Microsoft’s faster Windows 11 Update speed claims just don’t add up

As part of Microsoft’s attempts to get people to upgrade to Windows 11, the company claimed that one of the benefits of the new operating would be faster Windows Updates – but many users are complaining that those promised speed increases have failed to materialize.

As an article in WindowsReport explains, many users have found that Windows 11 updates are still taking too long despite Microsoft's claims, and are publicly complaining on sites such as Reddit.

In our own experience of using Windows 11, we’ve not noticed updates downloading or installing any faster, and along with these user complaints, it seems like Microsoft may have overstated the improvements to Windows update speeds.


Analysis: Come on, Microsoft

There’s a lot to like about the new operating system – check out our Windows 11 review to see what we think – but Microsoft also has its work cut out to convince people to upgrade. The promise of faster updates was certainly alluring – no one likes to sit around waiting while their PC installs an update, but Microsoft also needs to be careful about over-hyping improvements.

If it talks about faster update speeds, then Microsoft needs to deliver noticeable improvements. If many users feel like they aren’t getting what they were promised, they won’t be happy – and they’ll make their unhappiness known in public.

The good news is that this is still early days for Windows 11 (even though we’ve already begun hearing rumors about Windows 12), so we expect Microsoft to continue updating and improving the operating system.

That means we could see those promised update speeds coming later, or at least current speeds improving. It seems like having Windows 11 installed on modern technology, such as NVMe SSDs, helps speed up the update process as well.

But, Microsoft needs to ensure that it doesn’t over promise and under deliver, no matter what hardware people are using. If it does, then Windows 11’s reputation could suffer serious damage.

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Exclusive: Most people use Gmail but don’t know how full their inbox is

As the year begins to end and people focus on taking a well-earned break over the Christmas holidays, it's a good time to take stock of life, work, and love. We're only focused on the second of those three today and specifically email usage. 

TechRadar Pro has commissioned an exclusive poll of 500 respondents from OnePulse showing which email services people use and some details about how. 

Surprise, surprise Gmail comes out on top. 

Close up of a person touching an email icon.

(Image credit: Geralt / Pixabay)

A lot of people absolutely hate email, and with good reason. Clients, especially default clients like Apple Mail, are often slow and geared towards casual users, not power users at work. 

On top of that, Slack and Teams, plus a bunch of others, have sprouted up to fulfil work-specific chat needs – even Meta has got in on the action with Workplace

To email or not to email 

So, let's break down the results. 

According to our survey, the dominant email service is Gmail – and it's not even close. A full 59% of respondents use Google's email offerings, followed by Outlook (19.7%), Yahoo (13%), iCloud (2.9%), and others (5%). 

But what about power users? Well, they're in the minority too. Most people (75.6%) have between one and 10,000 emails in their inbox, followed by 16.75% who have between 10,001 and 100,000, and then a rarified 7.59% have over 100,001 or more. 

The story is similar for email storage: just over half (50.2%) either don't know or don't care how full their inbox is. The rest have up to 5GB filled (32.8%) or over 5GB (17%). 

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MacBook Pro notch complainers: Don’t hate it, decorate it, with this app

Apple’s new MacBook Pro models arrived with gorgeous Mini-LED screens, but the displays also carried something that proved more controversial – the notch, of course – but haters of that feature might find this new app lightens their mood around the iPhone-style notch. Briefly. Maybe.

The free ‘Notchmeister’ app, spotted by MacRumors, is essentially a fun and gimmicky piece of software which “spruces up your notch” with a choice of different effects.

That small selection includes a festive option, whereby when the mouse is moved under the notch, sparkly holiday lights drop down to fill your heart with cheer (or at least elicit a smile – hopefully).

Other effects comprise of a Cylon setting with a red ‘scanning’ light that sweeps across from side to side, but sticks to the cursor if it’s moved up to the notch, and a nifty looking ‘plasma leak’ which represents the mouse “breaking down the magnetic containment field that keeps the M1’s power in check.”


Analysis: Even no-notch MacBooks aren’t left out of the festive fun

This is an amusing and nicely tongue-in-cheek application made by The Iconfactory, and as pointed out by the readers of MacRumors, even those who have a MacBook without a notch can use the software.

How? With the Notch Simulation Mode which puts a mock notch (a black block) at the top of the screen, which you can dangle your virtual festive lights from. This is a ‘genuine replacement notch’ as the app calls it, though it doesn’t interact with the mouse the same as with a new MacBook Pro.

Back in the real world, as to the notch debate, while there are still those who dislike it (or even detest it), we’ve observed something of a softening of mood around it. More folks seem to be talking about how the notch might take a bit of initial acclimatization, but it becomes not really noticeable or an issue after you’ve had a little time with your new MacBook Pro.

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The Sony WH-1000XM4 won’t reinvent noise-cancelling headphones – and they don’t need to

Rumors of the Sony WH-1000XM4 – the successors to the best headphones we've ever tested – have been ramping up in recent months, coming to a head when a Walmart listing that appears to describe all the specs of the new headphones was leaked. 

While the existence of the XM4s is yet to be confirmed by Sony, the Walmart listing revealed the kind of changes (or lack thereof) we can expect over the Sony WH-1000XM3.

Now, normally we would expect a brand to make some significant changes when bringing out a successor to its last pair of headphones. In this instance, however, we’re relieved that Sony hasn’t tinkered too much with its class-leading noise-cancelling headphones.

Instead, it looks like the company is making some very considered tweaks to the XM3, which could genuinely improve the user experience without detracting from a winning design. As they say, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. 

What’s new with the Sony WH-1000XM4?

According to the leaked listing, one of these tweaks is the ability to connect more than one audio source to the headphones at once; multipoint pairing is something users of the XM3s have been calling out for, and it will allow you to pair the WH-1000XM4s with your laptop and your smartphone at the same time. 

There should also be a slight improvement to the sound quality. A feature known as  “Edge-AI” can restore the detail lost in highly compressed audio files by upscaling them in real time, which Sony says delivers sound “as close as possible to that of a wired connection.”

Wireless headphones have long been considered inferior to their wired counterparts in terms of audio fidelity, so this tweak will likely appease audiophiles who haven’t yet committed to cutting the cord.

Connectivity in general should be improved too, as Sony makes the leap from Bluetooth 4.2 to Bluetooth 5, which brings faster pairing times, connectivity over longer distances, and stronger pairing in high traffic areas.

sony wh-1000xm3

The Sony WH-1000XM3.

Anyone who has used the Sony WH-1000XM3s to make phone calls should notice an improvement in the sound quality as well, with a feature called Precise Voice Pickup that uses the headphones’ five microphones and advanced audio signal processing to make your voice sound clearer.

The noise cancellation that made the Sony WH-1000XM3s so popular is also due an upgrade. According to the leaked listing, a feature called Adaptive Sound Control will “learn to recognize locations you frequently visit, such as your workplace or your favorite cafe.”

“In addition it automatically detects what you’re up to – for example, walking, waiting, or traveling – and then adjusts ambient sound settings to best suit the situation,” says Sony. This is a feature that’s already been brought to the XM3s via a firmware update, so we've had a bit of a preview already. 

These are all smart tweaks to already-great features. So what’s staying the same with the Sony WH-1000XM4?

What’s staying the same?

Aside from these little tweaks and upgrades, the new XM4s seem to be very similar to their predecessors.

It looks like there won’t be any material changes to the design of the Sony WH-1000XM4s, which we think is a great thing. We loved how comfortable the XM3s felt, with big padded earcups and a soft headband.

They also looked great, with a sleek, minimalist build that appeals to a wide range of people, and we liked the touchpad controls – another feature that will be making a return. 

The sound quality shouldn’t change substantially either, aside from that AI upscaling feature that will help to curb the data loss from highly compressed files. Judging from the leaked listing, the XM4s will use the same 40mm drivers as their predecessors and support for Sony’s LDAC transmission technology – and as the XM3s are among the best-sounding headphones on the planet, we’re happy to see that the audio profile hasn’t been tweaked too much.

Some may be disappointed to find that there’s no improvement to battery life – but with 30 hours of juice, the Sony WH-1000XM3 weren’t exactly short-lived. Plus, with a return of USB-C fast charging, the XM4s shouldn’t take too long to top up. 

A considered approach

Sony has a history of making careful tweaks to its products with each upgrade, and it’s something we’ve seen with the brand’s noise-cancelling 1000X range before. 

It’s a great way of instilling a sense of trust in the products, and it makes us feel confident that each new upgrade will bring genuinely useful updates, rather than skin-deep design changes that don’t really improve the experience of using the headphones. 

Sony wouldn’t be able to be subtle with its upgrades to the 1000X series if the original product wasn’t so good – and in a market where every company is trying to outdo one and other with headline-grabbing features like gesture controls and built-in AI (like the TicPods Pro 2), it’s a risky move to let the sound, feel, and look of the headphones speak for itself. That's especially true with the first-ever Apple over-ear headphones looking like they're going to launch in a matter of weeks and shake up the headphones market.

Trends (or gimmicks, if you prefer) like virtual 3D audio, bone conduction, and crazy form factors (see: the Bose Frames) may come and go – but we don’t think there will ever be a time when people won’t want a great-sounding pair of noise-cancelling headphones that do their job with minimal fuss. 

Hopefully, that’s exactly what the Sony WH-1000XM4 will do when they’re finally released – and with this recent leak, it’s only a matter of time before we can get our hands on them and find out for ourselves.

Can't wait until then? Check out the best Sony WH-1000XM3 deals we've found today:

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Best PC games 2020: the must-play titles you don’t want to miss

If you’re looking for the best PC games to download and play, you’ve come to the right place. Especially now with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and Super RTX graphics cards, as well as AMD’s Navi line, are out in the wild, there’s never been a better time to get in PC gaming. 

There’s a remarkably massive catalogue of brilliant games for PC, starting with the best Steam games 2019, on offer, so you can play to your heart’s content and never run out of new games to play. The best PC games also cover a wide gamut of genres, from platformers and point-and-click adventures, to retro favorites and action-packed first-person shooters with eye-popping visuals. There are even co-op PC games that you can enjoy with friends. So forget about your PlayStations and Xboxes. 

The sheer number of brilliant PC games will leave you wondering where to get started, so we made you a list to get you off to a great start. These are our picks for the best PC games of 2020. With the hours upon hours of gaming we’ve clocked in here at TechRadar, you can bet your life you’ll enjoy every single title on it. 

The best new PC game: Halo: Reach

Halo: Reach

Halo: Reach isn’t exactly a masterpiece, but it comes pretty close to one.

The direct prequel to 2001’s Halo: Combat Evolved originally launched back on the Xbox 360, and now it’s come to the PC in a remastered form. This was the last Halo game that Bungie developed before it parted ways with Microsoft. So, in a way, it’s almost like a farewell or an ode. It’s as beautiful as one, too – with animations that look like moving paintings, colors that are vibrant and grittier graphics. 

Of course, the gameplay is impressive as well, unsurprisingly as this is Bungie last hurrah and ithad to end it with a bang. The storyline is satisfying and engrossing. The characters are truly likeable. And, the enemies are clever and challenging, making your small wins even more gratifying. 

Halo: Reach isn’t exactly a masterpiece, but it comes pretty close to one. And, if you’re looking for the best PC game that’s fresh from the over, this one’s hard to beat.

1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt might just be one of the best video games of all time.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is aging like fine wine. Even several years after it hit the streets, it’s still one of the most impressive open world games that’s ever existed – mixing Skyrim’s unapologetic scale with Grand Theft Auto V’s incredible depth. It’s such a jam-packed game, which is why it claims the top spot on our list of the best PC games in 2019. Staggering, beautiful and an absolute time sink – in a good way – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt isn’t just the best PC game of 2020 or among the best open world games on PC. It might just be one of the best video games of all time.

2. Dark Souls 3

Dark Souls 3

Dark Souls 3 improves on everything you like about the Souls series by blending it with elements found in Bloodborne.

While it's arguably not as hard as earlier titles in the series, From Software's Dark Souls 3 takes everything you like about the Souls series and improves on it by blending it with elements found in Bloodborne, the developer's more recent title for PS4.

We won’t sugar coat it: you’re going to die in Dark Souls 3, perhaps more than once. It takes patience to master its complex combat system, but it also plays fair, which makes it more approachable for casual players so they too can take part in its bleak, fantastical world. And, on the bright side, it’s much more optimized for PC than the first two games. Now that you can pick up Dark Souls: Remastered, and see where the apocalyptic series began, there’s never been a better time to link the first flame.

3. Control

Control

There’s nothing quite like Control on the market.

It’s not hard to see why Control has taken the gaming world by storm. The creative team at Remedy Entertainment made sure to pack this title with plenty to love, paying very close attention to the intricate details. A deeply cinematic game, this action-adventure offers its players staggering visuals, inspired environment design and brilliant performances – not to mention, a deeply satisfying combat experience.

Control places you in the capable shoes of fiery-haired Jesse Faden. You’re tasked to seek out The Oldest House, a building in New York City that’s in a constant state of architectural flux and only appears to those who desire to find it, and locate your missing brother, all while heading the Federal Bureau of Control as its director and overseeing the containment of paranatural entities.

There’s nothing quite like Control on the market, and it makes it one of the best PC games to play right now.

4. Monster Hunter World

Monster Hunter

Monster Hunter: World is the PC game of your dreams.

Monster Hunter is one of the biggest gaming franchises you’ve probably never heard of for years now. With Monster Hunter: World, the series broke into the mainstream and came to the PC (much to many gamers’ relief), and now, it’s one of the best PC games you can play to date. 

Monster Hunter: World puts you in the shoes of a monster hunter, and you’ll hunt increasingly bigger and meaner monsters, strip them for parts, and craft bigger, badder armor. It’s a deviously simple gameplay loop that ends up being one of the most compelling and rewarding PC games you can play right now. 

There’s an incessant onslaught of content in this game, and Capcom, the developers of this monster hunting hit, are committed to bringing a wealth of free DLC to the game – as well as a new frosty expansion in Monster Hunter World: Iceborne. If you’re looking for an addictive, immersive and most importantly, fun game to play on your own or with all your closest friends cooperatively, Monster Hunter: World is the PC game of your dreams. There’s no doubt it’s one of the best PC games you can buy today.

5. Red Dead Redemption 2

red dead redemption

Red Dead Redemption 2 is an engrossing western.

The newest release from Rockstar Games was an instant hit upon release. Red Dead Redemption 2 is an engrossing western following Arthur Morgan and his gang as they try to survive a fictionalized Wild West as outlaws on the run. However, the game is much more than just that.

Whether it’s getting lost in the story, following through on every side quest to its conclusion, or just bonding with your horse, RDR2 is one of those games where you can easily sink 50+ hours into and still have something to do. The gameplay is stellar, and the graphics are gorgeous. You can even run the game in 8K, if you have the hardware. Definitely give this a look if you haven’t already.

6. Sid Meier's Civilization VI

Sid Meier's Civilization VI

What Sid Meier’s Civilization VI has to offer is its massive scope.

Sid Meier's Civilization VI is the most recent installment in the iconic turn-based strategy game, and it's without a doubt among the best PC games you can play to date. One of the things that make the PC the best platform for gaming on is the sheer breadth of different game genres on offer. And, what Civilization VI has to offer is its massive scope, despite the fact that it might seem slower paced next to the likes of Fortnite.

Spread your empire across the map and crush your enemies. You build up your empire from a simple settlement to a world power, and you can decide to do this through military might, technological supremacy or cultural influence. Since its launch in 2016, it has had two expansion packs that really cement this game as an epic entry in our best PC games list. Civilization VI: Rise and Fall released in February 2018, with Civilization VI: Gathering Storm following in February 2019.

7. Alien: Isolation

Alien: Isolation

Alien: Isolation is the suspense-filled game that fans have long been waiting for.

Set 15 years after the events of the first Alien film from 1979, Alien: Isolation is the suspense-filled game that fans of the franchise have long been waiting for. Playing the role of Amanda Ripley, daughter of Alien protagonist Ellen Ripley, your mission is to track down and retrieve the flight recorder of the Nostromo spacecraft from the first Alien film, which has been traced aboard the Sevastopol space station.

First and foremost a stealth game, Isolation intensifies the tension by giving you minimal weaponry. Its superb graphics shine on high-end PCs and brilliant AI helps ramp up the dread, leaving you shuddering at every corner. This and more make Alien: Isolation one of the best PC games 2019 has to offer.

8. Overwatch

Overwatch

Overwatch is also one of the best PC games, owing to the fact that it runs beautifully.

Overwatch, if nothing else, has considerably changed the landscape, moving it away from the norm of gray-ish cover shooters to the domain of competitive gaming. Its bright, vibrant colors are only made better by its endearing characters, each coming with their own compelling backstories, which, though non-existent in game, make for a collection of amazing webcomics and cinematics.

Overwatch is also one of the best PC games, owing to the fact that it runs beautifully on all kinds of different hardware. Sure, it’s a little older now. However, even in 2019, it’s the best PC game for anyone with a competitive streak. If you missed out on this game before, do yourself a favor – sign in to your Battle.net account and take Overwatch – not to mention, its colorful cast of characters – for a spin today.

9. Forza Horizon 4

Forza Horizon 4

Forza Horizon 4 brings the racing to the UK.

Microsoft's racing series is only getting better with each release, and in many ways this spin-off has exceeded the main Forza Motorsport line as the best racing games on PC at present. They're definitely more fun, adding a dash of arcade fun to the strikingly recreated cars and race tracks we've come to expect from Forza.

Forza Horizon 4 is easily one of the best PC games you can buy today, and this entry brings the racing to the UK after having explored America, France, Italy and Australia in the previous three instalments of the franchise. Now, you can rip through charming villages, seaside towns and the city of Edinburgh by way of many miles of country roads and dirt tracks in between. It's fast, frantic and a lot of fun.

You can purchase Forza Horizon 4 through the Microsoft Store. It's also available as part of the Xbox Game Pass for PC, or you can buy the Xbox One version and get a download code for PC using the Xbox Anywhere feature.

10. Thimbleweed Park

Thimbleweed Park

Thimbleweed Park merges the best of old school PC game design with modern technology.

Fans of classic point and click games such as Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle, which are some of the best PC games ever made, should add Thimbleweed Park to their must play list. Made by Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, two of the people behind PC classics Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion, Thimbleweed Park plays like a love letter to classic point-and-click adventure games. 

From the splendid retro artwork, entertaining dialogue and perplexing puzzles, Thimbleweed Park deserves its place on our list of the best PC games, merging the best of old school PC game design with modern technology.

11. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is an awfully difficult game to master.

From Software is a household name when it comes to designing the best PC games. The minds behind the critically praised Dark Souls series have transported PC gamers to some of the most forsaken landscapes and through some of the most challenging yet rewarding gameplay. From Software is back at it once more, with Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

Sekiro places you in the shoes of the Young Wolf, a shinobi tasked with rescuing his young master. The game will take you through 16th-century Japan, but things will get eerie and supernatural: this is From Software we’re talking about. 

Don’t expect an easy time of it, however. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is an awfully difficult game to master, and you’ll need quick reflexes to deflect enemy attacks, as well as to master stealth. You won’t be able to hide behind a shield all day, like you were able to in Dark Souls III.

12. Minecraft

Minecraft

Minecraft lets you construct your own worlds using resources you find in the wild.

The phrase "build it, and they will come" rings truer than ever with Minecraft, the survival-based sandbox RPG that has now been bought more than 100 million times since its release in 2009. In it, you can construct your own worlds using resources you find in the wild, or discover existing ones created by other players online. 

In Minecraft, you can either limit yourself to the numerous tools and blocks offered by the developer, Mojang, or you can install mods to truly capitalize on your investment. Moreover, sometime in 2019, you’ll be able to take part in the Super Duper Graphics Pack, an optional piece of DLC that offers more realistic lighting effects and textures to an already amazing game.

13. Doom

Doom

Doom is still proving to be among the best PC games years later.

A crudely rendered first-person shooter series, Doom was as controversial as it was adored when it first took PC gaming by storm in the 90s. That’s due in large part to its cutting-edge depictions of gore and violence that only a computer could deliver. But just because Id Software's brainchild was a phenomenon for PC gamers in the ‘90s, that doesn’t mean that its premise and gore-fille gameplay doesn’t hold up.

Parents be damned, the franchise underwent a revival in 2016 with a fresh reset, aptly titled Doom, and it’s still proving to be among the best PC games years later. Although the multiplayer might not appeal to shooter fans regardless of age, the single player campaign will pit you against demons in Hell for a lengthy mission that is bloody satisfying, pun intended.

14. Fortnite Battle Royale

Fortnite Battle Royale

Fortnite Battle Royale is actually a game mode for the Fortnite game.

It’s possibly the biggest game in the world right now, so Fortnite Battle Royale is a natural shoo-in for this list. After all, it is a global phenomenon and among the best PC games to play right now if you like super-competitive online games. This is a game people keep coming back to, and that's mostly due to its addictive gameplay and regular updates from Epic.

Fortnite Battle Royale is actually a game mode for the Fortnite game, but this mode has become so popular, many people consider it a separate game in its own right. As with other Battle Royale games, the aim of Fortnite Battle Royale is to fight your way through an ever-shrinking map until you're the last player standing. While that might sound simple enough, there's a whole lot of depth to this game once you start playing.

15. Cuphead

Cuphead

Cuphead is unlike anything you’ll play on PC.

Cuphead's 1930's animation aesthetics certainly makes this one of the most beautiful looking – and sounding – PC games on our list. Incorporating run-and-gun platforming with boss rush battles, it's also an extremely challenging game. But, that only means that it's even more rewarding to play. 

With hand-drawn cell animation, watercolor backgrounds and original jazz soundtrack, Cuphead is unlike anything you'll play on PC. Just keep in mind that the steep difficulty curve may put people off. However, if you're willing to put in the work and hone your gaming skills, you'll be rewarded with one of the best PC games you’ll ever experience.

Gabe Carey and Bill Thomas have also contributed to this article

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