Microsoft pushes ahead with controversial move in Windows 11 – having Copilot appear immediately after startup

Remember that Microsoft was previously testing an idea whereby Copilot automatically launches by default when Windows 11 first boots?

Well, Microsoft is pushing ahead with rolling out this feature more broadly, and some of the Windows Insiders who test preview builds aren’t too happy about this.

A quick bit of background here: The functionality to enable Copilot to appear on the desktop when Windows 11 first starts up was brought in with preview releases of Windows 11 back in January.

However, this only happened on a very limited basis with testers in the Dev channel initially, but now Microsoft is expanding the rollout of the feature, as MS Power User noticed – as did various testers posting on X (formerly Twitter).

Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc, senior program manager on the Windows Insider team, addressed some of the eyebrows being raised on X, noting that Microsoft had previously released this feature in build 23615 and that it had been temporarily disabled – but was now back in build 26100 from last week.

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LeBlanc then spoke to the Windows team and returned with another post to clarify that in fact the rollout of this Copilot functionality was actually re-enabled back in February in both Canary and Dev channels, but that what’s happening now is that the deployment of the feature is being expanded.

Whatever the case, it’s clear Microsoft is pushing forward with this concept of having Copilot appear on the desktop when you first turn on your PC.

However, as before, this is only happening for certain users depending on the type of monitor they have – meaning those with a display big enough to handle the Copilot panel appearing in this way. That means a monitor with at least a 27-inch screen and a pixel width of 1920 (with Full HD resolution being 1920 x 1080, of course).

Analysis: The risk of feather ruffling

Clearly enough, this is one of those features which is set to ruffle more than a few feathers. Making it so that Copilot is right there by default on the desktop from the get-go will obviously increase the visibility of the AI for Microsoft, and the amount of usage it gets thereafter.

Presumably that’s the idea, but the equally obvious risk is that having Copilot operate in a more in-your-face manner when the Windows 11 PC boots up is going to provoke the ire of some users.

That said, Microsoft is limiting it to larger monitors, and there is a switch to turn off this feature in Settings, and we can reasonably assume that’ll be carried through to release – if this Copilot auto-boot idea makes it through testing to finished builds of Windows 11, and it may not. Depending on feedback, Microsoft might end up abandoning it.

However, the feature progressing to a wider rollout seems to suggest that it will be a keeper for Microsoft. We’ll know for sure if it turns up in the Beta channel, and the Release Preview channel after that – at the latter point, it’s almost certainly going to make the cut for release.

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Google’s Gemini will be right back after these hallucinations: image generator to make a return after historical blunders

Google is gearing up to relaunch its image creation tool that’s part of the newly-rebranded generative artificial intelligence (AI) bot, Gemini, in the next few weeks. The generative AI image creation tool is in theory capable of generating almost anything you can dream up and put into words as a prompt, but “almost” is the key word here. 

Google has pumped the brakes on Gemini’s image generation after Gemini was observed creating historical depictions and other questionable images that were considered inaccurate or offensive. However, it looks like Gemini could return to image generation soon, as Google DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis announced that Gemini will be rebooted in the coming week after taking time to address these issues. 

Image generation came to Gemini earlier in February, and users were keen to test its abelites. Some people attempted to generate images depicting a certain historical period that appeared to greatly deviate from accepted historical fact. Some of these users took to social media to share their results and direct criticism at Google. 

The images caught many people’s attention and sparked many conversations, and Google has recognized the images as a symptom of a problem within Gemini. The tech giant then chose to take the feature offline and fix whatever was causing the model to dream up such strange and controversial pictures. 

Hassabis confirmed that Gemini was not working as intended, and that it would take some weeks to amend it, and bring it back online while speaking at a panel taking place at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) event in Barcelona

Person using a laptop in a coffeeshop

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If at first, your generative AI bot doesn't succeed…

Google’s first attempt at a generative AI chatbot was Bard, which saw a lukewarm reception and didn’t win users over from the more popular ChatGPT in the way Google had hoped, after which it changed course and debuted its revamped and rebranded family of generative models, Gemini. Like ChatGPT, Google is now offering a premium-tier for Gemini, which offers advanced features for a subscription. 

The examples of Gemini's misadventures have also reignited discussions about AI ethics generally, and Google’s AI ethics specifically, and around issues like the accuracy of generated AI output and AI hallucinations. Companies like Microsoft and Google are pushing ahead to win the AI assistant arms race, but while racing ahead, they’re in danger of releasing products with flaws that could undermine their hard work.

AI-generated content is becoming increasingly popular and, especially due to their size and resources, these companies can (and really, should) be held to a high standard of accuracy. High profile fails like the one Gemini experienced aren’t just embarrassing for Google – it could damage the product’s perception in the eyes of consumers. There’s a reason Google rebranded Bard after its much-mocked debut.

There’s no doubt that AI is incredibly exciting, but Google and its peers should be mindful that rushing out half-baked products just to get ahead of the competition could spectacularly backfire.


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Windows 10 apps break after Microsoft Store update, no fix in sight yet

Windows 10 users are finding themselves unable to use their apps after a Microsoft Store update.

Many Windows 10 apps update through the Store directly, which means fixes and new features can be pushed down independently of Windows OS updates. This is generally a positive thing, as said apps can be stabilized and upgraded without having to wait long periods for an OS update. But in this case, that also means if an update breaks a Store app or several, it can be problematic. 

So when apps like Calendar, Photos, and Calculator were given an update like this in January 2024, the result was many users no longer being able to use them. When those users went to report said breaks to the Feedback Hub, lo and behold it was also broken. From there, a massive thread on Microsoft’s support forum kicked up, with many replying about their woes.

Because the update wasn’t an official Windows one which meant no word from Microsoft, some intrepid users unearthed what’s most likely causing these apps to break. It seems that a common thread among all the reports is old hardware, including the Intel Core 2 Duo and Quad processors as well as AMD Athlon chips. These components are technically not listed as compatible hardware for Windows 10 but have had no issues running the OS.

One of these users spoke to The Register about the underlying issue. “A common theory is that the faulting component uses some instruction extension that Core 2 doesn't support, such as SSE 4.2. I believe that some dev at MS set a compiler switch incorrectly when building a shared component (some evidence points to the Visual C++ runtime).”

However, there has been no official word from Microsoft concerning the official problem, nor when can affected users expect to see a fix. When TechRadar requested comment from Microsoft, a spokesperson said “For the latest information on Windows releases and servicing milestones, including news about known issues, please refer to the dashboard.”

Hopefully, there’ll be an update soon, as not having access to such vital apps is a huge issue in the long run. With the end of support for Windows 10 being October 14, 2025, there’s still plenty of time for Microsoft to push down a fix.

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Windows 11 hack keeps your PC alive (sort of) after a Blue Screen of Death crash

A Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) in Windows 11 is when the PC locks up entirely, with no possible recourse – except to reboot there and then – unless you’ve hacked the operating system, that is.

Tom’s Hardware reports that NTDEV, the maker of Tiny11 (a lightweight version of Windows 11) flagged up on X (formerly Twitter) that NSG650 has a project on GitHub which is a driver that modifies the normal BSOD behavior, firing up a Linux emulator when a crash occurs.

In other words, instead of just having the option to reboot, you get a RISC-V Linux emulator popping up post-crash. How is this done? It leverages the bugcheck callback feature in Windows – which is part of the BSOD process, and allows for code to run after a crash – and in this case, the code inserted brings up the emulator.

Now, all the Linux emulator consists of is a basic command line (like the old days of DOS, just a text interface), and you can’t really do anything with it – it’s just showing what can be done (see the video clip below), rather than actually implementing anything useful.

Analysis: An opportunity for Microsoft?

With this methodology discovered, this raises the question that with some work, could something more advanced be concocted along these lines? Something that does allow you to do useful things after a BSOD, like plug in a USB drive and back up files, for example, if you’re worried they might be corrupted. Or maybe to run some kind of lightweight recovery utility.

Having seen this in action, though, it’s entirely possible Microsoft will patch this out, as it could be seen as a security risk in Windows 11 (and Windows 10 for that matter).

However, we can but hope that it might inspire Microsoft to look at doing something more useful, as mentioned, with the BSOD, and allowing at least some post-crash options, if indeed it’s possible to work anything meaningful in that way – which we don’t know, we should add.

For the moment, this little trick remains an interesting novelty, with a tantalizing possibility that it could become more than that in the future. Whatever the case, even if nothing happens along those lines, we think Microsoft could definitely improve BSODs in other ways – though if you happen to encounter one, at least we have a Blue Screen of Death survival guide.

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Microsoft launches Copilot for iPhones and iPads right after Android

That didn't take long: just days after launching a dedicated Copilot app for Android, Microsoft has restored balance to the universe again by making the same app available for those users who prefer iPhones and iPads.

As initially spotted by The Verge, the Copilot app for iOS and iPadOS seems to be an exact replica of the Android one, and is also free to use. The same rules apply: you can use it in a limited fashion without logging in, but signing into a Microsoft account gives you more prompts and more features (like image generation capabilities).

If you do sign in with a Microsoft account, then you can enable the latest and greatest GPT-4 model from Microsoft's partner OpenAI. Responses will generally be slower but better, and bearing in mind that ChatGPT customers have to pay to get the GPT-4 version, this is a pretty good deal from Microsoft.

While it's a notable move from Microsoft to give Copilot its own app, this hasn't come out of nowhere: pretty much all of the functionality here was previously available in the Bing apps for Android and iOS, so little has changed in terms of what you can do.

Copilot everywhere

If you're completely new to generative AI, these tools can produce text and images based on a few user prompts. You can get Copilot to do anything from write a poem about TechRadar to produce an image of a glowing Apple iPhone.

You can also get Copilot to query the web – if you need party game or travel ideas, for example – and have it explain complex topics in simple terms. It's a bit like a supercharged version of Google Assistant or Siri from Apple.

Microsoft is continuing to push forward quickly with upgrades to Copilot, as it knows that the likes of Apple and Google are busy improving their own generative AI tools. It looks inevitable that AI will be one of the hottest tech trends of 2024.

And if you don't want to install Copilot on your phone, you can find it in plenty of other places too. The same features are still available as part of Bing on the web, and Copilot has also now been added to Windows 11 and Windows 10.

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Beeper Mini is back after Apple shutdown, but had to sacrifice its main appeal

The saga of Beeper Mini continues as the developer behind it relaunched the app, although it comes at the cost of one of its main features.

To give you a crash course of recent events, Beeper Mini is an Android app that gives users the ability to send and receive texts using the iMessage protocol. Apple eventually found out about it then proceeded to block the service, claiming it posed “significant risks” to user safety. On December 11, Beeper the company managed to restore connectivity, however, people must now sign in with their AppleID credentials whereas before all you had to enter was the phone number of your Android smartphone. 

This ease of use was especially appealing since you weren’t forced to add or create another login. According to Beeper’s post, texts will instead be exchanged through the email address listed on your AppleID. This won’t be nearly as convenient as TheVerge points out, but at least people can still communicate with iMessage.

Working things out

There are plans to restore phone number registration later down the line although no word when the feature will come back. To make up for the downscaling, Beeper Mini will now be free moving forward until the day comes when things stabilize. At that point, Beeper may reintroduce the monthly fee. You can keep the $ 2 subscription turned on as a way to support Beeper during these times, but it’s not a requirement.

The company states in its blog post it will remain committed to ensuring Beeper Mini becomes a successful service on Android. Apple is obviously the biggest obstacle to achieving this goal, so Beeper had decided to extend an olive branch to the tech giant by making two commitments.

One: if Apple truly believes Beeper Mini is a danger to iOS user safety, the developer says it will share the app’s entire codebase “with a mutually agreed upon third-party security research firm.” Two, at Apple's insistence, Beeper might consider “adding a pager emoji” to the metadata on all messages coming from their app. The purpose of the emoji is to make it easier for iMessages to filter out texts coming from Beeper Mini.

Mounting pressure

Now the question is will Apple leave the service alone? It’s hard to say. Apple certainly isn’t afraid to bring down the hammer despite pressure from other corporations and governing groups. That said, Apple isn’t inflexible. Hell froze over back in mid-November when it finally decided to support the RCS protocol from Android phones. Plus this whole situation caught the eye of the US government. Senator Elizabeth Warren on X (the platform formerly known as Twitter) called for Apple to allow Beeper Mini to exist.

She recognizes the fact that the “green bubble texts [from Android] are less secure”, putting forth the idea of expanding the security measures as well as making communication between the two platforms easier to do.

The updated Beeper Mini is currently available for download on the Google Play Store. We reached out to the developer on X asking if it could give us a timeframe for the release of future fixes plus what it hopes to achieve by sharing the codebase. This story will be updated at a later time. 

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Panic over: Windows 10 users won’t be left out in the cold with Wi-Fi 7 after all

We’ve been hearing a lot about Wi-Fi 7, the next-gen wireless standard, of late, and one of the bits of chatter was worrying – namely that Windows 10 users may not get the benefit of these faster wireless speeds. Fortunately, we can now put paid to any notion that Windows 10 users will be left out in the cold.

This episode started a month ago when a leaked Intel document appeared on X (formerly Twitter), courtesy of one of the regular hardware leakers on that platform, and it omitted any mention of Windows 10 support for Wi-Fi 7. It listed support for Windows 11, Linux, and ChromeOS, but that was it.

Now, as we commented at the time, that didn’t necessarily mean that Windows 10 won’t support Wi-Fi 7, but it was certainly taken as a hint that the older OS may not, somehow.

The good news is that this isn’t the case, and we’ve now had confirmation – albeit an indirect confirmation – from Intel that Windows 10 PCs will be just fine to benefit from Wi-Fi 7.

Neowin reports that Intel has now listed a pair of Wi-Fi 7 modules on its official Ark product database – the Intel Wi-Fi 7 BE200 and Wi-Fi 7 BE202 – both of which are marked down as having Windows 11 and Windows 10 support (along with Linux, though ChromeOS is omitted with these product listings, oddly – again, we wouldn’t read too much into that either).

Analysis: Minor panic over, thankfully

So, if there was any panic for Windows 10 users – and there was a bit, for sure – they can now rest easy that when Wi-Fi 7 comes fully into play, they will be able to enjoy those much, much faster wireless speeds (compared to Wi-Fi 6, it’s in the order of a fivefold speed increase).

When will Wi-Fi 7 actually be usable? Well, it’s still relatively early days yet for the standard, and those first Intel modules won’t be in hardware for some time (and you’ll need not just client devices which support Wi-Fi 7, but of course one of the best wireless routers that does, as well). We’re looking at next year for the new wireless standard to be fully formed and certified, with supporting hardware to rollout following that in 2024.

There’s plenty to look forward to then, no matter what version of Windows you’re running.

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Windows 10 users will get to use Copilot AI after all – but with a big drawback

Microsoft’s Copilot is exclusive to Windows 11 – we know Windows 10 is feature-locked at this point, with nothing new coming to the OS going forward – but Windows 10 users will get a taste of the AI assistant, it seems.

Not integrated with the operating system, of course, but those who use Edge on Windows 10 will get Copilot in Microsoft’s browser.

Windows Latest has got to play with ‘Copilot for Edge’ (apparently also informally known as ‘actions’) and it’s basically the same as Copilot in Windows 11, facilitating the changing of various settings, but in the browser environment rather than OS.

As the tech site points out, at this early stage, functionality is limited as you might expect, but you can, for example, turn virtual tabs on by asking Copilot in Edge. Or you can switch dark mode on with the browser.

Copilot will be bolted onto the existing Bing AI sidebar in Edge, so this basically represents additional functionality for this part of the interface.

Right now, Copilot for Edge is rolling out to select users testing the browser. This is a phased rollout, we’re told, as is usually the case with big new features, where Microsoft wants to try them out with a small audience at first while the company works out all the inevitable kinks.

Well-known Edge tester and leaker Leopeva64 (on Twitter) has also been following developments on this functionality, and observes that it works with voice input, so those with a mic can speak to Copilot for Edge and give it direct instructions.

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Analysis: Edge of tomorrow

How many folks use Edge? Not that many, of course, but this is part of the reason Microsoft will more than likely follow through with this effort. It’s very keen to push its Edge browser to as many folks as possible to move the dial in the battle against Google’s dominant Chrome browser.

While only Windows 11 users get the real Copilot actually in the desktop OS, Microsoft doubtless figures that those remaining on Windows 10 might just be a bit more tempted to try out Edge if getting Copilot features – even in a relatively small way – is on the menu.

That said, Copilot will likely be more than a flimsy carrot dangled in front of browser users. It should be an impressive step forward for Edge if it’s anything like the expected implementation of Copilot in Windows 11, which will be able to pull off all sorts of tricks – or at least that’s Microsoft's plan.

In Windows 11, you’ll be able to make broad requests like ‘adjust settings to help me be more productive’ and we can’t see why Edge’s Copilot won’t work the same way eventually, instigating a potentially sweeping range of settings changes based on a simple request.

We’re guessing that Edge for Copilot should arrive in a similar timeframe to the AI in Windows 11, which in theory is later this year (with the 23H2 update), at least if the rumor mill is right. (We’re skeptical though, frankly).

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ChatGPT pulls plug on Bing integration after people used it to bypass paywalls

Party’s over for ChatGPT Plus subscribers as OpenAI announced it has temporarily disabled the Browse with Bing beta tool from its service. The reason? Apparently, people used the feature to completely bypass paywalls and consume content for free.

Browsing with Bing gave ChatGPT the ability to pull information from recently published sources so it could answer time-sensitive questions. However, it appears the company’s developers underestimated the feature’s capabilities. According to an official help page, “if a user specifically asks for a URL’s full text,” the AI will fulfill the request, including displaying content from paywalled articles. OpenAI stated it’s fixing this issue because it wants “to do right by content owners.” The tool will return someday in the future. Exactly when is unknown at the time of this writing.

What’s also unknown is how the AI was able to bypass paywalls although there is some speculation on the ChatGPT subreddit. One user points out that since “some paywalls are simply pasted over” articles, ChatGPT could simply read the code rendering the text and display the content without a problem. 

Analysis: Avoiding trouble

The response to this announcement has been pretty negative as subscribers flocked to OpenAI’s Community forums to air their grievances.  Some state Browse with Bing was the sole reason they purchased ChatGPT Plus in the first place. One poster says the feature allowed them to read some repositories on GitHub or forum posts that were in another language. Others said that without Browse with Bing, they’re not getting their money’s worth.

As angry as these people are, it’s totally understandable why OpenAI would disable the tool. The company has been hit left, right, and center by multiple lawsuits. Just to give you an idea, you have the lawsuit from the California-based Clarkson Law Firm which alleges “ChatGPT massively violated the copyrights and privacy of countless people when it used data scraped from the internet to train its tech.” There are authors Paul Tremblay and Mona Awad who claim OpenAI used their books to train the generative AI “without attribution”. And you have Georgia radio host Mark Walters suing the developers for defamation after ChatGPT claimed he embezzled “funds from a non-profit organization.”

What's crazy is all those lawsuits are just from this past month.

Needless to say, OpenAI is currently navigating some rough waters. The last thing the company needs right now is to get hit with yet another lawsuit. Better safe than sorry.

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Adobe After Effects gets native Apple M1 support at last

Adobe has announced native Apple M1 silicon support, hopefully meaning faster launch and rendering times for motion designers and video creators. 

In benchmark tests released by the company, running After Effects on a high-end M1 Ultra Mac is now up to three times as fast, and those using the video effects software on standard M1-powered devices should see performance jump to double the speed.  

According to Adobe, the power boost makes it easy for motion designers, “to explore ideas and iterate more quickly on their compositions.” 

Adobe benchmarks for M1 support

(Image credit: Adobe)

 What else is new in Adobe After Effects? 

Native support for Apple’s proprietary chip is just part of a wider package that’s being deployed by Adobe as it looks to better supply users across the world. 

 – After Effects and Premiere Pro subscribers now get free access to the remote video collaboration service , which comes built into both the VFX tool and Adobe’s much-loved video editing software

– With 3D making (yet another) comeback, Extended Viewer and Binning Indicators for 3D layers now make it easier for designers to visualize compositions and move through three-dimensional spaces in real-time. 

– Scene Edit Detection finally makes the jump from Premiere Pro to After Effects. Powered by Adobe Sensei’s machine learning and AI, the new tool intelligently detects cut points in rendered footage and adds markers at edit points for more efficient creations. 

 The need for speed

Adobe clearly feels the need for speed – only last year, the software house unveiled Multi-Frame Rendering, boosting speeds by up to four times. This latest update continues a drive to improve motion graphics software performance and delivery for VFX artists. 

However, Adobe warns that certain new features and functionalities will be limited or unavailable when using incompatible third-party plugins, or plugins that aren’t ported for Apple silicon, with users seeing a warning pop up when the VFX tool spots an issue at launch. 

Adobe also confirmed users can even use older versions of Adobe After Effects on M1 chips – but you’ll need Apple’s Rosetta 2 emulation software to get it running. 

The After Effects 22.3 update, which launches today (April 12 2022), is available to all users via a staggered roll-out from the Creative Cloud desktop app.

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