Apple starts work on macOS 16 – and it sounds like a bigger deal than a MacBook Pro redesign

While we’re eagerly awaiting the public release of new operating systems like iOS 18 and macOS 15 (Sequoia) later this year, it seems like Apple has already begun work on macOS 16 (and iOS 19, for that matter). This fresh rumor, coupled with whispers of a MacBook Pro refresh for later in 2024, has us buzzing about the future of Apple’s best tech.

Reputable leaker and industry commentator Mark Gurman noted in his most recent ‘Power On’ newsletter (for Bloomberg) that Apple has started development of all its major operating systems for 2025, meaning macOS 16, iOS 19, watchOS 12, and visionOS 3.

Mind you, we’d expect that Apple would be kicking off work on next year’s big software refreshes at this point, though it’s still exciting to hear that the development of macOS 16 is underway. It’s too early even to speculate about what next year’s version of macOS could look like, and Gurman doesn’t drop any hints as to possible features, but if Sequoia has shown us anything, we’re certain we are in for another big, AI-driven refresh.

Indeed, by the time we get to 2025, we wonder whether Apple might be planning to incorporate AI in a much bigger way with macOS 16, maybe bringing in features that will change the way we use our Mac devices entirely! Given the pace of development in the world of artificial intelligence, this can’t be ruled out.

New MacBooks on the horizon?

Software aside, as for the future of Mac hardware, we’re already hearing rumors about the M4 refresh due to happen with Apple’s Mac lineup, with some reports speculating that the MacBook Pro could be the first Mac in line for the new chip (which is only in the iPad Pro right now).

According to Gurman’s earlier reports, we may only see the MacBook Pro 14-inch base model get an M4 refresh this year (with the vanilla M4), with the other models (with M4 Pro and Max) only debuting early in the following year. Furthermore, we’re not likely to get any major hardware changes to Apple’s MacBook ranges for the next couple of years, and it sounds like the big move with the MacBook Pro – when it gets OLED, which is likely to be a good time for a full redesign – may not happen until 2026.

So, Apple might feel the need to make up for only ushering in more minor improvements on the hardware front, by taking a big leap on the software front – meaning a much-improved macOS 16 (with lots of fresh AI powers as mentioned, most likely). Take all this as the speculation it very much is, mind you.                

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Microsoft is planning to make Copilot launch when Windows 11 starts – and it could spark the next user backlash

It looks like Microsoft is going to make Copilot, its new AI assistant, start up automatically on PCs with ‘wide screens’ running suitable versions of Windows 11. As it happens, most PC screens are wide, so it seems like Microsoft wants to get Copilot in front of as many users as possible. 

This potential development has been discovered in a Windows preview build that’s just been released in the Dev Channel of the Windows Insider Program. The Windows Insider program is Microsoft’s official community of professionals and Windows enthusiasts who can access previews of new Windows features and versions. Windows Copilot’s interface opening automatically when a PC boots up is being trialed as part of preview build 23616, and it’s worth pointing out that this feature is still in the testing stages and may not end up being included in a finalized Windows 11 update that’s rolled out to all users. 

The feature is already being called controversial, which I understand – I get very annoyed when apps and features are sneakily enabled to start up automatically when I turn on my laptop. Also, in a Microsoft Windows Blog post, it does emphasize that users can turn off this feature, which will probably be the case if it makes it into a final Windows update version. Even Windows Insiders who are in the Dev Channel may not see it at the moment, as the rollout of the preview build is ongoing.

Here’s what Microsoft has to say about this Copilot change: 

We are trying out opening Copilot automatically when Windows starts on widescreen devices with some Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel. This can be managed via Settings > Personalization > Copilot. Note that this is rolling out so not all Insiders in the Dev Channel will see this right away.

Screenshot of Windows Copilot in use

(Image credit: Microsoft)

A frosty reception so far

Microsoft didn’t specify which widescreens will qualify for this automatic feature – specifically what aspect ratios will be eligible. Windows Central asks if “widescreen” means common 16:9 and 16:10 screens, or ultrawide monitors with 21:9 ratios.

So far, this is being received as unnecessary and possibly annoying, especially as Copilot currently is pretty limited in what it’s able to do. Windows Central speculates that this update could be laying the groundwork for a more substantial Copilot update, suspected to be in development for the next iteration of Windows (unofficially known as “Windows 12”). 

When Microsoft presented its vision for Copilot, it was presented as an AI assistant that would work across a multitude of apps and could enhance users’ productivity. When it becomes something that’s more familiar (and popular) like Microsoft hopes, maybe there’s a case for Copilot opening up as soon as your PC turns on. 

At present, Copilot isn’t there yet – and this move will probably just end up rubbing users the wrong way, especially if it ends up slowing down the time it takes for their PCs to load Windows 11. 


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Microsoft starts warning Windows 11 users to upgrade to 23H2

If you’ve stuck with Windows 11 22H2 since it was superseded, you might want to upgrade to 23H2 soon enough, as Microsoft has set a deadline for doing so, at least for those who want to get new (preview) features and fixes as early as possible.

As you likely realize, every version of Windows has an allotted period of time that full support is given and all updates are piped through, and the first stage of the cessation of that support has just been announced by Microsoft.

As Neowin noticed, we’ve been told by Microsoft that: “After February 27, 2024, there will no longer be optional, non-security preview releases for Windows 11, version 22H2. Only cumulative monthly security updates will continue for the supported editions of Windows 11, version 22H2.”

The preview (optional) releases are pushed out near to the end of every month, and come with new features which are still officially in testing, and early fixes for problems with Windows 11.

As Microsoft clarifies, after next February, those on Windows 11 22H2 will still get the monthly updates pushed out on Patch Tuesday (these land on the second Tuesday of every month).

Analysis: So, what’s the big deal here exactly?

This is an important development, and to illustrate why, let’s sketch out a quick example. Say you’ve been hit by a really nasty bug that torpedoes your printer (a not unfamiliar scenario) and you’re desperate for the fix, of course.

Now, the preview update for that month is released, and it has the cure – except you won’t be able to download and use it, because you won’t be offered the optional update. You would have to wait another two weeks (maybe a bit longer) to get the fix, when you’d clearly want it right there and then – as any risks of using a preview update pale in comparison to the problem you’re suffering from already.

Eventually, Microsoft will pull the plug on updates for Windows 11 22H2 entirely, at which point you’ll have to upgrade, or run a vulnerable PC (with no security updates). Indeed, Microsoft will force upgrades at this point to keep the user base safe. That’s what happened with Windows 11 21H2 last month, and the same will be the case come October 2024 for version 22H2.

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