Windows 11 is forcing users to upgrade Mail app to new Outlook client which comes with a nasty addition – adverts

Windows 11 and Windows 10 users are being forced to upgrade to a new version of Microsoft’s built-in email app, with the Mail app becoming Outlook.

Windows Latest highlighted the situation whereby this happened to the tech site – and when we opened Mail, it was the same deal for us (albeit the upgrade process happened in a different way – we’ll come back to that shortly).

As Windows Latest explains, when opening the Mail app, they were informed by a pop-up that the Mail and Calendar apps are changing to be replaced by a new unified Outlook app. (We’ve previously been told about those old apps going out of support before 2024 comes to a close).

This new Outlook web app replaces both of those clients, and before they knew it, Windows Latest was looking at the new app rather than the old Mail client. The all-in-one replacement has a fair few changes from the Mail app, as we’ve explored before.

Now, this isn’t an irreversible change, though – not yet, because there is a slider top-left of the app window which says ‘New Outlook’ and if you switch it off, you’ll be sent back to the old Mail app.

That said, when doing this, Microsoft warns you that while you can switch back now, you will be returned to the new Outlook in the future. So that forced upgrade is coming soon, and it will be irreversible.

Analysis: Gloomy Outlook – cloudy with a chance of ads

We hadn’t opened the Mail app for some time, so upon reading Windows Latest’s tale, we tried it – and indeed we got a small message: “A newer version of Outlook is required to continue. Outlook will now check for updates.”

Our Mail client was then automatically upgraded to the new web Outlook, just as with Windows Latest. We weren’t treated to the fancier (graphical) pop-ups the tech site experienced though – we just got a simple text-based dialog box. (Possibly because the PC we were on is still running Windows 10)

So, it seems this is a wide rollout of the forced upgrade, albeit it as noted, a change that can be temporarily rescinded – although later this year, you will be transferred to the new Outlook email app, whether you want it, or not.

Why aren’t people keen on the new email client? Well, it’s a whole different layout, and change can take some getting used to, as always. Others seem to be complaining that it diverts important messages away from the main inbox (’Focused’ pane) too readily. However, the biggest stumbling block for many is that the new Outlook has adverts, apparently, although those with a Microsoft 365 subscription don’t see them (we have the latter, so weren’t bothered by adverts).

Certainly, adverts is a nasty sting in the tail, but you may just have to get used to them if you’re not an Office (sorry, Microsoft 365) subscriber. Microsoft’s constantly experimenting with using more ads or promotional tactics in Windows 11 (and 10) sadly, and increasingly it seems that’s something we’ll have to live with.

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New Windows 11 update makes a small but important tweak to Copilot and fixes some nasty bugs

Windows 11 just got a new cumulative update that applies a bunch of security fixes, and makes a small number of changes to the OS, although they include some important tweaks.

The most interesting change here is that Microsoft has decided to give the Copilot button a new home on the taskbar.

As previously seen in testing with Windows 11, the icon to invoke the AI assistant is now on the far right of the taskbar, in the system tray area.

Patch KB5034765, which is for both Windows 11 23H2 and 22H2 versions, also applies an important fix for Explorer.exe which is affecting some PCs. This bug can happen when restarting a PC that has a game controller attached, and means that Explorer.exe stops responding – basically, the desktop (File Explorer) locks up, which is obviously bad news.

Microsoft also let us know that a bug that meant announcements from Narrator (the screen reading tool) were coming through too slowly has been remedied (when using natural voices with Narrator, that is).

Analysis: Don’t expect Copilot relocation right away

As mentioned, there’s the usual raft of security patches with this new update, which are important to apply to keep your Windows 11 PC fully secure.

The big change is the shift for the Copilot button, with it being ushered along the taskbar to the system tray area as mentioned. Why do this? The reasoning is that the Copilot panel is over on the right, so having its button just below where the UI appears makes sense, which is fair enough.

Remember that those who don’t want a Copilot button can drop it from the taskbar, anyway (and folks who want to go further than that and strip out the AI entirely from Windows 11 can do so – kind of, though we wouldn’t recommend it).

Note that not everyone will get this repositioning of Copilot straight away, as Microsoft notes that Windows 11 PCs will get this tweak at different times. In other words, this is another gradual rollout, so it may be some time yet before Copilot shuffles over onto the right of your taskbar – but rest assured, it’ll happen.

While we’re always somewhat cautious around any new update, at least for the first couple of days after it debuts, thus far it seems there are no known issues being reported with KB5034765 (on the likes of Reddit). So far, so good, then, and hopefully the mentioned bug fixes don’t come with any unintended side effects elsewhere in the OS.

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Windows 11 23H2 reportedly has a nasty bug slowing down PC games – but there’s a fix

Windows 11 is having serious issues with PC games due to the latest 23H2 update, according to a cluster of recent reports.

Neowin flagged up the performance hitches purportedly caused by the annual upgrade for Windows 11, which seemingly affects PCs with AMD processors in the main.

Redditor BNSoul describes the issue in a post that has garnered some serious attention, and a lot of other users chiming in that they’re suffering similar gaming woes.

BNSoul writes: “Every CPU benchmark shows significantly reduced CPU performance after updating to Windows 11 23H2 from 22H2, even after a fresh/clean install.

“I could add an endless list of benchmark results here but just let’s say it’s always 23H2 5-8% slower in every single one be it single or multi-thread compared to 22H2.”

They add: “Games are also affected with random stuttering, all of this fixed by rolling back to 22H2.”

Another user on Microsoft’s forum, Anant Acharya, makes a similar complaint backed up by others further in the thread: “After I had updated to the Windows 23H2 update. I have been noticing sudden stutters and drastic FPS drops in the above-mentioned games [Valorant, CS:GO, Grand Theft Auto 5, Forza Horizon 5].”

The stuttering encountered is pretty bad according to those experiencing the problem, so this is a nasty one. The good news is that Microsoft has supplied a solution to the Redditor who made the original post, which we’ll discuss next.

Analysis: Defendius Kedavra

That solution apparently provided by Microsoft customer support involves resetting Microsoft Defender, so the conclusion tentatively drawn is that the security app is involved in some way here.

At any rate, the downside is that the procedure outlined is not completely straightforward, sadly, and involves using PowerShell commands – that’s not the tricky bit, mind, but it’s the main meat of the solution.

So, to fire up PowerShell, just right-click the Start button (or press the Windows key + X) and click on ‘Windows PowerShell (admin).’ While it’s not clear that you need admin mode – you could just run the plain ‘Windows PowerShell’ option – it might not hurt to use it.

Once open, run the following two commands in PowerShell (type them in and press enter). Firstly:

Set-ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted

And then:

Get-AppxPackage Microsoft.SecHealthUI -AllUsers | Reset-AppxPackage

That second command resets Defender, and you then reboot your PC.

The instructions then say when rebooting you should head to your BIOS and ensure that CPU Virtualization is enabled. Rummaging in the BIOS is the slightly trickier bit – as BIOSes are all differently laid out and have their own interfaces and quirks (consult relevant help resources from your motherboard vendor) – but many PCs may already have this turned on anyway, so you might not need to do it.

Finally, when back at the Windows 11 desktop, fire up Windows Security (type that in the search box, and open the app that pops up), select ‘Device Security’ in the left-hand panel, and in Core Isolation settings you should turn on Memory Integrity. Again, you’ll need to reboot your PC.

Then you’re done, and according to BNSoul and others, this process gives you the same level of gaming performance for 23H2 as seen with 22H2.

If the above procedure sounds like a hassle, or doesn’t work for you, then you can always revert to 22H2 and wait for Microsoft to investigate and hopefully fix this issue. Or if you haven’t upgraded yet and you’re concerned about these reports, you can always hold off on the 23H2 upgrade for the time being.

We’ve dropped a line to Microsoft to try and find out what’s going on here, and whether a fix is underway. We’ll update this story if we hear anything back.

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Be careful: There are reports of nasty bugs with the latest Windows 11 update

Windows 11 users have run into trouble with the latest patch for the OS going by some reports, and that includes nasty boot loops.

This is the cumulative update for November that Microsoft deployed last week, known as KB5032190, and Windows Latest has picked up on some problems with the patch.

As noted, the worst issue here is reports of people trying to install the update and getting stuck in a boot loop, meaning that their PC keeps failing during installation, rebooting, failing again, rebooting, and so on.

One Redditor reports: “I have tried installing this update twice now, only for it to get caught in an endless boot loop. It kept getting to 95% and restarting, then would try again. Now it just gives me the ‘Something didn’t go as planned. No need to worry – undoing changes’ message before going back into the endless reboot. At least I can do a System Restore.”

Another Windows 11 user replies to that post observing that they hit a few boot loops before their system rolled back the update – and that it was the same case with this update in preview (released in late October), noting that eventually they “got to the point the laptop wouldn’t boot” with that test update.

Ouch indeed, though that was the preview version, so hopefully any danger of having to reinstall Windows – which is what this user ended up doing – will now have been removed with the final release.

Needless to say, the user in question is not continuing to try to install the update, which certainly seems like a sensible precaution.

There are four reports of this problem in that Reddit thread, and it seems that the boot loop isn’t an endless one, and the system pulls itself out of the loop after a few fails – at least for most folks anyway.

Another problem that is bugging (literally) some Windows 11 users is disappearing icons on the taskbar.

Either the icons are vanishing – though the functionality is still present if you click the blank space on the bar – or there are reports of them being displaced by one, meaning that the icon for, say, Word will open Microsoft’s Edge browser (the icon next to it). Confusing, to say the least.

Analysis: Curious case of the invisible icons

The missing icons problem was introduced with Moment 4 (which ushered in all the new features that have come to Windows 11 lately, including Copilot). So, it has been hanging around for a while, and really annoying those who have encountered it – seemingly a fair few people judging from reports.

The good news is that Microsoft has actually fixed this glitch in the Canary preview build of Windows 11, so hopefully, the solution should be coming through testing soon enough to reach the release version of Windows 11.

Microsoft hasn’t said anything about boot loops, but there are far fewer reports of this from what we can see. Still, it’s a nasty problem, though as noted in most cases, it seems the looping will only run a few times before the system corrects itself and comes back to the desktop. (Still leaving the user unable to install the update, mind, so that’s not great of course).

It’s worth remembering that Microsoft itself has flagged up some known issues with the patch, including a bug whereby those with multiple monitors might see desktop icons shift between one display to another unprompted (or other icon alignment weirdness) when using Copilot. The software giant has pulled the AI assistant from those PCs, so if you aren’t seeing Copilot any longer on a multi-screen setup, that’s why. A fix is being worked on as we type this.

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Windows 10 update is causing lots of problems – including nasty crashes

Windows 10 users are suffering at the hands of some fresh bugs introduced by the latest update for the OS from Microsoft.

That would be KB5026361, the cumulative update for Windows 10 for May, which was released a couple of weeks back, and appears to be causing a bunch of glitches and more serious problems.

In the serious category we can file some Reddit users who are complaining on two counts of the patch ‘bricking’ their PC, and also reports of Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) crashes post-update.

Some of those BSoDs offer up an error that reads ‘Process1 Initialization Failed’ and as Neowin, which spotted this, explains, this seemingly occurs due to the Bootcat.cache file becoming corrupted (or its size having changed since the last time the PC booted).

Other Windows 10 users are encountering a problem that’ll sound familiar, no doubt – the failure to install the update, often accompanied with a meaningless error code (such as ‘0x800f0922’ which appears to be one of the more prevalent occurrences in this case).

On top of that, there are scattered complaints such as someone’s Windows 10 mouse settings being reset after the update (and some previous updates too, we’re told).

Others have lodged complaints about bugs with KB5026361 in Microsoft’s Feedback Hub, and another report from a Redditor states that their laptop’s Wi-Fi doesn’t work, and that the ‘windows bar is locked’ (presumably the taskbar is unresponsive) after the update.

Analysis: Another update and yet more problems

Given that there are only two reports of bricked PCs, we can’t jump to conclusions – there could possibly be other issues at play in those instances. Still, it’s worrying to see such reports, even if this clearly isn’t a widespread problem. BSoD crashes are a nasty thing to be happening here, too.

It’s not surprising to see installation failures with the cumulative update for May, as this bugbear is one Microsoft just can’t seem to shake, in Windows 11 as well as Windows 10.

As for the ‘Process1 Initialization Failed’ problem, Neowin does point out that Microsoft has a cure for that particular error – though the catch is that it’s for Windows 7 officially (via an old support document).

The method suggests booting with a Windows installation USB drive, then deleting the problematic Bootcat.cache file, before restarting the PC. We’re not sure that’s a good idea, though – and certainly not something for those less confident with PCs to try – but more tech-savvy types could always attempt it as a last resort if desperate.

Hopefully, Microsoft will be looking into these issues, and fixes will be implemented as needed. Although these days, we get the sense that Microsoft is focusing far more on Windows 11 than Windows 10, what with the latter getting no more features from now on (save for, perhaps, the odd very minor tweak).

Still, on the brighter side, no more features should mean fewer bugs being introduced – in theory, anyway.

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Nasty AMD driver bug tanks RDNA 3 GPU performance in Windows 11

AMD’s new GPU driver is reportedly causing serious performance issues with RDNA 3 graphics cards under Windows 11, though the bug is a rare occurrence from what we can tell.

Another point to note carefully here is that apparently the problem is only affecting 3DMark runs, specifically the TimeSpy benchmark (we’ll come back to that later).

VideoCardz broke the news that a software engineer at Google (Osvaldo Doederlein) running an RX 7900 XTX with the most recent version 23.3.1 of the Adrenalin driver ran into trouble with much lower TimeSpy results than should have been produced.

Indeed, Doederlein’s results came out at more than 50% slower than normal, a massive performance loss.

One of the developers at UL (which makes 3DMark) replied to Doederlein to say that they raised the issue with AMD, and it appeared to be related to the latest driver version.

The dev observed: “We also looked at our [3DMark] database to compare results on the previous driver vs. new driver on any result using 7900XT or XTX and can confirm that this appears to be a real, if very rare issue.

“Among all results with the new driver, approximately 3% of the results show abnormal (very low) scores on Time Spy. No similar group of very low scores appear on the results with the previous driver version.”

Doederlein went on to clarify that they are running a test version of Windows 11 (Release Preview – so the most stable build), which the 3DMark dev noted isn’t supported by the benchmarking suite.

The developer added that AMD did eventually manage to reproduce this severe performance glitch and that “it is starting to look more and more like a driver issue,” with the best course of action for those bothered by the gremlin being to roll back to the previous driver. Or alternatively to just sit tight and wait for the fix to be deployed.

Analysis: More than meets the eye

There’s a bit more to this than meets the eye, as further in the thread on the Steam forums replying to the original complaint from Doederlein, there’s an RX 6800 GPU owner saying they’re affected – so maybe it’s not just an RDNA 3 issue – and that rolling back to the previous AMD driver version did not help. (The 3DMark dev seems pretty sure that the problem does pertain to the most recent AMD driver, though).

Furthermore, a couple of Nvidia RTX 4090 owners have chimed in saying they have been hit, too – but that’s just two scattered reports, so add seasoning there. Still, the commonality here appears to be running test versions of Windows 11. Indeed, one of those RTX 4090 owners lays the blame at the feet of the preview version of the next big update for Windows 11 (Moment 2).

Despite that, AMD still believes this bug to be a driver issue, so we’ll stick with that as the most accurate diagnosis so far – although it’s possible that the problem is also wrapped up in using a preview version of Windows 11, too.

The more positive news is that whoever is being affected here, it’s seemingly a rare bug. The broader concern for those encountering this issue is that maybe it’s slowing down games as well as 3DMark benchmarks, and it’s easy to see how folks might get paranoid about that possibility.

It’s certainly something that occurred to Doederlein, who as a result ran a whole bunch of tests on games. That included benchmarking with Guardians of the Galaxy, Horizon Zero Dawn, Dying Light 2, Batman Arkham Knight, Returnal, and more, but Doederlein found no performance hit whatsoever with any of them. So it does indeed seem like a benchmarking-only issue only, fingers crossed – hopefully AMD will shed more light on the bug in due course.

What we can rule out is that it’s any kind of 3DMark problem, because as the dev clarifies, the TimeSpy benchmark “has not been modified for ages”, so the misbehavior is clearly down to the AMD driver or Windows 11 (or both in combination perhaps, as mentioned).

Via Neowin

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Windows 11 gamers will be glad to see the back of this nasty BSoD bug

Microsoft is slowly making progress fixing Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) errors, with another one that could have caused gamers to suffer having been cured in Windows 11.

This fix arrives with the latest preview update for March (KB5011563), meaning it’s still in testing, but the changes will come through in April’s release version of the patch (assuming all goes well with that testing, of course).

As spotted by Hot Hardware, the patch notes state that KB5011563 “addresses a stop error (0xD1, DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL) in the DirectX kernel component.”

A stop error is a BSoD, meaning it completely halts the PC in its tracks, and is a crash that requires a reboot to recover. As the message states, the problem pertains to DirectX – and some kind of driver issue, although it’s expectedly vague as to what might have actually gone wrong – and hence this could be an error that crops up when you’re playing games in Windows 11 (or trying to).

Patch KB5011563 fixes a bunch of other bugs, as well as adding something into the mix for Windows 11, namely the ability to display multiple high-priority toast notifications simultaneously – up to three of them, in fact.

Analysis: Windows bugs can still trigger the blues

Thankfully in modern times, Windows sees a lot fewer BSoD errors, but there are clearly some still floating around – we witnessed a BSoD bring one of our PCs to a crashing halt as recently as last month (albeit that was Windows 10).

Another BSoD being squashed is obviously good news, though as noted, Windows 11 users won’t actually get this fix until next month, as part of the monthly cumulative update for April. That said, KB5011563 is available to grab right now as an optional update if you search for it manually (in Windows Update), but as with anything that’s in testing, installing it could have unwanted side-effects.

You may recall that Microsoft was going to change the color of these crash screens from blue to black last year, but decided against that move later in 2021, so BSoDs will remain blue going forward. But with any luck, they’ll fade more and more into the background as Microsoft fixes errors like this one.

Via PC Gamer

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Android app support in Windows 11 comes with a few nasty surprises

One of the most exciting new features coming to Windows 11 is its ability to run Android apps, but Microsoft has revealed a few requirements that may dampen people’s enthusiasm.

According to Microsoft’s new FAQ for the feature, if you want Android apps to run on your PC, you’ll need to meet certain requirements to do so.

So, you’ll need to have a device that runs Windows 11 version 21H2, or later, which is the version that introduces the new feature.

You’ll also need a solid state drive (SSD) and have a modern x64 or ARM64 processor. While these requirements aren’t too bad, and most people running Windows 11 will have them, things then become a little trickier.

Microsoft says you need 8GB of RAM minimum, but16GB is recommended. That 16GB recommendation is quite surprising for a feature we wouldn’t have thought was too demanding (these are apps that are supposed to run on smartphones, after all).

However, the 8GB minimum setting means people running Windows 11 on devices with 4GB of RAM – which is technically possible – won’t be able to use this feature. So low-powered, older, or embedded devices, which may have benefitted the most from getting Android apps, will be left out.

You’ll also need to turn on the Virtual Machine Platform, which is a setting found in Windows 11’s Control Panel.

There’s also one final requirement that may annoy people. As we’ve reported before, Windows 11 uses the Amazon Store for Android apps, rather than Google’s own Play Store.

This means you don’t get the vast collection of apps that you’d find in the Play Store. Nor can you use Play Store credit to buy apps, and any apps or games you’ve bought on your Android devices through the Play Store will need to be re-bought.

You’ll also need an Amazon account as well. While many people probably already have one, due to the popularity of the online store, there will be plenty of people who don’t want an Amazon account for various reasons. Having to sign up for yet another account you don’t want may be too much of an ask.

Analysis: Does this kill the Android app hype in Windows 11?

Are these requirements enough to kill off some people’s excitement for getting Android apps in Windows 11? While the potential of having thousands of apps instantly available in Windows 11, and which can be installed via the Microsoft Store like other Windows 11 apps, remains exciting, we have to admit having our hype has reduced a bit.

The 8GB RAM requirement, for example, means that hopes of making an old, less powerful, Windows 11 device essentially an Android tablet, are less likely now.

Microsoft’s decision to go with the Amazon Appstore also continues to baffle and annoy. Many of us will have a large library of Android apps installed on our devices, and the thought that we’d have to pay for certain apps and games again because we bought them through Google Play instantly puts a damper on things.

If you want to give Android apps a go in Windows 11, you can download the Windows 11 KB5010414 update, which is an optional update that adds an early look at how Android apps will be integrated into the operating system. At the moment, this feature is only available in the US.

Via WindowsLatest

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