Microsoft has yanked Windows 11 24H2 update from testing – is this a bad sign?

Windows 11 24H2 has apparently been pulled back from testing for the time being, with Microsoft hitting the pause button presumably due to issues with the major update due to land later this year.

If you recall, the 24H2 update was sent out to the Release Preview channel back on May 22, but Windows Latest noticed that on a PC in that testing channel, the update was no longer being offered.

After further investigation into why that might be, the tech site stumbled across an update (from the end of last week) to the original blog post introducing the preview build, where Microsoft states: “We are temporarily pausing the rollout of Windows 11, version 24H2 to the Release Preview Channel. We will resume the rollout in the coming weeks.”

That’s all Microsoft has said on the matter, leaving the question of why the update has been yanked open to debate. Well, we say that, but there’s a fairly obvious reason you can discern from examining the posts in Microsoft’s Feedback Hub about the 24H2 update, and it’s seemingly had quite a few problems.

Windows Latest observes that there’s a notable bug with a ‘RunDLL’ error box that keeps popping up annoying testers, and much more in terms of general stability issues, with apps and games freezing, stuttering, or crashing. Nasty.


Analysis: Time to fret about a delay? We don’t think so

This all sounds a bit worrying, and might make you wonder whether the Windows 11 24H2 update might even be delayed – if there are gremlins crawling around the inner workings serious enough to get the upgrade pulled from testing for the time being. Microsoft’s timeframe of the “coming weeks” for the return of the final test version (Release Preview) of 24H2 doesn’t sound too comforting either – hinting at a lengthier pause, perhaps.

Then again, we shouldn’t read too much into that statement – it’s standard language commonly used in these kinds of situations. Also, remember that the 24H2 update is still a good way off. It’s not expected to arrive until September 2024 or October, or thereabouts, so there’s still a lot of time to iron out any issues.

Rather than expecting that things are delayed, what’s more likely the case here is Microsoft was a bit too early in deploying Windows 11 24H2 to Release Preview. After all, we were a bit surprised when it emerged last month, and Microsoft did note that it was a very limited rollout initially (in an update to the blog post at the end of May). In other words, the company was being cautious here, and we can see why now.

Granted, there is a slight concern due to the issues present sounding pretty bad here, but for now, this feels like a misstep with an early release, rather than the alarm bells sounding for Windows 11 24H2 not being ready for its roughly rumored launch timeframe later this year.

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Apple Vision Pro blasts out of mixed reality and into real stores – here’s how to sign up for a demo

It felt almost odd to be standing in the rain outside of Apple's glassy Fifth Avenue flagship store on Groundhog Day and not be wearing my Apple Vision Pro. I'd barely removed the mixed reality headset in my first two days of testing the Vision Pro and the real world felt a bit flat. Until, that is, Apple CEO Tim Cook opened the swinging glass doors and opened the proverbial floodgates to new and soon-to-be-new Apple Vision Pro owners.

It is something of a tradition for Cook to usher in every new product at Apple's Central Park-adjacent location but this moment was different, maybe bigger. It has been almost a decade since Apple launched a new product category (see the Apple Watch) and so expectations were high.

The crowd gathered outside was not what I'd call iPhone size – the miserable weather might have been a factor there – but there were dozens of people somewhat evenly split between media and customers.

A cluster of blue-shirted Apple employees poured out of the store, which featured the giant white outline of a Vision Pro on the storefront, and started clapping and cheering (I'd heard them practicing cheers and getting amped up from inside the store), doing their best to substitute any enthusiasm the crowd might've been lacking. This, too, is tradition and I find it almost endearing but also just a tiny bit cringe-worthy. It's just a gadget – a very expensive one – after all.

At precisely 8AM ET, Cook appeared behind the glass doors (someone had previously double-checked and triple-checked that the doors were not locked so Cook didn't have to bend down and release a latch). He swung open the door and gave a big wave.

Soon customers who had preordered the $ 3,499 (to start) spatial reality computer were filing into the store (many pausing to take a selfie with Cook), while I waited outside, getting drenched and wondering if the Vision Pro is waterproof (it's not).

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Apple Vision Pro store launch

Tim Cook acknowledges the crowd. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple Vision Pro store launch

Cook pops out and waves. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple Vision Pro store launch

Tim Cook was in his element. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple Vision Pro store launch

Waiting for the launch. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple Vision Pro store launch

First guy on line. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Inside the store, which sits below ground level, the floor was packed. Vision Pros were lined up on stands similar to what I'd seen at launch. Below each one was an iPad, describing the experience you were about to have. Some people were seated on wooden benches near the back of the store, wearing Vision Pro headsets and gesturing to control the interfaces.

Oddly, though, not a lot of people were trying Vision Pros, but that was probably because Tim Cook was still in the room.

The scrum around him was dense, so much so that I noticed some nervous-looking Apple employees trying to gently clear a path and give the Apple leader some air. Cook, ever the gracious southern gentleman, smiled for countless photos with fans. He even signed a few things.

I stepped forward and Cook's eyes caught mine. He smiled broadly and said hello. We shook hands and I congratulated him on a successful launch. Then I gave him my brief assessment of the product: “It's incredible.” He brightened even further, “I know!” he shouted back over the din.

Apple Vision Pro store launch

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple Vision Pro store launch

They put some of the Vision Pros on stands. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple Vision Pro store launch

You cna see people in the back wearing them. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple Vision Pro store launch

Tim Cook is surrounded. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple Vision Pro store launch

Hi, Mr. Cook. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

There wasn't much more to say, really, and I left him to get sucked back into the crowd while I took another look at the Vision Pro sales setup. In the meantime, customers were leaving with large Vision Pro boxes they'd pre-ordered. Thousands of the mixed reality headsets are in stores and arriving at people's homes (in the US only). This will be their first experience with Vision Pro.

The good news is, as I told someone else today, there is no learning curve. The setup is full of hand-holding and using the system generally only requires your gaze and very simple gestures.

There will be comments about the weight and getting the right, comfortable fit on your head, and some may be frustrated with the battery pack and that they have to keep Vision Pro plugged in if they want to use it for more than two hours at a time.

Still, the excitement I saw at the store this morning and in Tim Cook's eyes may be warranted. This is not your father's mixed reality.

Booking your demo

For the next few days, all demos will be first-come-first-serve in the stores. However, if you can wait until after Feb 5, you can book your in-store demo by visiting the Apple Store site, navigating to the Vision Pro section, and selecting “Book a demo.” Apple will guide you to sign in with your Apple ID. You must also be at least 13 years old to go through the experience.

Demos take about 30 minutes. An Apple specialist will guide you through the setup processes, which is fairly straightforward.

You'll choose a store near you, a date, and an available time. If you wear glasses, Apple should be able to take your lenses and do a temporary measurement to give you the right lenses for the demonstration (you'll be buying your own Zeiss inserts if you buy a headset.).

After that, you can go home and figure out how to save up $ 3,500.

@techradar

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Windows 11 should soon get a lot more Android apps (but there’s no sign of Threads yet)

Windows 11 is about to get a lot more Android apps, or at least a fair few, as Microsoft and Amazon have opened up the floodgates to all developers who wish to get their mobile applications onto the desktop operating system.

As you’re likely aware, the way Android apps are run on Windows 11 is through WSA (Windows Subsystem for Android), and the app themselves are downloaded from the Amazon Appstore.

And Amazon has just announced to developers that the Appstore on Windows 11 is “now generally available”, meaning that anyone can now get on board and get their apps out there for Windows 11 users to download.

Amazon enthused: “We look forward to many more Android apps and games launching on Amazon Appstore for Windows 11.”

Don’t expect an immediate flood of additional apps for Windows 11, mind you, as bolstering the Appstore library is very much a process that’ll take time.


Analysis: A positive step forward, but manage those expectations

The Appstore is now available across 30 regions worldwide, too, so is becoming a pretty expansive market.

That said, far from all of the best Android apps (or the worst ones, for that matter) are downloadable via the Appstore, so it remains a considerably limited ecosystem in comparison to the Play Store. But it’s still definitely way better than having no Android apps on your Windows 11 desktop at all.

Perhaps a good example right now is the new Android (and iOS) app making big waves as folks flee Twitter for a new home, namely Threads. Zuckerberg’s Threads is not available on the Amazon Appstore yet, mind you, although to be fair, it has only just come out (you can read up more about it here).

We’re expecting it soon enough, but for now, those who want to use Threads on their Windows 11 desktop can circumvent the Windows Subsystem for Android by side-loading the app (not an officially sanctioned method, and not something for those who aren’t tech-savvy to attempt either, as you need to go into developer mode).

Via Windows Latest

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Google warning its own staff about chatbots may be a bad sign

It seems that despite the massive push to increase its own market share in the AI chatbot-verse, Google’s parent company Alphabet has been warning its own staff about the dangers of AI chatbots.

“The Google parent has advised employees not to enter its confidential materials into AI chatbots” and warned “its engineers to avoid direct use of computer code that chatbots can generate,” according to a report from Reuters. The reason for these security precautions, which an increasing number of companies and organizations have been cautioning their workers concerning these publicly available chat programs, is twofold. 

One is that human reviewers, which have been found to essentially power chatbots like ChatGPT, could read sensitive data inputted in chats. Another reason is that researchers found AI could reproduce the data it absorbed and create a leak risk. Google stated to Reuters that “it aimed to be transparent about the limitations of its technology.”

Meanwhile, Google has been rolling out its own chatbot Google Bard to 180 countries and in more than 40 languages, with billions of dollars in investment as well as advertising and cloud revenue from its AI programs. It’s also been expanding its AI toolset to other Google products like Maps and Lens, despite the reservations of some in leadership around the potential internal security challenges presented by the programs. 

The duality of Google 

One reason for why Google is trying to have it both ways is to avoid any potential business harm. As stated before, the tech giant has invested heavily in this technology, and any major controversy or security slip-up could cost Google a huge amount of money.

Other businesses have been attempting to set up similar standards on how their employees interact with chatbot AI while on the job. Some have confirmed this notion with Reuters including Samsung, Amazon, and Deutsche Bank. Apple did not confirm but has reportedly done the same

In fact, Samsung outright banned ChatGPT and other generative AI from its workplace after it reportedly suffered three incidents of employees leaking sensitive information via ChatGPT earlier in 2023. This is especially damaging as the chatbot retains any entered data, meaning internal trade secrets from Samsung are now essentially in the hands of OpenAI.

Though it seems quite hypocritical, there are plenty of reasons why Google and other companies are internally being so cautious about AI chatbots. I wish it could extend that caution to how rapidly it develops and publicly pushes that same tech, however.

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You can now sign that big contact over a Zoom video meeting

Getting that big business deal signed and delivered could soon be done on a video call thanks to a new partnership between Zoom and DocuSign.

The eSign giant has announced a new DocuSign eSignature app for Zoom that allows users to sign and confirm documents whilst on a video conference call.

With the ongoing pandemic restrictions still making it tough for some organizations, particularly those with operations across the globe, to do face-to-face business, DocuSign says it hopes the new app will make signing agreements online that little bit more personal.

Zoom DocuSign app

“DocuSign eSignature for Zoom enables organizations to reimagine agreement processes with virtual, face-to-face signing experiences that accelerate time to agreement – while building trust and loyalty,” the company said in a blog post announcing the news.

The launch should also make thrashing out any specific details easier and quicker to resolve, with a face-to-face video call much quicker than going back and forth over email.

Signing can be done live by selecting the app whilst on a Zoom call, which is also able to automatically verify a signer's government-issued photo ID or eID in real-time with ID Verification. The host is then able to pass the documents around to the required signees, with all attendees receiving a PDF of the signed contract after the call has ended.

Users won't even need to have an account with Zoom or DocuSign to be able to use the service – just come along to the meeting.

“Employees don't want to spend their days toggling between countless apps and emails, especially when working with customers or partners. They want tools that streamline workflows and easily enable them to connect and collaborate,” said Ross Mayfield, Product Lead, Zoom Apps & Integrations. 

“We’re excited about DocuSign eSignature for Zoom as it allows stakeholders to review agreements together in real time before signing, helping eliminate communication silos and accelerate the completion of agreements.”

The app is available to download from the Zoom marketplace now.

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The success of web browser Brave is a bad sign for Google – here’s why

Privacy-centric web browser Brave has surpassed 50 million active monthly users for the first time, the company has announced.

In a blog post, Brave says the milestone represents the fifth time the browser’s user base has doubled in as many years. The service also currently attracts more than 15 million daily active users, another high water mark.

Brave credits a range of new features and products for the continued growth, including an in-built crypto wallet and private search engine. But the company also acknowledged it has benefited from wider consumer trends.

“Users all over the world are looking for a private, safe and faster browsing experience, along with tools that give them independence from Big Tech. This long term and sustainable growth reflects that user desire,” said Brave.

A paradigm shift?

The uptake of privacy-centric browsers, VPNs, proxies, encrypted email and other privacy tools in recent years hints at a shift in attitudes that could have major ramifications for the largest technology companies in the world, whose businesses are predicated on the collection of vast amounts of data.

Since the Snowden leaks and Cambridge Analytica scandal in particular, public awareness of the importance of data privacy has risen steeply. Generally, consumers are more wary about the information they share with Big Tech companies, and more savvy about how their information is used and monetized in the data economy.

We suspect this trend may begin to register more clearly in the web browser market soon. Currently, Google Chrome dominates the space with a 63.8% market share, followed by Apple’s Safari (19.6%) and Microsoft Edge (4%). However, privacy-centric services operated by smaller players are beginning to gather steam.

Although Brave’s 50 million-strong user base represents just 1% of the market, based on data on the total number of web users from Statista, its rate of growth will give the likes of Google pause for thought. And that’s despite the inherent inconveniences; this writer can attest that Brave frequently breaks website functionality as a result of its no-tolerance policy on cookies.

Although Google has made a show of improving its privacy practices and planning for the demise of third-party cookies, proposed alternatives like FLoC have been panned by privacy advocates, who say the solutions create as many problems as they solve.

There is also plenty of evidence Big Tech companies still cannot be trusted to protect the interests of users. This week, for example, both Google and Facebook were slapped with significant fines for cookie-related breaches of EU privacy laws. The patience of consumers is surely wearing thin.

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Amazon’s Plan to Track Worker Keystrokes: A Sign of Controls to Come?

Data theft, insider threats and imposters accessing sensitive customer data have apparently gotten so bad inside Amazon, the company is considering rolling out keyboard-stroke monitoring for its customer-service reps. A confidential memo from inside Amazon explained that customer service credential abuse and data theft was on the rise, according to Motherboard which reviewed the document. […]
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Disney Plus UK: how to sign up, movies, app links, Sky Q and more explained

Disney Plus is out now in the UK. For just £5.99 a month, you can stream a whole host of fantastic old movies for a reasonable price, with some classic TV shows thrown in for good measure. 

With Disney Plus, you can watch all the Star Wars, Disney, Marvel and The Simpsons you can handle. Think of it as like Netflix, but focused specifically on Disney-related and Disney-owned content, like Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and more. Here's the full list of Disney Plus UK movies and TV shows that Disney released at launch, which will help you figure out if you want the service. 

The launch line-up was pretty good, even compared to the existing libraries in the US and Australia. Now we've spent plenty of time with the app, too, we can see it retains the Disney US feature of explaining when content is coming to the service in the future. 

That's how we know Frozen 2 will be on Disney Plus UK on July 17 2020, for example. We're less sure about Onward, which doesn't have a UK release date. 

If you were hoping you'd get to watch every episode of Star Wars show The Mandalorian at launch in the UK, episodes have only started to 'roll out'. Still, you've now got three episodes of this excellent show to enjoy. And let's not underestimate how awesome it is to have 30 seasons of The Simpsons available to stream.

Subscribe here, at monthly or yearly tiers:

Below, we'll talk you through everything we know about Disney Plus post-launch, including the price, compatible devices, free trial, shows, movies and more. You can also click here for our first impressions of Disney Plus UK.

Disney Plus UK release date: it's live!

Disney Plus is now live in the UK! You can start watching it now

How to sign up to Disney Plus

All you have to do is head to the Disney Plus website, create an account and enter your billing details to get started. With your login details to hand, you'll then want to download Disney Plus onto the device of your choice, say a smartphone, smart TV, games console or tablet. Scroll down for a list of compatible devices. 

Not sure you want it yet? Head here to grab a 7-day free trial of Disney Plus. It's easy to cancel if you don't want to commit (here's how you cancel Disney Plus). 

Disney Plus UK in April 2020: new movies and TV shows

As well as new episodes of all its originals, including The Mandalorian and The Clone Wars, April 2020 brings other new content to Disney Plus in the UK. That includes the Simpsons short film Playdate with Destiny (10 April), Edward Scissorhands (10 April), Descendants 3 (11 April) and Night at the Museum (10 April). A Celebration of the Music from Coco (10 April), Dolphin Reef (3 April) and Elephant (3 April) also join it this month.

Disney Plus app links: how to download Disney Plus

Below, we've added app links we've found so far for the UK launch, and we'll add more as they appear.

Disney Plus: UK price and subscription tiers explained

Disney Plus costs £59.99 for an annual subscription, or £5.99 per month. These are the two available tiers, and you can cancel at any time. Unlike in the US, where it's bundled in with ESPN and Hulu, in the UK Disney Plus is a standalone service. 

Either tier gets you four concurrent streams, unlimited downloads with a maximum of 10 devices and the option to create seven profiles. 

In the US, you can gift a year of Disney Plus either digitally or in the form of physical cards, but no such option has been announced for the UK yet.

Disney Plus supports 4K and HDR streams

Disney Plus indeed supports 4K and HDR. When you're in the app, head over to the 'details' tab of a given movie or show and you'll see a section that says 'available in the following formats', which will explain if the content in question features 4K Ultra HD and HDR. 

You now have every Star Wars movie to watch in 4K with HDR. Enjoy!

Disney Plus UK: compatible devices and apps

Disney Plus has launched on pretty much any device you can name in the UK, including mobile devices, games consoles, streaming media devices and smart TVs. You can take Disney Plus shows on the go, too, downloading as many movies and shows as you can fit on your device, as long as you have an active subscription and connect to the internet every 30 days.  

Disney Plus UK has launched on LG TVs, Sky Q, Apple TV, Roku streaming devices, Android (5.0 and later), iOS (11.0 and later), PS4, Xbox One, LG WebOS smart TVs, Samsung Tizen smart TVs, Google Chromecast and Amazon's Fire range of streaming devices. 

One notable exception is the Nintendo Switch, which is still pretty poor at supporting streaming services. 

Phillips' Android-based smart TVs support Disney Plus too. Your Samsung TV may be able to get Disney Plus, as well. Read our guide and discover if your TV can support it.

Disney Plus UK: shows and movies, including The Simpsons 

Click to see the full list of Disney Plus UK movies and shows at launch, and see what you can stream right now. Every Star Wars movie minus The Rise of Skywalker is on there, as well as a near-complete list of Pixar movies and Marvel movies. You've also got 2019's Aladdin and The Lion King movies on day one. Frozen 2, which just launched in the US, doesn't arrive until 17 July in the UK according to the app. 

Looking for recommendations? Check out our list of the best Disney Plus TV shows and best Disney Plus movies. Star Wars series The Mandalorian is the clear highlight of Disney Plus originals. Episodes are rolling out weekly, and the first two are available now. 

In the UK, all new episodes of original shows on Disney Plus will be released at 8am each Friday. Expect one new episode for each Disney Plus original show per week, except The Clone Wars, which will get two episodes per week until the show catches up with the US. 

Other originals include the live-action Lady and the Tramp, High School Musical: The Series, Encore!, The World According to Jeff Goldblum, Togo, Diary of a Future President, Forky Asks a Question and The Imagineering Story at launch, too. Expect one episode for each original at launch. 

Disney Plus: future shows and movies

In the future, Disney Plus is getting plenty of big exclusive shows. From the Marvel Cinematic Universe side of things, new shows include The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (August), WandaVision (November), Loki (2021), Hawkeye (2021) and animated show What If?. Further off, expect TV shows based on Moon Knight, Ms Marvel and She-Hulk. Unlike Marvel's Netflix shows, too, these will canonically be part of the MCU, and feature actors crossing over between the movies and these TV series.

Lucasfilm has a second season of The Mandalorian coming in October 2020, then further off it's making shows featuring Ewan McGregor's Obi-Wan Kenobi and Diego Luna's Cassian Andor from Rogue One. 

It's likely you can expect recent Disney-associated movies like Pixar's Onward, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil on there before the end of 2020. In the US, Onward arrives early on April 3. Hopefully we'll see it in the UK before long. 

Disney Plus has launched with Sky Q and Now TV is coming at a later date

Disney Plus has made a deal with Sky to host Disney Plus on its Sky Q platform at launch. That means you can watch Disney Plus as well as your other Sky content – it'll just be added to your Sky bill. According to Pocket Lint, full integration into the Sky Q platform won't come until April, but you can watch Disney Plus through an app on your Sky Q box.

Disney Plus will be available on Now TV in the coming months, too. 

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