Windows 11’s next big update is here – these are the top 5 features introduced with Moment 5

Windows 11 just received its latest major upgrade, Moment 5, which is part of the cumulative update for April that has just been released.

So, what are you getting with this update? We’ve picked out the five best features incoming with Moment 5 – which is formally known as patch KB5036893 – and after going over those, we’ll briefly discuss the other goodies you’ll get besides these highlights.

Voice Access shortcuts

(Image credit: Microsoft)

1. Acing accessibility – Voice Access and Narrator improvements

Microsoft has been consistently doing good work driving forward with accessibility features in Windows 11, and Moment 5 does well in this department. Voice Access is where a lot of the changes have happened, giving users the ability to use this feature across multiple displays. Using the mouse grid, it’s now possible to, for example, drag and drop a file from one monitor to another.

Another major introduction is the ability to create custom voice commands, so you can have a command to paste a set section of text into a document, for example. There’s a lot of stuff taking the finer points of Voice Access to another level, and some changes for Narrator, too, with the addition of a bunch of new natural voices for the screen reading tool (and more besides).

2. Snap Layouts powered up with AI

Not everyone uses Snap Layouts, but they’re actually a pretty nifty idea for when multitasking across a range of apps on the desktop, allowing you to swiftly snap those windows into place in an arrangement that makes sense. 

With Moment 5, Microsoft has brought in AI-driven suggestions for premade layouts, a handy move. If you don’t use Snap Layouts, now’s the time to give it a whirl.

Windows Photos App

(Image credit: Windows)

3. Photos app gets magic eraser

Windows 11’s default Photos app is being gifted a notable new AI-powered feature with this update, namely generative erase. This allows you to highlight an area that you want to remove in an image. 

Say there’s a photo bomber in the background of a snap – simply brush over them, and the AI will remove the person, then filling in the background intelligently to match the rest of the photo. Of course, AI tricks can be unpredictable at times, but this is a pretty handy feature to at least give a go – if you don’t like the end result, just undo the change.

4. Nearby Share is speedier and works better

If you’re not familiar with it, Nearby Share is a feature that allows you to wirelessly share files or website links with other nearby devices. With Moment 5, Microsoft has made it so Wi-Fi and Bluetooth – which the feature uses – are automatically turned on if you switch on Nearby Share, to ensure you don’t run into problems. Furthermore, files now transfer at faster speeds (when using public as well as private wireless networks).

Windows 11 laptop showing Copilot

(Image credit: Microsoft)

5. Copilot goodies

Not everyone is keen on Copilot, or uses the AI assistant, but those who do are in for a treat with Moment 5. Microsoft’s latest update introduces plug-ins for third-party services – a small collection to begin with, such as OpenTable, which can be used to get Copilot to make a dinner reservation for you.

Copilot’s library of commands pertaining to Windows 11 settings has also been expanded, as previously seen in testing. This includes commands relating to accessibility options, and various settings and device info options (and the ability for the AI to take out the desktop trash, too – also known as emptying the Recycle Bin).

Other new Moment 5 features

Microsoft has also changed Windows Share so that it now supports sharing via WhatsApp, and tweaked the Cast feature so it’s more discoverable (when it might be sensible to use the ability, which facilitates casting the screen to another display, such as a TV or tablet).

Those who use the widgets board in Windows 11 will also be pleased to hear this is receiving some attention too, with users getting the ability to organize widgets on the panel into categories.

Finally, it’s worth noting that you can now use Copilot without being signed into a Microsoft account – but only 10 times. After that, you’ll have to sign in, but this at least gives those with a local account the chance to try out the AI.

Also, bear in mind that while those in Europe will get extra functionality that extends to stripping out Bing and Edge from Windows 11, among other bits and pieces, those in the US or other regions don’t get these options.

As ever, you can grab the latest cumulative update for Windows 11 – containing all these Moment 5 features – by checking for updates in Windows Update.

Via Bleeping Computer

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The latest Meta Quest 3 update brings mixed reality improvements

Update v64 is here for your Meta Quest 3 and other Quest hardware, and it adds a big quality-of-life improvement for fans of mixed reality: better passthrough.

According to Meta’s official blog, the update has made the Quest 3’s passthrough “higher-fidelity than before”, resulting in your headset being better at adjusting color, exposure, contrast, and dynamic range to best suit your real-world environment. 

These updates should make it easier to read text on screens, and to use the headset in darker rooms.

We’ve tested the improved feature out, and it does seem easier to read text on real-world screens, and Meta’s claim that it’s less grainy in low light seems to ring true as well. That said, in general the passthrough doesn’t seem massively improved – so while it is better, don’t go in expecting ultra-crisp, Apple Vision Pro-levels of mixed-reality passthrough quality. 

The experimental menu on the Meta Quest 3 showing the new External Mic Support feature toggle

(Image credit: Meta)

Can you hear me now?

Beyond upgraded passthrough, update v64 brings with it a few additional refinements to your VR headset’s software.

The first is that your Quest device can now support an external microphone – with the feature appearing in the experimental settings menu. Once you’ve toggled it on you’ll be able to plug in an external microphone via the USB-C port to capture audio for VR content creation or in-game chat instead of using the Quest 3’s built-in mic.

Following its addition last month for Oculus Quest 2 users, Meta Quest 3 users can now use their headsets lying down too. 

What’s more, Continuous Casting has been added. Previously, if you removed your headset while casting to your phone the session would end, and Meta admitted that more often than not users would rather keep it running rather than have to restart every time they wanted to take their headset off (say to take a drink or talk to someone).  So now if you remove your headset while casting the session won’t be cut short – just make sure that you stop casting manually using your phone when you’re done.

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Windows 10 latest update is broken and riddled with bugs – with no fix in sight

Back in January, we reported on a small security update patch for Windows 10 that brought on a lot of headaches for IT admins and brought on a veritable cavalcade of error codes. Microsoft promised a fix was in the works ASAP, but here we are months later and the problem has still not been fixed. 

Windows 10 update KB504441 arrived as a patch to security issues brought on by another previous update, specifically to fix a flaw that could allow attackers to bypass certain encryptions within the OS. According to Windows Latest, readers have reached out to Microsoft for an update on the fix. The company referred users to an existing support document and is apparently “[not] planning to make an easier fix or update to automatically solve this problem any time soon,” which is frustrating.

Users have also reported difficulties downloading the update at all now, with an error thrown up stating that it ‘cannot be installed at this time’. The error code given (0x80070643) usually alludes to you not having enough storage space for the update, but that’s not the case here.

I can’t believe we’re still waiting 

While Microsoft continues not to share an estimated time for a fix, the company has released a shared workaround that allows you to increase the recovery partition size and let the Windows install smoothly.  The official document reiterates that a plan to fix the issue is in the works for the next automatic update, but it sounds like an automatic fix isn’t on the cards. 

As we said in our original report, if you haven’t installed the update yet you might be better off holding off until an actual fix has been released – but if you’re feeling brave, the workaround should be enough to get the update installed, especially if you’re a casual Windows user. These issues have proven more of a problem for networked work devices (and therefore invoked the fury of many IT system admins) than for individual private users.

There have been several other updates between the original security patch and now, including a cumulative update, so it’s strange that we’re still waiting for this pretty important fix. Given how important the security patch is, we do hope a fix is on the way soon.

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Windows 11 24H2 update is rumored to be ready to go – but nobody will get any of its major new features anytime soon

Windows 11’s next big update just moved a step closer to fruition, perhaps, given a rumor that Microsoft has just pushed out a new preview update that represents the 24H2 release.

The 24H2 update is due later this year, most likely in September, but the twist is it’s expected to initially arrive – in a slightly different form for certain devices (we’ll come back to exactly what we mean here) – around the middle of 2024.

The preview version of Windows 11 we’re talking about is build 26100 and we’re told by reliable leaker Zac Bowden (of Windows Central) that this is the RTM build for the 24H2 update (which Bowden predicted would arrive in April).

RTM means 'release to manufacturing' and it translates, as the name suggests, to mean this is effectively a finished product – with caveats that we’ll come back to shortly – that Microsoft is sending out to PC manufacturers to put on their devices (and test before that hardware hits the shelves).

Some PC makers may have received this RTM build already, or they are about to. In short, this is a positive sign that Windows 11 24H2 is progressing on track with its purported release schedule as aired via the grapevine.


Analysis: A new two-tier update process from Microsoft

The mentioned caveat-laden twist is that this initial hardware in question is AI PCs with Snapdragon X Elite chips, which are based on ARM architecture (quite different to AMD or Intel x86 CPUs). Because these Snapdragon chips are different to the general norm they need the new Germanium platform that Windows 11 24H2 is built on to work, so Microsoft is technically deploying the new version of the OS with these AI PCs which are expected to debut in June.

However, that particular Windows 11 24H2 build won’t have any of the new features touted for the next big upgrade. It’s just going to be much the same as what we have now with Windows 11, just with that new underpinning Germanium platform for ARM-based chips.

Microsoft will finalize the fully fleshed out 24H2 update, with all its new features added on top, in July; or that’s the predicted timeframe by Bowden. And then after final testing, the full 24H2 update will roll out to everyone on Windows 11 in September. Including those Snapdragon X Elite PCs, of course, who won’t get all the new features until everyone else is receiving them.

Hopefully we’ve made that clear enough. But it’s true that this is all rather more complex and convoluted than the usual straightforward deployment of a Windows annual feature update.

The long and short of it is that things appear to be on track, but nobody will get the full Windows 11 24H2 update until September 2024 (or around then). And while new AI PC buyers this summer will get a Snapdragon-powered laptop with 24H2 on board, this will be just the skeleton of that version, as it were, and all the meat (new features) won’t be added until everyone else receives the update in September(ish).

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Windows 11’s next major feature drop is available now – for those brave enough to grab a preview update

Windows 11’s next feature update known as ‘Moment 5’ is now rolling out, albeit it’s still an optional update at this point.

The preview update KB5035942 became available yesterday, so pretty much everyone on Windows 11 (23H2 and 22H2) should see it now – if they check for it.

As mentioned, this is an optional installation, so it will only show up if you manually fire up a check in the Windows Update panel, whereupon you can then choose to download KB5035942.

Bear in mind that as it’s still in testing, there could be wrinkles in the preview update. But if you want those new Moment 5 features and can’t wait, well, they’re up for grabs now.

Currently, there are no known issues with KB5035942, but that’s not a guarantee you won’t encounter technical hitches, of course – it’s just that they might not have been flagged up yet.

At the time of writing, there are no reported issues on the Reddit thread announcing the update at any rate, which is a good early sign – there’s just a warning that this one is a hefty download. Given that it’s a major feature update, that’s to be expected, of course.


Analysis: Lock and load – or wait for next month?

What new features are provided by Moment 5? There’s an extensive list of the fresh additions in Microsoft’s support document for the March 2024 preview update, but let’s touch on some of the highlights here.

They include new functionality for the lock screen in Windows 11 in the form of cards that pipe through info on weather, stocks, traffic and more – a somewhat controversial addition as some regard it as bloat. Mind you, if you don’t like the idea, you don’t have to enable the lock screen cards, and we should note that this is rolling out gradually within those adopting Moment 5 right now – so you may not see it yet anyway.

The Voice Access feature has also received a good deal of attention here, including nifty new shortcuts for custom commands (like pasting a boilerplate piece of text), and the ability to use voice controls over multiple monitors for the first time. Narrator has a raft of new features too, and that includes being able to use voice commands with the screen reading tool, so you can verbally ask it to “speak faster” for example.

For those not signed into a Microsoft account, it’s also worth noting that Copilot now lets you run 10 queries, so you can give the AI assistant a quick trial without being logged in. (Copilot is now rolling out to more users, incidentally, so if you haven’t seen it yet, you might do very soon).

So, should you bag all these features now? Well, you need to balance your desire for new toys to play with against the possibility of faulty bits in testing. Generally speaking, the safest course of action is to wait for this to become a finished cumulative update in April, and install Moment 5 then. Still, if you can’t wait for any particular piece of functionality – or important bug fix, as there are some glitches resolved here, too – then you might want to go early on this one.

Via Neowin

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macOS has been riddled with bugs lately – but the new macOS 14.4.1 update has just fixed the most notorious one

The last few weeks have been plagued with bugs and oddities for users who updated their Mac devices to macOS Sonoma 14.4, including a particularly thorny issue that functionally broke a lot of users' USB hubs. A new update, macOS 14.4.1, has just been released to address the most notorious issues – so you’ll want to update your system as soon as possible. 

According to TweakTown, the update was released yesterday to the public and will resolve an issue that affected USB hubs connected to the monitors people were using with their Macs. Discussions on Reddit threads and Apple’s support forums indicated that while the problem might not have been incredibly widespread, it was still affecting a decent number of people.

While Apple hasn’t released any formal statements about the issues, it’s good to see Apple swoop in and provide a quick, no-frills solution for the issue. The new update doesn’t offer any new features besides the bug fixes, so if you’re worried about possibly catching another macOS bug from it you can assume there’s likely nothing else to go wrong with such a targeted fix.

Call the exterminator!

Sonoma 14.4 hasn’t just been plaguing users' USB hubs, it’s been taking down printers as well. While the printer issue hasn’t been reported as widely as the USB breakdown, it’s still another unwelcome bug that arrived courtesy of the update. 

The update has also been reported to be deleting previously saved versions of files in users’ iCloud Drives, effectively deleting people’s backups if they moved files out of iCloud. Normally, when you save your files in iCloud Drive all the edited versions of your file are saved for future reference, but thanks to yet another bug in Sonoma 14.4  these previous versions could be erased – which might mean all your work is gone. 

Hopefully, another upcoming update will address these issues alongside the USB hub bug, but we’ll have to wait and see if that is the case. There’s no indication so far that the new update deals with all the currently reported issues – but you’re better off updating your system just in case. 

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Windows 11’s next big update is almost ready to roll – but most people won’t get it for a long time yet

Windows 11’s next major update is coming close to completion, and in fact it’s rumored that it’ll hit its final stage of development very shortly – though its launch for all users will still be a good way down the line (we’ll come back to that).

As well-known Microsoft leaker Zac Bowden shared on X (formerly Twitter), Windows 11 24H2 is on track to hit RTM (release to manufacturing) in April.

See more

What this means is that the 24H2 update is ready to go to PC manufacturers so that they can work on installing it on their devices. In other words, Windows 11 24H2 is all but done at this point, save for final testing and changes that might need to be applied if PC makers run into any last-minute stumbling blocks.

Bowden mentions the ‘ge_release’ which refers to Germanium, a new platform that Windows 11 is built on with 24H2. While this won’t make any difference to the visible parts of the OS, under the hood, Germanium will offer tighter security and better overall performance.

With RTM for 24H2 happening in April, in theory, the plan is that it’ll take two months to finalize the new Windows 11 Germanium build, and it will be installed on ARM-based AI PCs when they start shipping in June.


Analysis: Clarifying the 24H2 release timeline

Note that as Bowden outlines on X, this does not mean Windows 11 24H2 (Germanium) will be released for everyone in June.

It will only be out on ARM-based laptops running Snapdragon X Elite chips (or variants) initially – like the consumer spin on the Surface Pro 10 or Surface Laptop 6. Which is why only the business models were unveiled recently – they have Intel CPUs that don’t need Germanium. Whereas the Germanium platform is actually required for these new ARM chips – which have been stoking a great deal of excitement – so this is why Microsoft is pushing it out ahead of time so as not to hold up those notebooks any longer than necessary.

As Bowden makes clear in a later tweet, Windows 11 24H2 won’t actually be ‘done’ until August, so the leaker suspects Microsoft wants to limit where Germanium is present until then.

What we can surmise from this is that while Windows 11 24H2 will be out on those mentioned AI PCs as early as June (if everything stays on schedule), not all of 24H2’s full library of features will be enabled – presumably.

Whatever the case, the full rollout of Windows 11 24H2 to all users won’t happen until after it’s fully done in August, meaning a September or October rollout to all Windows 11 users. This is the timeframe Microsoft is working to based on rumors that go back to the start of this year, in fact.

The long and short of it is that while Windows 11 24H2 may be ready for RTM next month and on the cusp of finalization technically, it won’t fully arrive until September (at the earliest). And the rollout will be phased as ever, so you might not get it on your particular Windows 11 device until several months after, which is all standard practice.

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ChromeOS update lets you control which apps can see your location

ChromeOS is slated to receive some new privacy tools in a future update, and chief among them is the ability to control your Chromebook’s location privacy setting. According to a post on the Google Cloud blog, the feature is an expansion of the privacy controls that the company added last year. They’re referring to the microphone and camera toggles from last April. Google didn’t really provide a whole lot of details in their post, but 9To5Google helped with a recent deep dive.

The site states you can determine which apps and system services on your laptop have “access [to] your geolocation”, giving you almost total anonymity. It’s not perfect. The publication explains that the tool “specifically disables Google Location Services,” however it is still possible for an app or website to have an idea of where you currently are by looking at the IP address. 

ChromeOS new privacy tools

(Image credit: Google)

Geolocation controls do exist on ChromeOS, but are limited to the Chrome browser itself. On-device software is still free to collect your information unless you go into an app and manually disable the respective tool. This update will make the process easier to do. No more micromanaging.

Controls for camera, microphone, and location privacy

Alongside the privacy upgrade, ChromeOS will also introduce more granular camera, microphone, and geolocation controls. For certain apps like Instagram, you can decide how you want it to interact with your hardware. Access to a Chromebook’s microphone can be outright denied, allowed for free interaction, or something in between. For example, Instagram can connect to a webcam, but only when you, the user, are actively using the social network. Otherwise, the connection is blocked.

The Google Cloud blog does mention other features coming down the pipeline, but they pertain more towards enterprise customers; not everyday users. It talks about local data recovery as well as an expansion of Google’s data loss prevention policy.

A company representative told us the geolocation patch will roll out to all Chromebooks within the first half of 2024 – so hopefully before the end of June. 

To find the new tools, you’ll need to first launch the Settings menu, then go to the Security and Privacy tab. They’ll be under the Privacy controls. Or as an alternative, you can go to a specific app in Settings and expand the Permissions tab. The controls can also be found there.

If you're in the market for a new laptop, check out TechRadar's list of the best Chromebook for 2024.

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Spotify for Windows 11’s annoying new update shoves one of the app’s most important features to the side

Spotify recently released the new “Jam” feature for its Windows 11 and 10 app, which allows users to listen to the same playlist or album at the same time on different devices. So you and a friend or coworker can enjoy the same tunes while you work, study, or just jam out (hence the name). However, with this new feature, the queue list has been booted to a small space on the right side of the app's UI. 

Please, please change it back. This is the opposite of an improvement.

foryoublue94 via Spotify Forum

This change has proven to be rather unfavorable among Spotify users, who’ve taken to Reddit to voice their complaints. The official blog post that announces the arrival of Jam dubs this change as the “new Queue experience”, explaining that the right sidebar now allows you to browse content in the app and keep an eye on what's currently playing. 

The official post has several disgruntled comments from users dismayed by the change, with one user saying “Why on earth has Queue and Recently Played been moved and is now cramped into the small right-hand column? This is just horrible, and a pain to look at. It makes zero sense from a usability standpoint.

Thanks, I hate it 

You may be thinking something along the lines of what an odd little change for people to be riled up about! Pre-update, you could have your library on the left, your queue in the center, and your Now Playing view on the right. In other words, you could boot up the app and have everything you need all in one place. Now, you can only have one or two of these views open at once because of the new layout. 

If you’re someone who’s a fan of the Jam feature and plans to use it quite often with your mates, you’re probably not as upset as other users. But, as a person who will probably never use the Jam feature, I feel robbed of a pretty decent app layout with nothing in return. Now, I am no longer able to see how long the current song is or the album name in the queue.

It seems like Spotify users live in fear of every new update that is implemented. A common notion that’s shared on Spotify Reddit and in the blog post comments is ‘another Spotify update, another change no one asked for.’ I use Spotify every day, and I can’t remember a single update implemented to the app on mobile and desktop that didn’t make me mad. Hopefully, we can convince Spotify to change everything back to how it was – or we'll just end up waiting until another update comes around and knocks everything out of place again. 

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Windows 11 update is reportedly causing some PCs to crash or run very sluggishly

Windows 11’s cumulative update for this month is causing serious problems in some reported cases.

This is KB5035853 for Windows 11 23H2 and 22H2 which started rolling out earlier this week carrying some useful new features. That includes being able to use the Snipping Tool to edit photos from your Android smartphone directly on your PC, plus adding support for much faster (80Gbps) wired connectivity with USB4 v2.0.

However, some Windows 11 users have hit major snags when installing the March update, with Windows Latest highlighting these, and the site experiencing a Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) itself after running the update process.

The tech site’s BSoD arrived with an error saying ‘Thread Stuck in Device Driver’ which isn’t very helpful, and others have been hit by this problem, such as a reader running a bunch of Lenovo devices (in a business setting).

Furthermore, there’s evidence of this nasty crash on the Reddit thread introducing KB5035853. One user tells us: “This update caused a Windows to crash on startup. Got blue screen error. Had to rollback. Just a warning. That happen to anyone else?”

Someone chimes in to say they were affected too (and got put in a boot loop, with repeated reboots, before ending up at that BSoD).

There are other reports on this thread noting that the update did install, but then caused ‘random’ BSoDs afterwards.

On top of this, there are also folks who are complaining about Windows 11 running sluggishly, with their PC stuttering after the update, or even freezing up periodically.


Analysis: Fixing with one hand, breaking with the other?

These are really unpleasant side-effects here, and the cure so far seems to be simply rolling back the installation (removing KB5035853, or using System Restore to rewind time back to before the update was triggered).

On Reddit, there is a mention of a YouTube video that offers potential solutions, and we’ve had a look – there are a couple of clips, in fact – but we’d take the advice imparted with a hefty pinch of salt. Some folks in the YouTube comments have reported seeing success, and others have said the fixes outlined have failed. But for now, rather than trying what seems like shots in the dark as attempted cures, if you’re affected, we’d probably just go for reverting the update and waiting for Microsoft to investigate these glitches.

(It’s worth noting that in the YouTube comments there are also further complaints of PCs seriously chugging with slowdown post-update).

At the moment, Microsoft’s support document for the March cumulative update indicates there are no known issues.

The irony here is that this March update addresses a problem with the February update for Windows 11 whereby it failed to install (and got stuck at 96% complete with an error code and a helpful message saying that ‘something did not go as planned’). So, the patch curing that problem with the previous patch failing to install, also fails to install in a different, and in fact worse, way.

Hopefully Microsoft is on the case with this one as we type this. It’s difficult to say how widespread the BSoD problem is, but there are certainly enough reports of post-installation performance blues to suggest that something has gone awry with KB5035853.

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