Wednesday Newsbytes: Microsoft Co-Pilot – All You Need to Know; Why I Won’t Use Microsoft Co-Pilot; Edge Changes Users’ Passwords; Windows 11 Paint App Getting Layers, Transparency & AI … and more!
Every day we scan the tech world for interesting news in the world of technology and sometimes from outside the world of technology. Every Wednesday, we feature news articles that grabbed our attention over the past week. We hope you find this week’s ‘Wednesday Newsbytes’ informative and interesting!
“The most powerful digital assistant on Earth”
Is Microsoft Copilot a productivity powerhouse or the harbinger of the AI uprising? Only alien archeologists picking through the charred remains of our planet will know for certain. For now, though, we’ll just have to take Microsoft for their word when they tell us it’s the most powerful digital assistant on Earth.
Part workday wingman, part natural language command prompt, and part creepy desktop stalker. Microsoft Copilot is your new Windows companion – designed to make your life easier by reducing your cognitive load when it comes to your computing hours.
But what is it? Where does it come from? What can it do? And, can it be trusted? Let’s take a closer look.
In 2019, Microsoft invested a sizable sum into OpenAI — a research and deployment company founded by Elon Musk and Sam Altman, which was seeking to develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) to benefit humanity.
In 2020, OpenAI developed Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3), a neural network-like Large Language Model (LLM) that makes use of machine learning to accurately process and replicate human-like language…
A lot of Microsoft’s September event was dedicated to Copilot, Bing Chat, and other AI-driven features. In a way, the updates made to laptops like the Surface Laptop Studio 2 almost felt like an afterthought. It was a real AI fest — and no wonder, as Microsoft has certainly created something bragworthy.
Despite how impressive Copilot seems to be, I can’t see myself actually using it. It’s a neat party trick, but my concerns with the AI outweigh any upsides it might have.
I’d heard a bit about Microsoft’s Copilot before learning more during the September event, but in my mind, it felt like yet another ChatGPT — fun, but I’ve seen it all before at this point. The last year has been oversaturated with new AI tech to the point where I can feel myself losing excitement at the thought of all these recent developments…
It’s not just you. Microsoft’s bug or update quietly changed saved passwords in Edge on Windows 11, iOS and other devices to GUID-like serial key strings, confusing the community. This change has allegedly made saved passwords useless for copying and pasting into other apps or websites.
For example, if your saved password for Facebook is “Hello@123”, it would appear as “6B29FC40-CA47-1067-B31D-00DD010662DA” when you try to view the saved password in Microsoft Edge.
As you probably know, Microsoft Edge’s saved passwords are stored and encrypted on the Microsoft servers and synced across your device in real-time. These passwords are also cached onto the local folder for Edge, and only Microsoft can read the data in the folder or on the server.
You can view all the passwords saved to that profile from the passwords page in the profile settings. From there, you view your saved passwords by clicking the eye icon in the list and clearing a security challenge (enter password or PIN and use facial recognition).
After clicking the eye icon, you can see the password. The process is as simple as that, but that’s no longer true after recent server-side updates…
Microsoft to supercharge Paint with layers, transparency, and AI
Windows 11’s Paint app is set for some major upgrades which have been seen coming through in testing right now.
And when we say major changes, we really mean big new avenues of exploration for Microsoft, the most tantalizing of which is the introduction of a layers feature for Paint compositions.
This new addition was revealed in a blog post that notes the Paint app in the Canary and Dev testing channels now has the feature (version 11.2308.18.0 or higher).
Layers mean you can use multiple layers in one image, with different elements placed in different layers. Those layers can be shown or hidden, worked on separately, and indeed merged together if needed, for a more flexible and advanced way of editing any given image.
There’s a Layer button in the Paint app’s toolbar, and you can work with the feature by clicking it (whereby a side panel pops up showing the different layers that you add).
A new transparency effect has been brought in, too, with a checkboard pattern representing parts of an image that are transparent. Paint will also let you open (and save out) transparent PNG image files…
Google Bard, the search giant’s conversational AI product, underwent a big update last week that earned mixed reviews. But this week, another, older Bard feature is coming under scrutiny: SEO consultant Gagan Ghotra observed that Google Search had begun to index shared Bard conversational links into its search results pages, potentially exposing information users meant to be kept contained or confidential.
This means that if a person used Bard to ask it a question — possibly even a question related to the contents of their private emails — then shared the link with a designated third-party, say, their spouse, friend or business partner, the conversation accessible at that link could in turn be scraped by Google’s crawler and show up publicly, to the entire world, in its Search Results…
Soon you can log into your sites and apps using your device, rather than a password.
Whether you use a Mac or PC, iPhone or Android, you likely have a lot of passwords to deal with. Even if you make all those passwords strong and unique (which many of us don’t), it’s still a vulnerable form of authentication. If a company has a data breach, your password is out there for bad actors to find and use.
Sure, adding two-factor authentication to the mix dramatically improves your security, but between using a password manager and setting up 2FA for all your accounts, it gets complicated fast. Companies in big tech, like Microsoft, see a better way, and a path to eventually kill off passwords for good: passkeys.
What are passkeys?
Passkeys are fundamentally more secure (and convenient) than passwords. Instead of coming up with a series of characters that unlocks access to a device or account, your device becomes the key to unlocking those things, relying on the built-in authentication to prove your identity. It’s like the best of two-factor authentication, except more secure…
Thanks for reading this week’s Wednesday Newbytes. We hope these articles were informative, interesting, fun, and helpful. Darcy & TC