Microsoft’s full-screen reminders to upgrade to Windows 11 are back for Windows 10 users, and they might be here to stay

Microsoft has taken a new tack with its continued campaign of full-screen banner ads designed to push Windows 10 users to upgrade to Windows 11, and this time, users of suitable and unsuitable PCs – those that don’t meet the hardware requirements for the newest OS – are seeing different adverts. 

Windows 11’s market share has remained relatively static in recent months, and Microsoft is clearly eager to change that, with Windows 10 holding the vast majority of market share with around 70% (according to StatCounter). 

As for Microsoft's latest tactic to drive upgrades, Windows Latest noticed two separate initiatives as mentioned. The first was witnessed on a Windows 10 PC that wasn’t eligible for a Windows 11 upgrade, and it showed a screen warning that the device will stop receiving updates come October 2025, reminding users that their PC can’t run Windows 11. The full-screen notification was titled “A new journey with Windows” and appeared after monthly mandatory security updates were installed, possibly implying that this could be a repeating occurrence.

The notification screen also offers users the ability to be reminded at a later date, and to learn more about the end of support for Windows 10. It links to a support document that encourages you to consider a Windows 11 upgrade, partly by including a comparison of the two operating systems. 

This differed from a PC running Windows 10 and eligible for a straightforward Windows 11 upgrade. On this system, Windows Latest received a notification encouraging them to go ahead and schedule their update or just upgrade right away, alerting them of the upcoming end-of-support date and reminding them to make sure that their device stays supported past that date. This notification has been seen before, of course (a number of times).

Microsoft Store in Windows 10

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft's ambitions vs Windows 10 fans' devotion

Windows 10 continues to be the dominant flavor of Windows and users aren’t happy about being forced to move on or face losing support. Windows 11 was released the best part of three years ago, but it’s still struggling to get near Windows 10’s popularity, as mentioned. Part of the problem here is those hardware requirements, of course, which are a stumbling block for some folks with older PCs.

Users who want to stick with Windows 10 do have a few choices and we’ve recently discussed this in-depth. One option will be to continue getting security updates past Windows 10’s end-of-life date with Microsoft’s Extended Security Update (ESU) program. Currently, this is only available for commercial customers, but Windows Latest asserts that a version for individual consumers will arrive later in 2024. Currently, an ESU license for a single device is $ 61 a year for businesses, but the price doubles every year (for up to three years). 

Windows 10 users are faced with three primary options in the longer term: upgrade to Windows 11, continue to use Windows 10 without crucial security updates (not a good idea at all), or opt into a pricey extended security update plan. I understand Windows 10 users’ frustrations as many are not sold on Windows 11 as being an improvement in quality. Additionally, many users aren’t keen on Microsoft’s insistence on integrating AI into many apps and parts of the operating system, and Windows 10 still looks and feels like a modern, up-to-date OS. Furthermore, there are those hardware requirements to consider, as already noted. 

I don’t know how well Microsoft will weather this transition, but the company needs to walk a fine line between reminding users about the reality of Windows 10 running out of support, and getting too pushy with all these notifications. Right now, it feels like Microsoft is erring (again) towards the latter, but I don’t see the company backing down.

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The Quest Pro series may be dead as Meta struggles to stay in the VR game

Meta has reportedly decided to cancel all future work on Quest Pro VR headsets including suspending all “development on the second-generation Quest Pro”. 

According to a recent report by The Information, sources close to the situation claim that Meta told its suppliers “earlier this year it won’t order any new components for” its high-end headset. GoerTek, the Chinese electronics company who manufactures the Quest Pro, will continue to do so “until the remaining inventory of [parts] runs out”. 

So once all the units have been made, that’s it. There may not longer be new Quest Pro units after this.

The Information points to several factors as to why the Quest Pro could be discontinued. For starters, it wasn’t all that well received. We liked the Quest Pro when it first came out, but apparently not enough people did as sales have been consistently weak. Even the $ 500 price cut wasn’t enough to save the headset so Meta may have decided to cut its losses. 

Development woes

The report goes on to say there have been lot of development problems, forcing the company to refocus their efforts.

The Information claims that Meta is working on a pair of AR glasses, code-named Orion. Originally, the glasses were supposed to use special microLED displays from British tech Plessey. However, the company had difficulties in reducing manufacturing defects as well as making those displays “bright enough for use”. Because of these issues, Meta is changing course by outfitting the Orion glasses with LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) screens  –  a piece of aging technology that, as TheVerge points out, was first seen in movie projectors during the 1990s.

Developmental woes don’t stop there as they affect Meta's other projects. Another pair of AR glasses in the work, code-named Artemis, was supposed to use silicon carbide in its construction to offer a wide 70 degree field of view. But complications arose forcing the company to use regular glass, shrinking its field of view down to 50 degrees. 

Quest Pro on table

(Image credit: Meta)

The report goes on to mention multiple failures, adding to skyrocketing costs. The pressure is mounting on the firm, and if that wasn’t enough, competition is getting fiercer as Apple revealed its Vision Pro VR headset during WWDC 2023, and it's shaping up to be an impressive piece of tech.

Some online publications speculate the Vision Pro is the sole reason why the Quest Pro is getting canceled. The prevailing theory is Meta worries it won’t be able to compete with Apple’s machine. While that may be one reason, the more likely culprit is the rising developmental issues exasperated by a middling response towards the Quest Pro.

Benefit of the doubt

We don't know for sure what Meta's plans are moving forward. The Information's report claims it's going to work on less expensive offerings like the Quest 2.

At the time of writing, Meta has yet to officially respond. We would like to give the company the benefit of the doubt, as it's also likely that the reports of the Quest Pro’s death have been greatly exaggerated. We reached out to Meta to see if it would like to make a statement about the report. This story will be updated at a later time.

If you’re interested in getting into VR, be sure to check out TechRadar’s on the best headsets for 2023. There are a lot of fairly inexpensive options out there.

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WhatsApp launches on WearOS helping you stay connected without a smartphone

WhatsApp on WearOS is exiting its beta stage as the messaging platform launches its first-ever smartwatch app.

Originally announced during Google I/O 2023, this version allows you to do a lot of the same things as WhatsApp on smartphones. Users can send texts, send voice messages, emojis, and quick replies through a wearable, all without having to connect their phone. It’s a proper, standalone app. You don't have to connect your mobile device to respond to messages although the option does exist. Of course, the end-to-end encryption the platform is known for is present here. Be aware WhatsApp on WearOS is not on par with the other versions. It lacks access to large-scale features like Communities. It can’t even make VoIP (voice over internet protocol) calls, only receive them.

You can install WhatsApp on your smartwatch right now through the Google Play Store. However, there is one catch: the wearable must be fairly recent as it has to be running on WearOS 3. This includes devices like the Pixel Watch or anything from the Galaxy Watch 5 series. People with older watches are out of luck.

It’s unknown if the Apple Watch will ever get its own rendition of WhatsApp. Meta has yet to say anything on the matter. It looks like iOS users will have to go the old-fashioned way of opening WhatsApp on their iPhones if they want to respond to a message. 

Future update

There is more on the way for WearOS. Back in I/O 2023, Google revealed three new Spotify tiles will be “coming soon”. These tiles will allow users to directly “play new episodes of your favorite podcasts,” see what’s in your music rotation, and offer access to a playlist curated by the service’s AI DJ.

The launch of WhatsApp on WearOS comes at a very interesting time because, on July 26, Samsung is holding its second Galaxy Unpacked event. There is a lot of hype surrounding the event because we could see the reveal of the tech giant’s newest foldable phones. Until today, we couldn't say for sure whether or not the Galaxy Watch 6 would be among the announcements. However, the timing of WhatsApp coming to WearOS feels too coincidental.

You see, WhatsApp was originally meant to release on the operating system in the weeks following Google I/O 2023. But it got pushed back a couple of months to the week before Galaxy Unpacked. Considering the fact WhatsApp has billions of users around the world, we can’t help but feel the rollout was delayed in an effort to drive up interest in smartwatches. More specifically, the aforementioned Galaxy Watch 6.

We could be wrong, of course, but, we do hope Samsung’s new flagship wearable does make its debut next week.

In the meantime, be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best WearOS devices for 2023. 

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Stay focused with a new distraction-filtering app

Only a few weeks into 2022 and we’re seeing plenty of new apps promising to solve your various problems in novel ways. For example, do you sometimes send reminders to yourself by text message? A new note-taking app with a chat interface will make that habit a little bit more convenient. Another app wants to help you stay focused by removing distractions across all of your Apple devices.

Created by Michael Tigas, Ochi was released as a free download on February 1 in the App Store. You can also opt for the Pro version by paying a monthly subscription of $ 3.99 / £3.49 / AU$ 4.99, or a yearly one for $ 19.99 / £17.99 / AU$ 21.99. You can avoid any subscription fee by purchasing the Pro version outright for the one-time price of $ 49.99 / £44.99 / AU$ 53.99.

This new app allows you to create filters for different apps and websites, so you don’t become distracted when you’re trying to finish important work. You can block out certain social media accounts, for example, preventing you from accessing specific apps or associated webpages via web browsers. Ochi lets you pick and choose the apps and web pages you need to be silenced while you focus.

It’s easy to be distracted when you’re using your smartphone, tablet, or computer. While Apple has its own features to assist with distractions – such as Do Not Disturb and the relatively new Focus feature in iOS 15, which can hide apps and change your home screen – Tigas wanted to create something that goes further.

Having tried Ochi over the last few weeks, I’m reminded of an app I used to use called SelfControl, which was available on my old MacBook Air 2013 machine. SelfControl would automatically close apps and block websites when I was focused on writing my college dissertation.

But Tigas’ app is tailored for the modern age, where you have multiple devices with the same account. If you create a filter to block out Facebook on your iPhone, for example, that same block will carry over to your iPad or desktop iMac without any additional input from you.

Ochi on macOS

(Image credit: Ochi)

And the design of the app on iPhone and macOS is appealing, both simple and colorful, with useful widgets to enable filters or show you how much time remains before Ochi unblocks the apps and websites you’ve specified.

Ochi also shows up in the menu bar on macOS, so you easily pause the filtering if you need to access any of the apps or sites you’ve blocked.

A chat with Ochi’s developer

Speaking with Tigas after the launch of Ochi, I asked what prompted him to create the app.

“Ochi was inspired on a whim, by the idea of blocking distractions across all my devices, keeping me focused when my willpower is at its lowest,” Tigas explained. “During the day, while focusing on a task, I block apps like Twitter on my Mac with the app, Focused Work. But sometimes, I use my iPhone or iPad to test apps that I’m working on. It becomes very easy to doom-scroll with them instead.”

There have been efforts by Apple to look at how we manage our time on our devices, from Focus in iOS 15 to the ScreenTime feature in iOS 13. We asked Tigas what specifically made Ochi different from these and third-party focus apps.

“Rather than motivating people to focus on completing a particular task, Ochi instead helps steer people away from distractions so they can maintain focus for longer periods of time.”

“It’s a flexible utility, that can seamlessly integrate with various workflows, especially if they take advantage of automation capabilities in iOS (and to a lesser extent – macOS),” Tigas said. “You can create timed filters that block access to iOS apps, Mac apps, websites, and categories of websites including Social Media, Chat, and News.

It’s also possible to seamlessly enable filters on your iPhone and iPad from a Mac with Shortcuts – a first in the distraction-blocking space.”

Ochi Shortcuts on macOS and iOS apps

(Image credit: Ochi)

Since Ochi is solving a focus issue by targeting distractions, we wondered in which situations Tigas found the app to be particularly beneficial.

“Outside of work and when it’s time to go to bed, Ochi has been really helpful while I’m playing online games with friends,” Tigas explained. “I sometimes tend to pick up my phone in-between Apex Legends or PUBG matches and disengage with the group conversation. It’s a bad habit, and Ochi keeps me on rails in those fun moments.”

Even though the app has only recently launched, we wondered whether there are any new features under development.

“I’m really excited for the next phase and have kept an open mind about keeping Ochi as flexible as it can be!” Tigas exclaimed. “On the Mac, Ochi can lean on Shortcuts & Focus to automatically block distractions on iOS devices via automation in the Shortcuts app. But since automation support is not available in Shortcuts for Mac, I’m interested in bridging that gap to seamlessly apply filters on the Mac from my iPhone or iPad (or even my Apple Watch).”

Tigas told me that he’d really like to add support for scheduling recurring filters.

“This will be especially helpful with automatically blocking apps like Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit from 1 am onwards, without needing to initiate that every night,” Tigas said.“I can also see people appreciating the ability to block emails at various times during their workday.”

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