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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Microsoft Home and Student 2021 with $40 off is a great last-minute gift idea for students young and old

While you may not be thinking about productivity tools as a first thought during the festive season, there’s an offer on Microsoft Home and Student 2021 that you might want to take advantage of. Amazon has knocked off $ 40 off the productivity suite, down from $ 149.99. 

In this offer, you get a bundle of three of Microsoft’s most popular and most widely known productivity apps ever – Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. You can use this bundle on Windows 11, Windows 10, and macOS (although some users in reviews report issues with trying to install on macOS devices). These are Microsoft Office products, not Microsoft 365 products, so you don’t need to continuously pay a subscription but you also don’t get upgrades included as standard. 

It’s a terrific option if you only need these three apps and don’t need every small new development that Microsoft adds to them. It does seem like Microsoft will try and push you in the direction of getting Microsoft 365 which I could see being annoying, but it looks like once you have this trio of apps, you’re basically good to go and don’t have to pay anything on top of that. Once you pay, it should be available for instant download.

Not in the US? Scroll down for Microsoft Office 2021 deals in your location. 

Today's best Microsoft Office Home & Student 2021 Christmas deal

Microsoft Office Home & Student 2021: $ 149.99 $ 109.99 at Amazon
This is a versatile productivity suite trio including Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. It offers updated and enhanced features and reworked user-friendly interfaces, empowering you to create, collaborate, and present seamlessly. This collection has a whole host of advanced tools and updated templates, catering to diverse user needs and enabling you to make all kinds of files and documents efficiently with Word, create impactful presentations with PowerPoint, and perform powerful data analysis and organization with Excel. View Deal

This package is a one time payment and download, and you get three of Microsoft’s greatest hits: Word, PowerPoint, and Excel for use at home or at school. It’s a fantastic option for more casual individual users, students, and families. Despite the name, you don't need to be a student to purchase this deal.

Not in the US? Here are the best Microsoft Office 2021 deals where you are:

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Microsoft gets defensive and reminds users how great Windows 11 is

Microsoft recently released a feature update for Windows 11 called Moment 3, which was full of useful upgrades and performance enhancements, that could even win over many Windows 10 users in the battle to get them to upgrade to Windows 11

Soon after the release of Moment 3, Microsoft released a list of enhancements that the company has made throughout the year to “more than a billion users worldwide” via a blog post. The list is basically a rundown of every change made in the past year on Insider channels that are now present in the Moment 3 update.

According to Neowin, Microsoft’s Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer Panos Panay had reminded people that the newest iteration of Windows is focused on quality, and that Windows 11 is the “most reliable version of Windows ever.”

The official blog post from Microsoft with the rather unsubtle title ‘Delivering Delightful Performance for More Than One Billion Users Worldwide’ dives into all the major changes made thus far that Windows users should be grateful for.

There’s been no shortage of negative news stories, crashes and bugs crawling around Windows 11 and subsequent updates and fixes this year, so the blog post comes across like doubling-down from the tech giant. While the Moment 3 update was definitely welcomed with open, almost desperate arms, it does seem a little strange for Microsoft to put out a blog post detailing every ‘good’ change it’s made so far.

The improvements boasted by the tech giant are listed in full in the post, with some notable mentions like making PCs more sustainable, Microsoft Edge starting up faster and increasing users productivity by speeding up how long it takes to get to the desktop.

Microsoft still needs to entice more people to move over to Windows 11, and the recent string of bad headlines definitely hasn’t helped with the migration, but the new blog post could be persuasive.  If you’re apprehensive about upgrading to Windows 11, having every major change listed out could help settle any concerns and aid your decision to upgrade or stay put. That being said, some of the listed upgrades are a little vague, perhaps purposely so.

The Moment 3 update is definitely a step in the right direction and does show that Windows has moved pretty far away from the dark days of Windows Vista. Giving users a whole blog post on all the changes you’ve been making is a straightforward step towards enticing people to upgrade, and we will have to see just how persuaded users are. 

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Windows 11’s new Restore Apps feature is so close to being great

Windows 11 will soon be much easier to set up exactly how you like it on a new PC thanks to a freshly introduced feature which has now entered testing.

PC World reports that Microsoft revealed the new Restore Apps feature at its Build conference for developers.

The feature – if turned on, as apparently it’s an optional ability – will shift not just your personal data onto a new PC (as can already be done via OneDrive, of course), but also your apps (with a catch – we’ll come back to that). Also, it’ll port over the customization you have applied to the interface too – so, for example, your desktop icons and layout, or apps you have pinned to the taskbar.

In essence, this means you can fire up a new installation of Windows 11 and soon have it exactly like your old system, with a minimum of hassle and effort.

As you might imagine, though, to get Restore Apps rolling and the full benefit of this easy migration to a new machine, you’ll need to be signed into a Microsoft Account (as opposed to using Windows 11 with a local account).

Windows 11 Restore Apps Feature

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Analysis: A couple of caveats

This is a great move from Microsoft in terms of making it really easy to get a new PC going. The catch is that with the apps being reinstalled, Windows 11 only preserves applications you’ve installed from the Microsoft Store, so you will have to manually set up other software.

And yes, you do have to use your Microsoft Account for the Windows 11 installation, but that’s no surprise. We don’t have a problem with Microsoft leveraging its account where necessary and when it’s of genuine benefit to users, after all. (What we don’t like to see is dubious ‘suggestions’ and ‘help’ in the Start menu which are just thinly veiled adverts for an account).

We’re told that Restore Apps should be available to testers imminently, perhaps by the time you read this, but it’s not clear in which channel Microsoft will deploy the feature first (Canary or Dev, presumably).

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Windows 11 steals a great Microsoft Teams feature for better video calls

Windows 11 is set to get one of Microsoft Team’s best features, thanks to “Voice Clarity”, which will use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to make your voice in calls and recordings much clearer.

Microsoft Teams, an app that many people use for video calls, has a very similar feature that does an excellent job at minimizing and eliminating background noises for people in noisy environments, ensuring they can be heard clearly.

With the feature being so acclaimed, it’s little surprise to see Microsoft bring it to the wider Windows 11 operating system, which would allow the feature to work with other video calling apps. Voice Clarity was announced at Microsoft’s recent ‘Hybrid Work’ event as one of the ways the company is making its products better for people who are now spending their time working from home, as well as in an office.

While the noise-canceling features in Microsoft Teams have proved popular, there’s not a huge amount of love for the application itself, so bringing it to Windows 11 itself could prove a popular move.


Analysis: There’s always a catch

Surface Laptop Studio

(Image credit: Future)

While the idea of making Voice Clarity available to more apps and users, the catch is that at the moment, the feature will only work on the Surface Laptop Studio, a relatively niche product from Microsoft.

That’s certainly a shame, as it means that the vast majority of Windows 11 users still won’t be able to make use of the feature.

It’s a bit of a puzzling decision, and we’ve contacted Microsoft to ask why this is the case. It may be due to some hardware-specific requirements that only the Surface Laptop Studio has. Or, Microsoft could just be limiting the availability of the feature to help boost interest in the Surface Laptop Studio.

But, with an increasing number of us relying on video calls for keeping in contact with friends, family and co-workers, any tools that can help make those calls better is certainly welcome, and we’d love to see Microsoft make the Voice Clarity feature more widely available.

Via Windows Latest

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Windows 11 steals a great Microsoft Teams feature for better video calls

Windows 11 is set to get one of Microsoft Team’s best features, thanks to “Voice Clarity”, which will use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to make your voice in calls and recordings much clearer.

Microsoft Teams, an app that many people use for video calls, has a very similar feature that does an excellent job at minimizing and eliminating background noises for people in noisy environments, ensuring they can be heard clearly.

With the feature being so acclaimed, it’s little surprise to see Microsoft bring it to the wider Windows 11 operating system, which would allow the feature to work with other video calling apps. Voice Clarity was announced at Microsoft’s recent ‘Hybrid Work’ event as one of the ways the company is making its products better for people who are now spending their time working from home, as well as in an office.

While the noise-canceling features in Microsoft Teams have proved popular, there’s not a huge amount of love for the application itself, so bringing it to Windows 11 itself could prove a popular move.


Analysis: There’s always a catch

Surface Laptop Studio

(Image credit: Future)

While the idea of making Voice Clarity available to more apps and users, the catch is that at the moment, the feature will only work on the Surface Laptop Studio, a relatively niche product from Microsoft.

That’s certainly a shame, as it means that the vast majority of Windows 11 users still won’t be able to make use of the feature.

It’s a bit of a puzzling decision, and we’ve contacted Microsoft to ask why this is the case. It may be due to some hardware-specific requirements that only the Surface Laptop Studio has. Or, Microsoft could just be limiting the availability of the feature to help boost interest in the Surface Laptop Studio.

But, with an increasing number of us relying on video calls for keeping in contact with friends, family and co-workers, any tools that can help make those calls better is certainly welcome, and we’d love to see Microsoft make the Voice Clarity feature more widely available.

Via Windows Latest

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Rejoice! WhatsApp users on iOS can celebrate the return of this great feature

The beta builds of WhatsApp are where you tend to find new features and options to play with. From time to time, however, these preview builds also serve as a glimpse of things that are vanishing from the messaging app.

This is precisely what happened with the camera media bar recently, and this led to a wave of complaints from disgruntled users. Previously, you would be able to scroll through your images horizontally while having the camera available to shoot, but a recent update relegated this to just one image.

Thankfully, WhatsApp is very good at listening to feedback, and as such it has taken action to give people what they want. What this means is that – for iOS users, at least – the scrollable camera media bar is back.

The removal this feature caused a lot of upset as it made sending photos and videos a more long-winded process. A few extra taps here and there may not sound like much in theory, but it is something that soon gets extremely annoying in practice.

The bar is back

WhatsApp media bar

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

Although the initial change that saw the removal of the camera media bar did not make the feature unusable, it did complicate the process unnecessarily. If you wanted to send out a message with a previously-taken image as quickly as possible, any extra steps could have been a major irritation.

This is far from being the first time WhatsApp has introduced a change only to backtrack on its design decision, and it almost certainly won't be the last.

This is why the return of the scrollable media bar will be welcomed by most. Anyone who is signed up for the TestFlight beta program can download and install WhatsApp beta version 22.4.0.72 for iOS.

Once installed, this version of the app restores the scrollable media browser bar, making it quick and easy to navigate through the contents of your camera rolls and select videos, photos and other images to send in messages.

Via WABetaInfo

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Got a new M1 Mac? Here’s five great games to play on Parallels Desktop

Since Parallels Desktop 17 was released earlier this year, we’ve been inspired to try out many games on Apple’s M1 Macs in how they run through virtualization.

With many tests impressing us so far, such as Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes running at full speed in 1440p on high settings, we’re still testing more games from other storefronts to see how far these Macs will go.

But you may have already received a new Mac this Christmas, and you’re already trying out Apple Arcade or games from the Mac App Store.

With this in mind, we’ve curated five games that will run great on your new Apple Silicon Mac, but are also perfect to play during the Christmas holidays.

Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair

Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair, on a MacBook Pro through Parallels Desktop

(Image credit: Future)

Released in 2019 by Playtonic, a team of ex-Rare veterans and more, this is the second entry into the Yooka Laylee series after the first game had a successful Kickstarter, and was released to positive reviews.

This entry is 2D based, which is inspired from the Donkey Kong Country games of Rare's past. Here, you run through a series of worlds and levels to collect quills and T.W.I.T. coins, as well as to free a member of the 'Beetalion' crew. These will grant Yooka and Laylee additional 'hit points' to use when you reach the final level.

While you can play this game on Steam, we also saw no issues in playing the game on the Epic Games app within Parallels as well. Everything played well on high settings on both the M1 Mac mini and M1 Pro MacBook Pro, so if you want a great 2D platformer to pass the holidays with, Yooka and Laylee can greatly help with that.

Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain

Playing Ground Zeroes on a M1 Mac mini

(Image credit: TechRadar)

To date, an entry from the Metal Gear series has not seen a release on the Mac, but thanks to Parallels, you can play the fifth game with little issues.

Released in two parts – Ground Zeroes and Phantom Pain that are available on Steam, you control Big Boss, or Phantom Snake as he's called here, where you need to infiltrate certain bases to rescue or recruit crew members to build out an army at a base called Outer Heaven.

While there are rumors pertaining to this day of the final game being unfinished, due to a missing chapter at the end, that doesn't make the game feel any less fun. The story, while confusing, is made up of the amount that you can do during a mission, You can drop in or be picked up in certain areas, and complete the tasks in different ways.

On the M1 Macs, you can easily run the game at a 1440×900 resolution at medium settings and have a great time. However, if you have a Mac with the M1 Pro or Max chip, you will be able to run the game on its highest settings with no issues.

Everything runs as expected, and over the holidays, it's a great game to lose yourself in.

Grand Theft Auto IV

GTA 4 on a MacBook Pro in Parallels Desktop

(Image credit: Future)

While many are waiting to hear about a Grand Theft Auto VI, the fourth entry is one that gets overlooked the most from the series.

The first in the 'high-definition' series, its purpose was to remake Liberty City, the location from the third game, into this wide-sprawling city.

You control Eastern European war veteran Nico Bellic this time, where you're on a mission to help your family and friends by working with the local Mafia. Across four districts, you're soon flying helicopters and arranging dates to build up your reputation across the city.

The control is arguably better than Grand Theft Auto V, where driving has a better feel here, with more heft and better variation when you drive different vehicles across the city.

While the multiplayer mode was removed in 2020, the single-player mode available on Steam is still a lot of fun. On an M1 Mac, you can expect to play the game in high settings with no issue, but with an M1 Pro/Max Mac, you'll be able to play the game at a 2540×1440 resolution with no issues.

Tomb Raider: Legend

Tomb Raider Legend on Parallels Desktop 17 on an M1 MacBook Pro

(Image credit: TechRadar)

With 2021 marking the 25th anniversary of the Tomb Raider series, you may have a favored entry that you go back to for some Lara Croft nostalgia.

However, while you can play the first three Tomb Raider games in Parallels with no issue, the seventh game, released in 2006 on Steam, is worth a playthrough over the holidays.

It's the first entry created by Crystal Dynamics, where Lara receives a soft reboot in her story and appearance, but with the gameplay being updated for the mid-noughties.

The controls here are much looser here than before, where you can play the game with a keyboard and mouse and have a good time.

Sprawled across 10 levels, from Bolivia to Kazakhstan, you're on a quest to find King Arthur's Excalibur in order to find Lara's missing Mother. It's a simple story, but it's where the gameplay shines. You're given a grappling hook that can attach to ledges and blocks to solve a variety of puzzles, alongside finding secret treasures that can unlock costumes for Lara.

For a game released in 2006, it still plays well today, and especially so on an Apple Silicon Mac. You can play the game at high settings, on a high resolution with no issues here.

Sonic Generations

Sonic Generations running in Parallels Desktop 17 on an M1 Pro MacBook Pro

(Image credit: Future)

This was a game that was designed to celebrate Sonic's 20th anniversary back in 2011 on Steam. Sonic Generations is one of the few 3D Sonic games that's fondly remembered, mainly due to how it honors the series' past.

Every level here is a remake of what came before, from Green Hill Zone in Sonic 1, to Sky Sanctuary Zone in Sonic 3. There are nine stages, with an additional stage of Casino Night Zone, from Sonic 2, where you merely collect enough rings in a pinball machine to complete the level.

Every level is as entertaining as the last, where you play a 3D and a 2D version of it, depending on the type of Sonic you pick. There's also plenty of collectibles that you earn by finding hidden red rings across the stages, which can unlock music, skills and more.

Running the game on an M1 Mac, it can stutter if all settings are on high, especially with the shaders. But when running in medium settings on a 1920×1080 resolution, you'll be running across Chemical Plant Zone with no issues.

However, playing Sonic Generations with an M1 Pro / Max Mac, you can easily play with high settings at a 2560×1440 resolution with rarely any stutters.

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