Windows 10 is back, and it’s getting Microsoft’s AI-powered Copilot assistant

Key Takeaways:

– Windows 11 has brought significant updates to Windows apps and features
– Windows 10, still the most-used version of Windows, has not received many of these updates
– Microsoft is backporting the AI-powered Windows Copilot feature from Windows 11 to Windows 10
– The Windows 10 version of Copilot will be available for Home and Pro versions, but not for managed versions
– Copilot will require a PC with 4GB of RAM and at least a 720p display to run
– It will roll out to North America and parts of Asia and South America first, then to other countries over time
– The Windows 10 version of Copilot can change system settings and work with documents
– The update also includes bug fixes and a toggle for automatic preview updates
– Windows 10’s support timeline remains unchanged, with security updates ending in October 2025
– Windows 11 adoption is exceeding Microsoft’s internal targets, but many Windows 10 PCs will be left behind due to system requirements
– Windows 10 still accounts for over two-thirds of active Windows installs
– Extending Copilot to Windows 10 allows Microsoft to reach more users and expand its AI efforts.

Ars Technica:

Microsoft

In the last two years, Windows 11 has ushered in significant updates for most of Windows’ built-in apps, and things like the system tray, Start menu, Settings app, and taskbar have continuously evolved with each new update. But few of these changes have been made available for Windows 10, which is still, by every publicly available metric, the most-used version of Windows on the planet. (Notable exceptions include the redesigned Outlook app and continued development of Microsoft Edge.)

Today, the company is making a major exception: The new AI-powered Windows Copilot feature from Windows 11 is being backported to Windows 10 and will be available in the Windows Insider Release Preview channel for Windows 10. This version of Copilot, which will be branded as a preview at first, will be available for the Home and Pro versions of Windows 10. But it won’t be available for the “managed” versions of Windows 10 just yet—Enterprise and Education editions, as well as Pro PCs that are joined to a domain or are otherwise managed by an IT department.

“We are hearing great feedback on Copilot in Windows (in preview) and we want to extend that value to more people,” writes Microsoft in a separate blog post. “For this reason, we are revisiting our approach to Windows 10 and will be making additional investments to make sure everyone can get the maximum value from their Windows PC including Copilot in Windows (in preview).”

The Windows 10 version of Copilot will require a PC with 4GB of RAM and at least a 720p display to run; all Windows 11 PCs meet these requirements, so Microsoft didn’t need to define these minimums before now. The feature will roll out to North American users and those in “parts of Asia and South America” first and then to other countries “over time.”

Microsoft’s blog post is a bit light on what Copilot for Windows 10 can actually do. The Windows 11 version can change various system settings and work with documents stored on your PC; the screenshot Microsoft has shared of the Windows 10 version looks mostly focused on Bing Chat-style, ChatGPT-powered text generation.

The Windows 10 November preview update that includes Copilot also makes a few other small changes, including a long list of bug fixes. It also includes Windows 11’s “get the latest updates as soon as they’re available” toggle in Windows Update, which when enabled will install preview updates automatically rather than making you do it manually.

Though this is the biggest update that Microsoft has released for Windows 10 since Windows 11 replaced it in late 2021, it doesn’t change anything about Windows 10’s broader support timeline. Version 22H2 remains the last major update available for the OS, and security updates are still scheduled to end on October 14, 2025, less than two years from today. Microsoft representatives avoided answering questions about Windows 10’s persistently high usage and the number of PCs that would be unable to upgrade, only saying that Windows 11 adoption was exceeding Microsoft’s internal targets.

Though some of those PCs will be able to upgrade to Windows 11 to continue getting security updates, the newer operating system’s more stringent system requirements leave a substantial chunk of Windows 10 PCs behind. It’s not clear just how many PCs that is, but Windows 11’s adoption has slowed in recent months and Windows 10 is still by far the most-used version of the operating system.

Even though Windows 10’s end-of-support date is creeping up on us, it’s easy to see why Microsoft is extending Copilot support to the older OS. According to Statcounter data for US PCs and devices worldwide, Windows 10 still accounts for over two-thirds of active Windows installs. These users can access some AI functions via the version of Copilot that’s built into Microsoft Edge, but Edge only accounts for around 10 percent of all desktop browsing in the US.

Extending Copilot to Windows 10 is a way to get the service in front of many users who otherwise wouldn’t access it. And for better or worse, that’s been Microsoft’s strategy for 2023: casting as wide a net as possible with its AI efforts, getting them in as many of its products as possible as quickly as possible.

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AI Eclipse TLDR:

Microsoft is backporting the AI-powered Windows Copilot feature from Windows 11 to Windows 10. This feature, which will be available in the Windows Insider Release Preview channel, will be branded as a preview at first and will be available for the Home and Pro versions of Windows 10. However, it will not be available for the “managed” versions of Windows 10, such as Enterprise and Education editions. Microsoft stated that they are revisiting their approach to Windows 10 to ensure that everyone can get the maximum value from their Windows PC, including Copilot in Windows (in preview). The Windows 10 version of Copilot will have certain system requirements, including a PC with 4GB of RAM and at least a 720p display. The feature will initially roll out to North American users and those in parts of Asia and South America before expanding to other countries over time. The exact capabilities of Copilot for Windows 10 are not fully disclosed in Microsoft’s blog post, but the Windows 11 version can change system settings and work with documents stored on the PC. The Windows 10 November preview update that includes Copilot also includes other small changes and bug fixes. However, this update does not change Windows 10’s broader support timeline, and security updates for Windows 10 are still scheduled to end on October 14, 2025. Microsoft representatives did not provide specific details on the number of PCs that would be unable to upgrade to Windows 11, but Windows 10 still accounts for over two-thirds of active Windows installs, according to Statcounter data. Extending Copilot support to Windows 10 allows Microsoft to reach a wider user base and provide AI functions to users who may not have access to them through other means.