If your Windows 11 taskbar’s been acting weird, you’re not seeing things – but don’t worry, there’s a fix

Windows 11 just received a new update and there’s some good news for those who were experiencing weird and buggy behavior with their taskbar.

Namely that the frustrating taskbar bug – where it can vanish, before reappearing – is now fixed with the cumulative update for June 2024, as Microsoft makes clear in the support document relating to the upgrade.

Microsoft notes: “This update addresses a known issue that affects the taskbar. It might briefly glitch or not respond. It might also disappear and reappear.”

To rewind a bit, this glitchy behavior was actually introduced by the optional update Microsoft ushered in at the end of May 2024 (and we've seen a similar issue in recent times, too).

When the problem became known, Microsoft was swift to act, and fired up a rollback for devices that had installed this preview update for May. This was implemented via a ‘Known Issue Rollback’ meaning Windows 11 users didn’t have to take any action installing another patch – the fix was put in place automatically (as Neowin spotted).

So, those who were worried about this bug carrying over to the June update – after all, May’s optional update is June’s cumulative update, but in testing – well, you needn’t fret. The problem is now fully resolved (or at least Microsoft says it is).

Useful new features are also part of the June update

What else is present in the new June update for Windows 11? It also delivers the long-awaited drag-and-drop functionality for File Explorer’s address bar, changes to Account Manager in the Start Menu, a refreshed Linked Devices page in the Settings app, built-in QR code generation for links, and many security-related tweaks. 

We would always recommend that you make sure that you have Microsoft’s latest Patch Tuesday update installed, as these patches address the latest security risks and known exploitable vulnerabilities.

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There’s only one good way to celebrate Star Wars day, and that’s with these Meta Quest 3 games and apps

May the Fourth, also known as Star Wars day, is today and for Meta Quest 3 (or Oculus Quest 2) owners there are some far better ways to celebrate than simply watching one of the classic films. That’s because you can immerse yourself in a galaxy far far away with some stellar Star Wars VR titles.

What’s more there are some superb savings to be had on my favorite Star Wars VR game – Star Wars Pinball – right now, making it the best time to pick this title up if you haven’t already. There are others you can check out too that aren’t discounted like Vader Immortal and Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge, as even at full-price there’s a lot to love about them.

Alternatively you can celebrate Star Wars day the traditional way with a marathon of the Star Wars films in order, or by reading up on Star Wars: Skeleton Crew which is set to land later this year.

Star Wars Pinball VR 

Okay, okay, I know pinball won’t leave you feeling like a lightsaber-wielding badass, or a slick space pirate, but I promise you have to try this game out. If only because it’s currently massively on sale – coming in at just $ 8.49 / £6.79 instead of $ 24.99 / £19.49 just for Star Wars day.

Star Wars Pinball VR reimagines the iconic digital cabinets Zen Studios has crafted over the past few years in a full VR experience. They are situated in a fan’s dream hangout space you can decorate with collectible goodies that you unlock by getting high scores and competing challenges, and the pinball machines themselves are a delight.

They capture the retro-chic flair that real world pinball machines offer, while delivering on digital expectations by featuring interactive elements that wouldn’t be possible in real life. There are 10 total cabinets to master, but if you want to mix things up further you can explore the Career mode; it adds various restrictions and powers to your gameplay that force you to mix up your playstyle.

I’ve enjoyed this game since it first released, and will admit to almost falling over a few times because I’ve been so immersed in the game that I tried to lean on a cabinet that wasn’t there. If you haven’t tried it already you absolutely should right now, especially because it’s at a bargain price.

Vader Immortal 

No villain, nor character in general, is more iconically Star Wars than Darth Vader. So what better way is there to celebrate Star Wars day than with a trilogy inspired by the Sith Lord himself.

As a smuggler who picked the wrong planet to explore – the fiery world of Mustafar which Vader calls home – you must use your lightsaber skills and latent force powers in order to survive the adventure that fate has thrust you into, including an encounter with Vader himself.

This series is far from fault-free – chief among its issues is it’s fairly brief even spread across three games – but the lightsaber combat feels exactly like you always dreamed it would. The force abilities are clunkier, but again it’ll be exactly what everyone who’s ever tried (and failed) to pull an out-of-reach object closer by willing it towards them ever wanted.

The other downside of grabbing Vader Immortal right now if you’re interested is you can only pick each entry up individually. They’re often bundled together in a package that comes with a big discount but that’s currently not the case – so if you’re not desperate to play this game today you might want to hold off until it’s on sale.

Supernatural 

If you want to swing a lightsaber around – or at least something like one – and get a little fitter whirl you’re at it, then check out Supernatural. I got hooked on the VR fitness app during my month-long VR workout experiment with my Meta Quest 3, and recently I’ve been enjoying its limited time Star Wars-themed Flow sessions. 

My personal favorite one is the Dark Side list because it features Duel of the Fates – it’s so much fun to do battle while this tune blasts through my headset’s speakers. But there’s also a general Star Wars and a Light Side mix if you don’t want to embrace the Sith’s teachings.

Just act fast as these Star Wars levels are leaving very soon.

Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge 

If you’re less interested in being a laser sword-wielding space wizard, and would rather be like the blaster touting characters in The Mandalorian or Andor, then Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge will be right up your street.

Set in Batuu – the same location you can travel to at Disney World in Orlando Florida – you must help some familiar droids as you adventure through the wilds of this Outer Rim settlement. Once you’re done you can continue this quintessentially Star Wars story with the Last Call DLC, and if you’ve enjoyed the main game I know you’ll enjoy this expansion too.

As an extra bonus, you can additionally explore tales from Star Wars’ rich history, with short bonus IG-88 and Ady’Sun Zee (a Jedi Padawan) missions. They’re very much secondary to the main game’s plot, but they’re great minigames especially if you’re sharing the experience with friends and family who just want a quickfire burst of Star Wars.

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Bad news, Windows 11 users: ads are coming to the Start menu, but there’s something you can do about it

Microsoft seems intent on pushing its luck with its users, as it’s just released an optional Windows 11 update (KB5036980) which adds yet more adverts to the Start Menu – a move that hasn’t gone down at all well with many people.

The update is available for users running Windows 11 version 23H2 and 22H2 in Windows Update, and it’s also available to download directly from its Update Catalog.

If you’d like to install the update using Windows Update, follow these steps:

1. Go to Settings > Windows Update.

2. Click ‘Check for updates.’

3. After your system detects the availability of the update, click ‘Download & Install.’

The patch should appear with the full name “2024-04 Cumulative Update for Windows 11 Version 23H2 for x64-based Systems (KB5036980).”

For the moment, this is an optional update that will advance Windows 11 23H2 to Build 22631.3527 and Windows 11 22H2 to Build 22621.3527. This release is the last patch in Microsoft’s April 2024 update cycle, and if you forgo the optional update, you will get what’s included in a mandatory update on May 2024’ ‘Patch Tuesday’ – a monthly event where Microsoft releases a variety of software updates for its products.

A man looking thoughtfully at a computer in an office

(Image credit: Shutterstock/dotshock)

The most talked about part of the update

This optional update has already proved controversial because it brings ads to the Start Menu – seemingly for all users. Windows Latest writes that Windows 11 users can expect adverts to begin appearing  at the tail end of May. 

A screenshot of the optional update shared by Windows Latest shows the Start Menu featuring a new ad for a third-party app, the Opera browser, neatly tucked in the Recommended section. There’s a little disclaimer underneath that says “Promoted” and an Opera tagline, “Browse safely.” Apparently, a similar ad for another service, Password1 Manager, was also spotted.

You might already be feeling uneasy about this, but there is some reassuring news. If you dislike seeing the ads, you can turn them off by doing the following: 

1. Go to Settings > Personalization > Start.

2. Turn off “Show recommendations for tips, app promotions, and more” by switching the toggle off. “

Microsoft logo outside building

(Image credit: gguy / Shutterstock)

Questioning Microsoft's strategy

This optional update also adds app recommendations to the Start menu, and this section will include ‘promoted’ apps that are essentially more adverts. This ‘Recommended’ section is supposed to show the best apps from the Microsoft Store that might enhance users’ experience. 

The optional update will also include a new taskbar widget icon that will no longer appear pixelated and more options for lock screen management, giving users greater control over lock screen widgets in particular.

I’m not too fond of this move from Microsoft, but I guess it’s not as egregious as it could be. That’s not me trying to encourage Microsoft to push its luck further, and I think this move could already cause a lot of bad will with users, but at least you can turn it off.

Microsoft is also testing putting Xbox Game Pass ads in the Settings app, and some observers have called the approach billboard-like. Features like the Start menu and the Settings app are key parts of Windows 11, and having to see ads in important places like that can feel intrusive and disruptive. I personally hope Microsoft considers reversing its decision on this, as I don’t like that Windows 11 is becoming just one more aspect of my life where I can’t escape advertisements – and I’m sure I’m not alone. 

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Windows 11’s Photos app is getting more sophistication with new Designer app integration – but there’s a catch

Windows 11’s Photos app has been getting some impressive upgrades recently, and it looks like another one is on the way. The app is getting Designer web app integration, which is Microsoft’s tool that enables people to make professional-looking graphics, but there’s one little catch – it’ll prompt Designer to open in Edge (Microsoft’s web browser that comes installed with Windows 11). 

The new Designer integration joins a line-up of other features that have been added in the last two years, including the background blur feature, an AI magic eraser, and more. The new feature is  accessible via an 'Edit in Microsoft Designer' option within the Photos app, represented by an icon that will appear in the middle of the Preview window. 

It’s not the most subtle position for it, and I think it’s fair to assume Microsoft is doing that because it wants users to click it. Doing so will take users to the Microsoft Designer website which opens in an Edge window – and due to Edge not being the most popular of web browsers, this could irritate people who have set their default browser to a different app, such as Chrome

This development is still in the testing stages, according to Windows Latest, making its way through the Windows Insider Program. The feature can be found in Photos app version 2024.11040.16001.0, which is a part of the Windows 11 24H2 preview build in the Canary channel. The feature should also be available in the Windows 11 Insider Dev channel build, but the Photos app version has to be version 2024.11040.16001.0.

Apparently, you can also prompt the Designer web app to open by right-clicking the image while in Preview in the Photos app, and clicking ‘Edit in Designer online’ in the menu that appears.

Woman relaxing on a sofa, holding a laptop in her lap and using it

(Image credit: Shutterstock/fizkes)

The apparent state of the new feature

When it tried to activate the new feature, Windows Latest hit a wall as it was presented with a blank canvas in Designer, rather than the image that was going to be edited. Hopefully, this is an anomaly or an error, and it presumably will result in the image you’re looking at in Preview in the Photos app opening up in Designer when the feature is fully rolled out in a Windows update. 

Windows Latest made several attempts at making the feature function as intended, but it wasn’t to be, and I would hope that Microsoft takes this feedback on board, especially if it’s a widespread issue. You can import the image manually while having the Designer web app already open, but this will defeat the purpose of having an easily accessible option in the Photos app. 

Users can edit their image in Designer, but only if they’ve signed into their Microsoft account. Microsoft wrote about the feature in an official Windows Blogs post, explaining that it’s currently being tested in the US, UK, Australia, Ireland, India, and New Zealand.

Having various image editing tools scattered across the Photos app, the Designer web app, and the Paint app doesn’t make things easy for Windows users. People like accessing all the relevant tools from whatever app they’re currently using instead of having to memorize which app has what exclusive feature. 

The approach has been called ‘inconsistent’ by Windows Latest, and I would bet that it’s not alone in that opinion. While it’s clear that Microsoft wants to get people using its new AI-powered tools, the company would be much better served if made them easier to access through one powerful program, rather than being scattered around Windows 11.

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Spotify finally unveils a desktop app miniplayer to end window-juggling, but there’s a catch

Spotify Premium users rejoice – the music platform is finally adding a ‘miniplayer’ for its desktop app to improve users’ experience – a whopping three years after the web app got a similar feature.

The new miniplayer has two different designs and can be activated in the bottom right corner of the full-screen player, prompting the app to shrink into a minimized view showing media controls and song information. As I mentioned above, this isn’t the first appearance of a condensed Spotify player, but it’s the first implementation of the feature for the app's desktop version. 

The new miniplayer will be available for Windows, macOS, and ChromeOS, and looks like the miniplayers of other apps (like Apple Music) and users have been requesting this desktop feature for a long time. Some users have been so desperate for it that they’ve made their own, with a multitude of user-created apps currently available on GitHub. 

Before this addition, there was a small preview box with media controls that would appear while Spotify was minimized and users hovered their mouse over it, so combined with the existing web app miniplayer this development hasn’t come totally out of the blue. It makes me wonder why it took so long to bring it to the desktop version, considering it already existed in the web version for years. 

Man at a computer jamming out to music

(Image credit: Shutterstock/Andrey_Popov)

The benefits of this feature update are pretty obvious – many people have Spotify running in the background while doing other activities on their PCs. Before this update, you’d have to minimize your present activity (or resize your open windows) and switch to the Spotify tab, even if you wanted to do something simple like skip to the next track or episode or adjust the in-app volume – unless you have dedicated media controls on your keyboard, that is. This was outlined in a community post on Spotify's official website, with the aim being to give users better control of the player without having to interrupt their activities. 

Once users open the Spotify miniplayer, it appears as an “always on top” floating window that stays visible in front of all other opened windows on your desktop, and operates independently of whatever you’re doing in the main Spotify window. The miniplayer will also be able to play any media you can play in the main app, including music, short videos, and podcasts.

The bad news is that the feature is currently only available to Spotify Premium users, so you'll need to shell out for a subscription if you want to use it. It’ll be interesting to see if Spotify makes it available to all users in the future.

A promo shot of Spotify's new DJ feature.

AI DJ was fun, but this is a far more practical feature. (Image credit: Spotify)

To use the feature, open your Spotify desktop app, and start playing some content. Then, click the miniplayer icon: the small white square that’s in a larger white outlined square. This should open the miniplayer, and if you’re unable to see either the icon or your miniplayer doesn’t pop up when you click it, try reinstalling the Spotify app. 

Spotify is just catching up with Apple Music after a decade by giving this feature to desktop users. What makes it a little more puzzling is that there have been Spotify miniplayer features in other versions of the app (such as a Google Maps integration on Android phones) for a while now, so Spotify had already worked it out to some degree at least.

Maybe Spotify thought the demand for a widget-like feature simply wasn’t there, but how many third-party apps there are and how many users have been asking for such a feature paints a confusing picture. In any case, I’m glad it got around to giving users exactly what they’ve been asking for, and hopefully, it carries on putting in features that users explicitly tell Spotify they want to see. Fun novelty features are impressive and entertaining, like AI DJ and Spotify Wrapped, but at the end of the day, users appreciate products that work well. 

Via Digital Music News.

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Windows 11 speech recognition feature gets ditched in September 2024 – but only because there’s something better

Windows 11’s voice functionality is being fully switched over to the new Voice Access feature later this year, and we now have a date for when the old system – Windows Speech Recognition (WSR) – will be officially ditched from the OS.

The date for the replacement of WSR by Voice Access has been announced as September 2024 in a Microsoft support document (as Windows Latest noticed). Note that the change will be ‘starting’ in that month, so will take further time to roll out to all Windows 11 PCs.

However, there’s a wrinkle here, in that this is the case for Windows 11 22H2 and 23H2 users, which means those still on Windows 11 21H2 – the original version of the OS – won’t have WSR removed from their system.

Windows 10 users will still have WSR, of course, as Voice Access is a Windows 11-only feature.


Analysis: WSR to go MIA, but it’s A-OK (for the most part)

This move is no surprise as Microsoft removed Windows Speech Recognition from Windows 11 preview builds back at the end of 2023. So, this change was always going to come through for release versions of Windows 11, it was just a question of when – and now we know.

Will the jettisoning of WSR mean this feature is missed by Windows 11 users? Well, no, not really, because its replacement, Voice Access, is so much better in pretty much every respect. It is leaps and bounds ahead of WSR, in fact, with useful new features being added all the time – such as the ability to concoct your own customized voice shortcuts (a real timesaver).

In that respect, there’s no real need to worry about the transition from WSR to Voice Access – the only potential thorny issue comes with language support. WSR offers a whole lot more in this respect, because it has been around a long time.

However, Voice Access is getting more languages added in the Moment 5 update. And in six months’ time, when WSR is officially canned (or that process begins), we’ll probably have Windows 11 24H2 rolling out, or it’ll be imminent, and we’d expect Voice Access to have its language roster even more filled out at the point.

Those on Windows 11 21H2 will be able to stick with WSR as observed, but then there’s only a very small niche of users left on that OS, as Microsoft has been rolling out an automatic forced upgrade for 21H2 for some time now. (Indeed, this is now happening for 22H2 as of a few weeks ago). Barely anyone should remain on 21H2 at this point, we’d imagine, and those who are might be stuck there due to a Windows update bug, or oversight during the automated rollout.

Windows 10 users will continue with WSR as it’s their only option, but as a deprecated feature, it won’t receive any further work or upgrades going forward. That’s another good reason why Windows 11 users should want to upgrade to Voice Access which is being actively developed at quite some pace.

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Apple’s Vision Pro successfully helps nurse assist in spinal surgery – and there’s more mixed-reality medical work on the way

In a fascinating adoption of technology, a surgical team in the UK recently used Apple’s Vision Pro to help with a medical procedure.

It wasn’t a surgeon who donned the headset, but Suvi Verho, the lead scrub nurse (also known as a theater nurse) at the Cromwell Hospital in London. Scrub nurses help surgeons by providing them with all the equipment and support they need to complete an operation – in this case, it was a spinal surgery. 

Verho told The Daily Mail that the Vision Pro used an app made by software developer eXeX to float “superimposed virtual screens in front of [her displaying] vital information”. The report adds that the mixed reality headset was used to help her prepare, keep track of the surgery, and choose which tools to hand to the surgeon. There’s even a photograph of the operation itself in the publication. 

Vision Pro inside surgery room

(Image credit: Cromwell Hospital/The Daily Mail)

Verho sounds like a big fan of the Vision Pro stating, perhaps somewhat hyperbolically, “It eliminates human error… [and] guesswork”. Even so, anything that ensures operations go as smoothly as possible is A-OK in our books.

Syed Aftab, the surgeon who led the procedure, also had several words of praise. He had never worked with Verho before. However, he said the headset turned an unfamiliar scrub nurse “into someone with ten years’ experience” working alongside him.

Mixed reality support

eXeX, as a company, specializes in upgrading hospitals by implementing mixed reality. This isn’t the first time one of their products has been used in an operating room. Last month, American surgeon Dr. Robert Masson used the Vision Pro with eXeX’s app to help him perform a spinal procedure. Again, it doesn’t appear he physically wore the headset, although his assistants did. They used the device to follow procedural guides from inside a sterile environment, something that was previously deemed “impossible.”

Dr. Masson had his own words of praise stating that the combination of the Vision Pro and the eXeX tool enabled an “undistracted workflow” for his team. It’s unknown which software was used. However, if you check the company’s website, it appears both Dr. Masson’s team and Nurse Verho utilized ExperienceX, a mixed reality app giving technicians “a touch-free heads up display” 

Apple's future in medicine

The Vision Pro’s future in medicine won’t just be for spinal surgeries. In a recent blog post, Apple highlighted several other medical apps harnessing visionOS  Medical corporation Stryker created myMako to help doctors plan for their patients’ joint replacement surgeries. For medical students, Cinematic Reality by Siemens Healthineers offers “interactive holograms of the human body”. 

These two and more are available for download off the App Store, although some of the software requires a connection to the developer’s platform to work. You can download if you want to, but keep in mind they're primarily for medical professionals.

If you're looking for a headset with a wider range of usability, check out TechRadar's list of the best VR headsets for 2024.

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Are you a Reddit user? Google’s about to feed all your posts to a hungry AI, and there’s nothing you can do about it

Google and Reddit have announced a huge content licensing deal, reportedly worth a whopping $ 60 million – but Reddit users are pissed.

Why, you might ask? Well, the deal involves Google using content posted by users on Reddit to train its AI models, chiefly its newly launched Google Gemini AI suite. It makes sense; Reddit contains a wealth of information and users typically talk colloquially, which Google is probably hoping will make for a more intelligent and more conversational AI service. However, this also essentially means that anything you post on Reddit now becomes fuel for the AI engine, something many users are taking umbrage at.

While the very first thing that came to mind was MIT’s insane Reddit-trained ‘psychopath AI’ from years ago, it’s fair to say that AI model training has come a long way since then – so hooking it up to Reddit hopefully won’t turn Gemini into a raving lunatic.

The deal, announced yesterday by Reddit in a blog post, will have other benefits as well: since many people specifically append ‘reddit’ to their search queries when looking for the answer to a question, Google aims to make getting to the relevant content on Reddit easier. Reddit plans to use Google’s Vertex AI to improve its own internal site search functionality, too, so Reddit users will enjoy a boost to the user experience – rather than getting absolutely nothing in return for their training data. 

Do Redditors deserve a cut of that $ 60 million?

A lot of Reddit users have been complaining about the deal in various threads on the site, for a wide variety of reasons. Some users have privacy worries, some voiced concerns about the quality of output from an AI trained on Reddit content (which, let’s be honest, can get pretty toxic), and others simply don’t want their posts ‘stolen’ to train an AI.

Unfortunately for any unhappy Redditors, the site’s Terms of Service do mean that Reddit can (within reason) do whatever it wants with your posts and comments. Calling the content ‘stolen’ is inaccurate: if you’re a Reddit user, you’re the product, and Reddit is the one selling. 

Personally, I’m glad to see a company actually getting paid for providing AI training data, unlike the legal grey-area dodginess of previous chatbots and AI art tools that were trained on data scraped from the internet for free without user consent. By agreeing to the Reddit TOS, you’re essentially consenting to your data being used for this.

A person introduces Google Gemini next to text saying it is

Google Gemini could stand to benefit hugely from the training data produced by this content use deal. (Image credit: Google)

Some users are positively incensed by this though, claiming that if they’re the ones making the content, surely they should be entitled to a slice of the AI pie. I’m going to hand out some tough love here: that’s a ridiculous and naive argument. Do these people believe they deserve a cut of ad revenue too, since they made a hit post that drew thousands of people to Reddit? This isn’t the same as AI creators quietly nabbing work from independent artists on Twitter.

At the end of the day, you’re never going to please everyone. If this deal has actual potential to improve not just Google Gemini, but Google Search in general (as well as Reddit’s site search), then the benefits arguably outweigh the costs – although I do think Reddit has a moral obligation to ensure that all of its users are fully informed about the use of their data. 

A few paragraphs in the TOS aren’t enough, guys: you know full well nobody reads those.

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ChatGPT is broken again and it’s being even creepier than usual – but OpenAI says there’s nothing to worry about

OpenAI has been enjoying the limelight this week with its incredibly impressive Sora text-to-video tool, but it looks like the allure of AI-generated video might’ve led to its popular chatbot getting sidelined, and now the bot is acting out.

Yes, ChatGPT has gone insane–- or, more accurately, briefly went insane for a short period sometime in the past 48 hours. Users have reported a wild array of confusing and even threatening responses from the bot; some saw it get stuck in a loop of repeating nonsensical text, while others were subjected to invented words and weird monologues in broken Spanish. One user even stated that when asked about a coding problem, ChatGPT replied with an enigmatic statement that ended with a claim that it was ‘in the room’ with them.

Naturally, I checked the free version of ChatGPT straight away, and it seems to be behaving itself again now. It’s unclear at this point whether the problem was only with the paid GPT-4 model or also the free version, but OpenAI has acknowledged the problem, saying that the “issue has been identified” and that its team is “continuing to monitor the situation”. It did not, however, provide an explanation for ChatGPT’s latest tantrum.

This isn’t the first time – and it won’t be the last

ChatGPT has had plenty of blips in the past – when I set out to break it last year, it said some fairly hilarious things – but this one seems to have been a bit more widespread and problematic than past chatbot tomfoolery.

It’s a pertinent reminder that AI tools in general aren’t infallible. We recently saw Air Canada forced to honor a refund after its AI-powered chatbot invented its own policies, and it seems likely that we’re only going to see more of these odd glitches as AI continues to be implemented across the different facets of our society. While these current ChatGPT troubles are relatively harmless, there’s potential for real problems to arise – that Air Canada case feels worryingly like an omen of things to come, and may set a real precedent for human moderation requirements when AI is deployed in business settings.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman speaking during Microsoft's February 7, 2023 event

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman doesn’t want you (or his shareholders) to worry about ChatGPT. (Image credit: JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

As for exactly why ChatGPT had this little episode, speculation is currently rife. This is a wholly different issue to user complaints of a ‘dumber’ chatbot late last year, and some paying users of GPT-4 have suggested it might be related to the bot’s ‘temperature’.

That’s not a literal term, to be clear: when discussing chatbots, temperature refers to the degree of focus and creative control the AI exerts over the text it produces. A low temperature gives you direct, factual answers with little to no character behind them; a high temperature lets the bot out of the box and can result in more creative – and potentially weirder – responses.

Whatever the cause, it’s good to see that OpenAI appears to have a handle on ChatGPT again. This sort of ‘chatbot hallucination’ is a bad look for the company, considering its status as the spearpoint of AI research, and threatens to undermine users’ trust in the product. After all, who would want to use a chatbot that claims to be living in your walls?

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There’s now an app to ditch Copilot AI from Windows 11 – but we wouldn’t recommend doing that

Debloating Windows is quite the tradition among some users, and there are apps out there to make this task easier – and a new version of an existing client takes things further with the ability to strip out AI functionality from Windows 11 (and Windows 10, which also has Copilot).

This is BloatyNosy, an app that has been around for quite some time (it was previously known as ThisIsWin11). Now, there’s a fresh incarnation: BloatyNosyAI.

It’s the first version of the new take on the app – still in preview, officially – and the idea is that it can help ditch AI features from Windows 11.

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Neowin spotted the launch and tried out BloatyNosyAI, which is handy as the app itself doesn’t make it clear exactly what it can do in terms of Windows 11 AI extraction on its GitHub page.

All the developer, Belim, observes is that the app offers the “ability to remove AI features in Windows” and that: “Plugins can be accessed, for example, via the keyword ‘Plugin’ or ‘AI’ to remove AI in Windows 11/10.”

Neowin tried those keywords – note that the app itself is AI-powered (ironically), which is what the name refers to, as well as debloating AI – and discovered options to remove the Copilot button from the taskbar, or to remove AI from the Edge browser.

The overall philosophy of BloatyNosy is suggested by the name; it’s not just about removing bloat from Windows and speeding it up a touch, but also tweaking privacy settings to combat Microsoft’s ‘nosier’ measures in the OS.


Analysis: Caution first

As already observed, we’d recommend being cautious with this one. It’s interesting to see the new angle and version of BloatyNosy here, but it is still a preview, and this kind of software can have unintended side effects. We’d avoid installing a preview update from Microsoft for Windows 11, let alone a third-party app, just because you never quite know what might go wrong with code that’s still in testing.

Especially when it’s messing around with the internals of Windows 11 (or Windows 10) and stripping out features.

It is, of course, possible to remove Copilot yourself as Neowin pointed out, but that involves fiddling around with the Registry, which is not a recommended pursuit for anyone except the highly tech-savvy.

There are measures you can take to minimize the appearance of Copilot in Windows 11, mind – such as turning off the taskbar icon for the AI, so at least you won’t see it. (Even if that’s hardly the same as removing the assistant from your desktop – or indeed your keyboard where it could set up home in the future).

For now, we’d treat this app purely as an emerging sign of the interest in banishing Copilot from Windows 11, as not everyone wants AI on their PC. Whether Microsoft itself will ever offer an option to strip out Copilot from Windows 11 completely (only available via a Registry hack currently, as mentioned), well, put it this way: we wouldn’t bank on it.

The good news is that Microsoft is making efforts to debloat Windows 11 in one way or another, to some extent, though.

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