Windows 11 24H2 update rumored to arrive in September, ushering in huge changes for the OS

Microsoft’s major update for 2024 will be Windows 11 24H2, we’ve again heard, but it’ll be a big old drop of multiple features – plus foundational changes – that’s expected to arrive in September.

That’s the latest from Microsoft rumor-monger Zac Bowden of Windows Central fame, a generally reliable source for all things Windows.

Bowden has previously asserted that Microsoft is going to keep Windows 11 and push out a 24H2 upgrade later this year – rather than launching Windows 12, or whatever an all-new version of the OS might be called – so this concept is nothing new.

Also fully expected is that the update will be heavily focused on next-gen AI experiences (for those AI PCs Microsoft keeps banging on about), and we’re told by Bowden that the 2024 Update will be a much larger affair than 23H2 (which was pretty minor, so again, that’s no surprise).

However, according to Bowden, 24H2 will represent a seriously big change in direction, and will be built on a new version of the Windows platform that’ll usher in various performance and security updates alongside a raft of new features.

What new features? Well, given the mentioned weight on the AI side of the equation, obviously there’ll be upgrades for Copilot. We’re told the desktop assistant will enhance the Windows interface and find ways to boost productivity in terms of apps, search, and more besides.

Bowden doesn’t go into any real specifics that haven’t been mentioned before, but in short, Copilot will help you do more stuff in a swifter and more convenient manner in Windows, as well as all the existing Bing Chat-style chops the AI has.

The leaker does expand on one point, though: that Microsoft is planning a Copilot timeline/history feature that’ll allows users to locate any file, image, app, basically anything that has been previously opened on their PC, using the AI. A history-based super-search, in other words, that’ll likely allow you to do things like request ‘that file where I wrote about Nvidia’s new RTX Super graphics cards’ or similar more natural language-based requests than traditional search. (We’ve heard rumors along these lines before).

We’ve already seen other incoming features in test builds of Windows 11 such as the new ‘energy saver’ capability and AI-powered Snap Layouts to pick out a couple of examples.

All the stuff you see in testing in early channels is likely to be for 24H2, and there are other additions coming, too. For example, Phone Link improvements are inbound, including being able to use your smartphone as a makeshift webcam for the PC (pretty nifty).


Windows 11 desktop on an all-in-one PC

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Analysis: Possible twists in the tale

Some still believe that this will be Windows 12, or some incarnation of next-gen Windows (Windows AI?) rather than just a 24H2 update for Windows 11. That’d make sense in some ways, given that this is Windows built on an entirely new platform (called Germanium) and it’s a big thing coming alongside those AI PCs we keep hearing about.

Bowden thinks a full name change is unlikely, though, and still maintains this will be the 24H2 update even though it ushers in extensive changes.

One reason Microsoft may not want Windows 12 is that it would fragment the user base into Windows 10, 11, and 12, which could be confusing for users, and a pain for Microsoft to handle in terms of development and patching. Remember, Windows 10 isn’t dead anymore, and Microsoft recently reversed the decision to freeze new features coming to the older OS, and is now piping fresh functionality across – including, most importantly, Copilot.

All of this is just speculation, mind, and even Microsoft itself may not have made the final decision as to whether this will be another update for Windows 11, or an all-new next-gen Windows.

Bowden lays out the development timeframe and as mentioned, the projected release for the theoretical 24H2 update is currently September (though it could be later in the year).

There’s a slight twist, though, in that the platform it’s built on, Germanium, will apparently be ready in April, after which work on finalizing the Windows 11 2024 Update will begin. It’s possible that new AI PCs with 24H2 on board could appear as soon as July, but the upgrade won’t come to existing Windows 11 installations until September at the earliest.

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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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Report: OpenAI’s GPT App store won’t arrive this year

The hits keep on coming at OpenAI. After dismissing CEO and Co-Founder Sam Altman, inviting him back, and reinstating him as CEO just a few days ago, the ChatGPT developer is apparently pulling back, at least temporarily, on its plans for a GPT Store.

Earlier this month during the first OpenAI Dev Day, Altman introduced the concept of “GPTs”, basically custom versions of the ChatGPT generative AI model. These bespoke versions would use custom data and therefore do what you wanted them to do. They'd be less generally smart, like the current ChatGPT that turned 1 this week, and much more specifically smart to your needs. Perhaps the most exciting part of this announcement was that you'd be able to post and buy these custom GPTs in an online GPT Store.

Now, Axios is reporting based on a developer memo it obtained that OpenAI is pressing pause on the GPT Store launch at least until early 2024. In the memo, according to the report, OpenAI wrote, “While we had expected to release it this month, a few unexpected things have been keeping us busy!“

That comment, if real, might be a nod toward the tumult that consumed OpenAI over the last two weeks.

A new beginning

Of course, all that is in the past now. On November 29, Altman posted a message on the company blog praising his team and even holding out an olive branch to former board member and computer scientist Ilya Sutskever who may have promoted the fire drill that prompted Altman's removal.

“I love and respect Ilya, I think he's a guiding light of the field and a gem of a human being. I harbor zero ill will towards him,” wrote Altman on Wednesday.

Perhaps notably, Altman made no mention of “GPTs” or the GPT store in his post. Instead, he focused significant attention on AI safety, writing the company has three immediate priorities and listing this as the first: “Advancing our research plan and further investing in our full-stack safety efforts, which have always been critical to our work.”

There's no indication in the reported memo that OpenAI is pausing GPTs work or really any part of its march toward Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), of which Altman writes, “One of the most important things for the team that builds AGI safely is the ability to handle stressful and uncertain situations, and maintain good judgment throughout.”

Assuming this pause memo is real, the delay to early 2024 is just a matter of a few months. Knowing OpenAI and the rapid development pace of ChatGPT and the large language model (LLM) powering it, the delay could shrink to weeks.

All told, it's back to AI business for OpenAI.

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Microsoft quietly reveals Windows 11’s next big update could be about to arrive

If you were wondering when Windows 11’s big upgrade for this year will turn up, the answer is soon, with Microsoft now making the final preparations to deploy the 23H2 update – with a revelation apparently imminent.

As Windows Latest tells us, Microsoft just shipped a ‘Windows Configuration Update’ which is readying the toggle to allow users to select ‘Get the latest updates as soon as they’re available’ and be first in line to receive the 23H2 update.

Note that nothing is actually happening yet, just that this is a piece of necessary groundwork (confirmed via an internal document from Microsoft, we’re told) ahead of the rollout of the Windows 11 23H2 update.

Okay, so when is the 23H2 update actually going to turn up? Well, Windows Latest has heard further chatter from sources that indicates Microsoft is going to announce the upgrade at an event later this week.

That would be the ‘special event’ Microsoft revealed a while back, taking place in New York on September 21 (Thursday). As well as the expected Surface hardware launches, we will also evidently get our first tease of the 23H2 update, at least in theory.


Analysis: Copilot on the horizon

An announcement this week makes sense to us, ahead of a broader rollout that’ll be coming soon enough.

As Windows Latest further points out, the 23H2 update will likely become available next month – at least in limited form. This means those who have ticked that toggle to get updates as soon as possible may receive it in October – at least some of those folks, in the usual phased deployment – before that wider rollout kicks off in November, and everyone gets the new features contained within the upgrade.

In theory, that means Windows Copilot, though we suspect the initial incarnation of the AI assistant is still going to be pretty limited. (And we do wonder why Microsoft isn’t going to keep on baking it until next year, but that’s a whole other argument – it seems like with AI, everything has to be done in quite the rush).

It’s also worth bearing in mind that if you’re still on the original version of Windows 11, 21H2, you’ll need to upgrade anyway – as support for that runs out on October 10, 2023. PCs on 21H2 are being force-upgraded to 22H2 right now, although you’ll pretty much be able to skip straight to 23H2 after that, should you wish.

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Windows 11’s next big update could arrive sooner than expected

Windows 11’s next big update, known as 23H2, could be coming sooner rather than later this year.

Or at least that’s the suggestion based off clues Windows Latest picked up on with the July cumulative update for Windows 11.

In that patch, the tech site notes that it has found references to several packages relating to ‘Moment 4’.

As you may be aware, the last feature drop for Windows 11 was Moment 3, so it follows that this is the next feature update – except this is a full upgrade for the OS. In short, Moment 4 is the 23H2 update.

Windows Latest further observes: “We found that Microsoft is testing an enablement package named Microsoft-Windows-23H2Enablement-Package.”

This lines up with what we know about 23H2, as Microsoft has already confirmed that it will be an enablement package. This means that the files for the upgrade will be preloaded to Windows 11 PCs, and can be sent live with a simple flick of an ‘enablement’ switch – a small download that’s easily applied at launch time.


Analysis: Early groundwork is a good sign

These clues being in place in Windows 11 now shows the groundwork for 23H2 is well underway, and this suggests we could see the annual update for the OS soon enough, maybe. Is there a chance it could keep pace with 22H2 and arrive in September? Maybe, though the rumor mill has been pointing to Q4 for 23H2, so October may still be a more realistic release date.

We shall see, but the Beta channel for Windows 11 just got a bunch of new stuff – including a File Explorer revamp, and RGB lighting hub – and again that suggests progress is ticking along nicely with the 23H2 update.

What could work against the ‘sooner rather than later’ theory is that Microsoft’s Copilot AI is still in a very barebones state, and it’s supposed to be included with 23H2. Our personal theory here, though, is this won’t make the cut for the 23H2 update – well, either that, or it’ll be a very limited version of Windows Copilot that’s released. And we don’t think the latter would be a very clever move for Microsoft in terms of making a good first impression with the AI (as we discussed recently in more depth).

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Windows 11’s next big update could arrive today – here’s what to expect

Windows 11 might get its next big ‘Moment’ update later today, if the rumor mill is right.

That’s the prediction of one of the higher-profile Windows leakers out there on Twitter, PhantomOfEarth.

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Of course, this is just educated guesswork – the leaker is “pretty sure” this is the case, mind, as today is the fourth Tuesday of the month, so typically, it’d be the expected day for kicking off the rollout of Moment 3. And as we’ve already observed the upgrade is thought to be imminent, hitting the final stages of testing almost two weeks back, in fact. Microsoft is also hosting its Build 2023 event and keynote today.

As PhantomOfEarth further notes in the above tweet, if you want to get the new features bundled in Moment 3 as quickly as possible, then there’s a way to do that. Go to Windows Update settings (type it in the taskbar search box to head straight there) and switch on ‘Get the latest updates as soon as they’re available’.

If you do so, though, bear in mind that early adopters may get to dig into new features before everyone else, but they could also hit hidden bugs that weren’t stamped out in testing. These things have most certainly happened before with Windows, and will doubtless happen again – it’s a sprawling and vast piece of software, after all.

If you’re wondering what new features are available courtesy of Windows 11’s Moment 3, let’s have a quick recap.


What’s coming in Moment 3 for Windows 11?

The truth is that Moment 3 isn’t as exciting as the previous Moment released for Windows 11. Not that it doesn’t bring in a lot of stuff, it’s just that there’s no big standout ‘must-have-that’ feature.

What is good to see is a whole lot of elbow grease being put into making Windows 11 more accessible across various fronts. That includes a fair bit of work on Voice Access – controlling Windows 11 via speech (and dictating text) – with a bunch of new English dialects getting support, and the help system being revamped to be much more, erm, helpful. Live captions are being implemented in many more languages, too.

There’s also Content Adaptive Brightness Control (CABC), a feature that can be used to save power – by intelligently dimming the display – and laptop battery life. Or you can use it when your notebook is plugged in, too – that way, you’re still saving a bit of money on your electricity bill (which these days could be helpful, as it all adds up).

There’s also a revamp for the settings of Windows 11’s virtual keyboard, allowing you to better control when it pops up, and a new USB4 devices Settings page. Another of the more significant changes, at least for PCs with presence sensors – that can turn your machine on or off automatically, when you leave or return to the device – is the introduction of privacy settings for that feature. That’s definitely a beneficial addition to police which apps get access to that functionality.

Another improvement is that search will work better within the Settings app, Microsoft informs us, and there’s an absolute pile of minor tweaks. Want seconds shown in the system tray (taskbar) clock? That option is happening. Want to know if your VPN is connected at-a-glance right from the Windows 11 desktop? A new status icon in the system tray is inbound to tell you just that.

Overall, then, this is one of the more disappointing Moments in terms of major changes for Windows 11, as mentioned, but to be fair to Microsoft, there’s a lot of work under the hood here. You should be able to see the results for yourself later today, at least if the rumor mill is on the money.

This year could be a relatively quiet one for Windows 11, especially as early indications point to the annual update (23H2) also being a more low-key affair.

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Apple released iOS 15.3.1 – could we see the iOS 15.4 update arrive soon?

Earlier this month (February 10) Apple released iOS / iPadOS 15.3.1 for the iPhone and iPad, a small update that fixes three bugs, while also plugging a vulnerability that could have been exploited by hackers.

Between major iOS releases every year, we usually see tiny .1 updates that bring out a number of fixes to bugs that could render an app, or part of the operating system useless.

But Apple also likes to plug holes in vulnerabilities in the run-up to larger releases, or an upcoming event, which is why it seems as though iOS 15.4 can't be far away.

What bugs are fixed?

If you haven't updated to iOS 15.3.1 as yet, you can go to Settings > Software Update to check if it's available for your iPhone or iPad.

The small updates fixes the following:

  • Smoother scrolling of a PDF in Safari.
  • Fixes a WebKit bug that causes unauthorized code to run.
  • Fixes an issue that may cause some Braille displays to stop responding.

Apple has also posted a support page covering the vulnerability that was fixed in this update as well relating to Safari and its WebKit engine.

While iOS 15.4 is currently available as a public beta, where you can test the features that it brings, there's been no indication of when that would arrive.

That said, we're about to head into a season of Apple events, rumored to start with a March event that may see the announcement of a 5G iPhone SE, a new iPad Air, and more.

It's likely that we'll see iOS 15.4 release in March, but whether there will be an event remains to be seen.

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More features for editing PDF files finally arrive to Adobe Creative Cloud Express

In what is being boldly referred to as “the new way to PDF”, Adobe is treating users of Creative Cloud Express with new tools for working with the ubiquitous file type. When the cloud tool launched in December 2021, it included two 'quick actions' for creating and converting PDF files, but Adobe has announced three additional actions to help manage a PDF file.

One will allow you to edit the text within a PDF file, alongside the ability to resize and rotate images.

The remaining new actions will make it possible to easily combine multiple files into one document and also the ability to rearrange pages of an existing PDF file.

The ability to join several files into one is not only a great way to consolidate documents obtained from different sources, but also to ensure that different types of content are saved in a cross-platform, portable format.

While the page organization's quick action makes it possible to change the order in which pages appear in a document, it goes further than what you expect. The same quick actions also enable you to delete pages that are not needed and rotate any which are not correctly oriented. Adobe stresses that modifying PDFs in this way will not interfere with the formatting or design of the original files, so you can be sure that pages will look precisely as intended.

But wait, there's more

Creative Cloud Express PDF features

(Image credit: Adobe)

While both of these quick actions will be welcomed by Adobe Creative Cloud Express users, it is the third new addition that is likely to generate the most interest. The “Edit text & images” quick action does very much what you would expect from the name, making it possible to change and add text to existing PDFs.

It can also be used to rotate and resize images so there is no need to re-create pages from scratch if a minor tweak is needed.

Adobe states that the latest quick actions came as the result of listening to the feedback of creators. The company is keen to continue to give its users what they need and is looking for more suggestions via the Creative Cloud Express UserVoice page.

Via Adobe Blog

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