Windows 11 gets new Start menu mobile sidebar and inferior Copilot app (preview)

Three new preview builds of Windows 11 roll out in the Release Preview, Beta, and Canary Channels.

Start menu sidebar
Start menu sidebar / Image: Mauro Huculak
  • Microsoft continues the rollout of the new Copilot app in the Beta and Release Preview Channels.
  • The Beta Channel updates the Start menu with a new mobile sidebar to access your phone features.
  • This wave of updates also rolls out new fixes and improvements for the different Insider channels.

UPDATED 6/24/2024: Microsoft has made available several previews of Windows 11 in the Release Preview, Beta, and Canary channels, including build 26100.994 for version 24H2, build 22635.3790, and build 26241 with various improvements, fixes, and new features.

According to the official changes in the Beta Channel for version 23H2, the company released build 22635.3790 as the update KB5039307 with the Copilot app experience and an updated version of the Phone Link app that enables a new Start menu floating sidebar to access your phone notifications and contacts. The chatbot AI app is also rolling out for build 22635.3785 (KB5039319), which the company rolled out on June 14.

In the Release Preview Channel, Microsoft made available the build 26100.994 as the update KB5039304 for version 24H2. However, this update doesn’t include new features. Instead, it rolls out a number of fixes.

In the same channel, versions 22H2 and 23H2, the company is pushing the new Copilot app experience as part of the build 22621.3807 and 22631.3807 releases, which the company pushed to Insider on June 13.

Finally, in the Canary Channel, Microsoft made available build 26241 for Windows 11 with various fixes.

New Copilot app

As part of the Copilot experience for Windows 11, Microsoft is stripping out the chatbot AI integration from the operating system and replacing it with a new web app with a new interface similar to ChatGPT web experience.

New Copilot app for 2024 / Image: Mauro Huculak
New Copilot app for 2024 / Image: Mauro Huculak

The new app experience means you can resize and drag the application across the desktop. You can uninstall the Copilot app from Windows 11 more easily. And you will continue to have access to the chatbot powered by the latest language model from OpenAI.

The downside is that this new integration removes the ability to change settings with the chatbot, and the app will lose the dedicated “Copilot” shortcut, which puts in question the new “Copilot” key that the company has been touting for keyboards on new devices.

It’s important to note that while Microsoft is changing the integration, it doesn’t mean that Copilot will have the same fate as Cortana. As part of version 24H2, the operating system includes a new Windows Copilot Runtime that bundles more than 40 language models that run simultaneously to provide different AI experiences. Also, Microsoft is working on “Copilot suggestions,” a new feature that brings Copilot to apps like the Settings app, File Explorer, Photos, and others.

Settings with Copilot suggestions
Settings with Copilot suggestions / Image: Microsoft

In other words, in future updates, for example, in the Settings app, you will find the chatbot offering help to change settings and fix problems. In File Explorer, you will be able to use Copilot to perform different tasks, such as removing the background from an image with a few clicks and more.

Start menu with Phone Link sidebar

In the Beta Channel, Microsoft is updating the Phone Link experience with a new sidebar on the Start menu’s right side.

Start menu mobile sidebar
Start menu mobile sidebar / Image: Mauro Huculak

This feature is intended to make it easy to connect to your phone, including notifications and access to your photos, messages, and calls, once you connect your phone with the Phone Link app. However, these are only shortcuts to access the specific feature inside the Phone Link app.

As a result of this new implementation, the “Start” page in the Settings app includes a new “Show mobile device in Start” option that allows you to turn the sidebar on or off in the Start menu.

Start settings with sidebar option
Start settings with sidebar option / Image: Mauro Huculak

Currently, the feature is available for Android devices, but the company plans to support iPhone devices in future updates.

Also, you must be running Windows 11 build 22635.3790 and the Phone Link version 1.24052.124.0 or higher releases.

Microsoft is rolling out the mobile sidebar gradually, but you may enable it manually using the ViveTool (via @PhantomOfEarth) by running the vivetool /enable /id:48433719,48697323 command.

Taskbar System Tray new settings

On build 22635.3790, it was also discovered that the Taskbar is getting two additional improvements, including the ability to shorten the time and date, and you will soon be able to hide the bell icon from the System Tray.

The new options will appear on Settings > Personalization > Taskbar > Taskbar behaviors. In the section, you will have to check the “Show shortened time and date” option to show only hours and minutes without the AM or PM annotation and month and day without the year.

Taskbar shortened time and date and bell icon settings
Taskbar shortened time and date and bell icon settings / Image: Mauro Huculak

If you don’t want the notification bell to appear, you must clear the “Show notifications bell icon” option.

Taskbar with short time and date and no bell icon
Taskbar with short time and date and no bell icon / Image: Mauro Huculak

Microsoft is still working on these features, and they’re not enabled by default, but you can force them using the ViveTool and running the vivetool /enable /id:48525682 command to enable the shortened time and date and the vivetool /enable /id:49082522 to enable the option to disable the bell icon.

Open With changes

In addition, in the Beta Channel, when you right-click a file and choose the “Open With” option, the top recommended apps will appear in the list, but there’s an additional collapsable “More apps” menu to show more compatible apps to open a specific file.

Open With new menu
Open With new menu / Image: Mauro Huculak

The company is still working on this feature, so it’s disabled by default, but you can force it using the ViveTool and run the vivetool /enable /id:41118774,51339492 command

File Explorer drag-and-drop files

Starting on build 26241 in the Canary Channel, Microsoft is restoring the legacy functionality that allows you to drag and drop in the address bar’s breadcrumb to move files and folders between folders within the same path.

File Explorer drag and drop file in address bar
File Explorer drag and drop file in address bar

The company has already made this feature available in the Beta Channel.

In addition, File Explorer has also been updated with a new thin border to make it easier to note you have selected an item.

In the Canary Channel, build 26241 also releases fixes for the Taskbar, File Explorer, and notifications.

Windows 11 build 26100.994 fixes

As part of version 24H2, Microsoft has also released the preview build 26100.994 (KB5039304), which includes various fixes affecting Windows Defender Application Control (WDAC) and Unified Write Filter (UWF).

The update also fixes stutters for some animations and updates the Country and Operator Settings Asset (COSA) profiles for specific mobile operators.

Install builds

To download and install these Windows 11 builds, enroll your device in the Release Preview, Beta, or Canary Channels through the “Windows Insider Program” settings from the “Update & Security” section. Once you enroll the computer in the program, you can download the build from the “Windows Update” settings by turning on the “Get the latest updates as soon as they’re available” option and clicking the “Check for Updates” button.

Update June 24, 2024: This page has been updated to ensure accuracy and include the latest information.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 15 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 21 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].