dig in.
Bing Chat’s AI-powered search box
Microsoft is certainly not wasting its time in bringing the new AI-powered Bing Chat to the masses. The company unveiled the ChatGPT-powered tool just a few weeks ago, rolled it out to mobile Bing and Edge users in short order, and now it’s coming right to the Windows 11 taskbar, integrated into the newly redesigned search box. You must be enrolled in the Bing AI preview to use the chat, however. Here’s how to start Bing Chat in Windows 11.
Honestly, while asking Microsoft’s AI to plan vacations and prepare meals from a list of ingredients is cool and all, I’m more excited about simply reviving the search box. I used it all the time in Windows 10, but Windows 11 threw it away in favor of search button which summons a separate window where you perform system searches, adding more clicks and headaches to the process. Even if you don’t care about Bing Chat, the return of the search box is a big win for everyday Windows 11 users.
Tabs in Notepad
Cover all the items! I’m a big fan of Stardock’s $5 Groupy software to turn each window into a tab, but it won’t be necessary anymore if Microsoft keeps it up. By the end of 2023, Windows 11 in the end added tabs to File Explorer after years of begging enthusiasts, and the February 2023 update brought tabs to the venerable Notepad app.
Oh, and in case you missed it, Notepad was also updated last year to support Windows 11 Dark Mode. Chef’s kiss.
iPhone support in Phone Link
Android users have been able to control their phones through the Windows Phone Link app for years, but Apple’s stricter rules have prevented iPhone support. Not anymore. You have to be a Windows Insider to use it now, but Windows 11 February Update finally adds the ability to manage iPhones from your PC.
You can send and receive calls, texts, and more right on your desktop, but Apple’s rules mean there are several catches associated with Windows 11’s new iPhone support. Because of that, you may be better off using Intel’s Unison app to get iMessage on Windows. It supposedly only supports Intel-based PCs, so AMD Ryzen users (like myself) still have a lot to look forward to with Windows 11’s new iPhone capabilities.
Windows offers a rocking Snipping Tool for a LONG time now, but it can only be used to quickly take screenshots. With Windows 11 February 2023 Update, Snipping Tool can record videos again. Finally!
All you need to do is click the Snipping Tool’s new record button to start capturing a video, then click it again to stop. Boom! You now have an easy clip to share with friends, helpfully saved in a default folder. This can be unusable while troubleshooting or explaining a process to other people.
Electricity bills are going up, yo. Mine has almost doubled in the last year, and the Europeans are even worse. Enter Windows 11’s new energy recommendations, designed to help ease the burden on both environments and your wallet
You can get a list of suggestions in Settings > Power and battery > Energy recommendations, where you can apply it piece or whole pig at the press of a button. Even if you decide not to take every action recommended by Microsoft-I hated auto-adjust brightness—every little bit helps. Update: We’ve done a lot of the new Windows 11 updates and decided that Energy Recommendations is really the star of this release.
But wait, there’s more!
That’s it for this look at five new Windows 11 features that power users won’t want to miss. Again, check out Mark Hachman’s coverage of the February 2023 Windows 11 Update to find lots of other things packed into this release, or take a look at our look at 10 unknowns part of Windows that will blow your mind if you want to wade though. deeper into other useful features that hide deep within the operating system.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on 3/1/23 but has been updated to link to our hands-on with new Windows 11 features.