Meta is planning to meet, if not surpass, the powerful GPT-4 chatbots designed by OpenAI with its own sophisticated artificial intelligence bot. The company is planning on training the large language model (LLM) early next year, and likely hopes it will take the number one spot in the AI game.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Meta has been buying up Nvidia H100 AI training chips and strengthening internal infrastructure to ensure that this time around, Meta won’t have to rely on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform to train its new chatbot.
The Verge notes that there’s already a group within the company that was put together earlier in the year to begin work building the model, with the apparent goal being to quickly create a tool that can closely emulate human expressions.
Is this what we want? And do companies care?
Back in June, a leak suggested that a new Instagram feature would have chatbots integrated into the platform that could answer questions, give advice, and help users write messages. Interestingly, users would also be able to choose from “30 AI personalities and find which one [they] like best”.
It seems like this leak might actually come to fruition if Meta is putting in this much time and effort to replicate human expressiveness. Of course, the company will probably look to Snapchat AI for a comprehensive look at what not to do when it comes to squeezing AI chatbots into its apps, hopefully skipping the part where Snapchat’s AI bot got bullied and gave users some pretty disturbing advice.
Overall, the AI scramble carries on as big companies continue to climb to the summit of a mysterious, unexplored mountain. Meta makes a point of ensuring the potential new LLM will remain free for other companies to base their own AI tools on, a net positive in my books. We’ll just have to wait for next year to see what exactly is in store.
Windows 11 has reportedly run into problems with its latest cumulative update, with the upgrade failing to install for some folks, and breaking Microsoft Defender in other cases.
Windows Latest has rounded up the latest batch of complaints regarding a cumulative update for Windows 11, in this case KB5029263, which is the mandatory upgrade for August.
As mentioned, some users are reporting installation failures with KB5029263, and the other annoyance here is that the failed update keeps offering itself over and over, constantly lurking as a red dot (update pending warning) on the taskbar (system tray).
Readers of Windows Latest have complained directly to the tech site about this, and there are affected Windows 11 users venting on Microsoft’s Feedback Hub.
On the Feedback Hub there are also scattered complaints of some more serious gremlins in the works with this August update. That includes the update getting stuck before it completes (and getting stuck again on subsequent installation attempts), and also File Explorer failing to work (meaning you can’t explore folders on the desktop).
KB5029263 is apparently also messing with Microsoft Defender, Windows 11’s built-in security app – which now ranks pretty highly among the best free antivirus – in some cases. Some users are seeing the following error when opening the app: ‘Unable to log into Microsoft Defender.’
Analysis: Defender fix is inbound, apparently
On the last point, Windows Latest reckons that this error could be the result of a clash between the security fixes in the August update, and a separate new update for Microsoft Defender.
While Microsoft hasn’t officially acknowledged any of the above problems, including the apparent cases of Defender coming off the rails, Windows Latest claims it talked to a support engineer at the company. That Microsoft employee confirmed the issue and said it will be fixed by an update soon. (An update to either Defender, or one applied to the OS via Windows Update, but one way or another, a cure is seemingly in the pipeline).
The mentioned installation failures are nothing new, and it seems to be depressingly commonplace these days that some Windows 11 PCs will fail to successfully run the update process. This may be a small minority affected, but it’s a frustrating situation to be caught in – as you are, of course, left without all the latest security fixes. Those are important to say the least.
The other vital element provided by KB5029263, at least for those who have been affected by the issue, is the fix for a bug causing huge slowdowns with some SSDs (or at least this cures the majority of cases, it seems). You might own one of the fastest, best SSDs out there, but with its performance levels cut in half (potentially), it won’t look so clever. And if you can’t install the August patch to (hopefully) smooth over the issue, that’s going to be pretty irritating.
Nearby Share on Android has received a major upgrade, giving you the ability to send entire folders to other devices.
This feature was recently discovered by industry insider and tech journalist Mishaal Rahman who shared his findings on X (or Twitter, if you prefer the older, less obtuse name). Rahman states you’re able to transfer folders from one Android phone to another as well as to Chromebooks and Windows PCs via the Files by Google app. He says that all you have to do is long-press any folder within Google Files and then select the Nearby Share icon on-screen. From there, you will see all of the connected devices which can accept the transfer. Pretty simple stuff.
Neat: You can send an entire folder from your Android device to other Android devices, Chromebooks, or Windows PCs from the Files by Google app! Just long-press on any folder in the Files app and then tap the Nearby Share icon in the top right. pic.twitter.com/yk7epVxojhJuly 31, 2023
There are some limitations to be aware of. Tom’s Guide states in their report, “Nearby Share has a 1,000-file limit”, so folders can’t be too big. Another piece from Android Police reveals the upgrade is exclusive to Google Files as it doesn’t seem to work properly with Samsung’s own file manager. Files will still be shared on Samsung's app, but it won’t retain the folder structure, according to Rahman.
What’s interesting is there’s a good chance you already have this feature if your device has Google Files. Rahman says that Nail Sadykov, another notable industry insider, claims “the earliest he saw someone mention it was back in May” of this year. It’s just that no one knew about it until very recently. Apparently, Google didn’t give anyone the heads-up.
So, if you have Google Files on your phone and haven’t updated it in a while, we recommend downloading the patch to get the boosted Nearby Share.
Closing the gap
Admittedly, it’s a small update, but an important one as it allows Nearby Share to close the gap a bit between it and Apple’s AirDrop. Android users will save a lot of time since they won’t be forced to transfer files one by one. It’s a function iPhone owners have enjoyed for many years now. It’s hard to say exactly when AirDrop first gained the ability to send folders to Macs. The oldest instance we could find was one of our How-to guides from 2015.
However, Nearby Share still has a long way to go before it can be considered a proper rival to AirDrop. For iOS 17, Apple plans on further enhancing its wireless file transfer tool by introducing new features like Contact Posters for friends plus improved security for unsolicited images.
Microsoft’s Bing chatbot and Bing search on desktop have just got dark mode, a feature that many folks have been keenly awaiting for some time.
Jordi Ribas, Microsoft’s CVP, Head of Engineering and Product for Bing, made the announcement on Twitter.
We are starting to roll out desktop dark mode for Bing over the next few days. We heard the requests for dark mode and are excited for everyone to experience this feature in Bing Search and Chat. pic.twitter.com/waz6dScRLXJuly 26, 2023
As you can see, dark mode is rolling out over the next few days, so everyone should have it before the weekend.
Indeed, going by feedback to the tweet, many people are already using dark mode when chatting to the Bing AI (or using the Bing search website) on their desktop PC.
If you’re not sure whether you have the ability to turn on dark mode, just go to the Bing site, click the hamburger menu (three horizontal lines, top-right), and go to Appearance, where you’ll find light and dark modes (if available). There’s also an option to automatically use whatever system-wide choice you’ve made for the light or dark theme.
Analysis: Folks are over the dark side of the moon
This has happened earlier than expected, which is always good. Last week, we were told that dark mode was inbound for Bing AI (and search), but we were informed it would be here in a couple of weeks. It only took one week to appear, then, so Microsoft moved a bit faster than anticipated.
As you may recall, Bing AI also got the full rollout of Visual Search last week, so everyone now has that, too. This feature allows you to fling an image at the chatbot, and then get a reply imparting info on the pic (for example, if you have a picture of a historical building, Bing will tell you what – and where – it is).
You can combine that function with the chatbot’s image creation capabilities, too, and ask it to compose a similar image. (Say you’ve got a picture of a wolf in daylight, you could ask Bing to create something just like it, but at night with a full moon).
Windows 11 21H2 is about to run out of road for support, so if you’re still on this version of the operating system, then you need to upgrade very soon.
Bleeping Computer highlighted an end-of-servicing announcement Microsoft issued pertaining to Windows 11 Home, version 21H2 (and Pro versions, too, including Windows 11 Pro Education).
Microsoft reminded us: “These editions will no longer receive security updates after October 10, 2023.”
What does that mean? Feature updates are one thing – upgrades that add new capabilities and refine the interface of Windows 11 in one way or another – but security updates are the really important bit.
They patch up vulnerabilities that have been discovered in Windows 11, and if not fixed, could be exploited by attackers to compromise your system in some way (usually with dire results).
If you’re still running Windows 11 21H2 – which is the version of the OS from 2021, as the name suggests – then you need to upgrade to 22H2, and do so before October arrives.
Analysis: Get going on that upgrade
Upgrading to Windows 11 22H2 is an easy process. Just head to Windows Update (in Settings), and click the ‘Check for updates’ button, whereupon the upgrade should show up with the option to install it.
Not sure what version of Windows 11 you have? You can find out simply by typing ‘winver’ into the search box on the taskbar and clicking on ‘Run command’. Winver stands for Windows Version and will pop up a panel telling you if you are currently running Windows 11 21H2 or 22H2 (or whatever flavor of Microsoft’s OS you’ve got for that matter, if it’s another).
Microsoft has also been forcing upgrades to Windows 11 22H2 for the same reason over the course of 2023, and as the final October deadline for 21H2 support approaches, more users are going to get an automatic upgrade coming into play, again to ensure their PC continues to receive security fixes.
Microsoft has finally fixed a thorny problem with Windows 11 and Windows 10 that messed with the Start menu and search bar (as well as some UWP – Universal Windows Platform – apps).
You may recall that these problems first surfaced back in January (as we reported last month), and they affected devices with certain apps that are integrated with Windows, Microsoft Office, or Outlook.
And while it’s taken some time, Microsoft has managed to untangle this one at last, and the fix is in new updates for both Windows 11 (KB5027303) and Windows 10 (KB5027293).
The bug is marked as resolved in OS dashboard health updates for both of these operating systems. Note that the mentioned updates carrying the resolution are in preview, so you’ll find them as optional updates (in Windows Update).
Installing them might mean you encounter another (different) bug, as with anything still in its preview or testing phase, but at this point, they’re on the last hurdle before release – and any problems may be far more minor than the glitches that they (hopefully) cure.
Analysis: Fix was much-needed given that badly fudged workaround
This rather nasty bug – that affects the operation of core parts of the Windows interface, like the Start menu, and search – has been hanging around for six months now.
So it’s good to see Microsoft put paid to it, even if it has taken a while – but we could guess it would from the software giant’s updates on the matter. Indeed, we expected to be waiting longer, in all honesty.
If you recall, we were previously given a workaround by Microsoft, but it wasn’t much of one. Indeed, it was a far from ideal fudge of the situation whereby Microsoft advised uninstalling the problematic apps – the obvious issue with that being that you can no longer use them (and they might be important pieces of software for you).
Elsewhere, Microsoft has been busy waving its bug fixing wand on the gaming front, banishing a very unpleasant gremlin that was causing some PC games to crash. That fix was piped through in the (preview) Moment 3 update for Windows 11, but sadly, Windows 10 gamers aren’t getting this fix (at least not yet).
Valve has announced a major update to its Steam application that brings a “fresh” new look, better notifications, a new in-game overlay and new Notes feature.
Announced on Twitter (see below), and with a blog post, this is one of the biggest updates to Steam we’ve seen for a long time – and due to the popularity of Valve’s Steam platform, these changes will likely impact almost all PC gamers.
Hello! We’ve just shipped a big update to the Steam Desktop client. New features include a completely redesigned in-game overlay, new notes functionality, pinnable in-game windows, improvements to notifications and more.Learn more about the update here: https://t.co/6OWnUQOBqs pic.twitter.com/A9OI8WMaqbJune 14, 2023
The most noticeable change is the major redesign of the Steam interface, which Valve describes as “targeted visual and usability improvements across Steam.” While the app remains recognizable, the new look feels more modern, with Settings and Screenshot Manager getting particular attention.
If you use Steam – and if you play many of the best PC games it’s likely that you do, then you’ll probably have noticed notifications popping up in the corner of your screen while playing. While these can sometimes be useful, more often than not they're useless alerts about someone adding you to their ‘Friends list’, potentially distracting you at a key moment in the game.
So the fact that Valve has improved notifications to be “more useful to you” is certainly welcome – as is Valve’s acknowledgement that Steam notifications haven’t been great. With the new update, the 'bell' icon at the top of the screen will only light up green when there’s “truly something new for you,” and the notification pop-out window will be limited to new notifications (older ones can be viewed by clicking the 'View all' option).
Steam now also provides new notification settings that let you fine-tune which notifications pop up, and where they'll appear. Hopefully this will put a stop to immersion-breaking pop-ups showing up while you're playing games.
New and improved in-game overlay
The in-game overlay, which appears when you press Shift+Tab while playing a game, has got a new look as well, with a new toolbar along the bottom that contains buttons for things such as chat, achievements, guides and a web browser, so they can all be quickly accessed. It’s similar to the Game Bar in Windows 11 (which you can open by pressing the Windows key +G on your keyboard.
You can also customize which elements appear in the in-game overlay, and these settings will carry over regardless of which game you play.
You can now pin windows from the overlay to appear on-screen while you’re playing. This could be really handy for putting up guides to help you through a tricky part of a game, or – as Valve suggests – you could use it to multitask, such as playing a video or podcast while you game.
The in-game overlay also comes with two brand-new features. The first is the Game Overview panel, which gives you a load of easily-glanceable information about the game you're playing, including achievements, progress, news and more.
Valve has also added a new Notes feature, which allows you to type out quick notes and thoughts, or paste images, while playing. This could prove really helpful for keeping track of puzzles within a game, or for creating a ‘to-do’ list to ensure you get the most out of the game.
These notes are synced, so you can see them on any PC you use Steam on – and that includes the Steam Deck, which is a nice touch.
Steam Deck improvements
While the main focus of this update is on improving the PC experience of Steam, Valve has also done some background work on improving the user experience on its handheld console, the Steam Deck.
Code is now more commonly shared between the Steam desktop client, Big Picture mode and the Steam Deck, and Valve promises that this will mean that any changes and updates made to the desktop client will now appear on the Steam Deck more quickly.
It should work the other way around as well, and Valve has noted that the controller configurator feature of the Steam Deck, which is one of the best tools included with the handheld, can now also be used by the desktop version of Steam (via the in-game overlay), making it easier to configure gamepads connected to your PC.
Background work introducing hardware acceleration to Mac and Linux versions of Steam has also been included, so gamers on those platforms should get an experience that’s more in-line with the Windows version, which again is welcome.
So far the changes appear to have been warmly received by Steam users, and the update should be rolling out right now. For more info, check out Valve’s video highlighting the changes below:
Windows 11’s latest optional update – which is a preview of Moment 3 (KB5026446) – is causing trouble for some users, coming with some bugs, and worse still, in some reported cases the upgrade is installing itself automatically.
Windows Latest reports that it experienced the installation of KB5026446 going ahead automatically when updates were checked for on the PC. Note that as an optional update, one that might contain gremlins in the works (which it apparently does), the user should have to manually trigger the update.
In other words, you should have to choose to install this preview update, it should not be installing automatically.
Windows Latest observes that it has received reports from readers that this unexpected installation of KB5026446 has occurred, and indeed, elsewhere online we’ve seen other reports of this happening (even, in some cases, if people hadn’t checked for updates).
As for the problems the Moment 3 preview update is causing, there are various reports of diverse issues, as you might expect with a patch still in testing. One of those is that it breaks the Microsoft Store, or messes with the Game Pass on PC (making games unplayable, we’re told).
There are other reports of worrying system freezes, some apps failing to open, and the keyboards and mice of some users failing to work post-update.
There were installation failures too, with the usual meaningless error messages (strings of hexadecimal), but that’s pretty much par for the course these days it seems with Windows 11.
Analysis: The clue is in the name – ‘optional’
The good news, well, such as it is, is that in all these cases, simply uninstalling the update (via Windows Update, under Update History) cured the PCs of the various ailments mentioned. The galling bit here is for the folks who didn’t want to install the optional update in the first place, of course.
How widespread is this issue with the KB5026446 preview update installing itself? It’s difficult to say, but it is certainly happening for a number of folks. Windows Latest does observe that if you do check for updates, and notice it installing, if you hit ‘Pause Updates’ that’ll cancel the installation. So that’s worth bearing in mind.
One theory is that this sneaky installation may be tied in to those who have selected the new option in Windows 11 to ‘Get the latest updates as soon as they’re available’ (and using that is necessary to enable Moment 3’s new features in KB5026446, as Bleeping Computer previously made clear).
However, even if you have selected this choice, you should not be getting an optional update piped through with no warning at all (especially when you haven’t even checked for updates, as seems to be happening in some cases). Optional updates should always be exactly that – an option, not an automatic installation (and certainly not one occuring stealthily behind the scenes, as it were).
Hopefully we’ll hear from Microsoft soon enough to clarify what’s going on here.
While Copilot isn’t here yet, the AI will be far more extensive in terms of its scope than Cortana. When it comes to assistance with doing stuff in Windows 11, it’ll not just tell you about useful features for any given task, but offer to automatically enable them if needed. Copilot can also summarize a Word document, for example, Bing AI-style, and its far more wide-ranging skills and utility make Cortana irrelevant as a result.
Just on that basis, it’s no surprise to see Microsoft giving Cortana the elbow from Windows. Indeed, with Cortana getting cut off late in 2023, that perhaps is a further suggestion that this is when Copilot will step up to be incorporated in Windows 11 – perhaps with the 23H2 update? We know Copilot will be in Windows 11 preview builds this month (or at least that’s what Microsoft has told us), so it seems everything is all lining up.
Although there’s always a chance that Copilot is such a big feature addition, Microsoft may want to save it for next-gen Windows (Windows 12, maybe) which is set to arrive next year (rumor has it).
Whatever the case, Cortana is not exactly going to be missed outside a niche of users, at least in Windows, anyway. As a digital assistant, rather than being an all-rounder, Microsoft had already angled Cortana more to business-related use (hence Cortana remaining in Teams and so forth after being ditched from Windows). So, none of this is a shock, and it just makes sense for Microsoft to eject Cortana with Copilot now incoming for Windows 11.
Adobe’s latest update to Premiere Pro promises to be an absolute game-changer for video editors with the arrival of text-based video editing.
According to the company, the feature, first trailed in April 2023, is “an entirely new way of creating rough cuts that are as simple as copying and pasting text.” That means it doesn’t change how videos are produced – it alters who can edit videos.
Text-based editing isn’t the only new feature now available in one of the best video editing software tools on the market. In a bid to maximize workflows, Adobe has unveiled Background Auto Save, smoother scrolling, and improved language support, too.
Ctrl + V(ideo)
Editing videos through text is all about streamlining and simplicity. This is, after all, about making it easier to stitch together rough cuts before fine-tuning.
Once source footage is transcribed, users can quickly highlight the required text from the transcript and insert it into the timeline. Using the sequence transcript, editors can then copy and paste text to move clips, or delete it to bin them, before refining the cut using Premiere Pro’s trimming tools.
It’s not the first time Adobe has toyed with text-based video editing. Last year, the company unveiled its Project Blink beta, an AI-powered video editor for browsers, that works in a suspiciously similar manner.
When we reviewed the web-based video editing app, we were impressed by its overall accessibility. Anyone who’s ever used Microsoft Word or similar will find themselves in somewhat familiar territory. At the time, we said, “it’s fair to say you lack the omniscient control that you’d find in other video editors, and this isn’t exactly an Adobe Premiere Pro alternative. But what would usually take hours in a fully-fledged video editor, Adobe's Project Blink can accomplish in minutes.”
Adding text-based video editing in Premiere Pro takes that to another level. It not only gives just about everyone the ability to build a rough cut, but makes it an integral part of the workflow for experienced and professional video editors.
And, like the proliferation of machine-learning neural filters and the ability to remove objects from an image in one click Photoshop, it’s another example of Adobe simplifying creative processes. We’re all content creators now.