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

You might also like…

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Google Bard Advanced leak hints at imminent launch for ChatGPT rival

The release of Google Bard’s Advanced tier may be coming sooner than people expected, according to a recent leak, and what's more, it won’t be free.

Well, it’s not a “leak” per se; the company left a bunch of clues on its website that anybody could find if you know where to look. That’s how developer Bedros Pamboukian on X (the platform formerly known as Twitter) found lines of code hinting at the imminent launch of Bard Advanced. What’s interesting is the discovery reveals the souped-up AI will be bundled with Google One, and if you buy a subscription, you can try it out as part of a three-month trial.

There is a bit of hype surrounding Bard Advanced because it will be powered by Google’s top-of-the-line Gemini Ultra model. In an announcement post from this past December, the company states Gemini Ultra has been designed to deal with “highly complex tasks and accept multimodal inputs”. This possibility is backed up by another leak from user Dylan Roussel on X claiming the chatbot will be capable of “advanced math and reasoning skills.”

It’s unknown which Google One tier people will have to buy to gain access or if there will be a new one for Bard Advanced. Neither leak reveals a price tag. But if we had to take a wild guess, you may have to opt for the $ 10 a month Premium plan. Considering the amount of interest surrounding the AI, it would make sense for Google to put up a high barrier for entry.

Potential features

Going back to the Roussel leak, it reveals a lot of other features that may or may not be coming to Google Bard. Things might change or “they may never land at all.”

First, it may be possible to create customized bots using the AI’s tool. There is very little information about them. We don’t know what they do or if they’re shareable. The only thing we do know is the bots are collectively codenamed Motoko.

Next, it appears Bard will receive a couple of extra tools. You have Gallery, a set of publicly viewable prompts on a variety of topics users can check out for brainstorming ideas. Then there’s Tasks. Roussel admits he couldn’t find many details about it, but to his understanding, it’ll be “used to manage long-running tasks such as” image generation.

See more

Speaking of generating images, the third feature allows users a way to create backgrounds and foregrounds for smartphones and website banners. The last one, called Power Up, is said to be able to improve text prompts. Once again, there’s little information to go on. We don’t know how the backgrounds can be made (if that’s what’s going on) or what powering up a text prompt even looks like. It's hard to say for sure.

Users probably won’t have to wait for very long to get the full picture. Given the fact these were hidden on Google’s website, the official rollout must be just around the corner.

2024 is shaping up to be a big year for artificial intelligence, especially when it comes to the likes of Google Bard and its ChatGPT. If you want to know which one we think will come out on top, check out TechRadar's ChatGPT vs Google Bard analyzation.

You might also like

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Windows 11 gets a big redesign for folders – and an exciting feature is imminent

Windows 11 just got a new preview build which brings in the much talked about revamp of File Explorer, and a number of other features besides.

File Explorer is the central pillar of the Windows 11 interface – it’s the very windows on the desktop you use to browse through folders and files – and it has undergone a full overhaul in the latest test version in the Beta channel (build 22621.2050 / 22631.2050).

Microsoft calls it a modernized File Explorer, and it comes sporting a new details pane and address bar plus search box.

When you select a file, the new details pane shows contextual info relating to that file such as a thumbnail, share status, recent activity for the file, any related files and other details.

The modernized address bar in File Explorer automatically recognizes local (on the PC) or cloud folders and shows their status as such, and for those who use OneDrive, the bar carries the storage service’s sync status to see at-a-glance (plus there’s a quota flyout).

For those signed into a Microsoft account, Quick Access folders have also been rejigged with an ‘updated experience’. And lastly, those signed into an Azure Active Directory (AAD) account (business users) will get recommended files shown in a carousel (with file thumbnails coming soon, we’re told).

Another major introduction here is the Dynamic Lighting hub that we’ve heard a lot about in the past. This provides a central place to control your peripherals with RGB lighting, so you don’t have to bloat your system with multiple third-party apps from hardware makers.

We’re told that a bunch of peripheral manufacturers have partnered with Microsoft on this, including Acer, Asus, HP, HyperX, Logitech, Razer, and Twinkly.

Elsewhere in this beta build, Windows Ink is getting pepped up so users can write into edit fields in the OS. That means you can, for example, write directly into a search box in the Windows 11 interface, with the eventual goal being you can use your stylus to write anywhere in the UI.

There’s a bunch of other bits and pieces going on here, such as a new volume mixer in Quick Settings, plus adding new natural voices for Narrator (including UK English, Chinese, Japanese, and Spanish). For the full details, see Microsoft’s blog post introducing the build.

Analysis: Happiness is a setting that doesn’t work (just yet)

Clearly, there are some big moves here. For gamers, the Dynamic Lighting hub should be a real gem, although it’s slightly late arriving for testing – we were expecting to see it debut in May.

And it’s great to see the redesigned File Explorer land, of course. This will be an ongoing piece of work, and doubtless one of the central cogs of the 23H2 update when it arrives later this year – it’s also set to introduce an image gallery view for folders (which has already been incorporated into the Beta channel earlier).

Excitingly, there’s something else here – and that’s the settings for ‘never combined’ mode in Windows 11. This is a long-awaited feature for many (ourselves included) that is now included in Taskbar behaviors (in Settings) in this preview build, but sadly, the functionality doesn’t work yet.

However, Microsoft tells us that it will be enabled in a beta build ‘soon’, so the wait is nearly over for the ability to tell Windows 11 not to stack up running instances of the same app on the taskbar. This feature must also be pretty much a dead cert for the 23H2 update, too, and we’re happy about that.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More