Windows 11 users: get ready for lock screen widgets that might annoy you (but Microsoft is doing something about that)

Windows 11 and 10 users, you can breathe a sigh of relief for a moment, as there’s news that’s not about sticking more AI into the heart of Windows 11, or about Windows 10’s seemingly unavoidable end – although I don’t know if this development will be a cause for joy. Microsoft is fully rolling out MSN lock screen widgets after testing the feature for the past four months. 

Apparently, the feature is still in the process of being rolled out, so you may not see it quite yet, but these widgets should appear on your lock screen very soon (if they don’t already). Microsoft is implementing this change for Windows 11 and 10 via a server-side update, so the widgets will just suddenly appear – and so far, Windows Latest observes that users aren’t receiving them warmly.

Part of the problem is that the lock screen widgets displayed are pre-set by Microsoft, and they can’t be adjusted or modified to your preferences. The widgets appear if you switch them on, or already have the ‘Weather or more’ option turned on, in the Settings app. 

To be precise, you’ll find this option in the following location: 

Settings > Personalization > Lock Screen  

A selection of a screenshots of the Lock Screen section in the Settings app, allowing users to switch on the batch of widgets

(Image credit: Microsoft)

An all or nothing proposition – at least for now

The pre-configured MSN widgets include Microsoft Money, Sports, and Weather, but you can’t currently pick and choose which of these you’d like to keep and which to leave out. I imagine this is where a lot of the dissatisfaction with the feature comes from, as it feels that if you’d like widgets on your lock screen, but not all of them – well, it’s a case of tough luck. You’re forced to have them all, or none of them (if you switch them off).

Why can’t you adjust these widgets individually, turning off the ones you don’t like, as you can with other individual widgets such as Mail or Calendar? Well, the good news is that you’ll be able to do that before long, as Microsoft has promised this ability is inbound for Windows 11 and 10 users.

We don’t know when this important change is set to arrive, but hopefully, we’ll see this coming in sooner rather than later, as we can’t imagine it’s a huge task for Microsoft.

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Windows 11 Moment 5 update reportedly causes a ‘white screen of doom’ along with installation failures

Windows 11 users are now receiving the Moment 5 update, which began rolling out a week ago, but some folks have sadly been hit by some frustrating glitches – including a ‘white screen’ crash.

Windows Latest picked up on a few problems with the April cumulative update for Windows 11, including some folks getting installation failures.

This is a long-running gremlin in the works whereby the update process falls over and doesn’t install, producing an error that is essentially meaningless garbage. (Or as Microsoft calls it, a stop error code – a hexadecimal string such as ‘0x800705b9’ which is one of the codes spotted in this instance).

That gives you no clue as to how to resolve the problem, and trying to install again results in the same crash happening with the Moment 5 update. About all you can do is sit tight and hope Microsoft resolves the issue, for now, or try upgrading via the Media Creation Tool. (Which we wouldn’t recommend to anyone but the more tech-savvy readers out there – if you don’t know what this tool is, best to steer clear on balance).

The other major stumbling block with this April update is a problem that sounds like the white equivalent of the famed Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) whereby the PC is locked up and needs to be rebooted to get back to normal.

Windows Latest describes what they encountered, which is after installing Moment 5 successfully, they got stuck on a white screen. This looks like some kind of setup screen, or indeed one of the panels trying to push you to do something post-update – like finishing setting up Windows or your Microsoft Account – except it’s blank (save for a couple of tiny icons).

The website notes that they were able to boot to the desktop after disconnecting the internet, and fortunately for Windows Latest, the white screen didn’t return after that.

There’s also evidence of this issue on Reddit and this thread on Microsoft’s Answers.com help forum, where some folks are saying this white screen keeps coming back.

So, while Windows Latest found it was an issue that went away swiftly, others apparently aren’t so lucky. So we’re calling this the ‘white screen of doom’ as it appears to be persistent at least for some, which must be a real pain.

Windows 11 white screen of doom

(Image credit: Max7192 (Microsoft Answers.com))

Analysis: Unplug the internet

What’s interesting to note is that one of the affected people on Answers.com states: “The only thing working for me atm is to start the computer without internet and I don’t get the white screen.” Somebody else replies that they tried this and it worked.

Windows Latest also observes disconnecting from the internet worked to sidestep the white screen, so this is definitely something you should give a whirl if you’re affected by this problem.

This lends some credibility to the idea that this is some kind of nag panel, and it’s failing to pipe through the content from Microsoft’s servers, perhaps – and when you pull the plug on the internet, it stops trying and finally loads the desktop. (That’s purely wild guesswork, mind you).

It’s also worth noting that on the above Reddit thread, there are some consistent mentions of problems with PCs resuming from sleep (or monitors turning back on after waking the system). So that might be one to watch out for, too.

Hopefully, Microsoft is looking into the reports of these problems and will be on hand with some official advice soon enough. We’ve reached out to the company and will update this article with any response to the apparent problems with the April update. Currently, the official support document from Microsoft lists no known issues with Moment 5.

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Microsoft’s lock screen cards for Windows 11 are about to arrive – and a much-needed addition will follow

Microsoft recently tested a new feature for the lock screen in the form of info cards in both Windows 11 and Windows 10, which are now imminent, but this functionality is missing an important piece of the puzzle – something the software giant is going to remedy, thankfully.

The widget-style lock screen cards give you a snapshot of the current weather, or stocks (finance), local traffic, and so on, but the problem was you could either switch them all on, or all off – with no fine-tuned control.

So, if you wanted weather and sports scores, but not traffic updates and stocks, you were stuck with the latter two.

However, according to a report from Windows Latest, Microsoft has told the tech site that you’ll be able to customize which cards appear on the lock screen in the future. However, no timeframe was mentioned for when this might happen.


Analysis: Get on with it (please)

Do this already, Microsoft. We made the observation before that it seemed pretty odd to introduce lock screen cards as an all-or-nothing affair, because many folks won’t want a load of these – and will regard that as clutter – but might be happy with one or two tucked away on the lock screen.

So, this was an obvious – and very necessary – move in our books. And hopefully, it won’t take long to usher in this change, as we can’t see that it’ll be all that complex to implement a choice here. Maybe the feature will arrive with the 24H2 update, at the latest we’d hope.

Meantime, all Windows 11 users will get the new lock screen cards later today in the cumulative update for April, or they almost certainly will, unless Microsoft delays the rollout if any problems were encountered in the March preview update (we haven’t heard about any issues in testing). And the same is presumably true for the Windows 10 update also coming today.

Speaking of the Windows 10 incarnation of these lock screen cards, something else we’d like to see is Microsoft working on the layout and presentation here, so it looks neater like the Windows 11 design. The reality may be that Windows 10 is not that high a priority any longer, though (when you consider that for a time, Microsoft froze all feature development on the older OS, before having a rethink).

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Windows 10’s lock screen ruined? Not for everyone, but new feature rolling out is a love or hate thing

Windows 10 is getting a new feature for the lock screen, furnishing it with some extras that you’ll either approve of or detest, if the reaction online thus far is anything to go by.

Ever-present leaker and keen delver into the hidden depths of Windows 11 preview builds, PhantomOfEarth, posted a screenshot of the new lock screen cards on X (formerly Twitter).

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As the leaker explains, this is a feature rolling out in Windows 10 in the Release Preview channel, with build 19045.4235, so not everyone will have it. But if it hasn’t reached them yet, testers can force the functionality to work using ViVeTool (a Windows configuration utility).

These lock screen cards show the current weather and other bits and pieces like scores from sports matches, stock market happenings, local traffic, and so forth. In other words, info you may – or may not – find useful.

As PhantomOfEarth points out, the weather card has been tweaked to make it look better, although there’s a sticking point here: you can either have all of these cards displayed, or none of them. There’s no option to pick and choose if you don’t want, say, the finance-related card.


Analysis: Bloat on the landscape

For those thinking – wait a minute, didn’t Microsoft stop adding features for Windows 10, and there is a comment to that effect on X – well, the firm adopted that as a policy for a short while, before having a rethink.

In short, work is still being done with developing new features for Windows 10, such as this particular addition – but don’t expect a massive amount to be piped through over the next year and a half of Windows 10’s remaining shelf life.

One cynical soul replying to the above tweet suggests the work that is being done is only there to make you upgrade to Windows 11, which is clearly very harsh, but the point being made is that there are folks who don’t like this change. They see these cards as rather pointless bloat that’ll slow down your PC a touch, perhaps.

Mind you, the info cards aren’t compulsory – you can turn them off if you don’t like them. Although as PhantomOfEarth says, it’d be nice if you could turn off selected cards, rather than just switching off the whole lot – choice is always good – but perhaps Microsoft will make it work this way in the future. We are still in the testing phase, after all, although this change will be coming to Windows 10 soon enough.

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Say goodbye to the recent Blue Screen of Death drama in your life with these new fixes from Intel

If you’ve recently been confronted by the fearsome Blue Screen of Death (also known as BSOD… yes, it’s got its own acronym) when using Windows 11, Intel might have pinpointed the cause and is offering a fix. According to Intel, the recent BSOD is likely caused by a faulty Wi-Fi driver, for which it’s released an update that should resolve this. It’s also released an update for Bluetooth, version 23.30, that should bring additional stability. 

Intel WLAN driver version 23.30 is Intel’s February 2024 Wi-Fi update that should stop Windows 11 from crashing and showing the BSOD. This update addresses more than just the crashing issue in Windows 11, as detailed in Intel’s full release notes for the update. Other improvements include an improved Quality of Service (QoS) which will help devices prioritize internet traffic better, and Windows Latest explains that this could improve the overall internet performance of a device connected to a router used by multiple devices. Intel has also made changes that should improve network latency, which is good news for those who like to play games online.

Since installing the initial driver update, users have been reporting issues like Windows System Event ID 5002 errors have been a common occurrence. Other issues included problems with finding Wi-Fi networks and connecting to monitors using the wireless Miracast function. 

Windows 11 Update showing on laptop in an office

(Image credit: TechRadar)

How and when you can expect these updates

If you have a suitable Windows 11 device with Intel Wi-Fi and Bluetooth components, you can expect these updates to land in your device’s Windows Update app. If for whatever reason you do not see these or you want to speed up the process (given they’ve not been installed already), you can use the Intel Driver and Support Assistant (iDSA) to download and install them. You can do this by going to Intel’s website and downloading the installation file for the iDSA, and opening up the app once installed. Get the app to check for updates, and if they’re available for your device, they should show up. If you have issues with the updates once they’re installed, you should be able to revert to older versions using the Device Manager app.

If you’re having other issues with your Windows 11 device, Intel-based or not, you can download and install the Windows 11 February 2024 optional update. This version comes with a host of updates and fixes and should also deliver a boost in performance. These are set to be installed automatically with Microsoft’s Windows 11 Moment 5 updates but are available to try in this optional update. Fixes for connectivity and Wi-Fi issues are always good news, so this is a welcome development from Intel, and I would always recommend installing updates that are available both for improved functionality and the most up-to-date security improvements.

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Windows 10 gets a fresh lock screen weather widget and bug fixes in new update

Microsoft has dropped a new preview update (KB5034203), bringing an updated lock screen weather widget to Windows 10 alongside regular bug fixes. The update also comes with changes to comply with the European Union’s Digital Markets Act – however, these changes are set to roll out gradually rather than all at once.

The update will bring more life to the weather experience on Windows 10, including more interactive weather updates, allowing you to hover your cursor over the widget on your lock screen to see more information about current weather conditions in your area. Clicking on the weather ‘card’ will then sign you into your device and open up Microsoft Edge with a full weather broadcast.

Alongside the updated widget, update KB5034203 comes with other fixes such as addressing issues that affect BitLocker data-only encryption, the failure of some apps in Windows 10 to respond to changed keyboard language, and a fix for an annoying bug that caused the Internet Explorer shortcut to become unresponsive for some users.

Optional, but still worth an update

In terms of compliance with the European Union’s Digital Markets Act, Microsoft released a blog post directed to Windows Insiders back in November addressing plans to ensure Windows 11 and Windows 10 follow the set obligations.

The Digital Markets Act includes a wide range of requirements that Microsoft will have to adhere to within the EU – most notably, the ability for users to uninstall any Windows app, including Cortana and Edge. According to the blog post, Microsoft will “be updating Windows 10, version 22H2 and Windows 11, version 23H2 PCs in the EEA to be compliant by March 6th, 2024.”

So, we can expect more of these smaller-scale updates in the coming months to both Windows 10 and Windows 11. I'm pleased to see Microsoft continuing the effort to keep Windows 10 updated, considering many people are still quite hesitant to jump ship to Windows 11.

KB5034203 is an optional preview update at the moment, so you’ll have to install it manually if you’d like to check these features out yourself right now. Head over to the ‘Update and Security’ section of your setting and click the ‘Windows Update’ tab. There you’ll see a list of optional updates available and a link to download and install the update. Enjoy!

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Windows 11 hack keeps your PC alive (sort of) after a Blue Screen of Death crash

A Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) in Windows 11 is when the PC locks up entirely, with no possible recourse – except to reboot there and then – unless you’ve hacked the operating system, that is.

Tom’s Hardware reports that NTDEV, the maker of Tiny11 (a lightweight version of Windows 11) flagged up on X (formerly Twitter) that NSG650 has a project on GitHub which is a driver that modifies the normal BSOD behavior, firing up a Linux emulator when a crash occurs.

In other words, instead of just having the option to reboot, you get a RISC-V Linux emulator popping up post-crash. How is this done? It leverages the bugcheck callback feature in Windows – which is part of the BSOD process, and allows for code to run after a crash – and in this case, the code inserted brings up the emulator.

Now, all the Linux emulator consists of is a basic command line (like the old days of DOS, just a text interface), and you can’t really do anything with it – it’s just showing what can be done (see the video clip below), rather than actually implementing anything useful.


Analysis: An opportunity for Microsoft?

With this methodology discovered, this raises the question that with some work, could something more advanced be concocted along these lines? Something that does allow you to do useful things after a BSOD, like plug in a USB drive and back up files, for example, if you’re worried they might be corrupted. Or maybe to run some kind of lightweight recovery utility.

Having seen this in action, though, it’s entirely possible Microsoft will patch this out, as it could be seen as a security risk in Windows 11 (and Windows 10 for that matter).

However, we can but hope that it might inspire Microsoft to look at doing something more useful, as mentioned, with the BSOD, and allowing at least some post-crash options, if indeed it’s possible to work anything meaningful in that way – which we don’t know, we should add.

For the moment, this little trick remains an interesting novelty, with a tantalizing possibility that it could become more than that in the future. Whatever the case, even if nothing happens along those lines, we think Microsoft could definitely improve BSODs in other ways – though if you happen to encounter one, at least we have a Blue Screen of Death survival guide.

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Don’t panic, iPhone users – Google Maps is still bringing Live Activities to your lock screen

Google announced around this time last year that it was working on the addition of Live Activities support to the Google Maps app for iPhone and iPads, and slated it for release later in 2023, but so far it still hasn’t been released. However, new assets found in the latest version in the app indicate that Google is still working on this feature, and the wait may soon be over.

The feature will display turn-by-turn directions on the Lock Screen and in the Dynamic Island of iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 15 series handsets, providing users with real-time ETAs, directions for driving, biking, walking, public transit, and more kinds of navigation. Users can look forward to all of that in easy-to-read live notifications without having to unlock their phones and opening the app. 

I wonder if this feature will also be present on iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Pro models’ Dynamic Islands, and would assume this would become standard for future iPhone models. It would also be nice to see a similar feature for Android devices (Dynamic Islands is a feature that’s exclusive to modern iPhones). 

Young woman using smartphone in Sydney

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A sign to keep your hopes up

A contributor at MacRumors, Aaron Perris, looked into the app’s assets after its most recent update, and found signs that users can remain hopeful that Google hasn’t given up adding these features to Google Maps on iPhone, despite the delay. 

This is reassuring, as while the new features were still in development as of August of last year, after that there were no strong indications that Google was pushing forward with it until now. MacRumours says that this recent discovery suggests that we might see the new feature soon. 

Apple has also opened up the Live Activities API for third-party iPhone app developers in iOS 16.1’s release. Developers have since made some handy apps and added some useful support features to existing apps, like DoorDash and United Airlines, thanks to the Live Activities API.

As an Android device user, I’m pretty jealous – this sounds like an awesome feature that makes it easier to get up and go, and stay on the move. It will make commuting with the help of your iPhone safer and more convenient, as well. I understand why iPhone users might be getting antsy after such a long delay and limited communication from Google, but it’s worth it for the Google Maps team to get it right.

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These fake Blue Screen of Death mock-ups highlight a serious problem with Windows 11

Windows 11 getting a redesigned BSOD – the dreaded Blue Screen of Death that pops up when a PC crashes – might be a joke on X (formerly Twitter) right now, but it highlights a serious issue.

OK, 'joke' might be a strong word, but the BSOD mock-ups presented by Lucia Scarlet on X are certainly tongue-in-cheek, featuring colorful emojis which are rather cutesy – not what you really want to see when your PC has just crashed and burned.

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That said, the overall theme of the design, giving the BSOD a more modern look, isn’t unwelcome, even if the emojis aren’t appropriate in our book.

That said, there are comments in the threads of those tweets that highlight how some folks are disappointed that these aren’t real incoming redesigns for Windows 11. In some cases, there are people who appreciate a more friendly emoji appearing, as opposed to the frowny face (a text-based one, mind) which has been present on BSODs.

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Analysis: The blue screen blues

That disappointment is likely, at least in part, to be a more general indicator of the level of dissatisfaction with the BSOD – particularly in regards to the lack of information the screen provides, and shortfalls with the help that is supplied.

When a BSOD appears, it’s usually highly generic, and tells the Windows 11 (or Windows 10) user very little – you’ll read something like “a problem happened” with no elaboration on exactly what went wrong.

Meaningless error messages (known as stop codes that can pop up elsewhere in Windows 11, too) which are a jumble of hexadecimal letters and numbers might be cited, or a techie reference to a DLL perhaps, none of which are likely to be a jot of help in discerning what actually misfired in your system.

Never mind visual redesigns, Microsoft improving the info and help provided with BSODs would be the biggest step forward that could be taken with these screens. We've witnessed one innovation in the form of the QR codes provided – as seen in the mock-ups above – but these were introduced way back in 2016, and haven’t progressed much in the best part of a decade, often linking through to not fully relevant or up-to-date information.

We feel there’s definitely more Microsoft could do to improve BSODs, and in fairness, a more modern touch for the visuals wouldn’t hurt – though there’s another thought that occurs. Should we still be getting full system lock-ups at this point in the evolution of desktop operating systems?

Ideally not, of course, but to be fair to Microsoft, BSODs are definitely a whole lot less common these days than in the past. For those who do encounter them, though, we have a handy Blue Screen of Death survival guide.

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Turn your iPhone into an iPod Classic with these brilliant lock screen wallpapers

Software designers Oliur and Shane Levine have released a series of wallpapers that convert the lock screen on your iPhone into an iPod Classic.

It’s a real blast from the past. The collection is known as the iPod Wallpaper Pack, consisting of “12 high-definition wallpapers” sporting a multitude of colors. Just to name a few of the shades, you'll get the classic silver look, black, turquoise, hot pink, and lime green. But one of our favorite aspects of these covers is the attention to detail the designers gave each of them.  

Color iPods on iPhone display

(Image credit: Oliur)

One wallpaper is completely covered by heart and flower stickers, and it looks exactly like something your little sister would do to your iPod. Another has carefully placed stickers around the click wheel: AC/DC in one corner with Rockstar Games in the other. Plus, we like how a few of the selections have scratches and chipped-off paint because who among us did not drop their iPod multiple times? 

iPod on iPhone display with scratches and stickers

(Image credit: Oliur)

Availability

The date and time will hover around the same location – somewhere near the top of the screen with battery life over in the top right corner. There’s even a little bit of room for widgets in the iPod display.

Oliur’s iPod Wallpaper Pack is currently available for $ 14 on its official website. Upon purchase, the images will be placed into a 58 MB ZIP file that needs to be extracted to be used. According to tech news site T3, you can save the wallpapers by uploading them to your iCloud account if you’re buying them on your iPhone. 

If you’re curious about what happened to iPods, Apple officially retired the series back in May 2022 with the final model being the 7th generation iPod Touch. The company continued to sell the device for a little while on its online store, however, if you go on there today, it’s completely gone. It’s sold out. Nowadays if you want an iPod, you’ll have to try your luck on a third-party retailer like Amazon or Walmart.

Or better yet: get yourself something more modern. If you want recommendations, check out TechRadar’s roundup of the best MP3 player for 2023.  

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