Microsoft’s trick for speeding up PC games in Windows 11 works with only 12 games to start with – but far more are actually supported

We now know a lot more about how Microsoft’s Automatic Super Resolution (Auto SR) feature for speeding up gaming frame rates in Windows 11 will work, and what games it will initially support.

VideoCardz noticed a new entry in Microsoft’s support database on the topic of Auto SR, which underlines the requirements, as well as detailing what games will come as fully verified for the tech.

For those who missed it, Auto SR is an upscaling feature, meaning it runs a game at a lower resolution, upscaling to a higher one, so that you get a close-to-native-resolution image quality with a faster frame rate – using AI to pull off this trickery.

The notable catches are that you need a Copilot+ PC and indeed a Snapdragon X processor, one of the ARM-based chips that’ll power laptops launching next month. (You’ll also need Windows 11 24H2, which launches with those AI PCs).

As for the games which are verified and tested by Microsoft for Auto SR, the initial collection is as follows:

  • 7 Days to Die
  • BeamNG Drive
  • Borderlands 3
  • Control
  • Dark Souls III
  • God of War
  • Kingdom Come: Deliverance
  • Resident Evil 2
  • Resident Evil 3
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
  • Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Analysis: Useful clarifications – and caveats

It’s interesting to see the fully verified games, and even if it’s only a small selection of a dozen right now, there are some big-name titles. However, the really interesting bit is the clarification that Automatic Super Resolution is a sweeping upscaling feature that can be applied to any game (DX11 or DX12).

We always assumed it would be a system-wide feature – after all, that was the whole point, compared to more targeted upscaling solutions that require support from the game dev such as Nvidia DLSS – and indeed this is the case. It’s just Microsoft worried us with its mention of Auto SR just applying to a “curated set of games” last week when it launched the feature, but these are just the verified games guaranteed to work well.

The majority of games should be fine with Auto SR in theory, but some may be wonky, or some may not work at all, and to that end, Microsoft is collaborating with the Worksonwoa.com website that lists games that can use the feature successfully – and also those that can’t use Auto SR for whatever reason. (This is the same website that also tells you whether your favorite PC game will run on Windows on ARM).

There are some nuances to note here, and the first is that verified games are set to work ‘out of the box’ with Auto SR, meaning the feature will be on by default. That could cause some confusion or conflict if a gamer is using another type of upscaling potentially – though you are told that by Windows that Auto SR is being enabled when the game is launched.

We guess Microsoft feels that less tech-savvy folks will benefit from having the feature automatically applied where it makes sense, in games that are fully tested to work well with Auto SR.

The Snapdragon X requirement is the other important point to note here, although we assume this will be widened to include future AMD and Intel laptop CPUs – those with a powerful enough NPU to qualify as the engine of a Copilot+ PC (as Auto SR will be for these PCs only).

However, we also noticed that Microsoft says Auto SR is only supported for games running on ARM64 natively or emulated x64 games (with the latter using Prism, the translation layer for running Windows games on ARM chips). Presumably that’s a reflection that currently (well, as of next month) only the new Snapdragon X can drive a Copilot+ PC, and that when AMD Strix Point or Intel Lunar Lake CPUs arrive for these AI-powered laptops, there’ll surely be fine with Auto SR.

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Google teases new AI-powered Google Lens trick in feisty ChatGPT counter-punch

It's another big week in artificial intelligence in a year that's been full of them, and Google has teased a new AI feature coming to mobile devices just hours ahead of its Google I/O 2024 event – where we're expecting some major announcements.

A social media post from Google shows someone asking their phone about what's being shown through the camera. In this case, it's people setting up the Google I/O stage, which the phone correctly identifies.

User and phone then go on to have a real-time chat about Google I/O 2024, complete with a transcription of the conversation on screen. We don't get any more information than that, but it's clearly teasing some of the upcoming reveals.

As far as we can tell, it looks like a mix of existing Google Lens and Google Gemini technologies, but with everything running instantly. Lens and Gemini can already analyze images, but studying real-time video feeds would be something new.

The AI people

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It's all very reminiscent of the multimodal features – mixing audio, text, and images – that OpenAI showed off with its own ChatGPT bot yesterday. ChatGPT now has a new AI model called GPT-4 Omni (GPT-4o), which makes all of this natural interaction even easier.

We've also seen the same kind of technology demoed on the Rabbit R1 AI device. The idea is that these AIs become less like boxes that you type text into, and more like synthetic people who can see, recognize, and talk.

Based on this teaser, it looks likely that this is the way the Google Gemini AI model and bot is going. While we can't identify the smartphone in the video, it may be that these new features come to Pixel phones (like the new Google Pixel 8a) first.

All will be revealed later today, May 14: everything gets underway at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm BST, which is May 15 at 3am AEST. We've put together a guide to how to watch Google I/O 2024 online, and we'll be reporting live from the event too.

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Google might have a new AI-powered password-generating trick up its sleeve – but can Gemini keep your secrets safe?

If you’ve been using Google Chrome for the past few years, you may have noticed that whenever you’ve had to think up a new password, or change your existing one, for a site or app, a little “Suggest strong password” dialog box would pop up – and it looks like it could soon offer AI-powered password suggestions. 

A keen-eyed software development observer has spotted that Google might be gearing up to infuse this feature with the capabilities of Gemini, its latest large language model (LLM).

The discovery was made by @Leopeva64 on X. They found references to Gemini in patches of Gerrit, a web-based code review system developed by Google and used in the development of Google products like Android

These findings appear to be backed up by screenshots that show glimpses of how Gemini could be incorporated into Chrome to give you even better password suggestions when you’re looking to create a new password or change from one you’ve previously set.

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Gemini guesswork

One line of code that caught my attention is that “deleting all passwords will turn this feature off.” I wonder if this does what it says on the tin: shutting the feature off if a user deletes all of their passwords, or if this just means all of the passwords generated by the “Suggest strong passwords” feature. 

The final screenshot that @Leopeva64 provides is also intriguing as it seems to show the prompt that Google engineers have included to get Gemini to generate a suitable password. 

This is a really interesting move by Google and it could play out well for Chrome users who use the strong password suggestion feature. I’m a little wary of the potential risks associated with this method of password generation, similar to risks you find with many such methods. LLMs are susceptible to information leaks caused by prompt or injection hacks. These hacks are designed to trick the AI models to give out information that their creators, individuals, or organizations might want to keep private, like someone’s login information.

A woman working on a laptop in a shared working space sitting next to a man working at a computer

(Image credit: Shutterstock/Gorodenkoff)

An important security consideration 

Now, that sounds scary and as far as we know, this hasn’t happened yet with any widely-deployed LLM, including Gemini. It’s a theoretical fear and there are standard password security practices that tech organizations like Google employ to prevent data breaches. 

These include encryption technologies, which encode data so that only authorized parties can access it for multiple stages of the password generation and storage process, and hashing, a one-way data conversion process that’s intended to make data reverse-engineering hard to do. 

You could also use any other LLM like ChatGPT to generate a strong password manually, although I feel like Google knows more about how to do this, and I’d only advise experimenting with that if you’re a software data professional. 

It’s not a bad idea as a proposition and a use of AI that could actually be very beneficial for users, but Google will have to put an equal (if not greater) amount of effort into making sure Gemini is bolted down and as impenetrable to outside attacks as can be. If it implements this and by some chance it does cause a huge data breach, that will likely damage people’s trust of LLMs and could impact the reputations of the tech companies, including Google, who are championing them.

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Microsoft’s latest trick for Edge could be the closest Windows 10 users get to Copilot AI

Microsoft’s Edge browser has a new version which brings in some fresh features including the ability to detach the sidebar and move it onto the desktop for Windows 10 users.

This ability has been introduced with version 116 of Edge, as spotted by Ghacks, and it comes alongside the usual bug fixes and smoothing out of performance issues.

The Edge sidebar normally nestles on the right-hand side of the browser, but now, those on Windows 10 can pop it out of the browser window, and place it on their desktop.

The idea is to facilitate a “side-by-side experience” with the sidebar and any Windows 10 app, with the feature remaining present on the desktop, even if the Edge browser itself is closed.

So, this is kind of like having two taskbars on your desktop, if you will, with one of them being Edge-specific.

The Edge sidebar offers quick access to various bits of functionality, such as pinned websites, and Microsoft’s tools like Bing AI.


Analysis: Substitute Copilot – at least in a small way

This is a useful option that’s opt-in as Microsoft makes clear, so if you’re not interested in having the Edge sidebar on your Windows 10 desktop, you’ll never need to bother with it. For those who do want access to its features independently of the browser window, it’s clearly a handy choice to have.

Indeed, when you remember that Microsoft’s Copilot AI is only coming to Windows 11, this is actually a way of getting something a little like this on Windows 10. We’ve already seen that Microsoft plans to incorporate Copilot into the Edge sidebar, after all, so you’ll be able to deploy this on the desktop, in the same vein as Windows Copilot.

Granted, the functionality of Copilot for Edge will be nowhere near as useful as the full version of Copilot – which theoretically will be able to change all manner of Windows settings in the blink of an eye – but it’s something.

And Microsoft is going to work on adding “additional features and options” to the sidebar with future incarnations of Edge, as you might imagine. The sidebar isn’t going away, in short, for Windows 10 or 11 users, and is seemingly a key part of Microsoft’s ambition to make Edge one of the best web browsers out there.

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WhatsApp is about to get its first AI trick – and it could be just the start

WhatsApp is taking its first steps into the world of artificial intelligence as a recent Android beta introduced an AI-powered, sticker generation tool

Revealed in a new report from WABetaInfo, a Create button will show up in chats whenever some app testers open the sticker tab in the text box. Tapping Create launches a mini-generative AI engine with a description bar at the top asking you to enter a prompt. Upon inputting said prompt, the tool will create a set of stickers according to your specifications that users can then share in a conversation. As an example, WABetaInfo told WhatsApp to make a sticker featuring a laughing cat sitting on top of a skateboard, and sure enough, it did exactly as instructed. 

WhatsApp sticker generator

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

It’s unknown which LLM (large language model) is fueling WhatsApp’s sticker generator. WABetaInfo claims it uses a “secure technology offered by Meta.”  Android Police, on the other hand, states “given its simplicity” it could be “using Dall-E or something similar.” 

Availability

You can try out the AI tool yourself by joining the Google Play Beta Program and then installing WhatApp beta version 2.23.17.14, although it’s also possible to get it through the 2.23.17.13 update. Be aware the sticker generator is only available to a very small group of people. There’s a chance you won’t get it. However, WABetaInfo claims the update will be “rolling out to more users over the coming weeks,” so keep an eye out for the patch when it arrives. No word on an iOS version. 

Obviously, this is still a work in progress. WABetaInfo says if the AI outputs something that is “inappropriate or harmful, you can report it to Meta.” The report goes on to state that “AI stickers are easily recognizable” explaining recipients “may understand when [a drawing] has been generated”. The wording here is rather confusing. We believe WABetaInfo is saying AI content may have noticeable glitches or anomalies. Unfortunately, since we didn’t get access to the new feature, we can’t say for sure if generated content has any flaws.

Start of an AI future

We do believe this is just the start of Meta implementing AI to its platforms. The company is already working on sticker generators for Instagram and Messenger, but they’re seemingly still under development. So what will the future bring? It’s hard to say. It would, however, be cool to see Meta finally add its Make-A-Scene tool to WhatsApp.

It’s essentially the company’s own take on an image generator, “but with a bigger emphasis on creating artistic pieces.” We could see this being added to WhatsApp as a fun game for friends or family to play. There’s also MusicGen for crafting musical compositions, although that may be better suited for Instagram.

Either way, this WhatsApp beta feels like Meta has pushed the first domino of what could be a string of new AI-powered features coming to its apps.

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Secret trick installs Windows 11 without the bloatware – but Microsoft is looking to fix it

One of Windows 11’s most frustrating habits is filling your PC with apps and games you don’t want or use – but a new trick has been discovered that lets you install Windows 11 without all that junk.

As Windows Latest found, the trick is pretty easy to pull off – all you need to do is set your region to English (World) during the setup process.

Choosing this (or European English) in the ‘Time and currency format’ drop-down list during setup causes an issue where Windows 11’s setup services cannot communicate with Microsoft’s services, due to them using the en-001 and en-150 language codes.

This causes an “OOBEREGION” error message to appear. While that might seem a little scary (it even puts the error name in red, just for emphasis), you can select ‘Skip’ which will continue with the installation.

Even better, it means you’ll end up with a fresh Windows 11 installation with no annoying bloatware – just the basic, essential, apps.

Bloatware begone!

“Bloatware” is the less-than charitable name for apps and games that come pre-installed on your devices. If you’ve ever bought a PC or laptop from a major manufacturer, you’ll likely find that the first time you boot up Windows 11, there are a load of additional applications already installed, such as trials for anti-virus software.

While some pre-installed apps may be useful, for most people, these applications are never used, and simply take up space on your hard drive, slow down Windows when it boots, and can even throw up annoying pop-up notifications asking you to subscribe.

Sadly, in recent years, Microsoft has been getting in on the act as well, which means even if you build your own PC, or perform a clean install of Windows 11, there will still be unwanted apps included.

So, this rather useful trick is certainly welcome, as it’ll mean you’ll get a much cleaner experience, and your Start menu will only be filled with essential Windows apps, as well as any apps you install yourself.

This doesn’t stop third-party apps from your laptop manufacturer appearing, but if you want to perform a clean install from Microsoft’s own installation software (rather than from the software your PC/laptop manufacturer provides), then you’ll get a fresh bloatware-free version of Windows 11.

You’ll need to put your region back to your current location when done, to make sure everything works as normal.

Unfortunately, this workaround may not last forever, as Windows Latest reports that a Microsoft spokesperson told the website that the company was aware of it, and is looking into it.

That means Microsoft is likely to patch this out in an upcoming Windows 11 update. This is a shame, but not entirely surprising. Like manufacturers of the best laptops, Microsoft likely gets money from the makers of the apps and games it preinstalls, so it’ll want to make sure they get installed.

This workaround also exploits an issue with how Microsoft’s services struggle to handle some language codes, and the company will also be keen to fix that, especially if it could lead to other, less useful, side effects.

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Windows 11 gets a new trick to please Samsung Galaxy S22 buyers

Windows 11 and Windows 10 users are getting a fresh introduction to the taskbar which will be a crowd pleaser for those with Samsung smartphones who make use of the Your Phone app.

As you’re doubtless aware if you fall into that category, it’s possible to run apps from certain supported Samsung handsets on the Windows desktop via Your Phone, and soon there’ll be an icon in the taskbar to facilitate opening the most recently used phone apps easily and conveniently.

This was pointed out on Twitter by Analy Otero Diaz, Principal Program Manager Lead at Microsoft, as noticed by XDA Developers (and the tech site further noted that this capability was mentioned by Samsung at its Unpacked event yesterday, where the Galaxy S22 and other models such as the Note-like S22 Ultra were unveiled).

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As the tweeted screenshot shows, the Your Phone icon sits on the right-hand side of the taskbar, in the notification area (or system tray as long-time Windows users will be used to calling it), next to the date/clock, Wi-Fi/network and so forth. Click the icon, and a panel with your three most recently used phone apps will appear, so you can easily access the applications you’ve just been using on your Samsung device and carry on working with them on the Windows desktop.

This feature is ‘coming your way’ Diaz says, so shouldn’t be too far off, and it’ll make the lives of both Windows 10 and 11 users easier as we mentioned at the outset.


Analysis: Still Samsung only, then?

Of course, for some time now you’ve been able to use Android apps off Samsung devices on the Windows desktop, but what this is doing is making it much easier to do so. For those who don’t want another taskbar icon, though, it’ll be easy enough to turn it off (head to the Apps panel under Settings, find the Your Phone app, then turn off ‘Show recently used apps in the Windows notification area’).

Some Twitter denizens have posted asking Diaz why this feature is for Samsung phones only, getting a reply along the lines of what Microsoft has already told us – that this particular ability requires a deeper level of device and operating system integration, with the software giant collaborating directly with Samsung to get it all working.

Interestingly, Diaz indicated that we will have further treats with this feature in the pipeline, later tweeting that “there’s more coming soon” without revealing any further info about exactly what that might be. (It won’t be support outside Samsung hardware, we can tell you that much).

Remember also that Windows 11 will get native Android app support in the very near future, later this month, in fact; albeit still in beta form. And the other catch is, it won’t be all Android apps, just those available through the Amazon App Store (delivered via the Microsoft Store). Still, that’s a good start, and this will actually be running the apps on the PC (as opposed to remotely operating them from a Samsung phone).

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