Windows 11 has a nifty new feature – but enabling it is a hassle

Windows 11 now has widgets to let you monitor how your system is running, albeit the way of getting them going is rather clunky.

The catch is they come as part of a new app being introduced for Windows 11, which is currently in preview, called Dev Home. As the name suggests, this is for developers (to help make them more productive and streamline their workflow for creating software), but it has an interesting extra option.

As Ghacks reports, Dev Home allows you to add widgets for monitoring system resources, meaning you can see at a glance on the widgets board how your CPU, GPU, system memory, or network are performing currently.

This is the same info available in Task Manager – in the Performance tab – but having it right there on the widgets panel, if you want, makes it far more convenient to check what’s going on if, say, your PC appears to be hit with a bout of slowdown.

As you may realize, going into Task Manager is a slightly convoluted process (though there is a handy keyboard shortcut to get there quickly – by pressing the Ctrl+Shift+Escape keys together).

The system monitoring widgets also provide some useful extra touches. For example, the CPU performance widget displays the top three active processes and a button to end them (in other words, to kill the task right there and then, if it is causing problems or has become unresponsive – an option coming to the taskbar in Windows 11, too).

Analysis: Hopefully these widgets will become more broadly available

Obviously this app is specifically for developers, so consumers aren’t going to want to use it as such. However, there’s certainly nothing to stop the average user from installing the Dev Home preview app (from the Microsoft Store) to get this ability.

Is it worth doing that? For some who are really keen to see system resource readouts on the widgets board, it’s at least good to have the option. Although in all honesty, it’s maybe a step too far for many folks, who aren’t going to want to install developer software (that takes up space, of course).

Do note, though, that you don’t ever have to run Dev Home, or do anything beyond installing it. Once set up, you can use the widgets without ever going near the Dev Home app again (but you must leave it installed).

What we’re hoping is that if Microsoft sees this as a reasonably popular option – assuming it is, naturally, and we can imagine it’ll get some traction among widget fans – then maybe the company will consider making these system-monitoring widgets more broadly available. In other words, have them accessible to everyone without the need to install Dev Home.

Note that currently, we’re told that the updating of these widgets in real-time doesn’t appear to be working properly, which is presumably a bug. That’s the other thing to remember for now – this app is still in preview, so it may be wonky while Microsoft irons out various issues that are doubtless present.

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Windows 11 gets a nifty tweak to kill frozen apps, catching up with macOS

Windows 11 is getting the ability to kill an unresponsive app, known as ‘force closing’ (or force quitting) right from the taskbar in what’ll be a very useful tweak for the OS.

This functionality was previously spotted hidden in test builds of Windows 11, and caused a fair bit of excitement at the time, so it’s good to see Microsoft confirm it is indeed inbound.

The move represents a far more convenient and easy way to deal with a misfiring app than the current scheme of things in Windows 11, where you have to head into the Task Manager and hunt around a bit to accomplish the same feat.

The Verge reports that Microsoft let us know that the ability is coming to Windows 11 at its Build conference for developers.

Quite a bit of stuff has been announced at Build, in fact, and a bunch of minor but important changes along similar lines – like native support for dealing with RAR or 7-Zip files in Windows 11 (instead of having to download and install a third-party utility).

And of course there’s a huge change that has been announced, one we’re viewing with a little trepidation – namely the introduction of AI into Windows 11 in the form of Microsoft’s Copilot.

Analysis: Mirroring the Mac – finally

So, what’s the big deal here? When apps go rogue and freeze up, they can simply hang around, slowing down your system’s performance (perhaps) and generally being annoying.

To force close such an unresponsive app right now in Windows 11, you have to open Task Manager, which is a bit of a faff in itself, unless you know the keyboard shortcut (press Control+Shift+Escape together). Then you must scroll through the list of running processes to find the rogue app, select it, and click the ‘End Task’ button.

With the new option, all you have to do is right-click on the app in the taskbar, and select ‘End Task’ from the context menu – a far easier and quicker way of taming the application that’s gone awry.

As Mac users will realize, this exact ability is something present in macOS, so Windows 11 is catching up to Apple’s desktop operating system in that respect – and it’s about time, to be honest.

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Google Chrome will soon get a nifty feature to cut through clutter on the web

The Chrome browser and Chromebooks are getting a smart new feature in the form of a Reading Mode, Google has revealed over at BETT.

The education tech show is currently underway in London, and Google unveiled plans for this Reading Mode to come to ChromeOS (meaning Chromebooks) as well as the Chrome browser.

The idea of the Reading Mode is it pops up a separate panel to the side of the web page in the browser window, enabling the viewing of that page in a cleaner format and offering greater clarity for simply reading the content.

In short, it strips away the clutter on the web page, so you can wave goodbye to distracting pictures, videos, icons, and buttons to concentrate purely on reading the actual text.

As 9 to 5 Google, which spotted this, points out, Reading Mode is inbound at some point later this year for the Chrome browser, and will debut on Chromebooks with ChromeOS version 114.

Analysis: Closer to the Edge

This is a welcome option for both ChromeOS and more widely the Chrome browser, as making web content more accessible has got to be a good thing – even if the Reading Mode took a long time to arrive (which it most certainly did).

Cutting out clutter to help focus on the core written content of a web page will be helpful in a range of scenarios, and clearly one of those is in the classroom for those who live with learning differences such as dyslexia and ADHD (which as Google points out, is one in five children in the US).

The Reading Mode will come with plenty of customization options so users can fine-tune it to their own needs, too. That’ll include the ability to change the font, and make the size larger if necessary, as well as adjusting elements such as character and line spacing, or the background color. For example, if you want a dark background rather than white, there’s a menu option to make that happen.

If this functionality sounds familiar, that’s because Google is playing catchup in this case, and you may have already played with this kind of streamlined browsing experience in Microsoft Edge (or other browsers).

The Edge browser has an Immersive Reader feature sporting a lot of similar capabilities to those announced by Google here (and more besides), and it was introduced some three years ago.

Immersive Reader can be kicked into gear by clicking the appropriate icon at the far right of the URL bar. (Although it may not be supported with every web page, you can still pull content out of a page by selecting the text and using the right-click context menu to invoke Immersive Reader).

The big difference between Google and Microsoft’s respective takes here is that Edge transforms the web page into its reading-friendly mode, whereas Chrome pops up the Reading Mode version in a panel next to the web page which is still displayed (side-by-side). Quite why Google has adopted this approach, we’re not sure, but as noted, you can expand the Reading Mode panel to be wider.

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