With the Meta Quest 3 virtual reality headset releasing tomorrow, it seems like Meta is looking to follow in Apple’s footsteps with the Apple Vision Pro. In a race to dominate the VR scene, Meta may have course-corrected earlier marketing and design plans for its follow-up headset (currently codenamed Ventura – a slightly ironic name…) in response to the Vision Pro, possibly even removing the headset controllers to reduce costs.
According to Mark Gurman via his Power One newsletter, a person within Meta suggested that Meta “is in the ‘afraid of Apple stage’” and that Meta is investing a lot of time and effort to improve its VR products as well as shifting focus away from the metaverse.
The Verge notes that Meta’s big goal with the Ventura headset is to cut costs as much as possible and offer a lower asking price for a good headset. The Quest 3 is already much cheaper than the Vision Pro, and according to Gurman Meta may be ditching controller bundling to help cut down the price even further for its next headset.
Does Meta have the right idea?
Gurman suggests that users will be able to decide to use just hand gestures or purchase the controllers separately. For comparison, Apple’s headset doesn’t actually come with dedicated controllers – it relies solely on gesture controls tracked via its external cameras, although you can always connect a third-party controller or another Apple device (like a MacBook Air) for control input.
If you can throw yourself back in time a little and remember the original reveal of the Apple Vision Pro, you’ll probably remember thinking “surely they’re not charging that much for the headset?!”
So, the fact that Meta is prioritizing affordability with the Quest 3 is a smart move to get ahead of the curve. If the company is able to make the Ventura headset (Quest 4? Quest Neo? Who knows) massively more affordable than the Vision Pro – and ensure that it can perform competitively against Apple's offering – then Meta actually has a very good shot at securing the top spot in the VR world.
Microsoft has recently introduced a bunch of major updates to Windows 11, and now, it’s even updated how you get the updates. If you happen to be getting one of the new Microsoft Surface laptops or tablets anytime soon, you’re in for a treat.
When you first open up your sparkling new device, you’ll inevitably have to sit through a setup and update process for a little while before you can dive in. Now, Microsoft has made the installation process less lonely by being able to play a game while you wait.
This development was first spotted by Tom Warren of the Verge when he opened and started up the Surface Laptop Studio 2, he was able to play a modernized version of SkiFree, originally an online game created by Microsoft programmer Chris Pirih and released in 1991.
Where else can you find the game?
This isn’t the first time Microsoft has mined SkiFree for nostalgic mini-game distractions – it’s actually been something of an easter egg you could stumble upon in Microsoft’s Edge browser since 2020. You can still access the game by typing in edge://surf in your Edge browser.
If you have pending Windows updates that are available or are restoring settings from a previous Windows Backup, it might be possible to play the game. It’s not totally clear if this is only available during the setup process of new Surface devices or if you can also play the game while updating any existing device with Windows 11. The Verge asked for more information on the topic from Microsoft but the company has yet to respond.
Either way, it’s still a fun tidbit to pass the time and it’s the latest improvement Microsoft has made to make the dreaded Windows update process a little less dull. I think it shows that Microsoft developers do pay attention at more precise levels than people realize to improve the overall user experience. The current setup process is already a big step up even from recent Windows versions, which would have Cortana talking you through the process extensively – something some users found unhelpful or annoying.
Where Microsoft may have found inspiration
BetaNews goes as far as to speculate that Microsoft actually nabbed the idea from a third-party Windows enthusiast developer, concept designer 'AR 4789', who developed his own version of Windows with additional features named 'Windows Utopia'. Windows Utopia also lets you play games, as well as browse the web, while you install the custom operating system.
This news has seemingly been received quite positively by Windows fans so far, and Microsoft could use the goodwill as it rolls out its very novel AI assistant, Windows Copilot, which has been received with a less enthusiastic response. The appearance of the surfing minigame does show that Microsoft is still very detail-oriented when it comes to the user experience, so I hope that it continues to be that way when it comes to delivering huge new features just as it does with the smaller ones.
With this move, Microsoft intends to compete with other AI services and built-in browser tools like Google’s generative AI search features found in both the browser and mobile app, according to TechCrunch.
In Microsoft’s official Bing blog post, it stated that “This next step in the journey allows Bing to showcase the incredible value of summarized answers, image creation, and more, to a broader array of people. You’ll get most of the great benefits of Bing and we’ll continue to optimize along the way to meet your needs across different browsers.”
The tech giant also warned that though you’ll be able to use your preferred platform for Bing Chat, the best service would be provided on Bing. For instance, users and Windows Latest noticed that Chrome’s Bing supports five messages per conversation versus the 30 in Microsoft Edge. Bing in Chrome has a character limit of 2,000, while Edge supports 4,000.
Microsoft’s blog post somewhat mentioned said limitations. “With Edge, you'll unlock longer conversations, chat history, and more Bing features built right into the browser. To experience the best browser for Bing, and get the full breadth of features, simply open the Microsoft Edge browser…”
Can Microsoft pull this off?
It’s an interesting strategy for Microsoft to put its own service on mobile devices and other browsers. Mobile especially, as it’s one of the most popular ways to access websites, services, and applications, and not having a dedicated mobile version of Bing Chat is missing out on a crucial audience.
And it’s an understandable direction too, since the end goal is to increase Bing’s market share. Getting users, who would otherwise never use Bing, to try out Bing Chat on their preferred browser and then slowly convincing them to use it on Edge is pretty crafty. But limiting the access of Bing Chat in the hopes of pulling users to Bing is a risky move as well.
Instead of getting more Bing users, there’s the very real threat of turning off these users and having them switch back to whatever other AI chat they had been using before. Switching browsers is a huge deal and it’s difficult to get a dedicated Chrome or Firefox user to go to a completely new browser just for a service they can get elsewhere. And losing mobile users would be an especially hard blow, as they make up such a huge market.
Maybe Bing can gain more users if Microsoft continues to upgrade the experience on mobile and other browsers, like getting dark mode, voice input, and other interface improvements such as what iPhone users received. Not to mention equalizing the experience between other platforms and Bing browser.
Norton 360 for Gamers is a version of the Norton 360 security suite which is specifically aimed at you guessed it – gamers!
But if all you're doing is playing games in the comfort of your own home, why should you need an antivirus tool? In this article, we break down in detail exactly how Norton 360 for Gamers helps to protect your PC, and what additional defenses are present for gamers in particular.
Norton 360 for Gamers gives you the same core defenses against malware as the vanilla Norton 360 internet security suite. To be precise, you receive everything that subscribers to Norton 360 Deluxe get, plus the gaming extras we’ll come onto in the next section.
That includes real-time protection to keep malware off your PC, on-demand scans, heuristics to detect freshly released threats, and dedicated anti-ransomware tech. As we found in our full Norton antivirus review, these combine to provide a very solid level of core protection.
Norton puts its antivirus money where its mouth is, with the firm’s ‘virus protection promise’ that gives the customer their money back if a device is hit by malware which Norton’s experts can’t remove.
Further protection is provided by some high-quality URL filtering to keep your web browsing safer, and Norton also implements an intelligent firewall. The latter is a very informative firewall that can help you make decisions on untrusted programs which are trying to use your internet connection – this is a pleasingly fresh and useful approach to firewall execution.
Those are the main defenses, then, but Norton 360 for Gamers also delivers the security suite extras found in Norton 360 Deluxe. That includes a backup facility with 50GB of cloud storage space, which could come in very handy if things go awry (always back up your important files, no matter how confident you are in the security of your PC). There’s also a password manager and webcam protection.
Another nifty feature is a built-in VPN, which is far from standard with security suites. To be precise, this is Norton Secure VPN and while it might be a relatively basic VPN service, it’s solid enough and a great bundled inclusion adding to the value proposition here.
Using a VPN for gaming helps to protect your privacy and anonymity online, with other benefits such as geo-blocking. That enables you to, say, stream content you wouldn’t otherwise be able to access. A VPN can also help you avoid the likes of DDoS attacks, which can be aimed at you to bog down your internet connection and ruin an online gaming session.
Dark Web Monitoring keeps an eye out for any of your personal details or data being involved in a data breach, because the knowledge that something has been spilled online can enable you to react quickly and keep your accounts secure.
Finally, those with children will appreciate the parental control system. This is a seriously good package to protect kids when they’re online, with all manner of content filtering and the ability to set time limits on device usage, as well as thorough location tracking facilities to keep tabs on your offspring not just online, but in the real world via GPS too.
On top of all the above, Norton 360 for Gamers offers a number of extras targeted specifically at those who enjoy PC gaming. We’ve already touched on the Dark Web Monitoring feature, which with the gaming suite is extended to also cover gamer tags and accounts, helping to keep these safe from exploits by nefarious types who may come across your leaked details.
Gamers running Windows also get the benefit of fewer notifications from Norton, with the suite able to detect when you’re running full-screen apps like games, only interrupting you if something critical happens like your PC being actively under attack.
The biggest gaming-related feature though, is the Game Optimizer. This allows Norton 360 for Gamers to intelligently allocate CPU resources to the game you’re playing in Windows to get better performance.
The caveat is that it doesn’t work with every game, but supports titles run via the Epic Games Store and Steam, plus game launchers from Bethesda, Blizzard, EA (Origin), Rockstar, and Ubisoft (Uplay). And bear in mind that you’ll need a quad-core CPU to use this feature, but most gamers these days will have one of those in their gaming PC.
How does Norton 360 for Gamers protect your device?
As we’ve seen, Norton 360 for Gamers delivers a whole raft of protection. From its core anti-malware measures (and specialized ransomware and web protection), through to security features like an intelligent firewall and integrated VPN.
That VPN can help defend against the likes of DDoS attacks aimed at gamers (or even the terrible practice of ‘swatting’, which is trying to call in a SWAT team or similar tactical response unit on false pretences), and the Dark Web Monitoring is a great extra to keep all your gaming accounts more secure.
Overall, Norton 360 for Gamers provides a commendable level of all-round protection and some nifty gaming-related extras for Windows users, particularly as Norton claims that its optimization feature can help some games run faster.
It’s well worth considering as a security package for those keen on gaming, with the main compromise compared to Norton 360 Deluxe being that Norton 360 for Gamers only supports three devices, rather than five. Both offerings are pitched at around the same price typically, and at the time of writing, Norton 360 for Gamers is a touch cheaper.
Nintendo has filed a patent for a new sleep-tracking device that will monitor how well you slept, and even produce pleasing aromas.
In typical Nintendo fashion, the device would represent a new take on the growing sleep-tracking market with a host of novel features. According to the patent, the device could beam soothing images to your ceiling using an in-built projector (counting sheep mini-game, anyone?), along with the tracking information from your previous night’s slumber.
Perhaps most intriguing, though, is the device’s ability to produce a variety of smells to help either induce or disturb your beauty sleep. Sleep mists aren’t exactly new, and diffusers have become a common sight in most households, but if Nintendo has discovered that we all sleep better when a room is filled with the smell of Mario’s freshly washed dungarees, then we’re all for it.
The mobile device, which sits in a base station by your bed, also includes a Doppler sensor that can pick up your breathing, pulse and body movement. It has a detachable element (which looks like a phone) that will track your activity over the course of the day and sync the data back to the base station if it’s close by.
The patent was filed last September and was recently made public (thanks, Japanese Nintendo). The sleep-tracking device might never come to fruition, of course, but clearly Nintendo believes it’s an idea that’s worth protecting.
Switch it up
Nintendo has been very clear about its ambition to enter the health-related space. During the Wii U era, Nintendo revealed it was working on a ‘quality-of-life’ peripheral, but nothing has surfaced since that initial announcement which was more than five years ago.
Nintendo has had great success with its fitness-focused game Ring Fit Adventure and the Nintendo Switch in general, but this patent points at an entirely new piece of hardware that serves a specific purpose.
Sleep like a Snorlax
Nintendo’s new patent isn’t the only sleep-tracking device we’ve heard about recently from the video games industry. The Pokémon company also announced its own sleep-tracking app, Pokémon Sleep, which would link up with its incredibly popular mobile app, Pokémon Go. The app would require a new Pokémon Go Plus accessory, and users would place it next to their pillow each night. However, no further details have been revealed since its announcement in 2019.
While there is a VPN tool includes, it's not the best in town for a number of reasons – and we believe you'd be much better off using a standalone service such as ExpressVPN.
In a nutshell, you get complete protection across up to five of your devices (Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android). The new version includes webcam and anti-ransomware protection and zero system slowdowns, plus dozens of other features.
Just bear in mind that this deal is only valid for the first year and you will likely pay far more going forward. One way to get around the issue is to use a different email on renewal to pass as a new customer.
We'd recommend leaving the company's Antivirus Plus 2020 and Internet Security 2020 offerings; both of them are fantastic products but will run you $ 12 and $ 4 respectively. With Total Security 2020, you get a much better all-rounder with extra device coverage to boot.