Microsoft continues to frustrate users with ads in the operating system – this time plaguing the MSN Weather app

Microsoft has made another move to push more advertising into Windows 11, with fresh ads arriving in the stock Weather app installed by default. So, alongside the likes of the Start menu and the Settings app, now the MSN Weather app will also have ads – more intrusive efforts, too, once again pointing towards a system-wide ‘adpocalypse’ as it were. 

According to Windows Latest, a new server-side update now places two ads in the default Weather app as soon as you open it, and the situation is more dire than normal because the advertisements in question are pinned. In other words, even as you scroll down, looking at the forecasts and other details in the app, the ads will scroll, too, remaining constantly visible.

This is a pretty aggressive approach, similar to the Game Pass ad in the Settings app – and as I said in that instance, it seems like Microsoft is trying to usher in a whole new era of over-advertising. I fear that as time progresses, not only will we see more of these ads, but they might become more aggressive in terms of being unskippable and generally unavoidable.


Ads pinned to the Microsoft Weather app. (Image credit: Windows Latest)

Okay, so it could be argued that these are just small ads in the corner, and we all have to deal with ignoring or skipping advertisements in so much of our lives these days – but why should I do that on my PC, too? You’re telling me now that the new normal is just advertising everywhere I look – and not a single bit of technology is my own? 

I paid for my PC and its operating system, and I don’t expect to have to suffer through ads (which might be expected on a free OS, granted – but not one that’s charged for).

Also, while at the moment they’re only relatively little ads, the fear is that Microsoft might push boundaries in the future. If – or when, perhaps – these advertisements become more and more accepted, we could see personalized, bigger, unavoidable, and maybe even one-day unskippable ads in Windows 11 (or a future version of the desktop OS). 

It’s not like these ads are placed in some obscure part of Windows 11; you’re often going to find yourself opening up the Settings app, Start menu, or perhaps perusing the weather forecast, and so on. If more advertisements are placed in more prominent places, at what point will that make using your computer infuriating? It’s a dangerous path to tread with Windows 11, but one Microsoft seems intent on exploring, sadly.

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Microsoft fixes latest Windows 11 update – but some unlucky users have found their taskbar is now broken

Microsoft has quietly rolled out a fix for a recent Windows 11 patch (KB5039302, a preview update) in a bid to correct a bug that caused some PCs to enter a reboot loop, a problem so serious that the update was paused.

However, this new fix has led to more issues, as there are now reports of the taskbar not working properly.

Microsoft is aware of the taskbar glitches plaguing some Windows 11 users – in fact, the June 2024 preview update may lead to the taskbar not loading altogether. It's claimed that this issue is only “expected to occur if you are using a Windows N edition” or if you manually disable the Media Features toggle in the Control Panel. 

Previous to this new problem, some Windows 11 users were experiencing reboot loops as mentioned, making their system potentially unusable. This only appears to have affected machines where nested virtualization is enabled. As the name implies, this feature allows users to run virtual machines, and it's utilized more in business and enterprise settings than by your everyday consumer.

The only fix discovered for the previous 'reboot hell' bug is to manually remove the update from the Advanced Startup menu, we're told. 

It's worth underlining that Windows 11 update KB5039302 is optional, so you can avoid it altogether, and it's probably best to do so for now – even though most folks won't be affected by the new glitch. Later in July, this update will become the full release for Windows 11, at which point you can't avoid it (for long, anyway). By then, hopefully Microsoft will have fixed this new bug, too.

The problems continue for Windows 11

Microsoft has been having some serious issues with Windows 11 throughout the first half of 2024. As well as the increased level of advertising – with the likes of Xbox Game Pass ads now blighting the Settings app – and instability problems, there's also been a bug with the operating system telling users they've changed their location. Another recent bug has led to distorted videos in Google Chrome and Microsoft's own Edge browser as well.

So yes, Windows 11 hasn't had the smoothest ride this year, or indeed since it was launched. To see the taskbar, of all things, not loading in or working correctly is certainly an oddity, even if that issue is still far preferable to a PC which is stuck in boot loop hell. We'll keep an eye on this one and update you when Microsoft fixes this new bug.

Via Windows Latest

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Mac users rejoice! The ChatGPT app is finally available for everyone, not just subscribers

Anyone can now download the ChatGPT app on the Mac and use it, including non-paying users – previously the app was restricted to ChatGPT Plus subscribers. 

OpenAI announced in a post on X that you can now “get faster access to ChatGPT to chat about email, screenshots and anything on your screen with the Option + Space shortcut.” You can download the app via the official website, enabling more convenient access to the AI, and putting various features at your fingertips on the desktop.

From a central prompt box you can query ChatGPT, and access options to take a screenshot or upload a file to send to the chatbot, and engage with the AI in other ways, including easily searching through your old conversations to find something specific.

Another example shows someone using the shortcut to upload some PDF class schedule files, asking ChatGPT to find and summarize the deadlines within the three files. That effectively illustrates how this can be a helpful tool to sort through your overwhelming college or school workload. 

The most impressive aspect of the app is the way it streamlines the process of using ChatGPT. Instead of having to copy an entire document to paste into ChatGPT, you can simply select a section (or as noted above, upload the whole file), bring up ChatGPT, and just ask for feedback in the search bar. 

Alongside all of this, Mac users can speak to the desktop ChatGPT app for a more hands-free experience, a feature I believe truly shifts ChatGPT from being just any old chatbot and turns it into a virtual assistant in macOS.

An example query on the OpenAI website shows someone prompting ChatGPT to take a screenshot of some broken code, requesting help with that code, which then opens the app and provides suggestions as to what to do to fix the problem.

All that said, I’m someone who's very skeptical about the increasing integration and use of artificial intelligence in this way, especially considering the environmental impact that AI can have (in terms of processing workloads, and the power needed for that).

So while I do appreciate that this is all incredibly cool, and will make the lives of many people easier and more productive, at the same time, the more widely available this kind of tech becomes, the more impact it will have on the environment – and that's something the big AI brands need to be thinking about.

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One of the most persistent Windows 11 bugs ever keeps telling users they’ve changed their location, when they haven’t – but it’s getting fixed

Windows 11 has a new bug (that’s also in Windows 10) whereby the operating system keeps telling users that their time zone has changed, when it hasn’t – and repeatedly doing this, driving some users to the point of distraction by all accounts.

Windows Latest flagged up multiple complaints about this bug, which has been acknowledged by Microsoft, and the company is now working on a fix.

Indeed, the tech site notes that it has experienced the glitch itself, whereby a dialog box pops up, warning that “due to a location change a new time zone has been detected.”

Then the user has the choice of clicking ‘Ignore’ to dismiss the prompt, or ‘Accept’ to be taken to the Date & Time settings where there’s actually nothing amiss (the time zone and location aren’t changed, just to clarify).

Essentially, the prompt is appearing by accident, but the real problem is that affected users don’t just see this once. It’s occurring repeatedly and in some cases multiple times per day, or even hour, which is going to get seriously tiresome.

A user hit by the problem complained in Microsoft’s Feedback Hub: “This is the 2nd system where this pop-up about me changing time zones has occurred. After I set the date and time (Central time zone), why does Windows think that I have moved 455 miles to the East? Fix your darn OS Microsoft.”

Analysis: A rare bug apparently – but a seriously annoying glitch

This is a bit of an odd one, to say the least, and while it’s a relatively benign bug – an errant pop-up that doesn’t actually throw anything of a spanner in the works (unlike some of the showstoppers we’ve seen in the past) – if it’s happening regularly, then it’s going to be a headache.

The good news is that Microsoft says the bug is rare, and so presumably the set of Windows 11 and 10 users who are subject to it happening particularly regularly is even rarer. That said, it needs to be fixed, and the problem has been around for a few weeks now.

According to Windows Latest, the fix is already in the pipeline and should (most likely) be applied as a server-side solution, meaning that it’ll happen on Microsoft’s end, and you won’t need to wait for an update to contain the cure if you’re affected by this issue. Fingers crossed that this resolution arrives swiftly, then.

Meantime, if you’re getting these head-scratching time zone notifications, there’s nothing you can do but keep dismissing them.

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Microsoft’s latest bid to cajole Windows 11 users into switching to Edge is a pop-up 3D banner – and I’m not impressed

Microsoft has revealed a new tactic in its campaign to persuade Windows 11 users to switch to the Edge browser – and it’s a 3D banner, no less.

I suppose that’s a bit different from the usual nags I’ve seen from Microsoft, which has tried so hard, for so very long, to cajole users into switching to Edge. And honestly, some of these attempts have gotten rather tiresome.

This most recent move to entice new users is a pop-up banner that appears when you open Edge directly (or when opening a file, like a PDF, which is set to fire up Edge), and it features a prompt to get you to set Edge as your default browser.

Going by the screenshot taken by Windows Latest, the banner tries to sway you by stating that Edge will protect you against phishing and malware attacks while employing some kind of a limited three-dimensional effect with the visuals here.

Screnshot of banner

(Image credit: Mayank Parmar via Windows Latest )

In the past, Microsoft has made many attempts to get people to switch to Edge. A classic example is the experience when you’re trying to download Google Chrome on a new machine – you’ve got to use Edge as it’s there by default in Windows 11 – and a banner pops up letting you know that Edge is just as good, if not better and that there’s no need to download Chrome. 

While I can’t comment on the effectiveness of these kinds of banners and pop-ups, I can say that it’s not a concept that works for me. Personally, having multiple nag panels trying to get me to do something is not an approach that works – in fact, it kind of makes me more determined to never open Edge ever again.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I don’t think Edge is an explicitly bad browser by any means, and with the recent AI improvements and features implemented by Microsoft, it has become more popular. However, by now, Microsoft should know that nobody likes a nag, and every little nudge and push makes me – and probably others, too – less likely to give Edge a try. 

For now, I’ll stick with Google Chrome and dismiss these prompts out of principle. 

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Microsoft admits recent Windows 10 updates messed up the taskbar for some users – but a fix is coming

Microsoft has acknowledged that there’s a bug introduced by recent Windows 10 updates that can break a piece of taskbar functionality – but the good news is a fix is in the works.

The problem is evident for some Windows 10 users when right clicking on a pinned app on the taskbar, when instead of seeing the usual context-sensitive jump list menu – that allows access to common features, like opening recent files – they get something entirely useless.

What Windows 10 produces instead is the ‘Open with…’ menu (that facilitates choosing which app you want to open a file with). That’s not only unhelpful but also confusing, frankly, though Windows Latest, which spotted this, notes that the bug only affects a small set of Windows 10 users – and it only happens with some apps, not all of them.

So, this isn’t something you’re likely to encounter, but if you do, it’s a rather annoying issue. Furthermore, it affects a wide range of recent updates for Windows 10 – not just the latest June cumulative update, but also the May cumulative update (and that month’s optional update), and the optional update for April too.

Windows Latest reports that Microsoft has pinpointed a fix and the company has indicated that the resolution will be included in a future update for Window 10 22H2.

Analysis: A quick fix, with any luck

Hopefully, with the fix identified, implementing it shouldn’t be a difficult task and we might see the cure in next month’s cumulative update. Indeed, if that’s the case, we’ll actually get it before the July update, as it will be in the optional update for June, which is a preview of the former. That should be here in not much more than a week, in fact – though there’s no guarantee the fix won’t take longer, of course.

In case you missed it, what’s interesting with Windows 10 is that Microsoft is not just fixing and patching the OS, but is actively developing it again, adding new features and recently resurrecting the Beta channel to test them. That’s despite the End of Life date for Windows 10 coming ever closer – the OS runs out of support in October 2025, in case you’d forgotten. So it won’t be that long before you need to start exploring the options you have in that regard.

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Microsoft finally removes mysterious Copilot app that installed itself and freaked out Windows 11 users

Remember the weird Copilot app that was quietly installed on some Windows 11 PCs earlier this year? Well, Microsoft has announced that the mysterious and tiny app – which was just 8KB in size and did nothing save to cause some users to worry about exactly what it was – has now been removed from these systems.

As Neowin reports, Microsoft stated that the program – which was visible on the ‘Installed apps’ list in Windows 11 – was harmless and did not run any background code. Microsoft has now marked the issue as resolved, and the app will no longer be seen in your list of installed applications.

While this whole affair was rather odd, it is reassuring to know that nothing was amiss with this random bit of software that suddenly appeared. However, with the Copilot app being first spotted in March 2024, it has taken Microsoft quite some time to deal with the issue, and we’ve got to admit, we’re curious as to why the process of fixing the glitch moved so slowly. 

Microsoft wrote in a post on its release health dashboard: “This package was intended to prepare some Windows devices for future Windows Copilot enablement and was not intended for all devices. Although the component installed as part of this issue can cause the Microsoft Copilot app to be shown as part of the Installed apps, this component does not fully install or enable Microsoft Copilot.”

The app was introduced via an Edge browser update and has been removed in the same way. Microsoft notes that you need to update to Edge stable version 126.0.2592.56 and restart your browser once you’ve done so – then you’ll be good to go!

It seems like a turbulent time for Windows 11 currently, with Microsoft dropping the Recall feature from Copilot+ PCs (at least for now), a move that doesn’t speak well in terms of the confidence behind the product, but seems to be the best course of action given all the controversy around the AI feature.

Evidently, Microsoft has a fair few loose ends to tie up right now and needs to be careful not to rush so that mistakes are made. This misfiring Copilot app installation triggered by an Edge update may have been harmless in the end, but perhaps the next misstep might not be so benign.

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Intel Mac users: macOS Sequoia won’t give you Apple Intelligence, but you’ll still get a host of must-have features

WWDC 2024 earlier this week saw the big reveal of macOS Sequoia, and of course, Apple’s new AI platform – with the further revelation that Apple Intelligence would not be available for Mac owners with Intel CPUs running Sequoia.

While Apple had previously stated that macOS Sequoia will run on the same Mac models as macOS Sonoma, whether they had Intel or Apple CPUs, Apple Intelligence requires an M1 processor (or better) to work – and that fact likely left Intel-powered Mac owners wondering if they’d be left out in the cold with Sequoia regarding other features. Well, the good news is this isn’t the case, and in fact there are only two pieces of functionality that’ll be exclusive to Apple silicon-powered Macs.

Those are Apple Intelligence, as already mentioned, and also live audio transcription in Apple Notes is only supported for devices which have Apple silicon. This feature will enable the recording of audio right in the Notes app, and will also swiftly generate transcriptions of that audio (which are fully searchable).

Other than that, all the other features in macOS Sequoia will come to Intel Macs (and M-series Macs too, of course).

WWDC 2024 macOS Sequoia Features

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Mirroring magic and more besides

This includes the hotly anticipated iPhone Mirroring feature, allowing you to view and control your iPhone’s screen using your Mac keyboard and trackpad. On top of that, macOS 15 ushers in the ability to receive iPhone notifications on your Mac, new window layout functionality that enables you to drag and ‘snap’ windows into a grid arrangement on your screen (just as in Microsoft’s Windows OS), the Password app replacing Keychain to manage and sync passwords more easily, and an improved Safari browser.

In short, that’s a pretty good haul even if your Intel-powered Mac can’t run Apple’s new AI features. How much that’ll matter to you is doubtless a subjective thing, and it’ll also depend on how well Apple Intelligence is realized when it actually arrives – although the Mac maker is certainly putting a lot of stock in it going by the initial launch, and has some well thought out ideas behind the AI system.

As 9 to 5 Mac, which spotted this info, observes, Apple Macs with Intel CPUs have at least one more year of support with macOS.

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Apple to empower privacy on iOS 18 by letting users choose who can have access to their contacts

iOS 18 is slated to launch later this year, and many people are looking forward to all of the app upgrades and redesigns. However, one of the areas we feel has been overshadowed by all the shiny new features is the series of security updates the system is set to receive. 

We've seen some of the improvements, like the Password app to help people manage accounts and verification codes, among other things. What you may not know, though, is that Apple is going to change the way how third-party apps interact with your iPhone.

At launch, iOS 18 will allow users to choose which contacts to share with an app. TechCrunch explains that whenever an iPhone owner is asked to give access to their address book, a “new two-step permissions pop-up screen” will appear. 

The first window will ask if you want to opt in, and the second will let you fine-tune your selection. Currently, iOS 17 gives you only two options: allowing full access or denying access. 

iOS 18's new contact permissions window

(Image credit: Apple)

There are a couple of reasons why this is an improvement. Security firm Mysk states that this change would limit the amount of data third-party apps could harvest. LinkedIn, for example, was found gaining access to users’ contacts and calendars. The firm felt the service obtained too much authorization, so much so that they called on Apple to add limitations. 

The second effect of the update is it could (although it’s not confirmed) stop software from repeatedly asking for “access even after they [have already] been denied.” The idea here is if you give software limited permissions, it should shut them up for good since the criteria has technically been met.

Locking and hiding

In addition to the upcoming contact controls, iOS 18 will also introduce the ability to lock and hide apps. Apple says locking software protects “its contents from view,” while hiding prevents others from seeing the app altogther. All of the hidden apps will live in a single folder, which you'll need to authenticate yourself to gain access.

iOS 18's new lock app window

(Image credit: Apple)

Upon locking or hiding an app, your iPhone will ask you to authenticate yourself either through biometrics or a password. The feature is meant to give you peace of mind so you won’t accidentally expose sensitive information to nosy people.  

2024 is shaping up to be a substantial year for the tech giant. If you want to learn more, check out TechRadar’s roundup of everything that was announced during WWDC 2024

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Windows 11 users: get ready for lock screen widgets that might annoy you (but Microsoft is doing something about that)

Windows 11 and 10 users, you can breathe a sigh of relief for a moment, as there’s news that’s not about sticking more AI into the heart of Windows 11, or about Windows 10’s seemingly unavoidable end – although I don’t know if this development will be a cause for joy. Microsoft is fully rolling out MSN lock screen widgets after testing the feature for the past four months. 

Apparently, the feature is still in the process of being rolled out, so you may not see it quite yet, but these widgets should appear on your lock screen very soon (if they don’t already). Microsoft is implementing this change for Windows 11 and 10 via a server-side update, so the widgets will just suddenly appear – and so far, Windows Latest observes that users aren’t receiving them warmly.

Part of the problem is that the lock screen widgets displayed are pre-set by Microsoft, and they can’t be adjusted or modified to your preferences. The widgets appear if you switch them on, or already have the ‘Weather or more’ option turned on, in the Settings app. 

To be precise, you’ll find this option in the following location: 

Settings > Personalization > Lock Screen  

A selection of a screenshots of the Lock Screen section in the Settings app, allowing users to switch on the batch of widgets

(Image credit: Microsoft)

An all or nothing proposition – at least for now

The pre-configured MSN widgets include Microsoft Money, Sports, and Weather, but you can’t currently pick and choose which of these you’d like to keep and which to leave out. I imagine this is where a lot of the dissatisfaction with the feature comes from, as it feels that if you’d like widgets on your lock screen, but not all of them – well, it’s a case of tough luck. You’re forced to have them all, or none of them (if you switch them off).

Why can’t you adjust these widgets individually, turning off the ones you don’t like, as you can with other individual widgets such as Mail or Calendar? Well, the good news is that you’ll be able to do that before long, as Microsoft has promised this ability is inbound for Windows 11 and 10 users.

We don’t know when this important change is set to arrive, but hopefully, we’ll see this coming in sooner rather than later, as we can’t imagine it’s a huge task for Microsoft.


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