EP 34: How to use Microsoft Copilot for Windows

Exploring the Preview of Windows Copilot

In this episode of Tech UNMUTED, George and Santi investigate the intricacies of Windows Copilot, currently in its preview phase. They share firsthand experiences from Microsoft Ignite, discussing the tool's functionality, troubleshooting efforts, and interactions with Microsoft engineers. The episode offers a unique perspective on Copilot's integration with the Windows operating system, its impact on user productivity, and the challenges faced during its preview. Listeners will gain insights into the future of AI-assisted computing and how it shapes our interaction with technology.

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INTRODUCTION VOICEOVER: This is Tech UNMUTED. The podcast of modern collaboration – where we tell the stories of how collaboration tools enable businesses to be more efficient and connected. With your hosts, George Schoenstein and Santi Cuellar. Welcome to Tech UNMUTED.

GEORGE: Welcome to the latest episode of Tech UNMUTED. Today we're going to take a look at Copilot for Windows, which is in preview mode. We're going to talk a little bit about how to use it, and some of the things it can do for you. Up front, Santi and I were both at Microsoft Ignite a couple of weeks ago. The preview does not work for Santi. We went through a couple of things to try to fix that, but talk about the conversation you had with one of the engineers from Microsoft.

SANTI: Yes, so actually I was sitting, we happened to be right next to, guess what? Windows Copilot, Microsoft's station for Windows Copilot. I remember when I first got there early in the morning, like we always do to set up for this big show, a young lady who was a Microsoft employee was struggling trying to get Copilot to work on Windows. I'm like, "Well, that sounds familiar," [laughs] because I've been struggling too.

Apparently, they had a Windows engineer there who was a really good person, I actually connected with him on LinkedIn, and he went and fixed their issue. Then I spoke to myself about, "I'm having the same problem," he says, "Yes, I can fix your issue too." I asked, "What's going on?" He says, "Well, listen, here's what it is. There's a registry key as part of Copilot that says, 'Hey, if you have an external display--'" Who doesn't have an external display?

GEORGE: I do. [chuckles]

SANTI: Right. If you have an external display, Copilot for Windows rearranges your icons and there’s people complaining about that. Until they're able to fix it with, I guess, one of the upcoming updates or something, they had a registry key that suppresses Copilot. I'm like, "Oh, well, wait a minute. I don't want mine suppressed. I don't care if my icons are rearranged." He went in and tried to undo that. He was not successful, so he was kind of embarrassed. He really tried. He tried for about an hour and a half, and I really appreciate him trying. For whatever reason, my Copilot in Windows is not working. Eventually, I guess when they push a new update, maybe I'll get caught up. You apparently had it.

GEORGE: It works. Had it, and it disappeared-

SANTI: Then it came back.

GEORGE: -and then it, for some reason, just came back again. Santi and I both are on some beta preview version of Windows as well, right?

SANTI: We are.

GEORGE: Which, I think, when we initially went to that, mine went away, and then it was just randomly a week or two after that, then it just came back.

SANTI: By the way, you said something at the beginning of this episode, it's in preview mode. This is exactly what preview is. In this particular case, it's not working for me, it's working for you. I think if you share your screen, I think we do a quick little dive as to how exactly does Copilot in Windows interact with Windows and we see. Keep in mind, it is in preview mode. That's the key here.

GEORGE: I'm going to do a full-screen share on this. See in my desktop right now, I'm going to pop open a browser. I will point out, this is the Chrome browser, so keep that in mind, because something a little different is going to happen later that I think is interesting. This is Loop. We've talked about this before. If anybody wants us to do more of a deep dive on this, let us know, but this is where we track the episodes that we do. This preview is in the bottom tray, so I'm going to click on it. You're going to see it on the right-hand side of the screen. A couple of things about this, this is persistent. If I pop open another app, and I will come back to this later, this is just a blank PowerPoint, stays persistent on the right-hand side.

SANTI: You know why, George? Because unlike Copilot for Bing, which lives inside of your browser, this is Copilot for Windows. It lives where? Inside of your operating system.

I love that because it is persistent because it's part of your OS, it's not going anywhere. All right, I like that. Pretty cool.

GEORGE: I will, I will say for the period of time that it disappeared, I missed it. We're going to do another episode after this one on some research that was done by Microsoft on the broader Copilot productivity enhancements people got and that kind of stuff. It's not like I saved hours and hours and hours a week just on this piece, but it did absolutely save me time, and you'll see in some of the things we look at here, but Santi threw together a list of things, so I'm going to try some of these as are, as they are in here so you could--

SANTI: Because the idea here is that Copilot in Windows should be able to manipulate your Windows.

GEORGE: We got a little bit of a reboot there.

SANTI: Oh, okay.

GEORGE: Let's give it another try. I'm not sure why we got an error. I don't know what the error was. That's the first time I ever saw an error, but you can see on this, it's giving me instructions on how to do it. It's basically saying it's part of the operating system, "Would you like to switch to dark mode?" Yes. Dark mode.

SANTI: That is very cool.

GEORGE: Same thing. I'll cut this back in and say, "Hey, put me back to light mode." Not a big fan of dark mode, right? It's going to take a look again. It's in the operating system. "Would you like to turn it off?" Yes. We're back. I'm going to add something like, "Hey, I want to add a Bluetooth keyboard." Drop that in.

SANTI: You see it's interacting with the operating system itself. It's not just generating a response, it's the buttons that you click are actually-- There you go. It's bringing you to where you can add a device, and it gives you instructions.

GEORGE: It sees my existing devices. Obviously, you're in the Bluetooth console, but you see these pieces. There's a lot of other additional instructions over here. If you're having a challenge, find them where you're going, it's going to do it.

SANTI: That's pretty awesome.

GEORGE: We've not tested all these on this by the way. We're going to see if all the prompts work, they should. Adjust volume, see what it gives. "Would you like me to set volume level to 50 for you?" I'm going to say no thanks, but clearly, it's going to do it. Record a video. Let's see what this one does.

SANTI: Huh?

GEORGE: We're already recording, but let's see what it may prompt.

SANTI: It may have a conflict because your camera's being used by Teams, so that'd be interesting. It's going to ask you to open up the camera app.

GEORGE: I'm going to say no on that one, but clearly that's going to-- These are easy prompts. A lot of times you'd have been like, "Hey, it's camera. I think I'll go to camera." Yes, volume, maybe it's in my system tray, maybe it's somewhere else." There's users on many of these things-- The dark mode thing, I have no idea where dark mode is, other than being able to ask it, I have no idea. I think I just did record a dictation.

SANTI: Interesting. It's prompted you to do it in Word. See that?

GEORGE: Wow. Interesting.

SANTI: Very interesting.

GEORGE: This is not going to work. I think because we're utilizing the microphone.

SANTI: Correct.

GEORGE: I'm going to skip on that one. Take a screenshot. Let's see, is this going to take a screenshot or is it going to take me to Snip? I suspect.

SANTI: I'm going to suspect probably Snip.

GEORGE: I bet it's going to take the control, whatever screenshot-

SANTI: There it is, "Start Snipping Tool."

GEORGE: -but you are right, it's snipping.

SANTI: Which makes sense because that way you can choose-- Oh, look, it opened it for you. Very cool.

GEORGE: Very hands on that one. Turn off notifications. Let's see. I'm in presentation mode, so it's not going to allow most notifications. Let's see what it prompts us on this one. "Do you want to turn on do not disturb mode?"

SANTI: Oh, very nice. There it is. Then I guess you can turn back on.

GEORGE: Wow. That's awesome.

SANTI: Wait, wait, wait, look at your screen. It gives you suggested follow-up prompts, so now you have a bubble that says, "Okay, so how do I turn back on again?" Not only is it doing it for you and giving you a narrative or a generated response, but it's giving you follow-ups to just the task that the user may want to use. That's pretty cool.

GEORGE: These are things, if you think about it, some of these, I can go in the search box down here, and I can probably get-- [crosstalk]

SANTI: Find it on your own, but here, okay, yes, you can, but you're navigating towards that, whereas here, you're asking a question and it's giving you the answer, yes or no. "Do you want to do it? I'll do it for you." You hit yes, and it does it for you. It is a time saver, because yes, you could search, go to the section of the operating system that does it, find the right button to hit, or just ask it, and it'll give you a yes or no question, you answer, and it changes it for you. I think it's brilliant.

GEORGE: Yes, I do as well. It guides you much closer to the answer than you would typically get to. Now, it's a couple of other features on this, and ways you can use it. One is, it works exactly how Bing works, or ChatGPT, or similar AI tools. I can say, "Create a photo of a dog on a skateboard." I can do this in Bing, I can do this in ChatGPT, but now I can do this in the sidebar. I could be in a PowerPoint deck--

SANTI: You don't lose the connection to ChatGPT and DALLE to create generative responses.

GEORGE: Correct. The value of this from a working standpoint is I'm also not flipping to a browser and then flipping back to a PowerPoint.

SANTI: Because it's persistent.

GEORGE: It's persistent, and I'm able to let it just run on the right-hand side and create an image for me. There we go with the images. Now here's the other interesting thing, I'm going to click on one of these. I'll click on that one.

SANTI: That is pretty cool.

GEORGE: It's probably in my settings somewhere, but this launches Edge.

SANTI: Right. It opens up in Microsoft Edge. You were originally in Chrome, but the image viewing piece defaults to Microsoft Edge. I got you.

GEORGE: This is technically in Designer, which is also a new application that's sort of in testing at the moment. I was playing around with it today. Maybe we'll take a look at that on another episode. You can also then go in here and say something like, "Write a story about a dog on a skateboard."

SANTI: Get a generated answer.

GEORGE: You're going to get it generated there again. The reason why this is helpful, I've pre-tested this, you can be in PowerPoint, you can have a question about PowerPoint, "How do I add a video? How do I add a picture or something else?" The persistent nature of this now lets me do something like this, which is grab part of the text that's over here, still responding, I'm going to have to wait a second on that.

SANTI: It's still generating it.

GEORGE: Let's see if can I copy the picture from here, and just do a simple paste. I can. It gives you the ability to not have to leave PowerPoint to potentially be adjusting text for a presentation-

SANTI: Yes, you're not switching windows. I like it.

GEORGE: -and then also go in like this and just grab the text that's here. I actually did the copy from the keyboard on that, and let's see if I can paste this in here. The answer might be no, so let's do a regular cut over here, see what happens.

SANTI: I think if you stop the responding, maybe.

GEORGE: Yes, you're right. There we go.

SANTI: There we go.

GEORGE: Spot on. It was writing a fairly long story. You could go in here then and take this text down and make it fit and do a bunch of other adjustments. This is not Copilot for PowerPoint.

SANTI: No.

GEORGE: There's a bit of a hybrid use case here where you get some of the functionality that you will get with Copilot for PowerPoint and Word and everything else, but again, the ability to have it persistent on the right-hand side and pretty quickly do things, that's amazing.

SANTI: Can you ask it, "How do I insert a table in a PowerPoint?" I just want to see if it interacts in any way with this PowerPoint.

GEORGE: I think the answer is no, but let's see.

SANTI: Because I think that's the difference between Copilot and Microsoft 365. "Would you like me to open?" Okay, well, it's asking to open up a PowerPoint.

GEORGE: Which we did before, when we played around it. It only opens PowerPoint. It doesn't actually-

SANTI: Do anything.

GEORGE: Do anything.

SANTI: That's the difference between, I think, Microsoft 365 Copilot that is actually embedded inside of the applications versus Copilot for Windows, which is embedded in your operating system, right?

GEORGE: The thing to keep in mind on this is, again, it's persistent. I go to the web and I can search for this, do a regular search, whatever it is, AI-driven or not AI-driven, I get the answer back. Maybe I'm splitting screen, I'm probably splitting screens equally, so now my PowerPoint's really small on the one side of the screen. This is persistent. Again, I have a widescreen monitor, so this works really well.

I have a full working window here with PowerPoint. I've got this little sidebar window with Copilot for Windows. Works really well. This did give me multiple ways to try to figure this out. Gave me a link to a video. It gave me a little bit of text about it. I have to use this in Excel to ask it about formulas. It gives me a lot of detail back on how to create the formulas.

SANTI: Do me a favor. Close the Copilot window. Perfect. Now, can you push on your keyboard the Windows key and the letter C together? Like Windows C. There's your shortcut. All right. Hold on. This is pretty good. You have Copilot embedded in your operating system that interacts directly with your operating system so you can change probably just about any configuration on your operating system through Copilot.

Because it is part of your operating system, it stays persistent, it's opened, and it can help you solve problems in other apps, even though it's not necessarily interacting with those other apps. It's interacting with Windows, but it can give you the answers. You still get chat GPT-4 and DALLE 3 generation for text and images without having to switch Windows.

GEORGE: Correct. That's the, again, you're in here. You're doing all this stuff here.

SANTI: This is yet another productivity hack. This is what this is.

GEORGE: Absolutely. Again, when it had disappeared for a couple of weeks, I hadn't used it much remotely again, because it's a little bit of a different-- It's a tighter view on the screen when you're on a laptop. For the two weeks or so that it was gone, it definitely hurt me from a productivity standpoint, because there's always some little thing in Excel or PowerPoint that I'm trying to figure out and I can't figure it out.

Santi and I are a bit more power users maybe than most users of these apps, but it probably even applies more for non-power users because at times, they're in there and using it, they don't know anything. They're a casual user of the applications. This becomes even more valuable as a support tool.

SANTI: Listen, I think it's awesome. I really hope that they figure out the whole fix so that everybody gets it. I'll be a big user. I'll be definitely a big user of the Windows 11 Copilot.

GEORGE: Whenever it starts working for you.

SANTI: Whenever it starts working for me, yes. Anyway, folks, this brings this episode of Tech UNMUTED to an end. This is a good time to remind you all to subscribe to Tech UNMUTED on your favorite podcast platform, including YouTube, if you like the visual. Until next time, folks, remember this, stay curious, stay connected.

CLOSING VOICEOVER: Visit www.fusionconnect.com/techunmuted for show notes and more episodes. Thanks for listening.


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Produced by: Fusion Connect

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Tech UNMUTED, the podcast of modern collaboration, where we tell the stories of how collaboration tools enable businesses to be more efficient and connected. Humans have collaborated since the beginning of time – we’re wired to work together to solve complex problems, brainstorm novel solutions and build a connected community. On Tech UNMUTED, we’ll cover the latest industry trends and dive into real-world examples of how technology is inspiring businesses and communities to be more efficient and connected. Tune in to learn how today's table-stakes technologies are fostering a collaborative culture, serving as the anchor for exceptional customer service.

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