Windows 11 users, get ready for more AI – a new test build promises a designated section of the Settings menu just for AI updates

Windows 11 Build 26217 is now available to developers and testers in the Canary alpha channel, offering a few small bug fixes alongside a new page in the Settings menu dedicated to “AI component updates”. 

Microsoft has been flooding Windows 10 and Windows 11 users with some pretty cool AI-related updates and features recently, most notably the addition of Copilot to the taskbar for easy access. Spotted by WindowsLatest, the new settings page is just for AI updates, but right now we don’t really know what that could entail. We speculate that users will be able to keep track of updates to features like AI Explorer and possibly Copilot as well – or Microsoft could be setting up a new space for entirely new AI-related features.

Microsoft could also be gearing up for the Build Developer conference later this year, where it seems to be encouraging developers to build their own AI features for Windows apps. This would be fascinating news for AI enthusiasts who are already feeling the positive impacts of having a tool like Copilot ready to use and may want to boost some of the apps or programs they already use with an injection of AI functionality. 

Finally, some good news!

I’m pretty excited to see what kind of nifty features will make a home in the new settings page if we do see it have a public rollout. We have to keep in mind that many features and changes we see in the Windows Canary channel aren’t guaranteed to make a wide release, so while I might be excited now, I can’t get my full hype on until we get more information from Microsoft. 

That being said, it does look like AI is here to stay for Windows users. That could be good or bad news depending on your outlook on large language models, but it feels like Microsoft is all-in when it comes to AI. 

Overall, I am glad for some good news when it comes to Windows updates. With the influx of ads becoming the new normal in Windows 11, there’s been a bitter taste in my mouth anytime I hear about a new build or update – so if this new section of the settings does come to our desktops that’ll at least be something positive (and ad-free). Here at TechRadar, we all feel Microsoft owes us some kind of good news given how irritating ads have become – even stooping so low as to disguise themselves as recommendations

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Ads in Windows 11 are becoming the new normal and look like they’re headed for your Settings home page

Microsoft looks like it’s forging ahead with its mission to put more ads in parts of the Windows 11 interface, with the latest move being an advert introduced to the Settings home page.

Windows Latest noticed the ad, which is for the Xbox Game Pass, is part of the latest preview release of the OS in the Dev channel (build 26120). For the uninitiated, the Game Pass is Microsoft’s subscription service that grants you access to a host of games for a monthly or yearly subscription fee.

Not every tester will see this advert, though, at least for now, as it’s only rolling out to those who have chosen the option to ‘Get the latest updates as soon as they're available’ (and that’s true of the other features delivered by this preview build). Also, the ad only appears for those signed into a Microsoft account.

Furthermore, Microsoft explains in a blog post introducing the build that the advert for the Xbox Game Pass will only appear to Windows 11 users who “actively play games” on their PC. The other changes provided by this fresh preview release are useful, too, including fixes for multiple known issues, some of which are related to performance hiccups with the Settings app. 

A close up of a keyboard and a woman gaming at a PC in neon lighting

(Image credit: Shutterstock/Standret)

Pushing too far is a definite risk for Microsoft

While I can see this fresh advertising push won’t play well with Windows 11 users, Windows Latest did try the new update and reports that it’s a significant improvement on the previous version of 24H2. So that’s good news at least, and the tech site further observes that there’s a solution for an installation failure bug in here (stop code error ‘0x8007371B’ apparently).

Windows 11 24H2 is yet to roll out officially for all users, but it’s expected to be the pre-installed operating system on the new Snapdragon X Elite PCs that are scheduled to be shipped in June 2024. A rollout to all users on existing Windows 11 devices will happen several months later, perhaps in September or October. 

I’m not the biggest fan of Microsoft’s strategy regarding promoting its own services – and indeed outright ads as is the case here – or the firm’s efforts to push people to upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11. Unfortunately, come next year, Windows 10 users will be facing a choice of migrating to Windows 11, or losing out on security updates when support expires for the older OS (in October 2025). That is, if they can upgrade at all – Windows 11’s hardware requirements make this a difficult task for some older PCs.

I hope for my sake personally, and for all Windows 11 users, that Microsoft considers showing that it values us all by not subjecting us to more and more adverts creeping into different parts of the operating system.

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Haven’t activated Windows 11? Then you might find yourself locked out of some Microsoft Edge browser settings

If you’re running an unactivated version of Windows 11 (or Windows 10), your access to Microsoft Edge’s settings might be restricted in the future. This is already the case when it comes to things like Personalization settings for Windows 11 in an unactivated installation, as well as constant reminders prompting you to activate the OS.

If you don’t mind those constraints and plentiful reminders, you can install and run Windows 11 and Windows 10 without activation for free.

However, it seems like Microsoft has added multiple flags in testing that allow for blocking certain browser capabilities in an Edge preview build – if you’re using Windows 11 (or Windows 10) and it’s unactivated. The three flags in question in Edge spotted by Windows Latest are:

  • msEdgeActivatedStateCheckAndUpdate
  • msEdgeNonActivatedOSTrigger
  • msEdgeLockSettingsInNonActivatedOS

Looking to see the effects of each of these flags being enabled, Windows Latest tried running the Edge Canary test build with one flag enabled at a time. Windows Latest turned on the ‘msEdgeLockSettingsInNonActivatedOS’ flag successfully, which resulted in some of Edge’s settings being locked. Then, when Edge’s settings page was opened, it displayed a banner that stated:

“We notice your Windows is not activated, some customization has been limited.”

Pushing further, Windows Latest explored other parts of Edge settings and also discovered that the ‘When Edge starts’ panel (which allows for configuration of what happens when the browser launches) was blocked due to Windows 11 not being activated.

An unwise move?

This is an interesting strategy that doesn’t entirely make sense to me, because as Windows Latest points out, the policy seemingly only targets Windows – Edge users on Mac devices and mobiles don’t see this kind of interference. That makes me think, well, Microsoft is mulling this move simply because it can, and if you want Windows enough to install it, then you want the OS enough to tolerate measures like this. 

Considering how clearly desperate Microsoft is for more people to use Edge, having instigated multiple instances of aggressively pushing users to make Edge their browser of choice, this strategy is even more puzzling since it could drive people away (having finally gotten what Microsoft wants, apparently!).

If you want to continue using Windows unactivated, you could just switch to Chrome, Firefox, or another of the best web browsers that doesn’t have these restrictions. It’s worth remembering that this development is still in the early testing stages, though, and hopefully won’t make it to the final version rollout – but I wouldn’t put it past Microsoft. 

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Haven’t activated Windows 10 or 11 yet? Your Microsoft Edge settings may soon be blocked off entirely

Users with an unactivated version of Windows 11 (or Windows 10) may need to start considering activating their operating system – as it looks like Microsoft could start cracking down again, starting with the Edge web browser.

According to Windows Report, the change is currently contained to Edge Canary, a build of Edge that Windows Insiders have access to to try out and test potential upcoming changes, and it seems Insiders have spotted a lockdown on Microsoft Edge settings. 

The browser is still likely to work on unactivated Windows, and normally you can use Windows 10 and 11 without having to activate your license key – but with limitations. People using unactivated Windows are likely to have a prompt to activate pop up often in their settings and have limitations with their personalization options. 

While this is inconvenient, it does at least allow people to use their machines without activating Windows 10 or 11 – a far cry from previous Windows releases which would not let you install the operating system without a valid product key. However, if this change to how Edge runs does make it past the Insiders stage of development you may find all your settings regarding Microsoft Edge locked entirely, presumably until you activate your version of Windows. 

Cruel but fair? 

Why would Microsoft want to take such a harsh approach to getting people to activate their operating system? Without activation, you are very likely to miss out on security updates, protect yourself from viruses and cyber threats, and be bothered consistently by pop-ups. Activation also proves that you paid for that version of Windows and that it is legitimate.

With all the new AI advancements stuffed into Microsoft Edge, there are probably a lot more people using Edge now than before, and this could just be a good opportunity to force as many people as possible to activate their Windows by threatening to tamper with their newly boosted, feature-filled web browser. 

I can appreciate why the tech giant would want to prompt people to make their devices more secure by activating them, while also making sure people aren’t using pirated or ‘cracked’ versions of its software. 

Hopefully, if we do see this development make it out to a public release Microsoft will give users time to activate their operating systems, rather than just taking everything away first and expecting users to figure it out later. 

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Windows 11 gets new features for Settings app as Microsoft continues with its ‘death by a thousand cuts’ for Control Panel

Microsoft is slowly shifting the functionality of the old Control Panel that’s still kicking about in Windows 11 to the Settings app, and some more features have just made this transition – at least in test builds of the OS.

Windows Latest spotted this fresh activity in terms of shuffling features across, work that should benefit Windows 11 users when the 24H2 update is released later this year.

One move here is with the Power & Battery panel in the Settings app, which now presents laptop users with the ability to change ‘Lid, power, and sleep button controls’ (options currently in the Control Panel, as noted). This allows you to decide what happens when you close the notebook lid or hit the power button (have the device sleep, hibernate, shut down – or do nothing).

For desktop PC users, there are power options, but obviously, they are slightly different – there’s no lid to shut in this case, and also the hibernate option isn’t present.

Microsoft is also working on the Display section of Settings, having introduced Color Management options to allow you to change your Color Profiles (again, shifting that from the Control Panel).

Another small move was noticed by Windows Latest in the Storage Pool panel where there is a new option to ‘Delete this Storage pool’ which was previously only accessible via the legacy Control Panel.


Analysis: Control Panel’s slow slide into oblivion

All of these are relatively minor moves – well, the power-related changes are more important, to be fair – but it’s all additional momentum in terms of the Settings app finally taking over all the duties of the old Control Panel. It’s just that Microsoft is being very slow in drip-feeding these kinds of changes to Windows 11 (and indeed Windows 10) users.

The problem is that the amount of options under the hood of Microsoft’s desktop operating system is vast, frankly (and some of those functions are niche and rarely seen by the majority of everyday users – like storage pools). So, it’s taking some time for Microsoft to get its house in order in terms of migrating all of this functionality to the Settings app, which was introduced with Windows 8, but took center stage in Windows 10.

Work began in earnest on dismantling the Control Panel with Windows 10 back in 2020, and the eventual aim is to ditch the panel from Windows 11 (or a future version of the OS, most likely) completely.

However, there are still legacy areas of the Control Panel around as we’ve seen, and when these old, rusty pieces of interface pop up, it can be pretty jarring. Particularly in Windows 11 where Microsoft has gone further to achieve a sleeker and more modern look with its desktop and menus.

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The Apple Vision Pro comes with a Guest Mode dilemma – you can share the love but can’t keep the settings

Apple’s newly-launched Vision Pro comes with a guest mode, but it appears to be frustratingly limited. It seems that (rather reluctantly), Apple has included a “Guest User” mode to let users share their shiny new device with family and friends without having to give them access to your personal information and data. That said, if you hope it’ll be like guest modes on other devices we’ve become accustomed to, you’ll need to think again. 

While friends and family will be able to experience the magic of the Vision Pro on a user’s device, according to 9to5Mac the device won’t store any of their settings. This will no doubt be disappointing for anyone who got it hoping to be able to share it with a group – such as with the rest of their family. Also, Guest Mode will allow you to “share specific apps and experiences with family and friends,” which sounds like the ability to share may not extend to all apps.

So, guest users will only have limited settings and app capabilities, settings will not be stored from any sessions, and the Vision Pro won’t actually even save guest calibration data. If a guest wants to use a specific user’s Vision Pro other than their own, they’ll have to go through the process of calibrating eye tracking, hand scanning, and pairing ZEISS Optical Inserts every time.

An Apple Store staff member shows a customer how to use a Vision Pro headset.

(Image credit: Apple)

Possible concerns ahead for the Vision Pro

This isn’t due to a technical limitation either, Apple chose to have it be this way. If a friend or family member just wants to give it a spin and try it, this isn’t so bad. However, with a $ 3,500 price tag, some people probably bought it hoping to be able to share it with people they live with. 

This Guest Mode makes it tough to do so, and puts users and guests off of using it like this multiple times. As far as we know, that’s how things stand for now – you can have one main user account, plus the built-in Guest Mode, but there's no option to create separate accounts (guest or otherwise). 

While not totally unheard of for Apple, I can imagine this being disappointing news for some recipients of the Vision Pro. For example, the iPad doesn’t have guest-sharing specific features, but this doesn’t really hinder sharing the iPad with people, and a guest mode probably doesn’t add as much to it. To be able to use the Vision Pro at all, you have to at least calibrate it to your face and eyes, so it’s a different story. 

We await the Vision Pro’s arrival in US stores on February 2 and reviewers have already started posting their first impressions of the device. I can see this becoming a real drawback that users get vocal about  – but would it convince Apple to change the guest mode? Because this is a bold first-gen launch for Apple, users are willing to let its vision develop and give it a chance. Hopefully Apple doesn’t burn through that good will.

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Latest Microsoft Edge update comes with new features – and a strange case of missing sidebar settings

Microsoft released a new update for its web browser, Edge 119, through its Stable Channel (one of Microsoft’s release channels for new versions of Edge) on November 3. 

This update introduced many new features, including SplitScreen and an improved Sidebar app. Microsoft has also snuck in an interesting quirk into the settings of the sidebar: the toggle for turning Edge's sidebar on and off has seemingly disappeared. This has caused alarm for some users as some think this means that you can’t disable (or enable it) in some cases.

Before this update, there was an “Always Show Sidebar” setting that allowed you to enable or disable the sidebar in Edge which would be found by entering edge://settings/sidebar into Edge’s address bar. Version Edge 119 moves this toggle to Copilot’s settings. Windows Copilot is Microsoft’s new AI-fuelled assistant that the company is positioning to function all throughout Windows and many Microsoft products, including Edge. 

There does appear to still be a way to be able to turn the sidebar on and off by turning on the Show Copilot option. You can keep the sidebar on and choose to turn off Copilot, which should remove the Copilot icon, but doing that will hide the “Auto-hide Sidebar” option. You will not be able to toggle the sidebar as that specific setting will no longer be accessible. 

Microsoft put out the following description about this sidebar toggle change, according to NeoWin

“Always show sidebar: 

This setting is not available when Copilot in Edge is off”

This could be confusing to some users, especially if they don’t want to use Copilot at the moment. You can still disable Copilot, but it seems like it disables even the ability to enable and disable the sidebar, which many users (including those who aren’t sold on Copilot yet) like using. NeoWin goes as far as to posit that moving this setting to the Copilot settings feels like Microsoft is trying to push users towards using it to grow engagement. 

Regardless of where you stand on Copilot, there is still a way to turn the sidebar on or off (although, a roundabout one at that). To do this, go to:

Settings > Sidebar > Copilot > Always Show Sidebar

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How to uninstall Mac apps (and their settings too)

It is widely believed to be the case that simply dragging the icon of an unwanted app into Trash is all it takes to uninstall it. In some instance this is true, but not always. If you do this, you're likely to find that all manner of data is left behind. So we thought we'd take a look at how to uninstall Mac apps and ensure that nothing is left behind.

It's difficult to say just what might get left behind if you fail to uninstall an app correctly, but some of the files and data could potentially be very revealing. While there is something to said in favour of having an app leave behind your preferences and settings — it makes personalisation much faster should you decide to reinstall it in future, for example — the chances are that when you decide to uninstall an app from your Mac, you are done with it and don't want any traces left behind.

While there are additional files that you can manually delete after moving an app to the Trash, it can be difficult to know precisely what you're looking for and where to find it. And this is why it can be useful to turn to a third party uninstaller tool to help you out. There are also some apps that are helpful and include their own uninstaller that will do the hard work for you, tidying up after themselves quite neatly should you decide to remove them from your Mac.

1. Uninstall with Finder

Uninstall Mac apps with Finder

Uninstall Mac apps with Finder (Image credit: Sofia Wyciślik-Wilson)

To uninstall apps using the Finder, switch to the tool and click Go > Applications. Here you will find a pretty exhaustive list of all of the software you have installed, and you should locate the app you are looking to uninstall. You can then drag the app icon to Trash, or select the app and click File > Move to Bin.

2. Using Launchpad to uninstall

Using Launchpad to uninstall

Using Launchpad to uninstall (Image credit: Sofia Wyciślik-Wilson)

You can also use Launchpad to uninstall apps, so open it using the trackpad gesture, via the Dock shortcut, or from the Applications folder. Press and hold the Option key and the app icons will jiggle; alternatively you can click and hold on any app icon. Click the x button in the upper left-hand corner of whatever app you want to uninstall, and it will be deleted.

3. Clean up after uninstalling

Clean up after uninstalling

Clean up after uninstalling (Image credit: Sofia Wyciślik-Wilson)

It is a good idea to check whether files and settings have been left behind after uninstalling apps using either of these two methods, and there are various locations you will need to look in.

Check in the following folders in Finder by clicking Go > Go to Folder and then typing each location in turn: ~/Library/Application Support, ~/Library/Internet Plug-Ins, ~/Library/Preferences, ~/Library/Application Support/CrashReporter, ~/Library/Saved Application State, ~/Library/Caches. Delete any folders relating to uninstalled apps that you find.

4. Download AppCleaner

Download AppCleaner

Download AppCleaner (Image credit: Sofia Wyciślik-Wilson)

Third-party app uninstallers are generally thought of as being for Windows users, but they have their place on Macs too. There are a huge number of such tools to choose from, and while many are very similar to each other, some are much more reliable than others. A good option is AppCleaner which can be downloaded from freemacsoft.

5. Uninstalling with AppCleaner

Uninstalling with AppCleaner

Uninstalling with AppCleaner (Image credit: Sofia Wyciślik-Wilson)

Using AppCleaner is very similar to the drag-to-trash app uninstallation method. Rather than dragging apps to the trash, you should instead launch AppCleaner and drag and drop an unwanted app icon onto the app window. The software will not only remove the main app you have specified, but also track down any related files so you can delete these in a couple of clicks without having to manually search for anything.

In conclusion

With so many different methods of uninstallation available, it is little wonder that there is a degree of confusion when it comes to getting rid of unwanted Mac apps. The fact that app can be installed both from the App Store and directly from developer websites slightly complicates matter, and it is a good argument for only using App Store apps — they are significantly quicker and easier to delete without worrying about traces being left behind.

That said, the existence of dedicated uninstaller or clean-up utilities is a great lifeline for anyone who doesn't fancy spending their time manually tidying up after a messy uninstallation. 

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Twitter borrows a Window 11 feature to make settings easier to find

Like so many other apps, Twitter has grown and developed dramatically over the years and to help give users control over things there are a huge number of settings that can be configured. Manually trawling through the “Settings and privacy” section of the app to find a particular setting can be a frustrating experience, but now there is a new option.

Much like Microsoft has done with Windows 11, as Apple has done with macOS, Google has done with Chrome and other developers have done with their own software, Twitter has finally decided to implement a search option for settings.

The real surprise here is that it has taken quite so long for such a simple and obvious idea to come to the app, but the day has – at long last – arrived. The change addresses a problem faced by many people: knowing that they want to change a setting, but not knowing which section to look in to find it.

Seek and ye shall find

With this latest update, when you pay a visit to the “Privacy and settings” section of the Twitter app, you will see a search bar at the top of the screen. Type a keyword in to this “Search settings” bar, and you'll be presented with a list of matching settings that you can jump to with a quick tap.

Twitter shared news of the new search capability in a tweet from the Twitter Safety account:

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Reception to the tweet has been positive, and this is hardly surprising given just how much it can help speed up the process of customizing, personalizing and securing a Twitter account.

The new search functionality is gradually rolling out to all versions of the Twitter app, so check for updates but be prepared to wait a little while if you don't see the option just yet.

Via SocialMediaToday

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Windows 11 Settings app to get even better with Sun Valley 2

Microsoft continues to improve parts of Windows 11 in the run-up to its first major update, with the Settings app gaining new icons, a more colorful look, and the handy Storage Spaces tool moving over to the app.

Since the release of Windows 11 in June 2021, we’ve seen plenty of refinements that have modernized iconic apps such as Paint and the return of Windows Media Player.

After the  launch of Windows 98, Control Panel became the go-to in finding the right settings for your PC, whether it was for changing the display resolution or checking user accounts. However, Microsoft has recently focused on replacing Control Panel with the Settings app, first introduced in Windows 10.

While Storage Spaces is moving over to Settings, the move from Windows 10 to 11 has seen colorful icons to better showcase which options are available, alongside rows in each section that better explain how you can use the accessibility options for example.

But with more updates coming to the app, it gives the impression that Settings is almost ready for Sun Valley 2, the next major update for Windows 11.


Analysis: Making life easier in Windows 11

Microsoft appears to be aware that parts of Windows are starting to show their age, such as Task Manager and user interface elements in Explorer. There’s been a renewed effort to redesign apps to better fit in with Windows 11’s new look, as well as introducing and improving tools to help you better manage your workflow, thanks to the newly-renamed Focus feature, previously called Focus Assist.

Changing settings on a Windows PC has always been confusing for some people. Back in the days of using Windows XP to Windows 10, you would click on the Control Panel app in My Computer or My PC, and be greeted with loads of icons, not knowing where to go for your query.

Windows Control Panel

(Image credit: Future)

But Settings is already a step in the right direction, and the coming improvements in Sun Valley 2 look to go further. This is the first major update to Windows 11, similar to the six-month updates that would appear with Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft is aiming for a big yearly release with Windows 11, showcasing a better Task Manager, better controls for the taskbar, and much more.

Small touches such as splashes of color, refreshed icons for the sidebar, and more prominent descriptions of the settings you’ve selected to manage will be a big help for everyone, and this also gives the app plenty of room for more settings to move over from the Control Panel app in the future.

While we’re also going to see stickers to place on your wallpaper for some reason, all of these refinements are a step in the right direction. With Sun Valley 2 tentatively scheduled for the second half of 2022, we may still see more improvements to existing apps and Settings in the coming weeks and months.

Via WindowsLatest

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