Windows 11 speech recognition feature gets ditched in September 2024 – but only because there’s something better

Windows 11’s voice functionality is being fully switched over to the new Voice Access feature later this year, and we now have a date for when the old system – Windows Speech Recognition (WSR) – will be officially ditched from the OS.

The date for the replacement of WSR by Voice Access has been announced as September 2024 in a Microsoft support document (as Windows Latest noticed). Note that the change will be ‘starting’ in that month, so will take further time to roll out to all Windows 11 PCs.

However, there’s a wrinkle here, in that this is the case for Windows 11 22H2 and 23H2 users, which means those still on Windows 11 21H2 – the original version of the OS – won’t have WSR removed from their system.

Windows 10 users will still have WSR, of course, as Voice Access is a Windows 11-only feature.

Analysis: WSR to go MIA, but it’s A-OK (for the most part)

This move is no surprise as Microsoft removed Windows Speech Recognition from Windows 11 preview builds back at the end of 2023. So, this change was always going to come through for release versions of Windows 11, it was just a question of when – and now we know.

Will the jettisoning of WSR mean this feature is missed by Windows 11 users? Well, no, not really, because its replacement, Voice Access, is so much better in pretty much every respect. It is leaps and bounds ahead of WSR, in fact, with useful new features being added all the time – such as the ability to concoct your own customized voice shortcuts (a real timesaver).

In that respect, there’s no real need to worry about the transition from WSR to Voice Access – the only potential thorny issue comes with language support. WSR offers a whole lot more in this respect, because it has been around a long time.

However, Voice Access is getting more languages added in the Moment 5 update. And in six months’ time, when WSR is officially canned (or that process begins), we’ll probably have Windows 11 24H2 rolling out, or it’ll be imminent, and we’d expect Voice Access to have its language roster even more filled out at the point.

Those on Windows 11 21H2 will be able to stick with WSR as observed, but then there’s only a very small niche of users left on that OS, as Microsoft has been rolling out an automatic forced upgrade for 21H2 for some time now. (Indeed, this is now happening for 22H2 as of a few weeks ago). Barely anyone should remain on 21H2 at this point, we’d imagine, and those who are might be stuck there due to a Windows update bug, or oversight during the automated rollout.

Windows 10 users will continue with WSR as it’s their only option, but as a deprecated feature, it won’t receive any further work or upgrades going forward. That’s another good reason why Windows 11 users should want to upgrade to Voice Access which is being actively developed at quite some pace.

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Google I/O 2024 will take place on May 14 – here’s what to expect

The big day has been set: Google I/O 2024 will kick off on Tuesday, May 14 at 10am PST (1pm ET / 6pm BST) and continue into the following day.

Assuming history repeats itself, the keynote will be hosted by CEO Sundar Pichai at the Shoreline Amphitheatre up in Mountain View, California. That’s where last year’s event took place and the year before that. It’ll be broadcast in front of a live studio audience, and of course everyone will be able to watch the event as it unfolds via livestream.

No one knows what will be revealed at Google I/O 2024. The tech giant suddenly dropped the news out of blue after posting an interactive puzzle game on its website. But despite the limited information, we can speculate about what we might see at the event, because the company has been dropping hints these past few months or so. 

Potential Gemini updates 

The most obvious pick here is artificial intelligence. Even though we’re only about a quarter in, 2024 has been a big year for Google AI. We saw the launch of the Gemini models, the brand’s very own LLM, as well as the rebranding of several other AIs under the Gemini moniker. Expect to see multiple demonstrations of what the tech will be able do in the near future. We could also find out more information on the mysterious Gemma, which is slated to be the open-source version of big brother Gemini.

It’s possible Pichar, or one of the hosts, will talk about improving their AI’s performance. If you’re not aware, Gemini has had some issues lately regarding, shall we say, inaccurate depictions of ethnic groups. Plus, hallucinations remain a problem.

Google Gemini AI

(Image credit: Google)

New hardware and Android 15's debut

When it comes to hardware, Google I/O 2024 will most likely see the debut of the midrange Pixel 8A. I/O 2023 saw the reveal of the Pixel 7a, so it makes sense that the company will repeat the trick with its successor. 

Recent leaks claim the smartphone will run on the Tensor 3 chipset and that the Pixel 8a will be a little bigger than the previous generation. Certain aspects of the Pixel 8a's potential design do concern us, like the large bezels around the display.

We should also expect to see the full debut of Android 15. Mid-February saw the launch of the Android 15 developer preview, giving the world its first opportunity to get its hands on the upcoming OS. Very little is known about the OS, but we are expecting to see lock screen widgets make their long-awaited return plus the ability to save pairs of apps, among other things. 

Google Pixel 8 review back angled case

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

We're almost certain to see new AI developments, the Pixel 8a and Android 15 at Google I/O 2024, but elsewhere we're very much in speculation territory. 

For instance, we could see the reveal of new hardware like the Pixel Watch 3 or something, but don’t hold your breath. As our sister site Tom's Guide points out, the Pixel Watch 2 wasn’t announced at I/O 2023; it was instead unveiled during the Made By Google event in October. 

Same goes for the Pixel Tablet 2. The company is probably holding onto that for another day. If anything, I/O 2024 will feature smaller changes to other Google products. New Workspace tools, new Android 14 features, things of that nature. Nothing too crazy. It’s going to be Gemini’s day in the sun.

Online registration for the event is open and free for everyone. It lets you stay up-to-date on the schedule and what content will show up. Be aware that registering will require you to make a developer profile for Google, though.

There's still two month away. In the meantime, check out TechRadar's list of the best Pixel phones for 2024.

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Windows 11’s ‘February 2024 Moment’ update is bringing new AI and accessibility features – plus no more Bing blackmail (for some people)

The next major update for Windows 11 is expected to arrive at end of February, and what awaits users includes artificial intelligence (AI) tools for organising your desktop, being able to disable Bing in Windows Search (if you’re in the EU), the ability to uninstall Microsoft Edge (again, EU only), Notepad updates, and more. 

This Windows 11 update has been dubbed “Moment 5” and “February 2024 Moment” (the latter being the name that Microsoft uses internally).

While this update will deliver some new features and tweaks, this update is primarily aimed at making Windows 11 compliant with new legislation from the European Union, the Digital Markets Act (DMA). Mozilla recently published a report accusing Microsoft of using “dark patterns” and bad market competition practices with regard to browser choice, so at least in the EU, this situation will slightly improve. 

What Windows 11 users can look forward to and when

Some of the updates that are coming with Moment 5 update include improvements to Windows 365’s Cloud PC integration, built-in accessibility features in Windows 11, an option to remove news from the Widgets Board, and the capability to remove Bing from the Windows Search pane (if you're in the EU). These features are expected to be previewed in late February 2024 or the beginning of March 2024. 

This is all we know about Moment 5 at the moment, according to Windows Central, and we will continue to watch and report new information about the upcoming update as we have it. Going by the internal name given to the update, “February 2024 Moment,” it’s not expected to stretch into March, and Windows Central  suggests that users will be able to install this update as of February 27, 2024. 

You can try out this update out for yourself (if it’s available on the forecasted date) by doing the following: 

1. Go to your PC’s Settings app. 

2. In the left-hand menu, select Windows Update

3. In the resulting menu, click on the Check for updates button

This will prompt Windows to search for any freshly released available updates. If it finds them, it’ll automatically download and install them on your device. 

Windows 11 Update showing on laptop in an office

(Image credit: TechRadar)

EU-phoria for certain Windows 11 users

This update is good news for users in the EU, with them now being able to disable Bing in Windows Search and choose a different search provider in its place, and uninstall preinstalled apps like Microsoft Edge. It’s certainly a win for Windows 11 users in the EU and a cause for envy from the rest of us – they’re getting more choice and they’re gaining more control over their computers.

It’s not just Microsoft that’s being accused of anti-competitive practices. Mozilla and Google also recently called out Apple for not going far enough with its new rules and regulations that have come about as a result of the DMA, and, somewhat similarly to Microsoft, in engaging in poor browser market competition practices. 

Users have been complaining about Microsoft’s persistent and annoying efforts to try and get them to switch to its browser Edge, and at least for EU users, this will now hopefully end – or at least become less aggressive. The rest of us, however, will have to wait and hope for our governments to follow. 


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The 5 best VR headset and AR glasses announcements at CES 2024

Every January, the Las Vegas convention centers are full to the brim with exciting new tech for CES, and that’s no different for CES 2024. And what tech is more exciting than the best VR headsets and AR glasses?

We scoured CES 2024 for the best VR and AR tech announcements. We drove in AR-powered cars, tested a bunch of different glasses, and even subjected ourselves to a haptic suit.

It was all worth it, though, to find five fantastic gadgets for this CES 2024 round-up. 

If you want to check out more of the awesome tech showcased at CES, we’ve got a guide to the 20 best gadgets of CES 2024 and the best wearable and fitness tech of CES 2024.

1. New Qualcomm XR2+ chip

This isn’t a VR headset, and, technically, it was revealed before CES, but we’re including it here because Qualcomm gave us a more in-depth look at the Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 2 at the Las Vegas tech convention. This chipset is going to feature in a number of the best VR headsets we see released in the next few years.

Key Snapdragon XR2 Plus Gen 2 specs, including that it has support fo 4.3k displays, 8x better AI performance, and 2.5x better GPU performance

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

This powerful successor to the XR2+ Gen 1 found in the Meta Quest Pro will power the next generation of enterprise headsets. This includes the Samsung VR headset being developed in partnership with Google.

In practical terms, the chipset can support displays up to 4.3K resolution per eye running at 90Hz, boasts a 2.5x better GPU performance than the XR2 Gen 2 found in the Meta Quest 3, and has 8x better AI performance. It can also support Wi-Fi 7 and full-color mixed reality passthrough.

Qualcomm is currently the name in the XR chipset game, and we expect the XR2+ Gen 2 will only further cement its position. And it might help rival XR gadgets prove they're just as capable as the Apple Vision Pro.

2. Asus AirVision M1 glasses 

Speaking of Apple, this year’s CES prize for the gadget that sounds most like a knockoff Apple product goes to the AirVision M1 glasses from Asus.

A mannequin wearing the Asus AirVision M1 while looking at AR spreadsheets floating in front of them

(Image credit: Asus)

The name might be reminiscent of the Vision Pro – sprinkling in aspects of the iPad Air and Apple’s M1 chipset found in some iPads and Macbooks – but is almost completely unrelated to Apple’s hardware. The only minor similarity is that these specs are a wearable AR display. 

The Asus glasses don’t function on their own; you need to plug them into a compatible phone or computer with a USB-C display port (meaning it can output video and audio through USB-C). These kinds of gadgets are admittedly a lot of fun, but our experience with them is that they’re still pretty pricey for what you get. The resolution is only full-HD, and you often need to buy several not-so-optional add-ons to get the most out of your experience – raising the price above the usual $ 400 / £400 / AU$ 600  price you already pay for smart spectacles.

We haven’t yet tried the Asus AirVision M1 glasses – nor do we know what regions they’ll be available in or when the launch date is – so we’ll reserve judgment on them for now. But if you’re after a pair of specs that lives up to what you expect from “AR glasses” the next item on this list might be a better pick.

3. Xreal Air 2 Ultra 

The Xreal Air 2 Ultra floating in front of a black background wqith the word 'Xreal' below them in red

(Image credit: Xreal)

Xreal makes some of our favorite smart glasses – you can find out more about the AR specs it made before in our Xreal Air review and Xreal Air 2 Pro review – and at CES 2024, it debuted something that promises to be even better than what we’ve seen from it in the past.

The Xreal Air 2 Ultra goes beyond simply projecting an AR screen in your real-world space like its predecessors. It’s a proper spatial computer complete with a camera – so the device can track your hands and identify real-world objects that virtual elements can interact with. 

However, while the glasses sound a lot like the Apple Vision Pro there’s one downside – you need an external device to power them. Specifically, Xreal lists only the Samsung Galaxy S22, the Samsung Galaxy S23, and a “custom computing unit” that is yet to be released as the gadgets fit for the job. If you aren’t interested in spatial computing you could use them as a wearable full-HD display for any gadget with a USB-C display port.

On the flip side, even if you buy a new Samsung phone, you could get a whole Xreal spatial computing package for around $ 1,000 / £1,100 if you can find a Galaxy S22 on sale. This is less than a third of the price of the $ 3,499 Apple Vision Pro – though it is a lot pricier than the $ 499.99 / £479.99 / AU$ 799.99 Meta Quest 3.

We don’t yet know how well this Air 2 Ultra experience compares to its rivals, but if it can deliver a solid experience Xreal could be on to a winner.

4. AR glasses in a car 

BMW AR Experience

My ride. (Image credit: Future)

BMW has been finding ways to bring XR tech to cars for a while. We’ve previously seen its efforts to bring VR offices and entertainment on your travels so car passengers can do more with their journey, but its CES 2024 demo centered on drivers.

Thanks to a pair of Xreal Air 2 glasses, we saw AR directions that guided us through the streets of Las Vegas (for the demo, we were in the passenger seat while someone else drove). We could also see warnings about upcoming potholes, stop signs, and how much charge the electric vehicle had left.

This was all just a very well-made research pilot to help inform the future of driving tech. But the BMW AR experience sold us on the idea, so we hope this kind of tech isn’t too far from being more than just a prototype. 

5. Sony’s enterprise headset 

Siemens Sony headset

(Image credit: Siemens)

Most people think of entertainment when they think of VR, but there’s a huge push to bring more XR gadgets to industry – a trend that the newly announced Sony XR headset continues.

Created in partnership with Siemens, the device is designed to help companies bring more stages of production – in particular, design and prototyping – into the metaverse. Using the headset, they can produce and analyze 3D models of their designs and diagnose any issues before investing in real-world prototypes.

In general, the headset looks pretty standard, but it does feature an odd pair of handsets. One is a more traditionally shaped VR controller, while the other is a ring. The advantages of this setup are that you have a hand free to more easily interact with real-world objects, and you can get hands-on with virtual objects while still having the convenience of buttons on a controller.

There’s not much more to say about the headset for now, but given its standalone design maybe it’ll pave the way for a successor to the PSVR 2 headset that’s no longer tethered to a PlayStation console.

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Windows 10 gets security boost and bug fixes in Microsoft’s first big update of 2024

Microsoft might be pushing forward with integrating AI into as many aspects of Windows 11 as possible, but it’s not totally forgotten about Windows 10 users. The older version of Windows continues to be very popular among Windows’ user base, and fortunately for them, Microsoft has just released update KB5034122 for Windows 10 that brings an array of bug fixes and serious security upgrades. 

Two of the bugs that the update addresses are to do with smart card usage and an issue with scroll bars. Maybe not the most thrilling updates, but this is pretty in line with Microsoft’s messaging about Windows 10. 

According to the tech titan, it’s more or less closed up shop when it comes to working on significant new features for Windows 10 and users shouldn’t expect to see any major changes in the future. Update KB5034122 serves as evidence of this with it being mostly maintenance and fixes from Microsoft, but let’s not forget that Microsoft’s shiny new all-in-one AI assistant, Windows Copilot, was made available to Windows 10 users last year. We’ll have to see if Copilot will see upgrades and improvements in Windows 10 considering that its current functionality is fairly limited.

Microsoft Teams copilot

(Image credit: Microsoft Teams)

What's new in update KB5034122

This update tackles security issues, as well as a quality upgrade to Windows 10’s servicing stack, the Windows component that enables users to install Windows updates. Microsoft also gives more details about the bug fixes that are included in this update: 

You can find a full rundown of what this update addresses on Microsoft’s Support blog, and it does make note of some known issues that still exist in this version of Windows 10 and gives suggested workarounds with instructions. It follows up each workaround for each presently-existing problem with the following statement to reassure Windows 10 users: 

We are working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release.

KB5034122 should be prompted for install on Windows 10 devices automatically because it’s a security update, but if for whatever reason your Windows 10 device has not downloaded it already, you can download it manually. You should definitely do this as it’s important to have the most up to date security fixes no matter what Windows version you use, and you can get it from the Microsoft Update Catalog

Good for Microsoft for keeping an eye on Windows 10 and recognizing that it remains a fan favorite. However, it’s clearly determined to get as much use out of its investment and collaboration with OpenAI, utilising GPT technology however it can.

Recently, Windows watchers have spotted that Notepad is getting a ChatGPT-powered writing assistant and text editing AI tool, with some users expressing that they’d rather Notepad stayed the simple, straightforward app that it came to be known as. Perhaps as Microsoft goes down the path of ramping up AI integration, Windows 10 will be a refuge option for those that want their operating system and apps to be a little less intelligent. 


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HP leaks Windows 11 2024 update with new Wi-Fi 7 and Copilot 2.0 capabilities… but where’s Windows 12?

If Windows 12 (or whatever Microsoft ends up naming it) exists, hardware manufacturer HP is keeping its lips sealed, but it has given us a peek at the next version of Windows 11 it seems.

We thought that we might have seen the last major update to Windows 11 last year, version 23H2, but it looks like that’s not the case. HP has published new documentation that makes references to “Windows 11 2024 Update” and “24H2”, which has Windows enthusiasts buzzing.

HP released spec sheets for its newest Spectre laptops and 2-in-1 PCs, and makes several mentions of the Windows 11 2024 Update, suggesting that it exists and it's coming soon. 

According to Windows Latest, these references suggest the update will bring support for the next iteration of Microsoft’s new artificial intelligence tool, Windows Copilot 2.0, along with cutting-edge Wi-Fi 7 connectivity. Windows Copilot is being branded as the all-purpose digital assistant that will change how we engage with our devices, so it’ll be interesting to see what new features arrive with this update. 

Screenshot of Windows Copilot in use

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Looking at the specifics in the specs

You can have a look at HP’s new specification documents for yourself, but here are some major takeaways: 

According to the documentation, “Windows 11 2024 Update” will be required to be able to use the Spectre devices’ Wi-Fi 7 (802.11BE) functionality, alongside their new Intel Core or Intel Core Ultra processors. Of course, a new Wi-Fi 7-compatible router will also be required. Windows Latest also points out that Wi-Fi 7 will be backwards compatible with devices that have older 802.11 specifications.

While HP has mentioned the Windows 11 2024 update in other documents, Microsoft itself has not officially announced it, so while these references by HP seem legitimate (and likely included by accident), we don’t fully know all of the new features that Microsoft is planning.

However, the updates mentioned by HP certainly hint at a major Windows 11 update, and the upgrade to Wi-Fi 7 is particularly exciting. These are pretty sizable updates and the advancement of the HP devices’ Wi-Fi specs is notable, but we don’t know for sure if we’ll see Windows 12 in the first half of the year or the second. What we do know is Microsoft is making some pretty big steps, especially in the development of Windows Copilot, and I expect this will be the case for most of this year, at least up till the release of Windows 12 and devices with these new specifications.

The absence of any mention of Windows 12 could be a sign that HP is being more careful with keeping secrets about a new operating system than about Windows 11 updates – but it could also hint that Windows 12 may be further off than many of us hoped.


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You can save big on an Oculus Quest 2 and kick-start 2024 with a VR adventure

Didn't get the VR headset you were hoping to get this Christmas? Or decided you want to start 2024 off right by going on some VR adventures? Well, you're in luck as the Oculus Quest 2 – Meta’s excellent standalone VR device – is $ 50/£50-off right now as part of this year's after-Christmas sales.

This means that you can get the 128GB model for $ 249.99 at Target – instead of $ 299.99 – or, for those of you in the UK, you can get the same Quest 2 version from Currys for £249.99. The same deal is also live at other retailers like Amazon and Walmart.

Unfortunately, these savings aren’t quite as good as the best deals from Black Friday – which also net you cash back or a gift card worth $ 50/£50 – but it’s nevertheless a great saving.

Today's best Oculus Quest 2 deals

Oculus Quest 2 (128GB): was $ 299 now $ 249 at Target
Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 was, until recently, our favorite VR headset and right now it’s down to just $ 249.99. That’s a whole $ 50-off. We’ve seen better deals during Black Friday, but this is still a great price. With this gadget, you’ll be able to jump into an incredible selection of VR games and apps available on the Quest platform and finally see how much fun VR can be without breaking the bank.View Deal

Oculus Quest 2 (128GB): was £299.99 now £249.99 at Currys
Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 is currently £50 off at Currys making this an excellent time to buy the VR headset for an even more budget-friendly price. We have seen better deals on this VR gadget before (Very’s best Black Friday deal gave you this saving plus £50 cash back) but this is still a big saving that you might not want to miss out on.View Deal

The Oculus Quest 2 is a solid VR gadget but honestly, I think you should get a Meta Quest 3 instead. Even if it isn't discounted right now. 

There are reasons to still go for the Oculus Quest 2. It's a lot cheaper which is excellent for people on a tight budget, for those who aren't sure they'll use VR all that much, or if you're getting the headset for someone who's rough with their toys. But in general the Quest 3 is just better. A lot better.

The graphics are a massive leap forward, the Quest 3's mixed reality is great, and the gadget feels comfier to wear too. You'll even get a free copy of one of the best VR games ever: Asgard's Wrath 2. If you can afford it get the Quest 3 (and use our Quest 3 guide for newbies to get off to a great start).

Meta Quest 3: $ 499 & get a free game at Amazon
The Meta Quest 3 isn’t currently discounted, but you can get a free digital copy of Asgard’s Wrath 2 when you buy the headset before January 27, 2024.
If you’d rather not shop at Amazon the same offer is available from Walmart, Best Buy, and Target as well as others. View Deal

Meta Quest 3: £479.99 & get a free game at Amazon
The Meta Quest 3 only just launched so discounts are practically non-existent. There is still a deal on though; if you order the headset before January 27, 2024, and activate it before February 9, 2024, you’ll get Asgard’s Wrath 2 for free.
If you’d rather shop elsewhere the same deal is available at Very, Currys, and Game among others. View Deal

More after-Christmas deals (US)

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I’ve had enough of password frustrations – here’s how I’m finally fixing them in 2024

Passwords are a pain, let’s be honest – a necessary evil to keep us secure. None of us wants to have to deal with these cumbersome little beasties, but they’re an inescapable part of online life. In the future, things will change – as a new passwordless reality comes to fruition and passkeys evolve. But for now, traditional typed passwords remain prevalent and in need of taming.

There are simple ways to deal with passwords, some of which are terrible. Like having ridiculously simple passwords that are easy to guess. Or ‘remembering’ them by writing them all down in a notepad, where a nosy person might find them and get access to your online accounts, if they’re a nefarious sort.

I don’t do anything like that, of course – perish the very thought – I use mnemonics to help make passwords complex enough, but still memorable, so they don’t have to be jotted down. However, even that’s not an ideal way of dealing with passwords, and so I have some (admittedly dull) new year’s resolutions to vastly improve my relationship with passwords and my overall online security.

A person using the ExpressVPN Keys password manager on their phone and their laptop.

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

Taking the plunge with a password manager

This is the main pillar of my reformed relationship with passwords – yes, getting someone else to do them. Or rather, getting something else to do them in the form of an application.

Password manager software automatically generates passwords for all online accounts without me having to lift a finger. These are incredibly secure passwords, too – lengthy strings of garbage that I wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of remembering.

Taking the plunge with a password manager is something that’s been on my computing to-do list for quite some time, and one of those things I simply haven’t got around to doing. Mainly because it seems easier to carry on as I’ve been doing for a long, long time now (I owned a PC before the worldwide web even existed). So, 2024 is the year it’s going to happen, and I’ll relinquish my old system for a more convenient and secure way of dealing with passwords.

Which password manager am I going to run with? After weighing up the pros and cons of the various options out there, I narrowed it down to either Dashlane or NordPass – but in the end, the latter won out. Why? NordPass scored with its wide-ranging support across multiple platforms, regular updates – and plentiful features – not to mention that it represents a great value proposition.

It’s also the top-ranked product in our roundup of the best password managers, so comes with the TechRadar Pro seal of approval (and a deal to make it even better value, it should be noted). For those after the top freebie option, by the way, check out the best free password managers.

Hand increasing security protection level by turning a knob

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

2FA achievement complete

3 tips for avoiding the worst password pitfalls

1. Never, ever, use stupidly simple passwords
‘Password’ is not a good password, much like a riot shield is a bit pointless if it’s made out of tissue paper. Choose a complex password with a decent mix of characters, and a mnemonic to remember it (or better still, use a password manager).
2. Don’t reuse passwords
Never reuse the same password for multiple online accounts. It may seem tempting to do so for easy recall, but if a hacker or other ne’er-do-well gets hold of that password, obviously they could then access more than one of your services.
3. Don’t keep the same password forever
You don’t have to change any given password much, but it’s worth doing so every now and then. Especially if a company you have an account with has a data breach, it’s a good pre-emptive move just to change your password, even before you’ve been told if you’re affected.

Getting a password manager isn’t necessarily bulletproof, of course. What if that company or their systems are somehow breached in some manner? It’s very unlikely that this will happen with a reputable vendor, but it has happened in the past.

At any rate, a robust approach to security doesn’t rely on a single solution, and 2FA (two-factor authentication) is a seriously valuable addition as a second line of defense to back up passwords. This often takes the form of a code texted to your phone, or emailed, after your initial login to an account.

My problem in this department is that I don’t have 2FA enabled on all my online accounts yet. I do have it running on most important services, mind you, but I need to go through my array of various online accounts, check where it’s supported – in theory, on most big sites and services – and implement it, if 2FA isn’t already active.

Much like migrating over to a password manager, this is something I’ve been meaning to do for some time now – and it’s been nagging away at the back of my mind all that time as a task that really needs attending to. In most cases, it'll simply be a case of going into my account > settings > security (or a variation of that process), and turning on two-factor authentication. So, I shall get it done, and tick another niggle off my list of password blues for 2024.


(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Biometric bonus

While I’m fixing password security issues, my final resolution is to actually use biometrics wherever possible. Until fairly recently, I used a hardware token for logins to my online banking, but have since switched to use the fingerprint sensor on my phone (via the bank’s app). It’s a much more convenient and secure way of logging in, and wherever there’s an option to use a fingerprint login, I’ve resolved to switch to it.

Another point on this subject: while initially I wasn’t convinced about the tech, I now love the Windows Hello login on my Surface Pro tablet – it has got better over time, and works pretty much flawlessly now, even in different lighting conditions. 

I’d advise strongly in favor of using facial recognition, fingerprints, or other biometrics wherever you can turn them on, which is usually a case of exploring an app's settings for security options that can enable hardware like fingerprint sensors. None of this is exactly fun, but you'll go into 2024 feeling all the more secure and smug for it.

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I’m finally going to use these Chrome extensions to save me money in 2024

Let’s face it, almost everyone could use a bit of help saving money these days, with the cost-of-living crisis and various inflationary pressures still kicking around globally, alongside other factors that can make finances a struggle.

I’ve certainly been counting the pennies here and there, but one area where I’ve slacked off is with web browsing. I have, of course, been aware that there are ways to save money using extensions for my chosen web browser – Chrome – but I just haven't got round to doing anything about it, or installing any of those helpful add-ons.

That’s all about to change. Read on to see the extensions that I’m going to enlist in an effort to save me a bit of cash over the course of 2024, in case you might want to follow in my footsteps.

Honey, I shrunk the price tag

Why haven’t I used Chrome extensions to help with online shopping before? It’s a good question, and one that I don’t have a good answer for. ‘Procrastination’ about sums it up, though.

Anyway, for money-saving, the recommendation from my fellow colleagues (TechRadarians, if you will) is that one of the most important extensions that I should make a beeline for is Honey (pun fully intended, in all its awfulness).

A laptop screen showing the Honey Chrome extension

(Image credit: Honey)

What’s Honey? It’s an extension from PayPal that’s essentially an online shopping assistant, so when buying a product in Chrome, Honey will also scour the web for coupons for the best discount. These can then be applied and one way or another, I’m hoping I’ll save a bit of cash. Plus it’s possible to get cashback reward points on top, as a bonus, for those who have a PayPal account in ‘good standing’ (but only with participating retailers).

There will likely only be small savings here and there, but as they say, it all adds up, and over the course of next year I’m hoping to be a noticeably better off by the time the online shopping dust settles.

Camel companion

3 tips for saving money with your Windows PC

1. Power settings
Type ‘power’ in the search box on the taskbar and click on the option for ‘Power and sleep settings.’ In here, you can set your monitor and PC to go to sleep after a short while of not being used, making some power savings on your energy bill.
2. Power settings part deux
While in the ‘Power and sleep’ panel, check out the ‘Additional power settings’ link which allows you to specify more frugal power plans if you really want to cut the running cost of your PC (but remember, doing so will impact performance).
3. Tab taming
One of TechRadar’s best Chrome extensions, Tab Wrangler is great if you’re a tab addict like me. It automatically closes tabs that aren’t being used (but you can easily fire them up again), helping to save a tiny bit of power usage.

The Camelizer is another extension I intend to bag in the new year as a partner to Honey for saving money on my online shopping. It's widely used by the TechRadar team all year round, but particularly during shopping events like Prime Day and Black Friday.

The Chrome add-on is particularly handy for anyone like myself who’s a Prime member and orders regularly from Amazon – because it tracks historical Amazon pricing.

For most Amazon products, the extension serves up a graph of how its pricing has dropped, and risen, over time. That way, I can be sure of whether any item really is at a good price, or if it might be likely to drop a good chunk again (perhaps at the next big sale), so I can wait and save more if that’s a likely prospect. This extension also gives me the ability to have an alert piped through if a product drops to a certain price level – pretty nifty.

A laptop screen on a green background showing The Camelizer Chrome extension

(Image credit: Future)

If you're in the US, the aforementioned Honey does also have a price tracking feature for Amazon. I live in the UK, though, and Honey won’t track anything but (US) pricing – so myself, and everyone else across the globe, needs an alternative. 

The Camelizer extension (and another alternative, Keepa) are built especially for this purpose, and provide more detailed info on price history than Honey (including third-party marketplace listings, and second-hand prices for that matter).

Cashing in with cashback

Lastly, another recommendation given to me by TechRadar's online shopping whizzes has been TopCashback. The savings made with this service – in the form of cashback returns, as you might guess, on purchases – can really add up. I’ve seen the evidence of this, and don’t need any more convincing – moreover, the Chrome extension is a great way to access these benefits.

The idea is simple: a load of companies sign up with TopCashback and when anyone makes purchases from those retailers, TopCashback gives the buyer a certain percentage of cashback on the outlay.

With the normal service, the user needs to go to the TopCashback website and search for the retailer to see if they’ve signed up to the scheme, and what items might apply. It’s all a bit clunky, but the beauty of the Chrome extension is that it automatically checks any site visited and flags available cashback offers on products, which is much more convenient.

A laptop screen on a green background showing the TopCashback Chrome extensions

(Image credit: Future)

To get cashback, all you need to do is click the ‘activate’ prompt that pops up when buying something. This Chrome add-on also flags up some voucher codes as a bonus.

The slight catch with the extension is that not every retailer is supported. But most are, and the convenience aspect is what swings it for me. I don’t really fancy having to constantly navigate to the website to perform pre-purchase searches (and realistically, I’ll probably forget to do so half the time anyway).

I'm also going to risk the temptation of filling up my Chrome toolbar with more extensions than the three that I've mentioned (Honey, The Camelizer and TopCashback). While I'm aware that there are countless others (including Rakuten, Fakespot and more), I'll be starting the year with that golden trio – and if you fancy saving some money in 2024, you should too.

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Windows 11’s next big update could arrive in February 2024, packing some nifty features – but it might miss some tricks too

Windows 11 could be getting its next feature drop early in 2024, courtesy of what will be the fifth ‘Moment’ update for the operating system.

As you’re likely aware by now, a Moment is the name given to smaller feature updates that arrive outside of the big annual upgrade Microsoft pushes out for Windows 11 (which was 23H2 this year).

And we just heard from Windows Central (Zac Bowden) that Moment 5 should arrive in February (indeed its alternative name is the ‘February 2024 Moment’).

That said, the catch is that this will be the initial preview release, late in the month, so the full version of the Moment 5 update won’t actually arrive until March. On the second Tuesday of the month if the typical release cadence of Microsoft’s cumulative updates is adhered to – which would make the date to mark in your diary March 12.

What will this update pack in the way of new features? Well, don’t get your hopes up for anything too exciting, as we’re told this will be a more minor release compared to some of the previous Moments.

Even so, there will be a healthy dollop of tweaks and additions, and one smart piece of functionality is targeted at stylus users – namely the ability to write directly into text fields with their pen (something Microsoft has promised will eventually be an OS-wide capability in Windows).

Voice Access is also receiving some laudable attention, including support for multiple monitors, and powerful new voice shortcuts. The latter are customizable commands allowing for the opening of files, folders, or pasting a section of boilerplate text, for example (and they can be chained together for multiple steps).

Microsoft is set to make a bunch of minor tweaks – some of which are useful, like giving Notepad a character count, and being able to rename devices with the Nearby Share feature, to make them more easily identifiable at a glance (‘Darren’s PC’ for example) – but some of the work elsewhere is purely about complying with European regulations.

Specifically, these changes are bound up in compliance, and destined for the European Economic Area (EEA). They include the choice to uninstall the Edge browser from Windows 11, as well as the ability to strip Bing out of the taskbar search box (and instead have web results piped through from an alternative, like Google).

Enabling HDR in Windows 11

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Analysis: March of progress

Unfortunately, Windows 11 users outside of the EEA won’t get those latter options, but they will benefit from another move to let the user uninstall a larger number of default apps – like Photos, for example.

Furthermore, Microsoft is introducing an option to specify that the widgets panel contains just widgets, with users being able to remove the news feed. Interestingly, we’re also told that Microsoft will make it possible for other third-party services to be integrated into the panel – so you could infuse the widget board with Google news, if you wanted to.

These widget-related possibilities are coming for everyone, fortunately, not just the EEA – and we can keep our fingers crossed that the other mentioned Europe-bound changes will be rolled out more widely, too. Plenty of folks would like the ability to declutter Windows 11 a bit more by getting rid of Edge, no doubt.

Of course, we must bear in mind that these changes are all rumors, though we’ve seen all the mentioned features going through testing of late, so all of this makes sense. The release date of February (for preview) and March is the nugget of info that needs more salt applied, but Bowden is one of the more reliable sources out there for info from Microsoft. It’s always possible that an intended timeframe might slip a bit, mind.

From what we’ve heard, this could be the last Moment update before the next-gen version of Windows is launched later in 2024. Whether that will be Windows 12, or something else (Windows AI?), or if Microsoft might stick with Windows 11 (making the upgrade version 24H2), we don’t yet know, but the theory is this might be the last Moment before that next big move arrives.

As per another of Bowden’s recent rumors, Microsoft is supposedly set to switch away from Moments, releasing fewer of these updates going forward, and making more changes and feature additions in the big annual upgrade. (And yes – in short, this is returning more to the way things used to be).

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