Microsoft Copilot is what Google Assistant on ChromeOS should have been
AI is coming to Windows 11, but it should've come to Chromebooks first.
You might not have known this, as it's not usually in the wheelhouse here at Android Central, but the Microsoft Build developer conference is currently taking place. As you might suspect, there's a lot of talk surrounding AI and how Microsoft is planning to integrate Bing Chat into different pieces of software.
There are a lot of things that we could dissect about what is being announced at Build, but we'll leave that for our compadres over at Windows Central. What grabbed my attention was the announcement of Microsoft Copilot, which is slated to arrive in Windows 11 later this year.
Microsoft Copilot essentially seems to be a reincarnated version of Cortana, and is described as "centralized AI assistance for customers." Once it's made available, Copilot will be accessible from a button on the taskbar and will be able to do everything from ask it questions, switch over to dark mode, and much more.
As for the "much more" part, Copilot isn't just for interacting with the system settings on Windows 11. But it's basically Microsoft's way of bringing Bing Chat to the masses, without needing to open up Microsoft Edge or another app. So you'll be able to ask it a quick question and get an answer, right from the Copilot sidebar.
So where does ChromeOS fall into this? You can already access Assistant and Search using the Everything button on your Chromebook, but there are still a few limitations. For one, Copilot is also bringing the new Bing Chat plugins that have recently been announced. Once available, you could use Copilot to order yourself some dinner, or ask it for some playlist recommendations, then have Spotify open the one that you chose.
None of this is possible with what you can do with Chromebooks and ChromeOS, and we can't help but feel as though Google fell behind a bit. Of course, it's not like Google won't be able to implement these kinds of things.
At I/O 2023, Google had a lot to say about AI but instead focused more on how it plans to integrate Bard into its own Workspace apps. Bard is also being upgraded in a few other ways, as Google is also planning to offer plugins for its users.
Where Microsoft already has a leg up is that in addition to announcing Copilot and plugins for Bing Chat, these will be available sooner than you might expect. The company is expected to launch Copilot for Windows 11 sometime in June, which will likely coincide when Bing Chat will gain plugin integration.
I really can't help but feel as though Google missed an opportunity, compounded by the fact that ChromeOS wasn't even mentioned on stage at I/O. Instead, the only news we learned about Google's operating system was App Streaming, which is something that's already possible on Windows if you have a Samsung phone via Link to Windows.
In some regards, Google's decision to "play it safe" with all of these innovations in the AI space is the right one. At least when it comes to ethics and making sure that these types of tools are actually ready for the consumer world. But it's tough to ignore what Microsoft is doing with Bing Chat, let alone with what's already possible with ChatGPT. Hopefully, Google is taking notes, and we see similar functionality on Chromebooks and ChromeOS in the future.
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Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.