Microsoft pinches one of the best macOS features for Windows 11 – here are three other ideas it should steal from Apple

It looks like Windows 11 could be getting a new device management feature that will seem a bit familiar to anyone who has ever used Apple’s rival macOS Sonoma operating system for Macs and MacBooks.

As MSPoweruser reports, an early build of an upcoming Windows 11 update adds a new ‘Linked devices’ window within the Settings app, giving users an overview of all the devices, such as laptops and Xbox consoles, that are signed into their Microsoft account.

From that window, it looks like users will then be able to manage each device from a single screen.

Apple-like convenience

You may be surprised how many devices you’ve linked to your Microsoft account, especially if you have several laptops. Signing in to your smartphone and connecting it to your Windows 11 device via the handy Phone Link app and using your Microsoft account to sign up to other services could also mean your ‘Linked devices’ list is actually longer than you might have expected.

It's always important to keep track of the devices you sign into – especially if you are planning on selling or giving away a device. Currently, there’s no easy way to see all the devices signed into your Microsoft account in Windows 11 – instead you need to go to the Microsoft account website. It’s not the most intuitive website, and having this information displayed in a much clearer way within Windows 11 is a good move in my view. However, as MSPoweruser points out, at the moment some tasks you want to perform with the devices will still need to be done through the website.

It's (very) early days with this feature, however, as it is currently only available with the beta build 22635.3495, which is only available to people signed up to the Windows 11 Insiders program. By the time this feature rolls out to all Windows 11 users, more tasks should hopefully be integrated directly into Windows, rather than having to go to the website.

This addition adds a level of Apple-like convenience to Windows 11 – something the operating system often lacks. As I’ve said many times before, Windows 11 can sometimes feel like a jumbled mess of new and legacy operating systems – and that means it fails to offer a coherent experience.

Meanwhile, Apple’s macOS certainly isn’t perfect, but it does integrate your various devices much better than Windows 11. Of course, Apple being Apple, this works best if all your other devices are Apple products as well, and due to the huge range of manufacturers who make Windows 11 products, Microsoft hasn’t got this luxury.

This new feature, however, is certainly welcome and brings Windows 11 a step closer to the kind of easy device management that Apple is known for. If Microsoft has indeed taken inspiration from its archnemesis, then I’m certainly not complaining. In fact, here are some other Apple features I wouldn’t mind Microsoft copying:

1. Make the Start menu more like the Launchpad

Windows 11 Start menu

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Now, a few years ago the idea that I might one day suggest that Microsoft change the iconic Windows Start menu to be more like the Launchpad of macOS would have been laughable. Since its debut in Windows 95, I’ve always preferred the start menu – it was easy to find the app you wanted to launch, and it confined to the bottom-left-hand corner of the screen, it didn’t feel intrusive, unlike the full-screen Launchpad.

In fact, when Microsoft dropped the Start menu in Windows 8 for a much more Launchpad-like fullscreen Start screen, I – like many other Windows users – was horrified.

However, while the Start menu has returned in Windows 10 and Windows 11, Microsoft has seemingly done its hardest to make me avoid the once-essential part of the operating system.

Stuffing apps and widgets that I don’t want or use into the Start menu makes it harder to find what I actually want – and it looks like it’s set to get worse as Microsoft is apparently considering putting adverts for suggested Microsoft Store apps into the ‘Recommended’ section of the Start menu.

macOS launchpad

(Image credit: Apple)

More unnecessary bloat means it’s harder to find the apps I actually want to use, and ironically it means I open up the Start menu less and less these days. The fact that in Windows 11 the Start menu now pops up right in the middle of my desktop means it can feel just as obnoxious as Launchpad (unless I change the settings to put the Start menu back in the left-hand corner).

It’s got to the point where I prefer using Launchpad. Sure, I still don’t like that it takes over my entire screen, but there are no adverts, notifications to try more services, and few pre-installed apps in there. Instead, it just shows me the apps I have installed, letting me find and open them up quickly.

2. Make the Taskbar more like the Dock

Windows 11 2022 Update taskbar

(Image credit: Sofia Wyciślik-Wilson)

This is another suggestion I can hardly believe I’m making in 2024, but the sad fact is that despite the macOS Dock coming after the Windows Taskbar set the… er… bar… Microsoft’s tinkering has ended up making Windows 11’s version of the Taskbar a lot less useful.

At first glance, the centering of the app icons suggests that Microsoft has already taken inspiration from the macOS Dock – but if that’s the case, then it’s learned the wrong lesson.

The macOS Dock is a more elegant solution to quickly opening up your favorite apps, while also switching between open windows – but not because it sits at the centre of your screen. As with the Launchpad, the Dock is mercifully free from clutter, while the Taskbar can look cluttered by comparison.

By default, as well as icons for your apps, the Windows 11 Taskbar also shows the Search bar (which often features graphics), weather warning, notifications, and the new Copilot icon, many of which I never use.

macOS sonoma

(Image credit: Future)

Also, while the Dock sits in the center of the screen, the Taskbar stretches across the entire screen, and while the app icons and Start menu appear in the center, the weather icons appear on the far left, while notifications, time and date, Copilot and volume controls are shoved to opposite side. This means the Taskbar in Windows 11 feels cluttered, whilst also having lots of wasted space.

Worst of all, Microsoft has dropped a lot of functionality from the Windows 11 Taskbar compared to previous versions of Windows – including the ability to drag and drop apps onto the Taskbar to pin them so they always appear there, or to drag and drop files onto an app’s Taskbar icon to open up the file in the app.

It’s a curious move that has perplexed a lot of Windows 11 users, and I would like Microsoft to take inspiration from both macOS and past versions of Windows to create a modern Taskbar that’s elegant, powerful, and simple to use.

3. Make Microsoft Store more like the App Store (that is, make it more useful)

Microsoft Store

(Image credit: Microsoft)

This last point is probably one that Microsoft would love, but ever since the introduction of the Windows Store with Windows 8, the company has struggled to make a case for what is now called the Microsoft Store.

Much like the App Store in macOS, the Microsoft Store offers a way to find and install apps. It should be easy and safe (as all apps in the store are tested to ensure they don’t include malware) – yet while the App Store in macOS feels like a useful, maybe even essential, part of the operating system, the Microsoft Store is easily ignored.

Microsoft must look at the money Apple rakes in through the App Store with seething jealousy. So what can Microsoft learn from Apple’s implementation?

For a start, the App Store looks cleaner and feels more curated. The Microsoft Store certainly looks better than in the past, but it’s still not the easiest when it comes to finding things you want (there’s a bit of a theme developing here). It also feels slow and laggy compared to the App Store.

App Store data collection

(Image credit: Apple)

Microsoft has also struggled to get developers to make bespoke versions of their applications for the Microsoft Store, which means it feels a bit sparser than the App Store. It also means that some versions of apps downloaded from the Microsoft Store lack the features of the same app downloaded from a website. It also leads to strange inconsistencies, such as the Paint.net app being a paid-for app in the Microsoft Store – but it’s free to download from the official website.

Probably the biggest problem for Microsoft when it comes to this is that the App Store has been such an integral part of macOS for so long that users think nothing of using it to install new apps. They will also trust Apple’s recommendations for new apps.

Microsoft doesn’t have that kind of reverence from its users, and Windows users have mainly grown up with using the internet to find and download applications, preferring the freedom of picking where to download the app from, and where to install it – even if it brings certain risks.

It’s hard to see how Microsoft can change a lot of that, but by making the Microsoft Store more useful, easier to navigate and with a much wider app selection, it could help make it more popular with its customers.

Apple – and macOS – is far from perfect, and there are lots of things that Windows 11 does better than macOS, but if Microsoft is in the mood for taking tips from its fruit-themed competitor, the above suggestions would be very welcome indeed.

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Windows 11’s next big update is here – these are the top 5 features introduced with Moment 5

Windows 11 just received its latest major upgrade, Moment 5, which is part of the cumulative update for April that has just been released.

So, what are you getting with this update? We’ve picked out the five best features incoming with Moment 5 – which is formally known as patch KB5036893 – and after going over those, we’ll briefly discuss the other goodies you’ll get besides these highlights.

Voice Access shortcuts

(Image credit: Microsoft)

1. Acing accessibility – Voice Access and Narrator improvements

Microsoft has been consistently doing good work driving forward with accessibility features in Windows 11, and Moment 5 does well in this department. Voice Access is where a lot of the changes have happened, giving users the ability to use this feature across multiple displays. Using the mouse grid, it’s now possible to, for example, drag and drop a file from one monitor to another.

Another major introduction is the ability to create custom voice commands, so you can have a command to paste a set section of text into a document, for example. There’s a lot of stuff taking the finer points of Voice Access to another level, and some changes for Narrator, too, with the addition of a bunch of new natural voices for the screen reading tool (and more besides).

2. Snap Layouts powered up with AI

Not everyone uses Snap Layouts, but they’re actually a pretty nifty idea for when multitasking across a range of apps on the desktop, allowing you to swiftly snap those windows into place in an arrangement that makes sense. 

With Moment 5, Microsoft has brought in AI-driven suggestions for premade layouts, a handy move. If you don’t use Snap Layouts, now’s the time to give it a whirl.

Windows Photos App

(Image credit: Windows)

3. Photos app gets magic eraser

Windows 11’s default Photos app is being gifted a notable new AI-powered feature with this update, namely generative erase. This allows you to highlight an area that you want to remove in an image. 

Say there’s a photo bomber in the background of a snap – simply brush over them, and the AI will remove the person, then filling in the background intelligently to match the rest of the photo. Of course, AI tricks can be unpredictable at times, but this is a pretty handy feature to at least give a go – if you don’t like the end result, just undo the change.

4. Nearby Share is speedier and works better

If you’re not familiar with it, Nearby Share is a feature that allows you to wirelessly share files or website links with other nearby devices. With Moment 5, Microsoft has made it so Wi-Fi and Bluetooth – which the feature uses – are automatically turned on if you switch on Nearby Share, to ensure you don’t run into problems. Furthermore, files now transfer at faster speeds (when using public as well as private wireless networks).

Windows 11 laptop showing Copilot

(Image credit: Microsoft)

5. Copilot goodies

Not everyone is keen on Copilot, or uses the AI assistant, but those who do are in for a treat with Moment 5. Microsoft’s latest update introduces plug-ins for third-party services – a small collection to begin with, such as OpenTable, which can be used to get Copilot to make a dinner reservation for you.

Copilot’s library of commands pertaining to Windows 11 settings has also been expanded, as previously seen in testing. This includes commands relating to accessibility options, and various settings and device info options (and the ability for the AI to take out the desktop trash, too – also known as emptying the Recycle Bin).

Other new Moment 5 features

Microsoft has also changed Windows Share so that it now supports sharing via WhatsApp, and tweaked the Cast feature so it’s more discoverable (when it might be sensible to use the ability, which facilitates casting the screen to another display, such as a TV or tablet).

Those who use the widgets board in Windows 11 will also be pleased to hear this is receiving some attention too, with users getting the ability to organize widgets on the panel into categories.

Finally, it’s worth noting that you can now use Copilot without being signed into a Microsoft account – but only 10 times. After that, you’ll have to sign in, but this at least gives those with a local account the chance to try out the AI.

Also, bear in mind that while those in Europe will get extra functionality that extends to stripping out Bing and Edge from Windows 11, among other bits and pieces, those in the US or other regions don’t get these options.

As ever, you can grab the latest cumulative update for Windows 11 – containing all these Moment 5 features – by checking for updates in Windows Update.

Via Bleeping Computer

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Windows 11 24H2 update is rumored to be ready to go – but nobody will get any of its major new features anytime soon

Windows 11’s next big update just moved a step closer to fruition, perhaps, given a rumor that Microsoft has just pushed out a new preview update that represents the 24H2 release.

The 24H2 update is due later this year, most likely in September, but the twist is it’s expected to initially arrive – in a slightly different form for certain devices (we’ll come back to exactly what we mean here) – around the middle of 2024.

The preview version of Windows 11 we’re talking about is build 26100 and we’re told by reliable leaker Zac Bowden (of Windows Central) that this is the RTM build for the 24H2 update (which Bowden predicted would arrive in April).

RTM means 'release to manufacturing' and it translates, as the name suggests, to mean this is effectively a finished product – with caveats that we’ll come back to shortly – that Microsoft is sending out to PC manufacturers to put on their devices (and test before that hardware hits the shelves).

Some PC makers may have received this RTM build already, or they are about to. In short, this is a positive sign that Windows 11 24H2 is progressing on track with its purported release schedule as aired via the grapevine.


Analysis: A new two-tier update process from Microsoft

The mentioned caveat-laden twist is that this initial hardware in question is AI PCs with Snapdragon X Elite chips, which are based on ARM architecture (quite different to AMD or Intel x86 CPUs). Because these Snapdragon chips are different to the general norm they need the new Germanium platform that Windows 11 24H2 is built on to work, so Microsoft is technically deploying the new version of the OS with these AI PCs which are expected to debut in June.

However, that particular Windows 11 24H2 build won’t have any of the new features touted for the next big upgrade. It’s just going to be much the same as what we have now with Windows 11, just with that new underpinning Germanium platform for ARM-based chips.

Microsoft will finalize the fully fleshed out 24H2 update, with all its new features added on top, in July; or that’s the predicted timeframe by Bowden. And then after final testing, the full 24H2 update will roll out to everyone on Windows 11 in September. Including those Snapdragon X Elite PCs, of course, who won’t get all the new features until everyone else is receiving them.

Hopefully we’ve made that clear enough. But it’s true that this is all rather more complex and convoluted than the usual straightforward deployment of a Windows annual feature update.

The long and short of it is that things appear to be on track, but nobody will get the full Windows 11 24H2 update until September 2024 (or around then). And while new AI PC buyers this summer will get a Snapdragon-powered laptop with 24H2 on board, this will be just the skeleton of that version, as it were, and all the meat (new features) won’t be added until everyone else receives the update in September(ish).

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Windows 11 gets new features for Settings app as Microsoft continues with its ‘death by a thousand cuts’ for Control Panel

Microsoft is slowly shifting the functionality of the old Control Panel that’s still kicking about in Windows 11 to the Settings app, and some more features have just made this transition – at least in test builds of the OS.

Windows Latest spotted this fresh activity in terms of shuffling features across, work that should benefit Windows 11 users when the 24H2 update is released later this year.

One move here is with the Power & Battery panel in the Settings app, which now presents laptop users with the ability to change ‘Lid, power, and sleep button controls’ (options currently in the Control Panel, as noted). This allows you to decide what happens when you close the notebook lid or hit the power button (have the device sleep, hibernate, shut down – or do nothing).

For desktop PC users, there are power options, but obviously, they are slightly different – there’s no lid to shut in this case, and also the hibernate option isn’t present.

Microsoft is also working on the Display section of Settings, having introduced Color Management options to allow you to change your Color Profiles (again, shifting that from the Control Panel).

Another small move was noticed by Windows Latest in the Storage Pool panel where there is a new option to ‘Delete this Storage pool’ which was previously only accessible via the legacy Control Panel.


Analysis: Control Panel’s slow slide into oblivion

All of these are relatively minor moves – well, the power-related changes are more important, to be fair – but it’s all additional momentum in terms of the Settings app finally taking over all the duties of the old Control Panel. It’s just that Microsoft is being very slow in drip-feeding these kinds of changes to Windows 11 (and indeed Windows 10) users.

The problem is that the amount of options under the hood of Microsoft’s desktop operating system is vast, frankly (and some of those functions are niche and rarely seen by the majority of everyday users – like storage pools). So, it’s taking some time for Microsoft to get its house in order in terms of migrating all of this functionality to the Settings app, which was introduced with Windows 8, but took center stage in Windows 10.

Work began in earnest on dismantling the Control Panel with Windows 10 back in 2020, and the eventual aim is to ditch the panel from Windows 11 (or a future version of the OS, most likely) completely.

However, there are still legacy areas of the Control Panel around as we’ve seen, and when these old, rusty pieces of interface pop up, it can be pretty jarring. Particularly in Windows 11 where Microsoft has gone further to achieve a sleeker and more modern look with its desktop and menus.

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Spotify for Windows 11’s annoying new update shoves one of the app’s most important features to the side

Spotify recently released the new “Jam” feature for its Windows 11 and 10 app, which allows users to listen to the same playlist or album at the same time on different devices. So you and a friend or coworker can enjoy the same tunes while you work, study, or just jam out (hence the name). However, with this new feature, the queue list has been booted to a small space on the right side of the app's UI. 

Please, please change it back. This is the opposite of an improvement.

foryoublue94 via Spotify Forum

This change has proven to be rather unfavorable among Spotify users, who’ve taken to Reddit to voice their complaints. The official blog post that announces the arrival of Jam dubs this change as the “new Queue experience”, explaining that the right sidebar now allows you to browse content in the app and keep an eye on what's currently playing. 

The official post has several disgruntled comments from users dismayed by the change, with one user saying “Why on earth has Queue and Recently Played been moved and is now cramped into the small right-hand column? This is just horrible, and a pain to look at. It makes zero sense from a usability standpoint.

Thanks, I hate it 

You may be thinking something along the lines of what an odd little change for people to be riled up about! Pre-update, you could have your library on the left, your queue in the center, and your Now Playing view on the right. In other words, you could boot up the app and have everything you need all in one place. Now, you can only have one or two of these views open at once because of the new layout. 

If you’re someone who’s a fan of the Jam feature and plans to use it quite often with your mates, you’re probably not as upset as other users. But, as a person who will probably never use the Jam feature, I feel robbed of a pretty decent app layout with nothing in return. Now, I am no longer able to see how long the current song is or the album name in the queue.

It seems like Spotify users live in fear of every new update that is implemented. A common notion that’s shared on Spotify Reddit and in the blog post comments is ‘another Spotify update, another change no one asked for.’ I use Spotify every day, and I can’t remember a single update implemented to the app on mobile and desktop that didn’t make me mad. Hopefully, we can convince Spotify to change everything back to how it was – or we'll just end up waiting until another update comes around and knocks everything out of place again. 

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Sticking with Windows 11 22H2? If you can dodge forced upgrades, you’ll still get new features… for a little while

Windows 11 users holding out on version 22H2, rather than upgrading to 23H2 which was released late last year, just got a reprieve that means if they stick with the older incarnation of Microsoft’s OS they’ll still get feature updates – at least for a time.

Previously, Microsoft had stated that as of February 27, only monthly security updates would be provided for Windows 11 22H2 – meaning feature updates (non-security efforts) wouldn’t be piped through.

However, Neowin noticed that Microsoft just updated the release info for the February patch for Windows 11 22H2 to change the dates for those feature updates ceasing to be applied for 22H2.

What this means is Windows 11 Home and Pro users will now continue to get these non-security updates going forward, but the deadline has only been extended slightly – to June 26, 2024. (Although enterprise users will get these updates until June 24, 2025).


Analysis: Listening to feedback

So, in other words, Windows 11 Home and Pro will get non-security updates for March, April, May and June (when they weren’t going to previously). After that, though, it’s just security updates only, going forward.

This is an interesting move by Microsoft as the company isn’t in the habit of making such extensions to support deadlines. It does happen, but not often, and not usually in this kind of last-minute fashion.

What’s revealing is that in the blurb announcing the new end date, Microsoft says the change was made based on user feedback. Which would seem to suggest that Microsoft had some unhappy punters on their hands with the end date as it was.

Whatever the case, all updates will be halted by October 8, 2024, including security patches, as that’s when support ends for version 22H2.

However, very few people should be left on the OS at that point, as Microsoft is already forcing upgrades to Windows 11 23H2 (using an AI-powered automated process that started just last week).

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Microsoft brings one of the Google Pixel’s best features to Windows 11

The Google Pixel series has given us some of the best phones on the market, and one thing that sets it apart from other phones is the suite of built-in generative AI features, like Best Photo and Magic Eraser. Now, thanks to an upcoming tool coming to the Windows Photos App, you won’t need to buy a whole new phone just to get your hands on these types of features. 

Microsoft has announced in a blog post that the ‘Spot fix’ tool in the desktop Photos app will be getting an AI boost, and will now be known as ‘Generative erase’. 

Generative erase will allow you to remove imperfections from your photos in a more natural-looking way, like removing random people in the background and replacing them with an AI-generated backdrop – basically, the exact same way that Magic Eraser works on a Pixel phone. Microsoft notes in the blog post that “Generative erase creates a more seamless and realistic result after objects are erased from the photo, even when erasing large areas”. 

Windows Photos App

The before-and-after is quite impressive – the AI alterations are barely noticeable at first glance. (Image credit: Windows)

Keep it coming!

The example ‘before and after’ image in the blog post shows a very cute dog on the beach, wearing a collar, with some people in the background. After using Generative erase, the new photo looks entirely organic, with the dog collar free and no people in the background. Even when you zoom into the photo to where the collar and people originally were, you can’t see any obviously visible evidence that the image was altered at all. 

It’s an incredibly impressive editing job – considering that it takes very little time and zero effort – and I’m very excited to see it in action when it does make its way over to Windows. It won’t just be Windows 11 users who get to enjoy the new feature, either; Microsoft will be adding the full suite of Photos AI features to Windows 10 too, proving that the older OS isn’t dead just yet.

Currently, the tool is reserved for Windows Insiders, the community of Windows enthusiasts and developers who get early access to potential new features. However, the fact that Microsoft is publicly discussing the feature is a good sign that we will see it sooner rather than later. Alongside Generative erase, the blog notes very briefly that we could also see background blurring and removal features join the Photos app in the same upcoming update. 

The company recently announced that Microsoft Paint was getting another string of new AI features as well, so we may be seeing the beginning of a Windows-wide revamp when it comes to creative AI tools. It seems like Microsoft is putting a lot of time and effort into implementing useful generative features into its apps, which is good news for Windows users who want to experiment with artificial intelligence – without having to make a million accounts on different platforms to do so. 

Via The Verge.

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WhatsApp launches overdue formatting features, bringing order to chaotic texts

WhatsApp is releasing several new formatting tools to help you manage those long walls of text in group chats.

Triggering one of the new text formats requires you to enter a certain punctuation mark, followed by a space, and then the words themselves. Hyphens let you create a bullet list. A numeral with a period right after establishes a numbered list. Users can even make block quotes by first hitting the Greater Than arrow on the keyboard and then adding a space. To make inline code, you’ll have to press the accent symbol (which is found below the Esc key on most keyboards) followed by a single space. If done correctly, the messages you enter will be reformatted to your specifications. Otherwise, you’ll just see a bunch of random punctuations.

In total, users now have eight different ways to spruce up their conversations on the platform counting the likes of bold, italic, strikethrough, and monospace from years prior.

WhatsApp's new formatting tools

(Image credit: Future)

Finer details

Meta announced the update on social media and via WhatsApp notification; however, they neglected to mention some of the finer details. Not only are the features present in one-on-one chat rooms but also on the platform’s Channels, according to TechCrunch. The tools are available on WhatsApp for Android, iOS, Mac, and web browsers. Do keep in mind the patch is still rolling out so there’s a chance you may not have it on your mobile device. We didn’t get it on our Android, but luckily, it's currently live on the web version.

If you look closely, you’ll notice that we didn’t mention the Windows desktop app. This is because, for whatever reason, the Windows version lacks these features. It’s a rather strange omission especially when you consider the fact that this update has been in the works since August 2023. You’d think Meta would’ve brought it over PC in that time. So we reached out to the company asking for information on a Windows release. We’ll let you know if we hear back.

While we have you, be sure to join TechRadar’s WhatsApp channel to receive news stories and our latest reviews right on your phone.

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Windows 11’s Moment 5 update is imminent, but only a lucky few will get the best features

Windows 11’s next feature update, known as Moment 5, does indeed appear to be coming imminently – as was recently rumored – as a test build of the upgrade has just arrived in the Release Preview channel.

As you may be aware, that’s the final test channel before the release version of Windows 11 (as the name makes clear).

Preview build 22631 for Windows 11 23H2 (patch KB5034848) comes with a bunch of improvements, but not nearly the same quantity that’d normally be delivered by a Moment update – this is a relatively minor affair.

Build 22631 includes a shift for the Copilot button, which is moved to the right of the taskbar (into the system tray area, where the clock lives).

This preview also powers up the Snipping Tool so you can edit photos just taken on your Android smartphone on the desktop (for those who have their phone hooked up to Windows 11, of course).

There’s a raft of bug fixes here, too, plus other changes are coming courtesy of a separate February Windows Configuration Update (KB5035349) that’s being delivered at the same time. (Indeed, this will be installed simultaneously for some users – those who have the ‘get the latest updates’ toggle turned on).

The complementary KB5035349 includes a fair bit of work on a key accessibility feature, namely Voice Access, which is getting the ability to implement custom commands, and to open apps or interact with elements on the desktop. Also, those with multiple monitors can use Voice Access across all those displays, and it’s receiving bolstered support for additional languages too.

Elsewhere, there are small tweaks to improve the Nearby Share feature, and better transfer speeds when using it. Also, the Windows share panel now lets you share via WhatsApp (via the ‘Share using’ option).

Furthermore, the Snap Layouts feature now offers intelligent suggestions to give you quick and easy options for snapping windows together. That’ll be pretty handy for folks who use that part of the Windows 11 interface.


Unhappy laptop user

(Image credit: Marjan Apostolovic / Shutterstock)

Analysis: Bigger changes are inbound, but not for most folks

There’s nothing that major here, then, and some previously rumored abilities (like being able to undock Copilot) don’t seem to have made the cut.

There are other big changes incorporated with Moment 5, but the catch is that they aren’t coming to US users – or other regions for that matter, they’re only being provided to those in Europe.

Specifically, Windows 11 users in the European Economic Area (EEA) will be treated to an extensive set of changes to some core features, all of which relate to complying with incoming regulations in the region (namely the Digital Markets Act).

That includes the ability to completely remove the Edge browser from Windows 11, and also to ditch Bing from the operating system’s search box in the taskbar. Options users in the US, and elsewhere, would like to benefit from in some cases, no doubt – but sadly, they won’t get the chance.

This represents the final testing phase of the Moment 5 update, and it fits with the previously rumored release timeframe (for the finished version) of late in February.

The caveat, mind you, is that this end-of-February update will be the optional release (still officially in preview), with the full rollout not starting until March (in the cumulative update for that month). As ever, this will be a phased rollout too, as Microsoft will be monitoring for problems that could crop up even with release software.

The big update for this year – for everyone around the globe – is, of course, Windows 11 24H2, which has now been confirmed by Microsoft (meaning it won’t be Windows 12, as some rumors previously suggested).

Via Neowin

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Microsoft’s Sticky Notes teases upcoming upgrade: will it impress users with sparkly new features or another sticky situation for Microsoft?

The Sticky Notes app for Windows is about to get possibly its most significant update yet. The default Windows app functions similarly to how most people use post-its in real life – you can quickly jot down notes and make them visible on your desktop. It’s been four years since we’ve seen any major updates to Sticky Notes, and Microsoft is promising that it’s got big things in mind for the handy app. 

The update was announced by the official Microsoft Sticky Notes account on X (formerly Twitter), the first post from the account since April 2020. The post generated buzz from users who quickly got to speculating about what Microsoft might be cooking, with many users being quick to express concern that the new Sticky Notes will be a web-based app.

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Windows fans launch into speculation 

Some users guessed that the app was getting an AI-powered injection similar to those seen in apps like Notepad and Paint, and in line with Microsoft’s great AI-aided tool push. In fact, our own Muskaan Saxena wrote about her hopes for an AI-powered Sticky Notes app earlier this year. It looks like neither this nor the notion of a web-based version is the case, however, with the @stickynotes profile replying to its first announcement post that the Sticky Notes app will not be a web app (for now, at least).  

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It then followed with a number of playful posts teasing users about the upcoming upgrade, including one that looks like a screen grab of the app that reads: 

“Lots of rumors swirling about our update. Can you guess what it is?

Wrong answers only. 

We’ll go first… 

Sticky Notes AI upgrade.” 

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Right now, Sticky Notes seems to enjoy a good reputation among users and Windows fans – even if it does have a relatively basic feature set. Neowin says the app has “reliability and simplicity,” and Microsoft would do well to prioritize and preserve these aspects of the app.  

Microsoft logo

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Microsoft's recent track record

Microsoft recently launched the new web-based Outlook app, replacing existing desktop apps like Mail, with a less-than-enthusiastic reception. Users have expressed their disappointment with the new Outlook app's feature-related shortcomings and its functioning as a powerful data harvester for Microsoft, as reported by Proton AG (a company offering online services with an emphasis on privacy). This recent Outlook-related news has users skeptical about future developments that come from Microsoft.

Fans and watchers of the Sticky Notes app are evidently open to seeing what Microsoft has in store, while not hiding their strong potential concerns, and Microsoft might just pull something truly impressive out of the bag. Some users have raised the question of whether Sticky Notes actually needs new and fancy features, but perhaps it’ll be easy enough to just not use whatever they don’t need.

Personally, I agree that an app like Sticky Notes might be best fit for purpose when kept simpler, and even if Microsoft adds features, there’s probably plenty of scope for development without needing to invoke AI. We’ll have to see just how exciting this upgrade is when it actually arrives, but till then, we’ll just have to wait and hope Microsoft hears the very much available user feedback.

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