Microsoft continues to frustrate users with ads in the operating system – this time plaguing the MSN Weather app

Microsoft has made another move to push more advertising into Windows 11, with fresh ads arriving in the stock Weather app installed by default. So, alongside the likes of the Start menu and the Settings app, now the MSN Weather app will also have ads – more intrusive efforts, too, once again pointing towards a system-wide ‘adpocalypse’ as it were. 

According to Windows Latest, a new server-side update now places two ads in the default Weather app as soon as you open it, and the situation is more dire than normal because the advertisements in question are pinned. In other words, even as you scroll down, looking at the forecasts and other details in the app, the ads will scroll, too, remaining constantly visible.

This is a pretty aggressive approach, similar to the Game Pass ad in the Settings app – and as I said in that instance, it seems like Microsoft is trying to usher in a whole new era of over-advertising. I fear that as time progresses, not only will we see more of these ads, but they might become more aggressive in terms of being unskippable and generally unavoidable.

Screenshot

Ads pinned to the Microsoft Weather app. (Image credit: Windows Latest)

Okay, so it could be argued that these are just small ads in the corner, and we all have to deal with ignoring or skipping advertisements in so much of our lives these days – but why should I do that on my PC, too? You’re telling me now that the new normal is just advertising everywhere I look – and not a single bit of technology is my own? 

I paid for my PC and its operating system, and I don’t expect to have to suffer through ads (which might be expected on a free OS, granted – but not one that’s charged for).

Also, while at the moment they’re only relatively little ads, the fear is that Microsoft might push boundaries in the future. If – or when, perhaps – these advertisements become more and more accepted, we could see personalized, bigger, unavoidable, and maybe even one-day unskippable ads in Windows 11 (or a future version of the desktop OS). 

It’s not like these ads are placed in some obscure part of Windows 11; you’re often going to find yourself opening up the Settings app, Start menu, or perhaps perusing the weather forecast, and so on. If more advertisements are placed in more prominent places, at what point will that make using your computer infuriating? It’s a dangerous path to tread with Windows 11, but one Microsoft seems intent on exploring, sadly.

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Windows 11 runs into more trouble as Microsoft halts rollout of new features in testing

Microsoft has stopped the rollout of some new features to Windows 11 testers as it “investigate a few issues” discovered in the Dev channel (build 26120.961). 

The announcement was made in the blog post announcing the latest slew of new Windows 11 features which have now been put on hold.

Those features include improvements with Voice Access, such as support in Narrator to allow the hands-free dictation of text, as well as bringing Voice Access to Windows 11's search functionality, all of which are big wins for accessibility.

There's also a new account manager panel in the Start menu, and fixes for Task Manager, all of which are paused while Microsoft investigates said issues. The software giant hasn't given us any indication of when we might expect a resolution of these problems yet. 

PhantomOfEarth, a regular leaker on X, observes that the brakes were applied by Microsoft due to issues including a “broken touch keyboard, emoji picker, and clipboard history.”

Windows 11's broader woes

We shouldn't have to wait too long for the gremlins in the works to be fixed, given that Windows 11 preview builds arrive on a pretty regular schedule (at least once per month, minimum).

It's not been the best week for Windows 11, as Microsoft just broke the taskbar for some users when it implemented a solution for a previous issue (whereby the KB5039302 update was put on hold after some users were left stuck in an infinite boot loop – nasty). Another recent fly in the ointment has been the appearance of adverts in the Start Menu.

In the case of this latest preview build, it makes sense why Microsoft has pushed back these more experimental features, but it's far from a good look given all the current problems around Windows 11 – particularly the controversial Recall feature which was recently put on ice, too.

In all honesty, Microsoft really needs to make an effort to get its act together on a broader level with Windows 11.

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Microsoft fixes latest Windows 11 update – but some unlucky users have found their taskbar is now broken

Microsoft has quietly rolled out a fix for a recent Windows 11 patch (KB5039302, a preview update) in a bid to correct a bug that caused some PCs to enter a reboot loop, a problem so serious that the update was paused.

However, this new fix has led to more issues, as there are now reports of the taskbar not working properly.

Microsoft is aware of the taskbar glitches plaguing some Windows 11 users – in fact, the June 2024 preview update may lead to the taskbar not loading altogether. It's claimed that this issue is only “expected to occur if you are using a Windows N edition” or if you manually disable the Media Features toggle in the Control Panel. 

Previous to this new problem, some Windows 11 users were experiencing reboot loops as mentioned, making their system potentially unusable. This only appears to have affected machines where nested virtualization is enabled. As the name implies, this feature allows users to run virtual machines, and it's utilized more in business and enterprise settings than by your everyday consumer.

The only fix discovered for the previous 'reboot hell' bug is to manually remove the update from the Advanced Startup menu, we're told. 

It's worth underlining that Windows 11 update KB5039302 is optional, so you can avoid it altogether, and it's probably best to do so for now – even though most folks won't be affected by the new glitch. Later in July, this update will become the full release for Windows 11, at which point you can't avoid it (for long, anyway). By then, hopefully Microsoft will have fixed this new bug, too.

The problems continue for Windows 11

Microsoft has been having some serious issues with Windows 11 throughout the first half of 2024. As well as the increased level of advertising – with the likes of Xbox Game Pass ads now blighting the Settings app – and instability problems, there's also been a bug with the operating system telling users they've changed their location. Another recent bug has led to distorted videos in Google Chrome and Microsoft's own Edge browser as well.

So yes, Windows 11 hasn't had the smoothest ride this year, or indeed since it was launched. To see the taskbar, of all things, not loading in or working correctly is certainly an oddity, even if that issue is still far preferable to a PC which is stuck in boot loop hell. We'll keep an eye on this one and update you when Microsoft fixes this new bug.

Via Windows Latest

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Microsoft has gone too far: including a Game Pass ad in the Settings app ushers in a whole new age of ridiculous over-advertising

Windows 11 is getting out of hand with its push for advertisments, frankly – remember the recent full-screen pop-up to persuade users to install Edge or other Microsoft services? Then another advertisment was placed in the Start menu, and now Microsoft has finally worn my temper thin – with a new Game Pass ad coming to the Settings app.

This will likely arrive in the July update for Windows 11, or at least it’s almost certain to do so. It was present in the latest preview update Microsoft just released for the OS (and quickly paused due to a bug, but that’s another story). It’s also worth noting that the ad has been present in earlier test versions of Windows 11.

You can call it a ‘recommendation’ if you’re feeling kind, but the veiled advertisement for Game Pass appears for Windows 11 Home and Pro users who actively play games on their rig, as Windows Central reports.

Microsoft’s bid to further monetize the operating system seems to be going down the route of smaller, less conspicuous ‘recommendations’ or suggestions like this, which are happening more often, and my worry is that they will become even more frequent and annoying. 

Taking it too far… 

In my opinion, things have already gone too far. The attempt to blur the line between a recommendation and an ad makes the whole thing feel rather disingenuous. Yes, one could argue that Microsoft is (at the moment) only recommending its own products that could make the lives of Windows 11 users easier or more interesting, but who’s to say it will always stay this way? Once some kind of broad acceptance has been established with the Windows user base, the fear is that Microsoft might push boundaries in the future.

I’m thinking about third-party app ads, which have already crept into some corners of Windows 11 – will these inevitably become more prevalent? And could Microsoft’s use of them even trigger similar moves from rivals? Might I turn on my Chromebook in a few months – well, okay, years – and be bombarded with ads for things I don’t want or care for? 

Another thing that bothers me is that it’s not like these ads will appear in some obscure corner of Windows 11. Think about how often you open your Settings app and consider how aggressive this level of advertising really is in the grand scheme of things. Are you going to have to deal with a full-screen ad when you’re trying to open File Explorer eventually?

The problem is that you aren’t renting your PC – you own it, or maybe it’s a work device, but whatever the case, you, your company, or your boss have already paid for Windows. Given that, implementing inescapable ads diminishes your ownership experience – kind of like how you have to sit through ads on YouTube to watch free content. Except Windows 11 isn’t free – and if I have to navigate a maze of ads to change my wallpaper or check on an update, I’m not going to be pleased about it.

Microsoft better watch how it treads here, and keep these kinds of ads to a minimum if it doesn’t want to turn the Windows 11 user base against it – though I have my doubts that the company will. 

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Microsoft pauses Windows 11 update as it’s sending some PCs into an infinite reboot hell

Windows 11 just got its latest update, but Microsoft has put it on hold following the discovery of a bug that’s seriously bad news.

This is the KB5039302 update, which is an optional download for Windows 11 22H2 and 23H2, so it’s still in preview, ahead of its release as the cumulative update for July 2024 next month.

The showstopper of a bug puts affected PCs into what’s known as ‘reboot hell’ whereby the PC keeps failing to start, rebooting, failing again, then rebooting, and so on ad infinitum – well, until the user intervenes and tries to initiative a recovery. (Or in some cases, unplugs their PC out of frustration, no doubt – never do this if you can at all avoid it, we should add, as cutting power at the wrong time can be bad news for your system drive, as it could corrupt files potentially).

What’s the root cause here? Well, it appears to have something to do with PCs using virtual machines (running another OS inside the current operating system, essentially).

Neowin noticed that in its release health dashboard, where this gremlin has been flagged up, Microsoft tells us: “This issue is more likely to affect devices utilizing virtual machines tools and nested virtualization features, such as CloudPC, DevBox, Azure Virtual Desktop. We are investigating to determine the precise conditions under which this issue can trigger.”

While that investigation is taking place, Microsoft has paused this update, so it won’t be offered to Windows 11 home users or businesses.


Unhappy millennial male employee work online on laptop at home office frustrated by gadget error or mistake. Angry young Caucasian man stressed with computer operational problem or breakdown.

(Image credit: Shutterstock / fizkes)

Analysis: Room for doubt

Clearly, given that having a PC trapped in a reboot loop is a dire scenario, it’s a good idea that Microsoft has pulled this update until the firm can work out what’s really going on here. This is an optional update anyway, so it’s not like KB5039302 is crucial, or even finished – which is why this flaw is present, no doubt.

Although you’d really have hoped Microsoft would have picked up on such a calamitous bug before the final preview release of the update – but at least it’s being fixed now. This also goes to illustrate why it’s always a risk to download an optional update for Windows 11 – we’d recommend steering clear of these in case there is a last-minute showstopper, just like this glitch.

Granted, as Microsoft observes: “Users of Windows Home edition are less likely to experience this issue, as virtualization is less common in home environments.”

Even so, some Windows 11 Home users will use virtualization features, no doubt, and Microsoft isn’t 100% clear about the bug not affecting other PCs either. The language used is that the problem is “more likely” to hit PCs using virtual machines in some way, leaving room for doubt that it could affect other systems too. This is likely why the update has been retracted, for now, we’d wager.

The crucial thing is that Microsoft fixes this one up, or at least pushes the feature or code that’s caused the problem aside, before the full release of the July 2024 cumulative update, clearly enough.

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Want Wi-Fi 7 on Windows 10? Forget it, Microsoft has confirmed it’s for Copilot+ PCs only

Microsoft has confirmed that the superfast wireless speeds that have arrived courtesy of Wi-Fi 7 – for devices and routers with support – will only be coming to the very latest version of Windows 11.

That’d be Windows 11 24H2, of course, and as you might know, this version is only currently available for Copilot+ PCs, but the big update for 2024 will roll out to all Windows 11 users later this year (maybe in September).

For now, though, the new Wi-Fi support is for Copilot+ PCs only, as Windows Latest spotted a Microsoft support document that confirmed this.

In the document on the latest wireless technology in Windows, Microsoft states: “Wi-Fi 7 is available starting with Windows 11, version 24H2.”

Now, that doesn’t mean that Wi-Fi 7 will always be limited to that specific incarnation of Windows 11 – 24H2 (or later) – just that Microsoft is kicking off availability with this version. It might be the case that it’s added to earlier versions of Windows 11 (well, 23H2) before too long.

However, it looks like Windows 10 users are out of luck though, as there’s no mention of the OS – as was the case with Wi-Fi 6E, the advancement on Wi-Fi 6 that previously came through.


Analysis: Wi-Fi 6E misstep unlikely to happen again

So, it seems like Wi-Fi 7 won’t debut for Windows 10, but that isn’t really a massive surprise. Firstly, Windows 10 runs out of support in not that much more than a year now, so it’s going to be limited in terms of new features being introduced anyway (though there will be some new additions into the mix, we know that much – enough to prompt Microsoft to resurrect the Beta testing channel for the OS).

And secondly, Windows 10 didn’t get Wi-Fi 6E as noted above, so it seems unlikely that it’d receive Wi-Fi 7 support. We can’t completely rule it out, of course – as it’s not explicitly stated that Windows 10 won’t – but that seems to be the heavy hint Microsoft is dropping by only mentioning Windows 11 versions.

Now, there is a slight twist here, in that Windows 10 did receive Wi-Fi 6E in what seemed to be a mistake with a single Intel driver that erroneously added support (somehow) – but that driver is reportedly buggy and not to be used (if you can find it at all). So, you could hope this might happen with Wi-Fi 7, but we’re betting it won’t – and Intel has learned from this mistake.

In short, don’t expect speedy Wi-Fi 7 for Windows 10, and of course remember that even on Windows 11, you need a router and PC that supports the new wireless standard to benefit from Wi-Fi 7.

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Windows 11 loses keyboard shortcut for Copilot, making us wonder if this is a cynical move by Microsoft to stoke Copilot+ PC sales

What’s going to drive Copilot+ PC sales, do you think? Superb AI acceleration chops? Windows on Arm getting emulation nailed for fast app and gaming performance (on Snapdragon X models)? No – it’s the Copilot key on the keyboard, dummy.

Surprised? Well, we certainly are, but apparently one of Microsoft’s selling points for Copilot+ PCs is the dedicated key to summon the AI on the keyboard.

We can draw that unexpected conclusion from a move Microsoft just made which seems pretty mystifying otherwise: namely the removal of the keyboard shortcut for Copilot from Windows 11.

As flagged up by Tom’s Hardware, the new Windows 11 preview (build 22635) in the Beta channel has dumped the keyboard shortcut (Windows key + C) that brings up the Copilot panel. This is an update that just happened (on June 19), after the preview build initially emerged on June 14.

Microsoft explains very vaguely that: “As part of the Copilot experience’s evolution on Windows to become an app that is pinned to the taskbar, we are retiring the WIN + C keyboard shortcut.”


An Acer Swift Go 14 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

Analysis: A cynical move by Microsoft?

What now? How is removing a useful keyboard shortcut part of the ‘evolution’ of Copilot? Surely, it’s a step backwards to drop one of the ways to invoke the AI assistant to the desktop?

Now, if Microsoft had big plans for the Windows + C shortcut elsewhere, say another piece of functionality that had come in which required this particular combo, the reasoning might at least be a little clearer. But by all accounts, there’s no replacement function here – Windows + C now does nothing.

As for the reason somehow being tied to Copilot shifting to become an app window, rather than a locked side panel in Windows 11, we don’t see how that has any relevance at all to whether you can open the AI with a keyboard shortcut or not.

As Tom’s Guide points out, seemingly the driver for this change is to make the Copilot key on the keyboard a more pivotal function, replacing the shortcut, but guess what – you only get that key on new Copilot+ PCs (right now anyway). So, the logical conclusion for the skeptical is that this is simply a fresh angle on helping to stoke sales for Copilot+ PCs.

It’s not like you can’t just click on the Copilot icon, of course, so you’re not lost at sea with no AI assistance all of a sudden – but that’s not the point. It is a lost convenience, clearly though, and it feels like a cynical move by Microsoft.

Tom’s Guide points out that you could use third-party key mapping software to restore the functionality of this particular shortcut, but the point is, you really shouldn’t have to bother jumping through such hoops. Come on, Microsoft – don’t pull stunts like this, or, if there is a good reason behind the change, share it, not some waffling soundbites about evolving Copilot.

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Microsoft admits recent Windows 10 updates messed up the taskbar for some users – but a fix is coming

Microsoft has acknowledged that there’s a bug introduced by recent Windows 10 updates that can break a piece of taskbar functionality – but the good news is a fix is in the works.

The problem is evident for some Windows 10 users when right clicking on a pinned app on the taskbar, when instead of seeing the usual context-sensitive jump list menu – that allows access to common features, like opening recent files – they get something entirely useless.

What Windows 10 produces instead is the ‘Open with…’ menu (that facilitates choosing which app you want to open a file with). That’s not only unhelpful but also confusing, frankly, though Windows Latest, which spotted this, notes that the bug only affects a small set of Windows 10 users – and it only happens with some apps, not all of them.

So, this isn’t something you’re likely to encounter, but if you do, it’s a rather annoying issue. Furthermore, it affects a wide range of recent updates for Windows 10 – not just the latest June cumulative update, but also the May cumulative update (and that month’s optional update), and the optional update for April too.

Windows Latest reports that Microsoft has pinpointed a fix and the company has indicated that the resolution will be included in a future update for Window 10 22H2.


Analysis: A quick fix, with any luck

Hopefully, with the fix identified, implementing it shouldn’t be a difficult task and we might see the cure in next month’s cumulative update. Indeed, if that’s the case, we’ll actually get it before the July update, as it will be in the optional update for June, which is a preview of the former. That should be here in not much more than a week, in fact – though there’s no guarantee the fix won’t take longer, of course.

In case you missed it, what’s interesting with Windows 10 is that Microsoft is not just fixing and patching the OS, but is actively developing it again, adding new features and recently resurrecting the Beta channel to test them. That’s despite the End of Life date for Windows 10 coming ever closer – the OS runs out of support in October 2025, in case you’d forgotten. So it won’t be that long before you need to start exploring the options you have in that regard.

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New Windows 11 bug is slowing down some devices by up to 25% and piling more misery on Microsoft

Windows 11 has a bug in testing right now which is seriously slowing down processors – although Microsoft has said it’s on the case, so it should be fixed soon enough, with any luck.

The bug is present in test builds of Windows 11 24H2 – the next big update for the OS – and it’s caused by the Cross-Device Experience Host going wrong somewhere.

Neowin spotted that a number of users have said their CPU performance has been impacted – substantially in some cases – by the process. As the name suggests, the Cross-Device Experience Host (CDEH) is the functionality that links your smartphone and Windows PC to make it easier to achieve tasks like sharing photos from your phone to the desktop. (This runs alongside the existing Phone Link app, by the way).

There are reports of the bug in various places, including Microsoft’s own Feedback Hub and its Answers.com support forum. The slowdown reported varies, mind, with some folks saying that the CDEH process is eating something like 5% to 10% of their CPU – still pretty bad – but others are claiming 15% to 20% slowdowns, or even 25% in one case.

For the CPU to be losing that level of resources to a misfiring process running in the background of Windows 11 is a pretty dire situation, frankly.

Microsoft’s Jen Gentleman, who’s on the Windows testing team, has confirmed that there is an issue here, and that work is underway to resolve it.

Gentleman replied on the Feedback Hub: “Appreciate your patience, we’ve identified the cause and are working on a fix.”

Microsoft presenting Surface Laptop and Surface Pro devices.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Analysis: bad timing

So, the good news is that a fix is inbound – and remember, you won’t be affected by this bug yet, not unless you’re a tester. The CDEH functionality is still in preview (in the unreleased 24H2 update) and not rolled out to all Windows 11 users yet, but it will be later this year, of course.

We’re also not 100% sure if the CPU draining glitch might be present with Copilot+ PCs, but it won’t be as far as we’re aware. Those AI PCs launch today, June 18, with a 24H2 build on board – but not the finished one. There are still a good deal of features missing from the version of 24H2 that debuts with Copilot+ PCs, and the full suite of features won’t debut until later this year when the 24H2 update rolls out to all Windows 11 devices – and this is when CDEH comes into play, we assume.

At any rate, the only concern for Windows 11 users broadly is that Microsoft gets a fix in place, which it surely will by the time the 24H2 update is rumored to land (around September 2024). Our worry would be if the fix isn’t implemented properly, and there are still some issues left around this CDEH slowdown – but hopefully that won’t happen. If it did, it wouldn’t be the first time a bug fix applied by Microsoft didn’t fully work, mind – and this would be a particularly bad one to slip through the net.

On an overall level, the timing of this revelation isn’t great. As mentioned, the launch of Copilot+ PCs – Microsoft’s new era of AI-supercharged computing – is happening right now, and Microsoft has just pulled its kingpin AI feature – Recall – from that launch following a whirlwind of controversy, and now we have a bug in Windows 11 which is causing some CPUs to run like treacle (well, not quite, but markedly sluggishly in some cases).

The future of computing suddenly looks a bit chaotic, going by the past week – and Microsoft will need to get its act together sharpish.

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Microsoft quietly updates controversial Windows 11 Recall feature – but not with the changes that are really needed

Microsoft’s flagship AI feature for Copilot+ PCs, Recall, has been through the wringer lately, and at the risk of sounding like a hater – rightfully so.

In case you missed it, Recall takes screenshots every few seconds, building up a library of images you can search via AI, but the feature has some serious issues on the privacy front, to the point that the launch of Recall was pulled and banished back to the Windows Insider Program for further testing.

However, that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from quietly adding new features to Recall as the tech giant runs damage control around this whole controversy.

As discovered by well-known leaker Albacore, writing for Tom’s Hardware (via Neowin), there are a few new chunky bits of functionality hidden away in the latest Windows 11 preview build (in the Canary channel).

One of those is ‘screenray’ which is a utility that’ll pop up to analyze what’s currently on the screen. It’s summoned via a keyboard shortcut and allows the user to get extra information from Copilot about anything present on-screen, or access a translation for something in a foreign language.

Windows Recall screenshot

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware )

While we have a limited understanding of the exact nature of this new tool, it does seem similar to the Reader feature in Safari that Apple introduced during WWDC – which leverages Apple Intelligence to scan a web page and translate, summarize, or add insight to whatever content is currently being browsed. Of course, Windows 11’s Recall tool is available across your entire system, not just in a browser.

Alongside this, Microsoft has implemented a revamped homepage design for Windows 11’s Recall feature. This means that when you fire up Recall, instead of being presented with a new snapshot, you get a grid of recent snapshots (there’s still a button to allow you to create a new snapshot – this just doesn’t happen by default anymore).

Also new is a ‘Topic’ section that organizes snapshots by themes, so you can group together related screenshots (for, say, Spotify) to make for easier searching.

Windows Recall screenshot

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware )

Finally, Windows Recall also has better integration with Copilot in this new preview build. Clicking on a snapshot will produce a drop-down menu with context-sensitive choices, so you can get Copilot to copy something, open it in an app, or if it’s an image, find pictures in the same vein, or create a similar image. All the standard Copilot options, essentially.

While these new additions to the controversial feature seem useful, I’m finding it hard to get past how bizarre the whole feature feels in the first place. I’m sure I won’t be the only one, either, and with all the concerns raised about Recall in recent times, Microsoft has a lot of work to do. It’ll definitely take a lot more to get me on board than a homepage redesign and this new screenray functionality.

For now, Windows Recall lives in the Windows Insider Program, where it’ll be tinkered with and tested for quite some time, most likely, before Microsoft dares try to launch it again. Whatever happens, when the feature hits release, Microsoft needs to make sure it gets things right this time around, and that means working on privacy and security as an absolute priority.

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