Windows 11 could finally make color management easier, and that’s great news for artists and gamers

Microsoft might be planning to release a new color management panel that’ll make picking the perfect color profile for your PC much easier. The perfect color settings make games pop out of the display more vividly, and if you’re a digital artist or photographer, the right color profile could make or break your next masterpiece. 

According to VideoCardz, the change was spotted in the Windows Insider program's latest Insider Preview Build 26052. This is a community of Windows enthusiasts and developers that get early access to potential new features and upgrades, and give feedback before the features are available to regular Windows 11 users. 

The new color management panel showcased in the build has been updated to the modern Windows 11 aesthetic and relocated to the main Settings menu, with easy-to-navigate options and a simpler layout. The old color management menu, which had to be accessed via the Windows Control Panel, has been effectively removed in Build 26052.

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Better control,hopefully … 

Most people who just use their PC for office work or school projects might never venture to this section of the Settings menu, but this could be great news for photographers, digital artists, video editors, and gamers who rely on getting the most out of their monitors. 

From the side-by-side screenshot comparison in the above tweet (sorry, 'X post'), you can see some new features too: the option to color-calibrate your monitor for specific profiles and enable automatic color balancing for compatible Windows apps. If you don’t want to manually color calibrate, you can either select the best option from the available profiles or create your own so you get the most accurate hues. 

While we're excited about this change, we do have to keep in mind that some features that are put into the Dev channel don’t always make it out to the public, so there is a chance we might never see it reach the public build.  We do however hope to see it come to Windows 11 soon because it’ll be a convenient way of managing your color preferences and profiles within the menu layout you’re already familiar with. 

If you want to give it a go, you’ll have to sign up to join the Windows Insider program first. Once you’ve done that you’ll be able to go straight to the ‘display’ section of your general settings and see the ‘Color Management’ option, where you can play around with different profiles and settings. 

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Good news Windows fans, the Ayaneo Next Lite gaming handheld will support your favorite OS

The latest in a long line of Ayaneo PC gaming handhelds, dubbed the Ayaneo Next Lite, will not only be an incredibly affordable portable option but will also be changing course on its OS.

According to a statement posted on the official Ayaneo Twitter/X account, the handheld will come with Windows 11 64-bit Home Edition pre-installed instead of Linux. A great option for those who are more familiar with Windows OS versus a Linux-based one. However, for those who prefer the latter, users will still have the option of the open-source HoloISO project version of Linux, which is based on SteamOS.

All this and the Next Lite is still launching at the very budget price of $ 299 up to and during crowdfunding, which is far less expensive than other options on the market. It’s a switch-up from the Next and Next Pro, which seems to be sticking with the Linux-based OS. And that makes more sense as they’re both meant to compete with the Steam Deck.

Ayaneko could differentiate itself from the market 

While in general, I’m quite agreeable with the idea of using Windows OS for the Ayaneo Next Lite, since it’s the most widely used operating system by a longshot, there needs to be a reckoning for PC gaming handhelds that use it in general.

What makes SteamOS so excellent is that it’s tailor-made for the Steam Deck, so it feels smooth and intuitive. However, other PC gaming handhelds that use Windows OS like the Asus ROG Ally and the Lenovo Legion Go, make the mistake of not tailoring said OS to the system which results in a much clunkier user interface.

Though we don’t know what Ayaneo is planning with the Windows 11 OS it’s using for the Next Lite, crafting a unique user interface would be a great way to differentiate it from other handhelds that otherwise have gotten more attention due to its brands being more well known.

Then again, Ayaneko has also made some unusual decisions, like choosing HoloISO which hasn’t been updated in months (at the time of this writing) instead of ChimeraOS for the Linux-based OS. So there’s no telling what the manufacturer is planning other than targeting a much larger market. We'll have to wait and see how things shake out when the handheld finally launches.

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Think Google and Samsung are sleeping on Apple Vision Pro? Qualcomm has news for you

Among the new chips I saw from Qualcomm last year, the most impactful may have been the Snapdragon AR1 Gen 1 and Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chipsets, found in the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses and the Meta Quest 3 mixed reality (MR) headset, respectively. With Apple Vision Pro promising a new concept of spatial computing sometime this year, of course, Qualcomm is getting ready for the competition. Today it announced a new Snapdragon XR2 Plus Gen 2 chipset that will power new products from Google, Samsung, and others. 

Qualcomm did not name any headsets specifically, only those important partners, with more on the way soon. It said that products with the new XR2 Plus Gen 2 chipset, which is clearly aimed at taking on Apple Vision Pro, could hit the market as soon as 2024, but we will definitely see new devices in 2025. 

Unlike Apple’s super-expensive Vision Pro, which costs close to $ 3,500 in the US, Qualcomm says devices that use its new chipset will be priced closer to today’s XR2 offerings. The Meta Quest 3 starts at $ 500.

The Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 2 has more graphics power

Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Plus Gen 2 reference design headset and logo

The reference design for a Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 2 headset (Image credit: Qualcomm)

What can the improved Snapdragon XR2 Plus Gen 2 offer that today’s chipset can’t handle? It’s all about the graphics performance. Qualcomm says its new platform can drive two displays at 4.3K resolution up to 90FPS. It's so advanced that Qualcomm admits the display technology doesn’t even exist today to support the chipset’s maximum capability, but they expect more advanced displays will hit the market soon. 

Improving the graphics performance on mixed reality displays is important because it makes the experience more comfortable in so many ways. Whether that is reducing motion dizziness, improving the clarity of details in the digital image, or even producing more natural colors and color gradations, every bit of performance improvement is necessary to create a world that not only looks real but also feels real and comfortable when you interact with digital objects. 

Qualcomm goes on to tout the advanced capabilities of the Snapdragon XR2 platform, like its ability to manage up to 12 or more separate camera input channels. Of course, until Samsung or Google (or maybe both working together?!) create a headset with 12 cameras on board, those capabilities are just for white papers and prototypes. It will take a manufacturer to bring this to market. 

Analysis: Qualcomm wants to be the 200lb gorilla

While folks with little mixed reality experience were totally blown away by the Apple Vision Pro headset, the MR industry was much more skeptical. If you’ve had a chance to try the Meta Quest 3, a product that costs less than 15% of what Apple’s headset will cost, you can understand why. 

The Meta Quest 3 isn’t as magical as Apple’s offering, but it’s much closer to achieving real magic than you’d expect, and we’re still very early in that headset’s lifespan. 

While all of the attention will certainly be focused on Apple Vision Pro this year, it’s unlikely you’ll actually be able to buy one (you might be able to test-drive it in an Apple Store, though). Most of us don’t have that kind of cash for a secondary device, especially one that runs an unproven computing concept.

Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Plus Gen 2 reference design headset and logo

Qualcomm’s announcement dropped big hints (Image credit: Qualcomm)

However, when the next holiday season rolls around, Qualcomm might be the brains behind a new Google or Samsung headset that gives you 80% of the Vision Pro experience, for 20% of the price.

Qualcomm was champing at the bit to tell us more about new products on the way and dropped a lot of “sooner rather than later” hints, so we might see more product news as early as CES. We’ve had our eyes on Google and Samsung, both of whom offered VR headsets in the past but no longer, to re-enter the market and take on Vision Pro and Meta Quest.

If you’re saving up for a cool mixed reality headset this year, keep saving, but don’t skip meals and sell your kidneys just to afford the Apple Vision Pro, not yet. Qualcomm has started 2024 with a promise that MR is going to get more interesting, and more affordable, all at once.

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YouTube reveals grand plan to become a more trustworthy news destination

In an effort to combat misinformation, YouTube is implementing immersive news hubs that will pull together content from “authoritative sources” into one convenient location.

The platform states in its announcement that the content collected in these watch pages covers a variety of formats including “video on demand, live streams, podcasts, and Shorts.” The goal here is to give viewers or listeners the opportunity to learn about a particular event from multiple angles. You can watch a Short to “quickly catch up” before moving on to a “long-form video” to get more details.

YouTube says content from authoritative sources will have a purple newspaper icon next to them “on the homepage or in search results.” Selecting those videos opens the watch page so you can scroll through what else is out there while the initial clip plays at the top. 

The preview you see above was found on the official post and is apparently a “mock display” of what a watch page may look like. A YouTube representative told us each hub will be unique to the news story at the center.

When asked what constitutes an authoritative source, the same representative pointed us to a Google policy web page revealing how the tech giant identifies the right sources. To give a quick breakdown, YouTube uses “various signals” indicating channel quality and coverage of certain events. Plus, they use a combination of “machine learning techniques [and] third-party human evaluators” to improve these “signals”.

Availability

The feature is currently rolling to YouTube on mobile “in approximately 40 countries” including, but not limited to, the US, Canada, the UK, France, Australia, India, and Japan. Later down the line, the update will become available on desktop and the YouTube smart TV app.  

It is interesting to see YouTube (and to a greater extent, Google) embrace news curation at a time when other platforms are shying away from it. X, formerly known as Twitter, recently decided to stop showing headlines in posts. Meta is going down a similar route. Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, stated Threads won’t do anything to actively promote “politics [or] hard news” to users.

Potentially bad news

As great as the hub may be, there may be some bad news on the horizon. YouTube made another announcement revealing creators on the website will be able to timestamps for specific products they tag in a video. Every timestamp will cause a shopping button to appear on-screen giving watchers the opportunity to purchase said item.

Most of you reading may not care about this, but you should because it could greatly ramp up the number of ads you see on the platform. Imagine getting a mini-commercial every 30 seconds or so. 

Speaking of commercials, be sure to check out TechRadar's list of the best ad blockers for 2023.

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Oculus Quest 2 owners beware: the Meta Quest 3 launch is bad news for your storage

As highlighted in our Meta Quest 3 review, the new VR headset is bringing a lot of improvements to the VR world, but for Oculus Quest 2 owners it’s also bringing one major downside – your headset’s storage space might soon feel a lot smaller than it did before.

To take advantage of the Quest 3’s improved Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chipset, its 8GB of RAM, and its full-color mixed reality, VR app developers will be releasing updates to their software (Meta said it’s coming to over 50 during Meta Connect 2023). However, as reported by UploadVR, these updated files won’t be exclusive to Quest 3 owners. 

People using a Quest 2 will also be forced to download the new, larger file sizes, but here’s the kicker: they won't be able to benefit from any of the improvements stored in those bigger files. And the size increases aren’t insignificant – for example, Red Matter 2 is jumping from 5.6GB to 9.1GB. 

Just under 3.5GB might not seem like a lot, but if you’ve been a long-running Oculus Quest 2 user and have an original 64GB model (as this writer does) then 3.5GB is 5.5% of your total storage space – or 6.2% of the available space after you factor in the 7.5GB taken up by the Quest 2 OS.

Thankfully this might not be an issue forever. While developers currently don’t have the option to release distinct Quest 2 and Quest 3 versions of their VR experiences, they can release a separate, simplified version for the Quest 1. 

Meta didn’t provide an exact timeline, but it did reportedly tell UploadVR that it has plans to “extend this [facility to release distinct versions of apps] to Quest Pro and Quest 3 in the future.” So hopefully Quest 2 owners will soon be able to reclaim any storage space that has been snatched away from them.

In the meantime, be prepared to have to delete some apps from your Quest 2’s digital library. Alternatively, you could check out the Meta Quest 3 and see if it’s worth upgrading too – if you have to download the bigger files, you might at least take advantage of the benefits they bring.

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In the least surprising Microsoft news ever, its new Windows Copilot AI assistant is showing users ads

Microsoft has recently introduced its newest major addition to Windows 11, an AI assistant named Windows Copilot. So far, it's seen a lukewarm reception due to bugs, and now users have noticed something else – Microsoft is putting ads into Copilot’s Bing Chat function. 

As you might have guessed, many users aren’t happy about this. Copilot is still under development and available as an optional update feature, and I would speculate that users who were excited by its introduction are hoping to see improvements and changes rather than advertisements.

Windows Latest reports that Microsoft has added ads that show up when users make certain queries in Copilot, giving the example of “compare Amazon Prime with Netflix.” This apparently prompts Copilot to show you an ad for Amazon Prime within its interface. Oh boy. 

This is possible because Copilot’s Bing Chat makes use of Microsoft Edge’s WebView2, a program that enables developers to render web content for apps within the browser. In recent times, Microsoft has seemingly followed Google’s lead and integrated ads more and more into its own platforms and programs. This isn’t even entirely unacceptable to users who use Bing, either. 

Many users are okay with ads in Bing and its applications in exchange for being able to use powerful AI tools like ChatGPT equipped with GPT-4 (the latest version of the tech powering ChatGPT – OpenAI’s own website only allows access to GPT-3 for free, although this might change soon) and DALL-E via Bing Image Creator. This doesn’t automatically extend to tolerating ads within Windows Copilot, however, especially with it being more deeply built into the Windows 11 interface. 

Bing.com website homepage viewed through a magnifying glass

(Image credit: Shutterstock / SergioVas)

Windows Copilot: currently a work in progress

Windows Latest calls the current version of Copilot “boring and slow” (ouch) and many users are hoping that big changes are still to come. Users hope for developments like plugin support and being able to use Copilot in more Microsoft apps, like using it for tasks within Microsoft Office.

Microsoft did also present its Copilot assistant for enterprise users, Microsoft 365 Copilot, to assist in apps like Word and Excel. It’s unclear if regular Copilot will also assist non-enterprise users in this way at some point, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen.

Microsoft promoted Copilot as its state-of-the-art AI assistant product, integrating Bing Chat and the latest developments to ChatGPT from its collaboration with OpenAI. The initial reveal looked very promising and advertised Copilot as a pretty intelligent assistant, allowing it an understanding of context (such as what apps are open on your screen when you submit a query). So far, these kinds of promises look like they’re yet to be fulfilled, as apparently Copilot can’t open apps from your voice or text input just yet. 

This might not be what Copilot is for, compared to its predecessor Cortana, which could help open up apps and folders. It’s supposed to be more than an administrative assistant, and has many AI functionalities yet to be added. In its current form, it takes up a small amount of disk space and is an optional install. If you do install it and wish to turn it off, you can do so using the Group Policy editor.

Windows 11 on a laptop

(Image credit: Unsplash)

Will users be able to remove ads in Copilot?

That said, you can’t simply turn off ads within Copilot if you want to continue using it, meaning that if you want to use Copilot, you'll have to tolerate ads. Bing Chat and Microsoft’s big bet on OpenAI and ChatGPT is arguably its biggest challenge to Google’s dominance in a while. It wants to convince as many people as possible to try the newly AI-charged Bing Search, and maybe even consider replacing Google Search with it. It’s not cheap to run an AI-powered search engine, though, and as long as Google Search still reigns supreme, ads are a way to generate revenue while Microsoft continues to experiment. 

Bing Chat does see some demand and even popularity among experts and enthusiasts in the AI community, especially those who want to try out GPT-4 and DALL-E for free. Most users understand that ads are an everyday part of our lives, especially online; a small price to pay to be able to use services and apps.

However, ads are also annoying and sometimes disruptive, and Microsoft has a lot of work to do in finding a balance between including ads to recoup its massive investments and not pushing away users with ad-based irritation – especially since the latter would mean that they don’t see the ads in the first place, thus potentially losing Microsoft its revenue. 

For me personally, if Copilot means there could be ads surfacing in the deeper levels of Windows 11, like in my local file browser or right in the search bar on my taskbar, I’ll probably be reluctant to use it.  If it keeps ads to more internet-centered apps and programs like Edge (or extensions on other browsers like Google Chrome), I’ll be more likely to try it and continue using it. The ball’s now in Microsoft’s court to hear user feedback and hopefully try something different with Copilot’s ads.

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Microsoft ending third-party printer driver support is good news for you

Microsoft revealed in a new document that it will no longer service third-party printer drivers on devices that use Windows OS, including Windows 11

According the article, Microsoft will allow IPP Class Driver and Mopria-compliant print devices, the latter of which got native with Windows 10 version 21H2. These will be supported instead of manufacturer-made drivers via Windows Update. This means that printer manufacturers won’t have to provide dedicated drivers, which is already a huge benefit to them.

On the consumer end, manufacturers can still offer print customization via Microsoft Store apps. Thanks to the much more streamlined and standardized approach to drivers, another consumer benefit is that there will be plenty of performance and reliability improvements alongside broad compatibility across Windows versions and editions.

The FAQ also details that Mopria certification will be a mandatory requirement for HLK (Hardware Lab Kit). It ensures printers will be compatible with other devices, including PCs, smartphones, tablets, and more: another benefit for buyers who won’t have to check compatibility themselves.

Of course, Microsoft has a planned timeline to slowly faze out v3 and v4 third-party driver support, which will take place over several years until 2027. Below you can see the full timetable.

It’s important to note that even when the switchover is complete, buyers will still have access to any existing third-party drivers. This means your old printer that’s still kicking won’t be rendered useless once support ends and only first-party drivers are updated.

Windows 11 is still bad 

This move is absolutely the right decision from Microsoft, as first-party drivers make installation and maintenance much simpler. I recall my own headaches tracking down and installing old drivers for my Brother printer; having the option to just use one from Microsoft would have saved me plenty of trouble.

That said, it would be nice if Microsoft could be so considerate when it comes to  literally anything else involving Windows 11. For instance, its obsession with getting users to upgrade to Windows 11 is annoying at best and downright enraging at  worst. Also the tons of bloatware included with pre-built PCs and laptops, the aggressive ads in the Start Menu, the popular features in previous versions that were dropped in Windows 11, etc.

And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg, with plenty more issues and problems that have been plaguing the OS. Guess you can’t win them all. Or even most of them.

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Fed up with Microsoft’s default apps bloating Windows 11? We’ve got some good news

Windows 11 is set to give you the option to remove more of its default apps if you wish to streamline the operating system a bit.

The ability to uninstall more of these so-called ‘inbox apps’ (or core applications) is present in the latest preview build (25931) which has been released in the Canary channel (Microsoft’s earliest test builds).

As of that build, you can now uninstall the default Photos app, People app, and Remote Desktop (MSTSC) client, as well as the Camera app (which you could already remove since preview builds in March, as The Verge, which spotted this, observes).

Furthermore, Cortana can now be dropped from Windows 11 following the official deprecation of the digital assistant, as we recently reported.

Cortana being swept away is part of preparing the ground for the arrival of the Windows Copilot AI – possibly later this year with the Windows 11 23H2 update – so that case is a little bit different.


Analysis: Expect more of this going forward

It’s useful to have the ability to trim away these default apps. Even though they aren’t huge in size, if you never use them, you can save a bit of storage space, and streamline your system in general. Also, you won’t have to look at pointless programs when scrolling through your lists of apps in Windows 11 menus.

It’s likely Microsoft will give users the choice to uninstall more of these core apps going forward, and you can already remove a fair few. Anything that isn’t system-critical should be fair game to be given the elbow in our book.

Build 25931 doesn’t do a huge amount elsewhere – it’s mainly about porting over features from the Dev channel – but there are some interesting tweaks, such as a change to Dynamic Lighting to allow you to match your Windows accent color with the RGB lights on the devices attached to your PC. Nifty.

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Google Chrome’s latest AI feature could be bad news for bloggers

Google continues to sprinkle AI into its product line with a new feature coming to its Search Generative Experience (SGE), where Google’s Chrome web browser will summarize the articles you’re reading. Currently, SGE already summarizes your search results so you don’t have to scroll forever, but with this new feature, you’ll get a little more help after you’ve clicked the link.

According to a Google blog post announcing the new feature, we won’t see the new feature right away, which Google has named “SGE while browsing”. The generated summary will begin rolling out next week Tuesday as an “early experiment” within the opt-in Search Labs, a program for people to experiment with early Google Search experiences and share feedback. Interestingly, it will be available on mobile before the Chrome browser on desktop, so keep your eyes peeled while you’re Googling on Android or iOS. 

Google generative AI in action

(Image credit: Google)

As you can see, the little pop-up appears as you’re scrolling through a blog page or article, and you’ll be able to see what Google’s tool thinks are the key points of the page. If you click a highlighted point, you’ll be taken down to that paragraph in the article.

The Verge notes that the feature “will only work on articles that are freely available to the public on the web,” so you won’t see it on websites or articles that are behind a paywall.

There are a few other smaller features that will be introduced as well via the SGE, like being able to hover over certain words and see definitions or diagrams (mostly for scientific, economic or historical topics).

Should Bloggers be worried? 

This feature could certainly be super helpful, especially if you’re looking for concise information very quickly. However, it may be bad news for the people writing the content and I don’t think Google has considered that.

If you’ve spent time and energy to really flesh out your article, give your topic context and personality and people are just given summaries and skip over that, it may be discouraging. Especially if you’re writing about sensitive or serious topics, if the generated summaries are leaving out crucial information people may only go with the presented points and leave behind something important or useful (like mixing cleaning products or medication information).

Content creators may not be happy about the new change and the way it might CEO Sundar Pichai said that “over time this will just be how Search works” so, I guess we’ll have to get used to it. 

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Windows 10 update looks like bad news for PC gamers

Windows 10’s most recent update has been giving some PC gamers a headache, brining lag to their gaming sessions – and causing other performance issues besides.

Windows Latest picked up on feedback posted on the official Reddit thread introducing the July cumulative update for Windows 10 (patch KB5028166).

One Redditor said: “Did somebody experience after updating, game and apps became laggy?”

A bunch of replies in the affirmative then ensued, along the lines of: “Yes! I can’t do anything, it takes forever. Everything is slow.”

Another user notes: “I’ve had a few games becoming laggy and freezing at points since updating.”

A further user on Reddit observes: “The last update has given my W10 PC a bad case of constipation; Chrome and other apps take a minute or two to open, webpages often delay opening or display a ‘page is not responding’ message. I’ve not uninstalled the last update in the hope MS releases a new update soon that sorts all this out, as it doesn’t seem to be an uncommon problem.”

It doesn’t seem to be uncommon indeed, with another Redditor posting to confirm: “Had to uninstall this update, caused an ungodly amount of stuttering afterwards. Reformatted the PC, tested before and after this update after so I know this is definitely the cause of the stutter. Clearly I am not the only one and would highly recommend avoiding/uninstalling this update.”

As well as these issues for gamers and general performance slowdown, there are complaints on the same Reddit thread about KB5028166 taking ages to install.

One tech support person (presumably) notes: “On all my clients’ computers, this update takes forever after restart and there’s nothing you can do. Everyone has been calling since morning because they can’t work on their computers.”

A reply to that says the update went on for ‘many hours’ and the user ended up restarting their PC to get out of it (not advisable, really, though sometimes you may feel left with little choice after waiting for ages for an update to finish) – only to encounter the same problem again. Nasty.


Analysis: Not the first time, and likely not the last

Unfortunately, we’ve not heard anything official from Microsoft about how KB5028166 might be causing issues for gamers (indeed, we haven’t seen any official confirmation that there’s a problem at all). Clearly, though, there are a bunch of unhappy folks out there, so hopefully the software giant is investigating. Even the best PC games aren’t so great when frame rates are stuttering like crazy.

This wouldn’t be the first time a cumulative update for Windows 10 (or Windows 11) has seemingly thrown a spanner in the works for games, or has slowed down apps in general. This kind of apparently random lag attack has happened over and over throughout the years, so it’s not exactly a surprise to see this as a (potential) side-effect of KB5028166. The sad truth is that vague problems like this can be difficult to pin down, and sometimes remain ongoing issues for a while.

All we can do is keep our fingers crossed that Microsoft looks into this, and how to cure the affected PCs, and does so quickly. Or at least gives us some indication of what’s going on here. Meanwhile, you can’t really avoid the update on Windows 10 Home – only for a limited time – so you’re going to have to install it soon (besides, there are important security fixes in the patch).

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