A cheaper Apple Vision Pro might not land until 2026 – and Samsung’s XR/VR headset could steal its lunch

The current Apple Vision Pro is a fantastic bit of mixed reality kit, blending impressive hardware and an innovative user interface. But as you’ll see in our Apple Visio Pro review, it’s far from perfect; throw in a $ 3,499 price tag and other early-adopter woes, and the headset isn’t something for most people. 

As such, Apple has been tipped to be working on next-generation and potentially cheaper versions of the Vision Pro. But Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who’s a renowned and accurate Apple tipster, has said the Cupertino crew is some 18 months away from releasing a ‘Vision Pro 2’, with a roadmap that reportedly won't see a second-generation model ready until the end of 2026. 

Apparently, Apple will try and bring the cheaper version to the market before then, but Gurman says, per his sources, that Apple is “flummoxed” about how exactly to bring the headset's cost down. 

So that arguably leaves a gap in the mixed reality (or XR for extended reality) market, one that Apple has injected interest into for others to join in. Enter Samsung. 

Samsung, Sony and Snapdragon

The South Korean tech giant is working on an XR headset that's likely to come with some impressive specs. We’re talking about a Sony-made micro-OLED display with a resolution of 3,840 x 3,552 pixels, 90Hz refresh rate and a peak brightness of 1,000-nits; those are Vision Pro-challenging screen specs. A Snapdragon XR2 Plus Gen 2 chipset is set to power the Samsung XR/VR headset, which could arrive at some point this year.

While Apple has a knack for creating slick interconnected product ecosystems, Samsung has got a lot better at building out its device ecosystem, in addition to having its phones, tablets and other gadgets play nice with Windows 11. So it could make an impressive XR headset that arguably has more flexibility that the Vision Pro by working with more devices and a wider range of laptops.

Now that’s all speculation on my part, but Samsung has made VR headsets in the past and worked closely with Microsoft, which could give it an ace up the sleeve by working well with Microsoft MR platform and perhaps Steam VR; the latter would arguably give it a gaming advantage over the Vision Pro.

The Samsung Gear VR headset on a red desk

The Samsung Gear VR – you needed a phone to operate it (Image credit: samsung)

Working with a more open-ended platform like Windows 11 could potentially make it easier for more developers to get on board with making XR/MR apps and services. That would make jumping into XR a more appealing prospect if would-be buyers could be assured of plenty of apps and software compatibility.

Furthermore, Samsung is potentially closer to supply chains than Apple – not least of all because it has its own display arm – so could stand to make a high-end XR headset that undercuts the Vision Pro.

While I need to be convinced that extended and mixed reality (which blends virtual and augmented reality) has a viable spot in the future of computing, I’m keen to see Apple have some clear competition in the area – there are other MR headsets but they haven’t really grabbed the limelight or developed a system to compete with Apple’s visionOS; that’s not counting the likes of the Meta Quest 3

Samsung basically competes with Apple in the smartphone arena, so I see no reason why it can't lock horns in the XR world, and with a reported wait for a next-gen Vision Pro, Samsung could take a bite out of the MR pie for itself.

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Microsoft pinches one of the best macOS features for Windows 11 – here are three other ideas it should steal from Apple

It looks like Windows 11 could be getting a new device management feature that will seem a bit familiar to anyone who has ever used Apple’s rival macOS Sonoma operating system for Macs and MacBooks.

As MSPoweruser reports, an early build of an upcoming Windows 11 update adds a new ‘Linked devices’ window within the Settings app, giving users an overview of all the devices, such as laptops and Xbox consoles, that are signed into their Microsoft account.

From that window, it looks like users will then be able to manage each device from a single screen.

Apple-like convenience

You may be surprised how many devices you’ve linked to your Microsoft account, especially if you have several laptops. Signing in to your smartphone and connecting it to your Windows 11 device via the handy Phone Link app and using your Microsoft account to sign up to other services could also mean your ‘Linked devices’ list is actually longer than you might have expected.

It's always important to keep track of the devices you sign into – especially if you are planning on selling or giving away a device. Currently, there’s no easy way to see all the devices signed into your Microsoft account in Windows 11 – instead you need to go to the Microsoft account website. It’s not the most intuitive website, and having this information displayed in a much clearer way within Windows 11 is a good move in my view. However, as MSPoweruser points out, at the moment some tasks you want to perform with the devices will still need to be done through the website.

It's (very) early days with this feature, however, as it is currently only available with the beta build 22635.3495, which is only available to people signed up to the Windows 11 Insiders program. By the time this feature rolls out to all Windows 11 users, more tasks should hopefully be integrated directly into Windows, rather than having to go to the website.

This addition adds a level of Apple-like convenience to Windows 11 – something the operating system often lacks. As I’ve said many times before, Windows 11 can sometimes feel like a jumbled mess of new and legacy operating systems – and that means it fails to offer a coherent experience.

Meanwhile, Apple’s macOS certainly isn’t perfect, but it does integrate your various devices much better than Windows 11. Of course, Apple being Apple, this works best if all your other devices are Apple products as well, and due to the huge range of manufacturers who make Windows 11 products, Microsoft hasn’t got this luxury.

This new feature, however, is certainly welcome and brings Windows 11 a step closer to the kind of easy device management that Apple is known for. If Microsoft has indeed taken inspiration from its archnemesis, then I’m certainly not complaining. In fact, here are some other Apple features I wouldn’t mind Microsoft copying:

1. Make the Start menu more like the Launchpad

Windows 11 Start menu

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Now, a few years ago the idea that I might one day suggest that Microsoft change the iconic Windows Start menu to be more like the Launchpad of macOS would have been laughable. Since its debut in Windows 95, I’ve always preferred the start menu – it was easy to find the app you wanted to launch, and it confined to the bottom-left-hand corner of the screen, it didn’t feel intrusive, unlike the full-screen Launchpad.

In fact, when Microsoft dropped the Start menu in Windows 8 for a much more Launchpad-like fullscreen Start screen, I – like many other Windows users – was horrified.

However, while the Start menu has returned in Windows 10 and Windows 11, Microsoft has seemingly done its hardest to make me avoid the once-essential part of the operating system.

Stuffing apps and widgets that I don’t want or use into the Start menu makes it harder to find what I actually want – and it looks like it’s set to get worse as Microsoft is apparently considering putting adverts for suggested Microsoft Store apps into the ‘Recommended’ section of the Start menu.

macOS launchpad

(Image credit: Apple)

More unnecessary bloat means it’s harder to find the apps I actually want to use, and ironically it means I open up the Start menu less and less these days. The fact that in Windows 11 the Start menu now pops up right in the middle of my desktop means it can feel just as obnoxious as Launchpad (unless I change the settings to put the Start menu back in the left-hand corner).

It’s got to the point where I prefer using Launchpad. Sure, I still don’t like that it takes over my entire screen, but there are no adverts, notifications to try more services, and few pre-installed apps in there. Instead, it just shows me the apps I have installed, letting me find and open them up quickly.

2. Make the Taskbar more like the Dock

Windows 11 2022 Update taskbar

(Image credit: Sofia Wyciślik-Wilson)

This is another suggestion I can hardly believe I’m making in 2024, but the sad fact is that despite the macOS Dock coming after the Windows Taskbar set the… er… bar… Microsoft’s tinkering has ended up making Windows 11’s version of the Taskbar a lot less useful.

At first glance, the centering of the app icons suggests that Microsoft has already taken inspiration from the macOS Dock – but if that’s the case, then it’s learned the wrong lesson.

The macOS Dock is a more elegant solution to quickly opening up your favorite apps, while also switching between open windows – but not because it sits at the centre of your screen. As with the Launchpad, the Dock is mercifully free from clutter, while the Taskbar can look cluttered by comparison.

By default, as well as icons for your apps, the Windows 11 Taskbar also shows the Search bar (which often features graphics), weather warning, notifications, and the new Copilot icon, many of which I never use.

macOS sonoma

(Image credit: Future)

Also, while the Dock sits in the center of the screen, the Taskbar stretches across the entire screen, and while the app icons and Start menu appear in the center, the weather icons appear on the far left, while notifications, time and date, Copilot and volume controls are shoved to opposite side. This means the Taskbar in Windows 11 feels cluttered, whilst also having lots of wasted space.

Worst of all, Microsoft has dropped a lot of functionality from the Windows 11 Taskbar compared to previous versions of Windows – including the ability to drag and drop apps onto the Taskbar to pin them so they always appear there, or to drag and drop files onto an app’s Taskbar icon to open up the file in the app.

It’s a curious move that has perplexed a lot of Windows 11 users, and I would like Microsoft to take inspiration from both macOS and past versions of Windows to create a modern Taskbar that’s elegant, powerful, and simple to use.

3. Make Microsoft Store more like the App Store (that is, make it more useful)

Microsoft Store

(Image credit: Microsoft)

This last point is probably one that Microsoft would love, but ever since the introduction of the Windows Store with Windows 8, the company has struggled to make a case for what is now called the Microsoft Store.

Much like the App Store in macOS, the Microsoft Store offers a way to find and install apps. It should be easy and safe (as all apps in the store are tested to ensure they don’t include malware) – yet while the App Store in macOS feels like a useful, maybe even essential, part of the operating system, the Microsoft Store is easily ignored.

Microsoft must look at the money Apple rakes in through the App Store with seething jealousy. So what can Microsoft learn from Apple’s implementation?

For a start, the App Store looks cleaner and feels more curated. The Microsoft Store certainly looks better than in the past, but it’s still not the easiest when it comes to finding things you want (there’s a bit of a theme developing here). It also feels slow and laggy compared to the App Store.

App Store data collection

(Image credit: Apple)

Microsoft has also struggled to get developers to make bespoke versions of their applications for the Microsoft Store, which means it feels a bit sparser than the App Store. It also means that some versions of apps downloaded from the Microsoft Store lack the features of the same app downloaded from a website. It also leads to strange inconsistencies, such as the Paint.net app being a paid-for app in the Microsoft Store – but it’s free to download from the official website.

Probably the biggest problem for Microsoft when it comes to this is that the App Store has been such an integral part of macOS for so long that users think nothing of using it to install new apps. They will also trust Apple’s recommendations for new apps.

Microsoft doesn’t have that kind of reverence from its users, and Windows users have mainly grown up with using the internet to find and download applications, preferring the freedom of picking where to download the app from, and where to install it – even if it brings certain risks.

It’s hard to see how Microsoft can change a lot of that, but by making the Microsoft Store more useful, easier to navigate and with a much wider app selection, it could help make it more popular with its customers.

Apple – and macOS – is far from perfect, and there are lots of things that Windows 11 does better than macOS, but if Microsoft is in the mood for taking tips from its fruit-themed competitor, the above suggestions would be very welcome indeed.

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Microsoft 365 is swooping in to try and steal G Suite free customers

Microsoft is making a bold attempt to steal G Suite users over to its own office software offering.

The company is offering a 60% discount on its Microsoft 365 platform to former G Suite customers unhappy that they will soon have to pay for Google's services.

Google revealed recently that it would be ending free subscriptions to G Suite services such as Docs, Sheets, Meet and Gmail, instead “upgrading” users to a paid subscription by May 1 2022.

In the market

“Organizations of all sizes rely on productivity and collaboration tools to get work done—they’re what keep business humming. If you’re a small business that’s relied on G Suite legacy free edition, we couldn’t help but notice you might be in the market for a new solution,” Jared Spataro, head of Microsoft 365 wrote in a blog post

“We’ve got news for you: today, you can get a 60 percent discount on a 12-month Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Business Standard, or Business Premium subscription, along with the help you need to make the move.”

The offer is exclusive to current G Suite legacy free edition users who purchase a 12 month Microsoft 365 subscription by August 2, 2022. 

Businesses based in the US will also get one year of free support with Business Assist for Microsoft 365, the company's platform that aims to help small businesses migrate and get up to speed quickly.

Google has not responded to the move yet, but Microsoft's bold action could pay off.

Many legacy G Suite users were left annoyed at Google's move, which will see the G Suite legacy free edition no longer available from July 1, 2022, with any users found not to have started paying after 60 days being locked out.

However a recent loophole could allow some non-business users a way out, with Google noting that anyone using G Suite legacy free edition for personal use and unwilling to upgrade to a Google Workspace subscription could possibly continue their current subscription for a little longer.

Google says it will automatically upgrade free users from May 1 to “an upgraded Google Workspace paid subscription” based on its analysis of the customer's usage and the features it thinks you'll need.

Google Workplace plans start at $ 6/user/month for its Business Starter option, with Business Standard ($ 12/user/month) and Business Plus ($ 18 /user/month) also on offer, providing an increasing level of services with the amount paid.

Google is offering a discount for twelve months, and won't start charging subscription fees until July 1, 2022. The company is also offering businesses who don't want to pay or upgrade the chance to export their data at no extra cost.

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Browser wars: Microsoft Edge is beginning to steal users from Google Chrome

New data suggests Microsoft Edge is slowly beginning to lure users away from Google Chrome, which has had a stranglehold on the web browser market for years now.

According to the latest figures from Statcounter, the Microsoft Edge market share exceeded 4% for the first time ever in November, cementing the browser’s place as the world’s third most popular service (behind only Safari and Chrome).

The only major browser to lose market share last month, meanwhile, was Google Chrome, which is now responsible for 64.04% of web activity, down from a peak of 65.27% in the summer.

Microsoft Edge vs. Google Chrome

Of course, the gap between Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome remains massive, and the latter won’t fall from the top spot any time soon.

However,  Microsoft will nonetheless be encouraged by the performance of its new flagship browser, with which it hopes to regain a foothold in the browser market after the infamous decline of Internet Explorer (which was once used by 95% of netizens).

Since the new Chromium-based Edge went live last year, its growth has been fueled in large part by the retirement of Edge Legacy and Internet Explorer, whose users Microsoft carefully funnelled towards its new service. To maintain this rate of growth, however, the company is tasked with figuring out how to lure people away from the likes of Firefox, Safari and Chrome.

In recent months, Microsoft has been aggressive in its attempts to push Edge, both leveraging the large Windows 10 and 11 install base to boost its user numbers and making it more difficult to switch default browsers (although it has since retreated a little on its position).

The company has also delivered a consistent stream of new features for the browser, ranging from new Microsoft 365 integrations to tools designed to help users save money in the run-up to Christmas.

After overtaking Mozilla’s browser in the rankings for the first time in July, Edge now appears to be successfully padding out its user base with converts from Chrome. Admittedly, progress is slow, but the signs are positive for Microsoft.

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