Two Windows 11 apps are being ditched – one you might miss, and another you’ve probably forgotten about

Microsoft is dropping two of the core apps which are installed with Windows 11 by default.

As of Windows 11 preview build 26020 (which has just been unleashed in the Canary channel), the WordPad and People apps have been given the elbow.

Although technically, while the People app itself is being dispensed with, that’s because its functionality (or at least much of it) is being transferred to Outlook for Windows, the new default mailbox app for Windows 11 devices (as of the start of 2024).

In short, you’ll still get the People app (contacts) in that mailbox client, but there’ll no longer be an actual People application that can be fired up separately.

WordPad, on the other hand, is being completely dispensed with, or rather it will be when the changes made in this preview build come to the release version of Windows 11.

Going forward from then, any clean installation of Windows 11 won’t have WordPad, and eventually, this app will be removed when users upgrade to a new version of Microsoft’s OS.

You won’t be able to reinstall WordPad once it has gone, either, so this will be a final farewell to the application, which was marked as a deprecated feature back in September 2023.

Also in build 26020, a raft of additions for Voice Access have strengthened Windows 11 on the accessibility front (as seen elsewhere in testing last month).On top of that, Narrator now has natural voices for 10 new locales (in preview), and that includes English (UK) and English (India), as well as the following: Chinese, Spanish (Spain), Spanish (Mexico), Japanese, French, Portuguese, German and Korean.

Furthermore, when the energy saver feature is enabled on a desktop PC (a machine that’s plugged in, rather than running on battery), a new icon is present in the system tray (far-right of the taskbar) to indicate it’s running and saving you a bit of power.

For the full list of changes, check out Microsoft’s blog post for the build.

Analysis: Word up

One thing to clarify here is not to confuse WordPad with Notepad, or Microsoft Word for that matter.

Word is the heavyweight word processor in Microsoft 365 (the suite formerly known as Office), and not a default app. Both WordPad and Notepad are currently default apps in Windows 11, but Notepad is staying firmly put – indeed Microsoft is busy improving this piece of software (adding an autosave feature most recently).

Notepad remains a useful and highly streamlined, much-liked app for jotting notes and the like, whereas WordPad is kind of a ‘lite’ version of Word, and as such a bit more complex in nature (but not anything like a full-on effort such as Word).

WordPad sort of falls between stools a little in that respect, and another reason Microsoft may have decided to drop the app is due to potential security risks (or that was a theory floating around last year, when the software was deprecated).

Even so, there are some folks who will miss WordPad, and with no option to reinstall, they’ll just have to look for a different lightweight word processor for Windows 11 – fortunately, we explore some good alternatives right here.

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Meta AI is coming to your social media apps – and I’ve already forgotten about ChatGPT

Meta is going all out on artificial intelligence, first developing its own version of ChatGPT as well as implementing Instagram’s AI ‘personas’ to appeal to a younger audience. Now, the company has announced a new AI image generation and editing feature during Meta’s Connect event, which will be coming to Instagram soon. 

If you’re familiar with OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Google’s Bard, Meta AI will feel very familiar to you. The all-general purpose assistant can help with all sorts of planning and organizational tasks, and will now offer the ability to generate images via the prompt ‘/imagine’. 

You’ll also be able to show Meta AI on Instagram a photo you wish to post and ask it to apply a watercolour effect, make the image black and white and so on. Think of the Meta assistant as a more ‘social’ version of ChatGPT, baked right into your social media apps.

Alongside the assistant, the initial roster of 28 AI characters is beginning to roll out across the company’s messaging app. Most of these characters are based on celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Mr. Beast, Paris Hilton and my personal favourite, Snoop Dogg! You can chat with these ‘personas’ directly and finally ask Paris what lipgloss she uses. As you chat with the characters their profile image will animate based on the topic of conversation, which is pretty cool considering chatting with most AI chatbots is kind of… boring, at least from a visual standpoint.

ChatGPT may have started it, but Meta could finish it

It’s clear that Meta is taking AI integration very seriously, and I love to see it! By integrating its virtual assistant and AI tools into the apps billions of people use every day it’s guaranteed an existing user base, and in my opinion, shows that the company has taken the time to really understand why users would approach their product. 

Instead of just unleashing an assistant that will give you recipes and do your homework, it looks like Meta AI is tailored to suit everyday purposes and feels like a really clever way to implement the tool in people’s lives. The assistant is right there in the app if and when you need it, so you don’t have to leave the app to engage with the assistant.

Meta’s huge scale of potential users gives it a good chance of being the AI assistant people will use for the first time and could be the AI assistant people will end up using on a day-to-day basis. No extra app to download or account to make, and no swiping away from your conversation to get to what you need. I think Meta made a smart choice taking its time and has now come out the gate swinging – and I really do think ChatGPT creators OpenAI should be a little bit worried. 

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Microsoft hasn’t forgotten about Windows 10, as a vital fix for game crashes finally arrives

Windows 10 gamers have got a reason to celebrate with the latest preview update for the OS, which comes with an important fix for a nasty gaming-related crash, and other cures besides.

The problem with PC games is related to Timeout Detection and Recovery (TDR) errors popping up, either causing a crash, or even locking up the system in some more extreme cases.

As you may have seen, the fix for this was applied to Windows 11 in the Moment 3 update – it was first spotted in the preview of that patch which emerged late in June.

The good news for Windows 10 users is that the fix is in KB5028244 (build 19045.3271 for Windows 10 22H2), which again is a preview patch (an optional download). This means the full (polished) fix will be available in August’s cumulative update for Windows 10, and that’s only a couple of weeks away now.

In the release notes for the patch, Microsoft observes: “This update addresses an issue that might affect your computer when you are playing a game. Timeout Detection and Recovery (TDR) errors might occur.”

On top of this, there are fixes for a bug that prevents some VPN apps from making a successful connection, and a glitch that means when a PC comes back from sleep, certain display or audio devices go missing in action.

Furthermore, there’s the resolution of a problem with Windows 10 where a full-screen search can’t be closed (and prevents any further action from being taken with the Start menu), and a raft of other tweaks and fixes.

Analysis: A welcome fix, albeit slightly late

There are some important cures here, then, as those mentioned bugs are quite a pain for those affected.

PC gamers on Windows 10 – the vast majority still – were particularly miffed when Windows 11 got a solution for the TDR crashes in June, with Microsoft leaving them in the lurch. And with no mention of Windows 10 back at the time, some gamers were even talking about this being a reason to upgrade to Windows 11 – that’s how annoyed some folks are by this one.

As one Reddit user put it: “Windows 10 TDR errors have been the bane on [sic] my life.”

At any rate, the fix is now here, and hopefully it’ll prove effective on Windows 10. Of course, right now it’s still testing as an optional update, so you’ll have to manually grab the patch via Windows Update, and there may still be problems with it. That said, those affected by TDR crashes might be so keen to get rid of them that any risk of side effects elsewhere may seem a small price to pay.

Whatever the case, as mentioned, the full fix should be coming in the cumulative update for Windows 10 next month (assuming no problems are encountered in this final testing phase).

Clearly, Windows 11 has priority as Microsoft develops and tinkers with its desktop operating systems, but it feels an odd situation where two-thirds of gamers are still on Windows 10, and are getting the short end of the stick with fixes like this.

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New Windows 10 update proves Microsoft hasn’t forgotten about you

While Microsoft has understandably been giving Windows 11 a lot of attention lately (including launching a new update that brings Android apps to PC), it has also published an update for the older Windows 10 operating system as well.

As Windows Latest reports, Windows 10 KB5010415 is now available as an optional update. This means you won’t automatically get it, but if you open up Windows Update, you should see it waiting for you under ‘Optional Updates’.

It’s worth checking out, as it brings fixes for several Windows 10 problems (which will later be included in cumulative updates in March and April), so if your PC isn’t running well, this update could fix it.

It also includes a fix for people trying to upgrade to Windows 11, but who find the process failing when checking the TPM status of the PC.

However, as this is an optional update, if your PC is running fine as it is, you can feel free to ignore it for now, rather than risk adding new issues to your PC – something Windows 10 updates have been responsible for in the past, unfortunately.

New features

This Windows 10 update also brings new features to the operating system as well. For a start, you can now share cookies between Microsoft Edge Internet Explorer mode and Microsoft Edge. This could be handy for web developers, or anyone who uses online services that still work with Internet Explorer.

Microsoft has also added the ability to add and remove NVMe storage without having to turn off your PC (known as hot swapping). Again, this is a feature that likely won’t appeal to most users, but enterprise and power users may find it very useful.

Windows 10's grave

(Image credit: Anna Kucherova / Shutterstock / Microsoft)

Analysis: Still going strong

While this may not be the most exciting update ever, especially when compared to Windows 11’s latest release which adds some genuinely game-changing features, it’s still good to see Microsoft continuing to update and support Windows 10.

After all, Windows 10 remains the most-used version of Windows at the moment, and while Microsoft may be keen to get people to upgrade to Windows 11, it still needs to look after people who continue to use Windows 10, either by choice or because their PCs aren’t compatible.

Windows 10 will continue to be supported until October 14, 2025, and we hope Microsoft continues to release updates for the operating system until then.

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