Microsoft wants to make this unpopular Windows 11 Start menu feature slightly less hated

Microsoft is considering a change to Windows 11 that would declutter one part of the interface in the Start menu.

The tweak has only been applied in testing right now, in the recent build 23575 deployed to the Dev channel, and it pertains to the Recommended panel in the Start menu.

What Microsoft has done, as Windows Latest reports, is to introduce a grouping system for the recently added apps that appear in this Recommended section.

As it is, these apps show up as single entries, but in the new interface, they are all shoved into a ‘Recently added’ folder in the section, thereby decreasing clutter.

It’s certainly a useful touch to streamline this part of the Start menu, although note that the rollout of this to testers is a phased one, meaning only some of those in the Dev channel will see it to begin with.

Elsewhere in build 23575, Microsoft has fixed a bunch of bugs including crashes with File Explorer, problems with some PC games, and an issue where Copilot disappeared from the taskbar (an AWOL AI, if you will).


Analysis: More customization options please, Microsoft

Hopefully, we’ll see this move progress from Dev to Beta channels, and then eventually the release version of Windows 11, because it’s certainly a useful addition to the Recommended section. Eventually, it’s possible Microsoft may organize other parts of this panel using grouping in folders.

However, there are broader concerns about the Recommended section. In its article, Windows Latest also pointed out a post on Microsoft’s Feedback Hub called: “I would like to be able to turn off the Recommended section in the Start menu and have the whole area disappear in Windows 11.”

The idea of being able to ditch the feature entirely from the Start menu has now been upvoted nearly 10,000 times on the hub. Most folks would appreciate the ability to customize all parts of the Windows 11 UI further, wherever possible, and we’d agree wholly with that sentiment.

If Microsoft feels this is complicating things, any customization options could be hidden away somewhere, so only advanced users would bother to hunt them out.

We have aired concerns about the Recommended section for some time, particularly around flagging up websites as suggestions for Windows 11 users to visit – and where the lines may be drawn in terms of nudging and advertising. These suggestions are something that appears to be coming through for release, even though it’s an area Microsoft has experimented with in the past and then abandoned.

All in all, the Recommended panel is one of the bits of Windows 11’s interface we feel could definitely use some work, although at least the potential change coming in with this new preview build does make things better.

You might also like

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Windows 11’s Microsoft Store gets slightly less annoying – but I still won’t use it

The Microsoft Store has received a new update that allows it to launch much faster. Users that are using version 22309 of the store should see a noticeable difference in launch times – although I personally don’t think a meager launch time revamp is enough to draw users to the store. 

Independent developer Daniel (@kid_jenius on X/Twitter) noticed the change and noted that the launch time has apparently dropped from seven seconds to two seconds. Of course, that’s no guarantee that your results will be exactly the same, but it seems the app is certainly quicker than before. 

See more

If you’d like to update your Microsoft Store to version 22309, you’ll ironically have to use… Microsoft Store. If you’re brave enough you’ll open the store, when it eventually loads, select the library icon on the lower left corner, select the option that says ‘get updates’, and select the available updates. 

If you can’t see an available update your device may have automatically installed it already.

And then what?

So, you may be sitting here reading this and thinking ‘who cares?’ (harsh but fair) or a more polite ‘so what?’, and honestly? You’d be justified. Obviously, this is a move from Microsoft to start hammering out the kinks in the app, but not many people actually use it. 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve downloaded all my apps and software directly from the internet rather than subjecting myself to the frustrating horror that is the Microsoft Store. It’s always been laggy, clunky, and slow.

Microsoft has struggled to entice users to the store, and while it is making small steps to make the experience better, most Windows users are more accustomed to going straight to the app's site and downloading directly. 

At this point, I don’t think there’s anything Microsoft can do (barring a complete teardown and redesign, which we’re likely not seeing soon) to lure me into its buggy storefront. I appreciate the effort, but it’s too little too late. 

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

ChatGPT just got a lot less annoying to work with thanks to this new feature

OpenAI has introduced a new feature to the popular AI chatbot ChatGPT that will allow the bot to properly remember your preferences and provide more personalized responses.

With the new update, you’ll be able to input ‘custom instructions’ per request, and the chatbot will then ‘remember’ those instructions in further conversations.

The announcement from OpenAI comes as a response to user feedback, with the company stating that “we’ve deepened our understanding of the essential role steerability plays in enabling our models to effectively reflect the diverse contexts and unique needs of each person”.

So what difference does the new feature actually make? The examples given to us by OpenAI paint a good picture of how the update could improve user experience with the chatbot. Say you’re a teacher, looking to make a lesson plan for your 3rd-graders. Rather than having to continuously state this with each new conversation, a custom instruction set means the bot can give age-specific recommendations without having to be reminded. 

screenshot

These ‘custom instructions’ could save a huge amount of time for heavy users of ChatGPT. (Image credit: Future viwa OpenAI)

If you use ChatGPT quite often, you’ll know how frustrating and often time-consuming it can be to repeatedly remind the bot of your prompt parameters. If you’re using the chatbot for work, school, or just as a daily assistant, setting custom inputs will save a lot of time and frustration. 

Do keep in mind that, as it stands, the feature is exclusive to Plus subscribers for the time being – though it hopefully won’t be long until we see it rolled out to all users across the platform. 

If you are a Plus subscriber and you’d like to give it a go, just head over to the ‘Beta features’ section of the settings on the ChatGPT website and enable ‘Custom instructions’. Presto, you're ready for the bot to remember your specifications!

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Microsoft tries to make Windows 11 less annoying

Shortly after the rollout of the major Windows 11 Moment 3 update, Microsoft is testing features that’ll clear out notifications clutter and make viewing your saved Wi-Fi passwords a lot easier.

The Moment 3 update is full of useful features, with one of those being the ability to copy and paste two-step authentication codes directly from notifications. However, notifications can get really spammy very quickly. I spend at least five minutes each morning clearing out notifications from my desktop to try to keep things clean and manageable, so the company’s proposed fix looks promising.

Notification spamming will be detected so that if you receive numerous alerts from any app and don’t interact with them, Windows 11 will trigger a final alert suggesting you turn off notifications for that particular app. By only muting notifications from the specific spammy app, it allows you to silence the pop-ups without stopping notifications from every app (so no blanket ‘turn off all notifications’), so you can keep in the loop and not deal with spam. 

I can now forget all my passwords in peace 

Windows Latest notes that the feature isn’t based on artificial intelligence, but uses a rather simple algorithm to sort out whether or not a user interacts with notifications. 

In a screenshot taken by Windows Latest, you can see a message pop up with a suggestion to turn off notifications from a particular app, which says “You haven’t interacted with notifications from (specific app) in the past month.”
Additionally, Microsoft is testing a new way to simplify viewing saved Wi-Fi passwords. Users will be able to access the Wi-Fi passwords of their networks via the ‘Network and Internet Wi-fi’ section of their device settings and click ‘Manage known networks’ section. 

This incredibly useful feature will let you share Wi-Fi passwords with friends and family or set up new devices a lot easier. Rather than messing around trying to find the password either on a notepad on your phone or going all the way to the router, you can just click through your settings. 

I’m personally excited about this feature because it would let me keep more secure passwords for my Wi-Fi networks, rather than having to consistently rely on something short and easy to remember. If I know I can look up the password in an instant I’m much more likely to use an actually hard-to-guess password.

These new features are expected to ship with the Windows 11 23H2 update, rolling out later this year.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Microsoft Viva wants to make work training less painful at last

Microsoft is looking to take some of the strain out of learning on the job with a new expansion to its Viva platform.

In a new entry on the Microsoft 365 roadmap, the company revealed that users will soon be able to discover Viva learning content directly through SharePoint, Office.com and Bing.

Previously, users had only been able to access such content through the video conferencing platform Microsoft Teams, with the move now opening up a whole new range of opportunities.

Microsoft Viva expansion

Microsoft says that the new update is an integration between Viva Learning and Microsoft Search, meaning actually being able to find the right content that is applicable to your workers should also be a lot quicker and easier now.

The roadmap entry notes that the feature is still in development for the moment, but Microsoft has said it hopes to issue a release in March 2022. When complete, the feature will be available for all Microsoft Viva web users around the world.

Launched in February 2021, Microsoft Viva integrates with Teams and other Windows software tools to operate as a kind of intranet that brings together knowledge, learning, and communication services.

The platform was launched with remote working policies in mind, and is made up of four main pillars, one of which is Viva Learning. Microsoft says the offering is geared towards employee development and allows members of staff to share, assign, and learn from an organization’s training material, helping speed up onboarding and training processes.

Asides from learning and training, Viva also looks to support employee wellbeing and combat issues such as loneliness and burnout.

Microsoft also revealed a series of guided meditations and mindful exercises for the platform which users will be able to access via Microsoft Teams as it looks to help workers de-stress and become more productive.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Google Chrome update makes searching your history less of a nightmare

Google is reportedly testing out a new feature for its browser that will make searching through your browsing history and bookmarks even easier in Chrome.

First spotted by Chrome Story, the search giant has added a new experimental flag to Chrome's omnibox that enables support for search keywords.

For those unfamiliar, Chrome's omnibox suggests potential queries when the “Autocomplete searches and URLs” feature is turned on in the browser's settings. This makes searching for information faster and easier as users don't have to type in an entire search query into the address bar to find exactly what they're looking for.

Search tags

The new experimental flag in question is called “Omnibox Site Search Starter Pack” and it enables @history, @bookmarks and @settings to be used as search tags when typing in Chrome's address bar.

By using these tags when searching in Google's browser, you'll be able to specify that you only want to search in your history, bookmarks or in Chrome's settings. 

For instance, let's say you were reading a news article about Chromebooks on your smartphone but had to stop and do something else. If you want to find it again later, you can simply type Chromebooks @history to quickly bring up the article and continue reading.

According to Chrome Story, this new feature hasn't yet been enabled in the latest Chrome beta or Canary releases, so it might be a while before you get to try it out for yourself. Still though, search tags in Chrome's omnibox will not only help users save time but it may even make them more productive.

We've also featured the best browser and best VPN

Via XDA

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More