Windows 11 could finally make color management easier, and that’s great news for artists and gamers

Microsoft might be planning to release a new color management panel that’ll make picking the perfect color profile for your PC much easier. The perfect color settings make games pop out of the display more vividly, and if you’re a digital artist or photographer, the right color profile could make or break your next masterpiece. 

According to VideoCardz, the change was spotted in the Windows Insider program's latest Insider Preview Build 26052. This is a community of Windows enthusiasts and developers that get early access to potential new features and upgrades, and give feedback before the features are available to regular Windows 11 users. 

The new color management panel showcased in the build has been updated to the modern Windows 11 aesthetic and relocated to the main Settings menu, with easy-to-navigate options and a simpler layout. The old color management menu, which had to be accessed via the Windows Control Panel, has been effectively removed in Build 26052.

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Better control,hopefully … 

Most people who just use their PC for office work or school projects might never venture to this section of the Settings menu, but this could be great news for photographers, digital artists, video editors, and gamers who rely on getting the most out of their monitors. 

From the side-by-side screenshot comparison in the above tweet (sorry, 'X post'), you can see some new features too: the option to color-calibrate your monitor for specific profiles and enable automatic color balancing for compatible Windows apps. If you don’t want to manually color calibrate, you can either select the best option from the available profiles or create your own so you get the most accurate hues. 

While we're excited about this change, we do have to keep in mind that some features that are put into the Dev channel don’t always make it out to the public, so there is a chance we might never see it reach the public build.  We do however hope to see it come to Windows 11 soon because it’ll be a convenient way of managing your color preferences and profiles within the menu layout you’re already familiar with. 

If you want to give it a go, you’ll have to sign up to join the Windows Insider program first. Once you’ve done that you’ll be able to go straight to the ‘display’ section of your general settings and see the ‘Color Management’ option, where you can play around with different profiles and settings. 

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PC gamers will finally lose support for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 thanks to Valve dropping them

PC gamers, it’s time to bring in the new year by finally retiring that old Windows OS. Valve announced in an official blog post that Steam would no longer support Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 after January 1, 2024.

According to the official Steam blog post, after that date current Steam Client installations on those named operating systems will no longer be receiving any updates, including security updates. Steam will also no longer offer technical support or be able to guarantee Steam functionality after that date.

According to the latest Steam hardware survey, only about 0.89% of Steam users still have Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 installed, which is around the same amount as those with Nvidia RTX 4090 graphics cards. Not an insignificant amount considering that there are 31 million online Steam users, but it’s still a rather small population so the dropped support makes sense on that front.

Valve recommended users update their OS as “core features in Steam rely on an embedded version of Google Chrome” and that “future versions of Steam will require Windows feature and security updates only present in Windows 10 and above.” The post also cites general security risks involved in keeping these operating systems installed without proper security updates to address them. This is sound advice considering that Microsoft ended support for Windows 7 in 2020 and Windows 8.1 in 2023.

Microsoft ending OS support could spell disaster

Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 aren’t the only ones that have gotten the boot from Microsoft, as the tech giant is planning on ending support for Windows 10 in 2025.

Not only is this putting a significant amount of users out of an unsupported OS but, as analyst firm Canalys puts it, could cause an environmental disaster. This is due to the current laptops running Windows 10 that don’t fit the hardware requirements for Windows 11, which means that those laptops would most likely not be recycled. That’s an estimated 240 million PCs becoming e-waste.

Users will have the option to pay for prolonged support, like with Windows 7 before it, but that only extended the lifespan by three years and each year saw rising costs for paying users.

It remains to be seen how Microsoft will handle this potential catastrophe, especially since in recent years the corporation has seemed to become more proactive in terms of sustainable and easily repaired hardware, as well as other environmental issues.

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Windows 11 fixes this bewildering flaw that’s bugged PC gamers for a decade

Windows 11 gamers rejoice, get out the party poppers, and crack the champagne open – for you can now specify a drive location to install your purchases from the Microsoft Store.

As you’re likely aware – if you have any truck with the store – if you buy a game, you’re stuck with having to install it on your system drive. Meaning that if you have a secondary drive, there’s no possibility of choosing to put a game on there at installation.

Until now, that is. With version 22310 of the Microsoft Store app, you can now select a drive to install your game, as flagged by a Microsoft engineer on X (formerly Twitter).

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As the engineer further points out, you can even specify an external drive, should you want to.

Analysis: Back to basics

This is a pretty basic option, of course, and one that could be very necessary if you don’t have much space on the main drive where Windows 11 sits. Or you don’t want to clutter that system drive with games, and would prefer to keep those separate from all the serious stuff.

Given that, it’s pretty jaw-dropping that it has taken a decade for Microsoft to make it possible to specify an installation drive and folder. (Yes, the store was first launched way back in 2012, before Windows 10 was even around).

Speaking of Windows 10, it remains to be seen if this upgrade will be visited on the older operating system – but you’d hope so.

Time will tell, as Microsoft has said it isn’t making any further feature updates to Windows 10 – just very minor tweaks (whether this install option counts as that, or not, well, we’ll see). Except, rumor has it, Copilot may be incoming for Windows 10, but perhaps not out of the goodness of Microsoft’s heart (there might be an ulterior motive for that move, if it happens).

Microsoft has been busy making the store better in recent times, as you may have seen, with one improvement of late being to massively speed up the time it takes the app to load.

Via Tom’s Hardware

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Gamers, brace yourselves: AI development could lead to another GPU shortage

The rise in AI tools and chatbots may be exciting for many, but gamers and enthusiasts could soon be getting cryptomining flashbacks. A few years ago the crypto-mining craze gobbled up gaming GPUs, and it looks like history could be (sort of) repeating as businesses begin buying up consumer GPUs to manufacture their artificial intelligence tools.

According to Tom’s Hardware, people are taking to social media to complain about cloud-based GPU resources (essentially using GPUs, like Nvidia GeForce, in a ‘service farm’) being fully booked and hardware supplies being entirely reserved for the rest of the year.

Of course, gamers are going to be more than a little worried about the news, given the recent impact of that crypto-ming rush. And there are good reasons to believe that Nvidia's AI dominance, based on its development of the tensor core, could ultimately be worse for gamers than crypto.

So… is it time to panic? 

Entrepreneur George Holtz provides some insight into the issue via a tweet (below). Hotz is currently assisting a business called Comma AI, and speaks about buying up boxes and boxes of AMD gaming GPUs.

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The boxes in the photo clearly read ‘AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX’, a brilliant graphics card that scored five stars in our review and earned our Editors Choice award. This is clearly a GPU that many PC gamers would want to buy – and it would be frustrating to see them mainly used for non-gaming purposes.

The rise of AI could widely be considered a net positive in a lot of ways – from boosting our productivity to giving us new creative tools like Adobe Firefly. But we can expect the intense demand for AI products to place a lot of pressure on compute-focused GPUs. 

The greater demand for the GPUs could potentially lead to a drop in stock, making it harder for gamers to actually buy a new GPU and probably inflate prices. It may be a matter of time before we see the demand seep into the world of gaming GPUs, so brace yourselves.

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Windows 10 update looks like bad news for PC gamers

Windows 10’s most recent update has been giving some PC gamers a headache, brining lag to their gaming sessions – and causing other performance issues besides.

Windows Latest picked up on feedback posted on the official Reddit thread introducing the July cumulative update for Windows 10 (patch KB5028166).

One Redditor said: “Did somebody experience after updating, game and apps became laggy?”

A bunch of replies in the affirmative then ensued, along the lines of: “Yes! I can’t do anything, it takes forever. Everything is slow.”

Another user notes: “I’ve had a few games becoming laggy and freezing at points since updating.”

A further user on Reddit observes: “The last update has given my W10 PC a bad case of constipation; Chrome and other apps take a minute or two to open, webpages often delay opening or display a ‘page is not responding’ message. I’ve not uninstalled the last update in the hope MS releases a new update soon that sorts all this out, as it doesn’t seem to be an uncommon problem.”

It doesn’t seem to be uncommon indeed, with another Redditor posting to confirm: “Had to uninstall this update, caused an ungodly amount of stuttering afterwards. Reformatted the PC, tested before and after this update after so I know this is definitely the cause of the stutter. Clearly I am not the only one and would highly recommend avoiding/uninstalling this update.”

As well as these issues for gamers and general performance slowdown, there are complaints on the same Reddit thread about KB5028166 taking ages to install.

One tech support person (presumably) notes: “On all my clients’ computers, this update takes forever after restart and there’s nothing you can do. Everyone has been calling since morning because they can’t work on their computers.”

A reply to that says the update went on for ‘many hours’ and the user ended up restarting their PC to get out of it (not advisable, really, though sometimes you may feel left with little choice after waiting for ages for an update to finish) – only to encounter the same problem again. Nasty.

Analysis: Not the first time, and likely not the last

Unfortunately, we’ve not heard anything official from Microsoft about how KB5028166 might be causing issues for gamers (indeed, we haven’t seen any official confirmation that there’s a problem at all). Clearly, though, there are a bunch of unhappy folks out there, so hopefully the software giant is investigating. Even the best PC games aren’t so great when frame rates are stuttering like crazy.

This wouldn’t be the first time a cumulative update for Windows 10 (or Windows 11) has seemingly thrown a spanner in the works for games, or has slowed down apps in general. This kind of apparently random lag attack has happened over and over throughout the years, so it’s not exactly a surprise to see this as a (potential) side-effect of KB5028166. The sad truth is that vague problems like this can be difficult to pin down, and sometimes remain ongoing issues for a while.

All we can do is keep our fingers crossed that Microsoft looks into this, and how to cure the affected PCs, and does so quickly. Or at least gives us some indication of what’s going on here. Meanwhile, you can’t really avoid the update on Windows 10 Home – only for a limited time – so you’re going to have to install it soon (besides, there are important security fixes in the patch).

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Windows 11 makes life better for PC gamers in two ways with new update

Windows 11’s cumulative update which started rolling out to PCs last week comes with a couple of nifty features for gamers.

Windows Latest noted that Microsoft reminded them of one feature that comes with the July cumulative update (KB5028185), namely a change that’ll benefit some of the best gaming mice out there.

A software engineer at Microsoft told the tech site: “Some of you will see better gaming performance with the July 2023 update. This [July 2023 Update] improves performance when you use a mouse with a high gaming report rate.”

A high report rate, otherwise known as polling rate, means the mouse is checking its position more often, which leads to better accuracy.

However, the problem with such high polling rate mice is that Windows 11 causes some stuttering with these peripherals, due to demands made on the operating system’s input stack (which can get overloaded when using a high report rate mouse plus a bunch of other gaming accessories used for, say, streaming).

Those stuttering blues are now fixed with the KB5028185 patch, thankfully.

Another major boon for PC gamers here is the fix for a nasty bug that caused Timeout Detection and Recovery (TDR) errors.

These can result in a game freezing up or crashing out, so they’re pretty frustrating at times, especially in cases where you might lose progress if you haven’t saved, of course.

Analysis: Goodies for gamers aplenty

Early feedback on the TDR error resolution in testing looks positive – and the same goes for the polling rate fix – so it seems the July update is pretty much a must-have affair for PC gamers.

Not that you have any choice about installing a cumulative update anyway, seeing as they are mandatory, mainly because of the security fixes applied with these patches. Microsoft doesn’t want any users exposed to vulnerabilities, so that’s understandable (though you can put off installing a patch for a short while on Windows 11 Home).

Gamers have some other goodies to look forward to in the near future, including the Dynamic Lighting hub, which will allow Windows 11 users to control all RGB peripherals from one central place, rather than having to bloat their system with third-party apps.

DirectStorage – which offers an extra speed-up for SSDs in Windows 11 compared to Windows 10 – is also finally seeing some more PC games planning to support the tech. Diablo 4 should get DirectStorage eventually, a dev recently let us know, as well as Hunt: Showdown, and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. Those will join Forspoken which already supports DirectStorage, and we’re hoping for more announcements soon.

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Windows 11 goes from strength to strength with PC gamers – but not everyone else

PC gamers continue to show a stronger preference for Windows 11 over Windows 10 compared to everyday users, going by the most recent stats from a couple of sources.

We’re talking about the Steam hardware survey for June, a monthly report compiled by Valve on all sorts of facets of the PCs used on the platform, and Statcounter’s latest figures for June (which represent everyday users, or a non-gaming audience – though there may be some gamers among their ranks, of course).

So, let’s look at those numbers for June and the recent past, before moving on to discuss them.

On Steam in June, 35.75% of gamers are now using Windows 11, which is a pretty big uptick of 1.76% compared to the previous month. Indeed, in May, Windows 11 increased by 0.6% for adoption levels, and in April, it leaped by 11% (though that figure was an anomaly, representing a major shift in the survey’s target audience which rather messed up things).

Still, you can see that steady upward progress is the trend, and by taking the aforementioned 11% glitch out of the equation, we can see that March and April went up by just over a percent (combined, so both months witnessed a similar gain to May, effectively).

Moving to everyday users and looking at Statcounter’s figures, Windows 11 adoption is now at 23.91%, up from 22.95%, an increase of nearly one percent – but the kicker is that in May, as we reported at the time, Windows 11 actually fell from 23.11% to 22.95%. So in actual fact, over the last three months, the increase has been a rather shaky 0.82% (compared to 2.36% for gamers).

Analysis: Microsoft relying on Copilot for take-off outside of gamers?

It’s pretty clear to see that things are rather shaky for Windows 11 in terms of its general user base over the past few months compared to the gaming landscape, where the newer OS continues to be on the up and up.

Looking at it another way, rounding up, Windows 11 is at 36% for gamers and 24% for everyday users – so adoption is now 50% greater for the gaming world. That’s quite a difference.

For Microsoft, seeing that just under a quarter of the general computing public has moved to Windows 11 must be pretty disappointing. Remember, the OS is not far off two years old now, and at the same point in its timeline of existence, Windows 10 had captured a 36% market share (as per Statcounter) of everyday users. (Which, funnily enough, corresponds to the level now reached by gamers for Windows 11).

What can Microsoft do about this? Well, fixing bugs is one thing, as reports of issues such as the wonky SSD speeds that have been affecting some Windows 11 users since March will be off-putting to would-be upgraders. And the other point that immediately springs to mind is adding back features that were stripped away in Windows 11 (useful functionality like ‘never combine’ for the taskbar, which is, thankfully, inbound for the OS hopefully before the end of the year).

We’re guessing that Microsoft is probably relying on some big-ticket features to attract the average user to make the leap to Windows 11 – the principal one being Windows Copilot, the introduction of an AI assistant to the desktop. Copilot has just appeared in testing (Dev channel preview build), albeit in a very limited fashion to begin with.

Of course, the other sticking point for Windows 11 is that it has more stringent hardware requirements than Windows 10 that not every PC out there can meet, so some folks will have to wait until they get a new PC. (Or perform a fiddly upgrade, either a physical one – like installing a TPM module – or a workaround, which isn’t likely to happen in many cases for good reasons).

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Windows 11 preview is good news for gamers – but bad news for everyone else

Windows 11 has a new preview build, this time in the Release Preview channel, which introduces a whole bunch of changes – both good and bad.

Most of this stuff has already been seen in earlier test builds (Canary, Dev, or Beta channels), and Windows 11 build 22621.1926 (KB5027303) represents all these features progressing towards release.

Now that they’re in Release Preview, this is the final step before these various features turn up in the full version of Windows 11 at some point in the near(ish) future.

So, let’s get the bad news out of the way first, namely that Microsoft has announced in the blog post for this preview build that adverts (which the company calls ‘badging’ – we’ll come back to that) on the Start menu are moving towards a broader rollout.

Microsoft explains: “This update expands the roll out of notification badging for Microsoft accounts on the Start menu. A Microsoft account is what connects Windows to your Microsoft apps. The account backs up all your data and helps you to manage your subscriptions.”

The company adds: “This feature gives you quick access to important account-related notifications.”

With that out of the way, the better news that caught our eye for gamers is that improved mouse performance is on the way.

Microsoft tells us that when using a mouse with a high polling rate – so any of the contenders for best gaming mouse in other words, designed for accurate and precise mousing – you’ll now get better performance. This is thanks to any stuttering being reduced for these kinds of mice, so that’s a big thumbs-up there.

Another interesting point to note with this preview build is a broad assertion that: “This update affects the reliability of Windows. It improves after you update the OS.”

Anything that ushers in better stability must be a good thing too, naturally.

Analysis: an ominous sign

It’s great to see the improvement for high polling rate gaming mice, which will help not just for shooters – where you might typically think accuracy is crucial, and of course, it is – but also for, say, real-time strategy games.

The ability to smoothly mouse around and quickly and precisely select units, for example, can’t be underestimated. Whatever game you play, smoother and more accurate mouse movement is a major plus point.

What’s bugging us here is the continued push with badging in the Start menu. Badging is a term Microsoft employs which basically translates to light-touch advertising. Yes, the company might argue these are simply nudges to help you sort out various elements of your computing life related to Windows, but really, they’re thinly veiled ads to use Microsoft products and services.

In this case, the cajoling is to push you towards signing up for a Microsoft Account, with Windows 11 telling you about the security (and other) benefits of doing so in these notifications which appear in the Start menu.

The expanded rollout of this badging previously happened in the Dev channel, but the fact that it has carried forward to the final preview stage before the release version of Windows 11 is rather ominous.

This further progression of the rollout in testing suggests that this is something Microsoft is determined to forge ahead with. If that does indeed play out, we can only hope that Microsoft gives users an option to disable this kind of ‘help’ feature (but we aren’t holding our breath on that score).

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Windows 11’s new feature for PC gamers banishes the RGB-related bloat

Windows 11 is getting a previously rumored feature to give users centralized control over peripherals with RGB lighting.

This was another of many revelations pertaining to Windows 11 at Microsoft’s Build conference, and was detailed in a lengthy blog post by Panos Panay, who’s Chief Product Officer for Windows and Devices.

The feature is called Dynamic Lighting (in the Settings panel) and the promise is that Windows 11 will make it easy to “effortlessly set up and customize devices with RGB lights”.

The ability to control all RGB lighting needs from one central Dynamic Lighting hub in Windows 11 is important, because as Panay observes, if you have multiple devices, it can be a real pain to install a bunch of apps from different manufacturers to deal with the lighting controls for those peripherals.

We’re told that Dynamic Lighting will be going into testing later this month, meaning in the next week, so we’ll get to see it in action in Windows 11 preview builds soon enough.

The workings of the feature were previously uncovered in testing back in February, so this addition is not a surprise.

Analysis: Over the moon, or not interested – which are you?

This is a feature you either won’t care about – if you’re not a gamer, or you hate RGB lighting and think it’s a load of showy nonsense – or you’ll be over the moon that it’s arriving.

While it might not sound like a huge addition to Windows, we can’t underestimate what a boon it’ll be not to have to install multiple third-party apps to control lighting if you have, say, an RGB mouse, gaming keyboard, headset, and maybe some case lights, and so on – all from different vendors.

Those various apps can add up to a lot of bloat for the system – particularly in the case of some of these clients, which can be worse offenders in terms of bogging down the system than others – and you can avoid all this with Windows 11’s RGB hub.

Plus, of course, just having all the controls present in one handy settings panel is just so much more convenient than having to work across multiple RGB-related apps.

With the feature entering testing imminently, we can hope to see the Dynamic Lighting hub inbound with the big 23H2 update later this year, where it’ll certainly help to liven up what’s threatening to be a bit of a yawn-fest currently.

Via PC Gamer

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Windows 11 looks like a flop with gamers compared to Windows 10

Windows 11 is not proving all that popular with gamers if you go by the stats pulled from the most recent Steam hardware survey.

Obviously, this is just a limited snapshot of the gaming community who use Valve’s platform, but Steam is a major presence in the gaming world, of course, and the survey for March shows a rather paltry uptick of 1.25% compared to the previous month.

In February, Windows 11 adoption among Steam gamers was 15.59%, so it has now risen to 16.84%. It seems like a real slowdown is setting in when it comes to the number of Windows gamers who are making the transition to Microsoft’s latest desktop OS, as we can see looking back to January of this year, and December 2021.

In January, Windows 11 gamers stood at 13.56%, and that was up 3.41% compared to the previous month – a major gain. But since then, we’ve seen more modest increases of 2.03%, now slowing to 1.25%.

Windows 10 still holds a 74.69% share of Steam gamers, with Windows 7 on 4.14%, and away from Microsoft, macOS has a 2.43% adoption, while Linux slipped just a touch to bang-on 1%.

Analysis: Slow burn adoption could well pick up in the future, though

While we have to take Steam’s figures with a pinch of salt as mentioned – or any such individual report like this, which obviously has a limited capability to inform on the entire PC market – Microsoft is likely going to be disappointed with these most recent figures.

Mainly because as mentioned, when 2022 kicked off, it looked like Windows 11 was starting to gain some serious momentum with gamers, but those larger strides forward appear to have morphed into smaller steps.

Most worryingly, the overall progress of Windows 11 adoption for gamers remains way, way behind what we witnessed for Windows 10. As PC Gamer, which highlighted the release of the latest Steam survey, points out, seven months after release – which is where we are with Windows 11 now – Windows 10 hit a tally of 36.97% of Steam PCs. So that’s more than double Windows 11’s current 16.84% market share on Steam.

Let’s be frank – that’s not really a great advert for how adeptly Windows 11 is managing to tempt the gaming fraternity. That said, with Windows 11 being less of a major upgrade – and more of a case of building on and refining Windows 10 – it’s not too surprising that more folks are taking a wait-and-see approach.

As far as gamers go, there’ll certainly be some seriously compelling reasons to consider a switch eventually, when gaming-focused tech like DirectStorage is supported by more games in the future. (While DirectStorage will be available for Windows 10 users as well, it’ll have much more impact thanks to the storage optimizations found in Windows 11 – and the tech will be about much more than just speeding up load times, too).

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