Microsoft to lay out its ambitious vision for AI integration in Windows 11 – here’s what to expect

Microsoft is moving full steam ahead with its AI efforts, and could soon present its major plans in a special event. It’s anticipated that the company may take to the stage to announce continuing AI integration into Microsoft products, such as Windows 11, Microsoft 365 services, Surface, and others. 

It’s expected that we could even see this announcement as soon as today, Thursday 21, as Microsoft is due to host an event in New York City, which is widely-expected to focus on new Surface devices. However, The Verge points out that this is closely following the announcement of the resignation of the now former Windows and Surface chief Panos Panay.

The Verge has also gotten hold of a memo where Microsoft’s head of consumer marketing, Yusuf Mehdi, highly praises Panay. He then references today’s “special event” which will expand on Microsoft’s and OpenAI’s existing partnership and that this will be “only the beginning” of Microsoft’s AI-powered vision. 

Mehdi directly references Microsoft’s recent integration of OpenAI’s tech into Edge and Bing, as well as Microsoft 365 and Microsoft’s new AI voice assistant Windows Copilot. These improved tools will come installed on all new Windows 11 PCs, including Microsoft’s own Surface lineup and those of OEM partners (OEM means Original Equipment Manufacturer – meaning Microsoft’s partners that also make devices that come with Windows pre-installed, such as Dell). The memo wraps up with Mehdi saying the event “will lay out the vision for what’s ahead.” 

All eyes on the Microsoft event


(Image credit: Unsplash)

Microsoft's internal reshuffling

He went on to indicate that there will be innovations for Microsoft’s Surface, silicon, and devices, headed by Pavan Davuluri.  Interestingly, there have been reports that Microsoft is actively working on its own AI chips that could challenge Nvidia’s chips. 

We could see more information about this at today’s event. The Verge speculates that Microsoft might be trying to convince OEMs to use neural processing unit (NPU) chips that can efficiently handle AI tasks and future Windows versions (such as Windows 12) in their new devices. One model that is expected to debut at the event is the Surface Laptop Studio 2 and it could have one of these new NPU components. 

Mehdi has also spoken on how Microsoft is directing its leadership and organization of its workforce to increase focus on AI and Microsoft Copilot. He is seemingly being pushed by Microsoft as the public face of Windows now that Panay has left, although he doesn’t directly head up any core teams that develop and deliver Windows. The wider leadership approach Microsoft is taking for Windows development and device hardware is spread among three key people: Yusuf Mehdi, Pavan Davuluri, and Mikhail Parakhin, who heads up the team combining Windows, Web, and Services. 

The last of these, Pakhin, is currently Microsoft’s CEO of advertising and web services, and is considered the main engineering leader when it comes to Windows. He’s a less visible public figure, not even putting a profile picture on X (formerly Twitter). Mehdi will be the one to watch for updates about the larger Windows picture, whereas Davuluri and Parakhin will be tasked with making the AI vision for Windows and other devices a reality.

Man tapping a cloud icon

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

What Microsoft products might look like in the future

We’ve already seen the first steps of integrating the newly-improved Bing Search and recently added Bing AI right into Windows menus and the taskbar. It’s expected that this integration of web technologies, AI, and services right into Windows will continue. The Verge suggests that Windows is being pivoted to live fully on the web, and this was seemingly backed up in the FTC v. Microsoft hearing that featured an internal Microsoft presentation. This presentation laid out Microsoft’s plans to move the consumer version of Windows to fully live in the cloud.

Whatever the case is, I think we can expect to see something major, perhaps even a bold new direction, as Microsoft says goodbye to Panay. Mehdi wraps up his memo by putting out a call to action for his and other Microsoft staff, and it’s clear that Microsoft very much has his head in the game, despite the high-profile loss of Panay. Today’s event will certainly be an interesting one for anyone interested in the future of Windows and Windows devices. 

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Apple silently buffs the Vision Pro with the new iPhone 15 Pro and AirPods Pro 2

The Apple Vision Pro may not have been in attendance during the recent iPhone 15 launch event hosted at Apple Park, but it got a shout-out and a couple of upgrades that you might have missed.

Unfortunately, these improvements aren’t coming to the headset directly, instead they're buffs exclusive for people who own multiple premium Apple products – specifically the new iPhone 15 Pro (or the iPhone 15 Pro Max) and the updated AirPods Pro 2 with USB-C port.

Starting with the iPhone 15, the Pro model’s cameras now have the ability to record Spatial Video. This immersive format allows you to use the Vision Pro to relive 3D recreations of memories you film and was first shown off in the Vision Pro reveal trailer at WWDC 2023.

While kinda cool – it feels like a step towards hologram recordings from sci-fi – the feature also felt rather dystopian when unveiled on the Vision Pro. Specifically, to be able to record Spatial Video of a special moment actually on the Vision Pro, you’d need to separate yourself from it; you’d cover your eyes with the VR headset to boot up the camera and start recording. It also wouldn’t let you relive any memories that happened while you didn’t have the $ 3,499 (around £2,800 / AU$ 5,300) headset on hand to record – and given the price of the Vision Pro it doesn’t strike us as something you want to carry with you everywhere.

Man using Apple Vision Pro to record a Spatial Video, his hand is on the headset holding down a button.

We don’t want to record Spatial Video memories like this… (Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone 15 Pro solves both of these issues. While recording spatial video on your iPhone you can still be present in the moment and experience it for real as it happens – not just through a recording – and you’ll almost always have your phone on you to be able to capture memories as they happen.

The feature won’t be live when the new iPhones launch, but Apple noted that Spatial Video recording would be coming in the near future (we expect it will arrive before or just as the Vision Pro releases).

More than USB-C charging changes

Another announcement from the iPhone 15 event is that Apple is launching an updated AirPods Pro 2 with a USB-C charging case – to match the USB-C charging port now used by the iPhone 15 models. Interestingly, this charging change isn’t the only upgrade coming in the refresh of Apple's noise-cancelling earbuds.

For a start, the revamped buds have a new IP54 dustproof and water-resistant label (the previous iteration just had an IPX4 rating, suggesting its dust resistance wasn’t tested). More importantly, just for Vision Pro users, these earbuds will support a “groundbreaking wireless audio protocol” that unlocks 20-bit, 48 kHz Lossless Audio for the Apple headset. This means you can enjoy your Apple Vision Pro experiences in private and with high-end audio (higher quality than you can get from your AirPods Pro connected to even the latest iPhones) by slipping in a pair of USB-C AirPods Pro 2.

AirPods Pro 2 in their case which is open in front of a white box with an Apple logo on it

(Image credit: unsplash)

Weirdly, this upgrade seems to be exclusive to the new AirPods. Older AirPods Pro 2 charged via a Lightning cable don’t seem to offer this high-end audio quality with the Vision Pro. So if you only recently bought a pair of AirPods Pro 2 you might want to return them and pick up the USB-C model instead when the new model releases on September 22, if the Vision Pro is something you're remotely interested in.

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The Vision Pro App Store will come with all your favourite apps, ready to go

According to an update from Apple, iPad and iPhone apps will automatically be imported to the Vision Pro “with no additional work required”, which means developers will only have to optimize their apps if they feel it's needed. 

Apple states, “By default, your iPad and/or iPhone apps will be published automatically on the App Store on Apple Vision Pro,” and “Most frameworks available in iPadOS and iOS are also included in visionOS, which means nearly all iPad and iPhone apps can run on visionOS, unmodified.”

The Vision Pro headset is Apple’s first mixed-reality headset that’s been years in the making. It may look like a fancy pair of ski goggles or a futuristic pair of sunglasses, but the Vision Pro is an extraordinary piece of technology. It was the standout product during Apple's WWDC 2023 event earlier this year, and we expect it to again dominate the conversation on it's release early next year.

This means app developers won’t have to worry about rebuilding their apps to fit the brand new operating system to work with the mixed reality device. But, they will still be able to build new apps using Apple’s visionOS software development kit. Apple started taking applications for the kits in July of this year.

From a consumer perspective, this is great news as it means people who can pay the steep price for the headset ($ 3,499 in the US) won’t be receiving the hardware without optimal software. It also means you can expect to see your favorite apps ready to go when you start using the headset. 

As we wait for the headset to make its debut, we’re taking updates like these as a good sign that Apple is investing a considerable amount of time and energy into the new product. With the recent news that we may be seeing a cheaper version of the Vision Pro and the instant accessibility of apps, the future looks promising for the headset. 

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The Apple Vision Pro could already have a potential competitor – A cheaper headset from Meta

The Apple Vision Pro has caused quite a stir since it was announced at WWDC 2023, and its odd-but-captivating design has prompted several competitors to begin development of their own premium AR headsets, including Meta. 

The rumors swirling around the supposed Meta headset suggest that the company has partnered with LG to launch the mixed reality device at some point in 2025, with pricing set lower than the staggering price point of $ 3,499 of the Apple Vision Pro. 

Wccftech reports that the potential headset will feature the same ‘Pro’ tag, with the official name said to be the Quest 4 Pro. The partnership between LG and Meta mirrors that of Apple and Sony, so we can expect LG to be in charge of display production. 

More choice is always welcome

With the potential launch date set for a few years from now, it seems likely that Meta intends to see how consumers take to the Apple Vision Pro. The report from Wccftech suggests that a cheaper model of Meta’s headset will retail for $ 200 in 2024, with the Quest 4 Pro following a year later at an undisclosed price. 

While there are still a lot of mixed feelings surrounding the Apple Vision Pro leading up to the launch, it could be a good sign that other tech companies are looking into offering cheaper alternatives. 

Apple may be able to argue that the high cost of its headset is a result of the premium design and features offered, but if competitors like Meta could jump on the wagon and provide something similar for cheaper, Apple should start feeling a little nervous. 

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Apple may be considering a cheaper Vision Pro model – so people might be able to actually buy the headset

The Apple Vision Pro is probably the most ambitious product to be announced this year, combining an interesting design and staggering price tag with some exciting-sounding tech that could make it really stand out from other virtual reality headsets (not that Apple wants the Vision Pro to be considered a VR headset). It features two 4K microLED panels that at the moment are only sourced from Sony, with the manufacturer capping annual display production at just a million units dedicated to the headset. 

This puts a spanner in the works, as not only will Apple be unable to produce as many units as possibly needed, but it also means the company has no negotiating power with component prices, as only Sony is making them. However, it seems like two Chinese suppliers are currently being evaluated to produce the microLED technology, which could enable mass production and hopefully, a cheaper model. 

According to The Information, two people “with direct knowledge of the matter” claim that Apple is “testing advanced displays” by two companies for possible inclusion in future models. 

A source cited in the article also hints at the possibility of a non-pro, more financially accessible, version of the Vision headset, stating that Apple is evaluating BOE’s and SeeYa’s – the two companies mentioned above –  displays for future models of both the Vision Pro and a cheaper headset internally code-named N109, which The Information previously reported was in an early stage of development.

The cheaper the better 

Apple already uses BOE for iPad and iPhone displays, so there is a good chance that they would collaborate again for Vison Pro panels. When the augmented reality headset was announced in June of this year, the steep price tag of $ 3,500 caused concern about who could actually afford to buy one.

In a time when people are concerned with the cost of living, who is this device actually for? During WWDC 2023 many people felt there was no clear audience for the Vision Pro, and at $ 3,500 not many people would be willing to shell out just to give the experimental technology a try. 

Hopefully, as Apple searches for cheaper display manufacturers and considers a more ‘basic’ Vision headset, it will give more people a chance to try out the impressive tech. Obviously, a cheaper alternative will have watered-down features, but I would rather spend half the price on a headset I can afford, that may be missing a few features than to be completely priced out of such exciting tech. 

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The Apple Vision Pro could pack in more storage than the iPhone 15

We know that the Apple Vision Pro isn't going to be available to buy until 2024, but we're learning a little bit more about the specs of the device through leaks from early testers – including how much on-board storage the augmented reality headset might pack.

According to iPhoneSoft (via 9to5Mac), the Vision Pro is going to offer users 1TB of integrated storage as a default option, with 2TB or 4TB a possibility for those who need it (and who have bigger budgets to spend).

Alternatively, it might be that 256GB is offered as the amount of storage on the starting price Vision Pro headset, and that 512GB and 1TB configurations are the ones made available for those who want to spend more.

This information is supposedly from someone who has been given an early look at the AR device, and noticed the storage space listed on one of the settings screens. It's more than the standard iPhone 15 model is expected to have – if it sticks with the iPhone 14 configurations, it will be available with up to 512GB of storage.

Plenty of unknowns

It does make sense for a device like this to offer lots of room for apps and files, and it might go some way to explaining the hefty starting price of $ 3,499 (about £2,750 / AU$ 5,485). Watch this space for more Vision Pro revelations as the launch date gets closer.

While the Apple Vision Pro is now official, there's still a lot we don't know about it – and it may be that we won't find out everything until we actually have the headset in our hands and are able to test it fully.

There have been rumors that two more Vision Pro headsets are in the pipeline, and that some features – such as making group calls using augmented reality avatars – will be held back until those later generations of the device go on sale.

We're also hearing that Apple might not be planning to make a huge number of these headsets, so availability could be a problem. Right now it does feel like a high-end, experimental device rather than something aimed at the mass market.

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Samsung’s leaked XR headset looks like a very budget Apple Vision Pro

At Galaxy Unpacked back in February 2023 Samsung announced that it was partnering with Google and Qualcomm to develop a XR headset – and if these leaks are correct we might have got our first look at its efforts so far. Well, kinda.

Very little is know about Samsung’s latest XR efforts, though it’s expected to be a standalone device rather than something powered by smartphones like its old Gear VR headsets. This new leaked prototype (assuming it’s real) gives us an insight into Samsung’s design philosophy, though according to the leaks it’s not an in-development prototype. Instead, this is what Samsung was working on until it saw the Apple Vision Pro and decided to start over.

The leak was first posted by the Chinese publication Vrtuoluo, but the article has been deleted (via Android Authority). The only way to view the original is using the Way Back Machine which has archived the original. The images it posted look a lot like a typical VR headset – such as the Oculus Quest 2 – with it apparently featuring four tracking cameras, dual RGB cameras, and a depth sensor for full-color passthrough. No controllers are included with the images so it appears that much like the Vision Pro the Samsung XR device would use hand and eye-tracking controls by default.

A VR headset cla in black plastic with a simple strap and six visible cameras on its faces

(Image credit: Vrtuoluo / Samsung)

The prototype apparently also uses dual micro OLED displays, and (surprisingly) a Samsung Exynos 2200 rather than a Qualcomm XR chip such as the Snapdragon XR 2 found in many VR headsets like the Pico 4, or a XR 2 Plus like the one in the Meta Quest Pro

It’s worth remembering this is just a leak however, and not one that we may ever be able to easily verify – as this is a prototype for a headset that we should never see publicly. As such we should take the information and images with a pinch of salt. That said, if this is indeed a canceled Samsung XR headset, we can see why the project is no longer in development.

Not an Apple Vision Pro rival yet

This leaked Samsung prototype isn’t close to being a Vision Pro competitor. The specs are fine, but not in the same league as the Apple headset, and the design is significantly more bulky. After seeing the Vision Pro announcement we can see why Samsung might want to go back to the drawing board.

Not being a Vision Pro rival isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however. Sure, borrowing some of its cues could be smart, but mimic it too heavily and you’ll end up copying its biggest flaw – the sky-high price of $ 3,499 (around £2,800 / AU$ 5,300).

If a Samsung headset can offer many of the Vision Pro’s features at a fraction of its cost – with rumors teasing it might cost closer to $ 1,000 / £1,000 / AU$ 1,500 – then it could be onto a winner. It’ll likely be a while before we see anything from Samsung though. With it abandoning this nearly complete project for a new one it’s possible we won’t know anything concrete until 2024 or even later – we’ll just have to wait and see what it announces. 

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Apple Vision Pro’s killer app could be… Windows XP?!

When the Apple Vision Pro, the powerful and ultra-expensive VR headset, was shown off by CEO Tim Cook at WWDC 2023, few (if any) of us expected one of the most interesting showcases for the new tech to be running the ability to run a Windows operating system by arch nemesis Microsoft – especially one that was first released back in 2001. But you know what? It actually is.

As 9to5Mac reports (via iPhoneSoft), developers working on an early version of the visionOS operating system that the Vision Pro will run on, have managed to get an emulator running with a working version of Windows XP.

In a video posted on X, the social media network formerly known as Twitter, which you can see below, Windows XP is shown loading in a big floating window in a lounge.

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Room with a view

While Windows XP is regarded as one of the better versions of Microsoft’s operating system, the idea of it looming over you as you sit on your couch may seem like some sort of dystopian nightmare, but this is actually pretty cool.

Sure, it’s unlikely that I’d want to fire up Windows XP to play some Minesweeper on a virtual 100-inch screen, this is an exciting demonstration on what could be possible for Vision Pro.

The developers are working on UTM, an emulator that brings non-Apple software to iPhones, Macs and now, it seems, the Vision Pro.

This emulation isn’t yet perfect – there isn’t a way to control Windows XP when it’s running – but the team has time to work on that before the Vision Pro’s official launch early next year.

And, while Windows XP is shown off in this video, it does suggest that this could mean other operating systems could come to Vision Pro. This would open up huge possibilities, as you’d be able to run full programs and games on the headset.

Apple Vision Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

Killer app? Perhaps

One of the major questions many people – including myself – had when Apple showed off the Vision Pro, was what is the headset actually for? We were shown some concept videos of people making video calls and watching movies using the headset, but nothing that really justified the huge $ 3,499 (around £2,815 / AU$ 5,290) price tag that it will launch with.

What we need is a killer app that makes the Vision Pro a must-by. So far, we’ve not had that, but an app that allows an almost unlimited amount of applications could be the key – and would also showcase Apple’s vision for ‘spatial computing’, which is how the company refers to the tech powering the Vision Pro – which includes hardware such as the same M2 chip found in the best MacBooks, and the new R1 chip.

The UTM app is certainly exciting, but I wouldn’t get too excited just yet. As you may imagine, Apple won’t be too keen on people running non-Apple software on the Vision Pro, so don’t expect installing UTM on the headset to be as straightforward as downloading it from the built-in app store.

It would be a shame if Apple hobbled the Vision Pro’s potential by forcing a walled-garden approach to apps, like on the iPhone, where you can only officially install apps from Apple’s own store, unlike the more open approach on Macs and Windows laptops

If Apple is serious about the Vision Pro being a productivity machine and the dawn of ‘spatial computing’, then it’s going to have to be willing to give up some control – and it may not want to do that.

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The Apple Vision Pro means Samsung’s own XR headset has been delayed

The arrival of the Apple Vision Pro has apparently forced a delay in the launch of Samsung's own XR (Extended Reality) headset: the Samsung device is now expected to launch in mid-2024 or later, after having originally been slated for February 2024.

This comes from SBS Biz (via SamMobile), and the story seems to be that seeing the Vision Pro forced Samsung executives to rethink their own device. An upgrade to the display sharpness is one of the possible reasons given for the delay.

Clearly Samsung doesn't want to come out of the gate with a headset that's notably inferior to Apple's own product, even if it's also cheaper. The Vision Pro costs $ 3,499 (about £2,725 / AUS$ 5,230), and is expected to only be available in limited numbers for a while.

Details on exactly what the Samsung XR headset is going to offer are still thin on the ground at this stage, though it is believed to be running Google's Android software, and powered by a Qualcomm chipset of some description.

Choose your reality

All these different versions of reality can take some time to get used to. The XR (or Extended Reality) that Samsung prefers is actually referring to all the different types of related technology that we've seen to date.

Augmented reality (AR) is where digital objects are overlaid on top of the real world. Then there's virtual reality (VR), which refers to completely self-contained digital environments. Mixed reality (MR) generally means enhanced AR, where digital objects are aware of and interact with the physical world around them.

The Vision Pro is usually referred to as a mixed reality device, whereas the Meta Quest 3 is mostly concerned with virtual reality. Extended reality, or XR, is generally taken to mean a combination of AR, VR, and MR – though there's still a lot of confusion, as tech companies tend to all use these terms in different ways.

We'll have to wait and see what Samsung has been building and what it's capable of, but the extra time in development should mean a better device – and a more worthy competitor to the Vision Pro when it finally does see the light of day.

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Apple’s Vision Pro might be impossible to buy – and not just because of its price

We knew that getting our hands on the Apple Vision Pro would be a challenge – unless you happen to have a spare $ 3,499 (around £2,800 / AU$ 5,300) lying around that is. But even if you're able to afford the super-expensive VR headset you might still be out of luck, as new reports suggest Apple will produce limited numbers this year.

That’s according to a report from Bloomberg, which cites a paywalled Financial Times article claiming that Apple is having to rethink its sales targets for the Vision Pro, as it likely won’t be able to make as many as originally planned. 

Apple had apparently hoped to sell one million headsets in 2024, but sources from Apple and Luxshare, which is currently the sole manufacturer of the headset, say they'll struggle to produce 400,000, while suppliers of key Vision Pro components have suggested that Apple may only be able to make around 150,000 with the parts it's requested.

This follows reports earlier this year that Apple may only be able to produce 300,000 Vision Pros in its first year of sale, and that Apple itself had predicted it would only sell around 100,000 headsets. For comparison, Meta’s Quest 2 sold an estimated 8.7 million units in its first full year on sale.

It's worth nothing that these latest reports are based on uncorroborated leaks, and while Apple may be struggling to hit its targets now, that situation could change, and Apple and Luxshare might be able to speed up production. What’s more, if the Apple Vision Pro doesn't prove hugely popular with consumers, 100,000 units could be all Apple needs to meet demand; low production numbers would only become a problem if the headset sells like hotcakes.

What could be causing Apple’s production problems?

A person touching the Apple Vision Pro's digital crown with their hand

Apple’s VR headset may struggle take the VR crown from Meta (Image credit: Apple)

So how is Meta able to produce millions of VR headsets a year while Apple is reportedly struggling to make a fraction of that? We don’t know for certain, but there are a couple of possible and reported reasons for the Vision Pro’s rumored production problems.

For one, Meta has been in the VR game for a while now, and as a result it has well-established production pipelines, and it also has a better grasp of how popular its gadgets will be thanks to sales data that goes back to 2016, when the original Oculus Rift launched. Apple is flying blind to some extent – this is its first foray into XR tech (a catchall term for virtual, augmented, and mixed reality), and it doesn’t yet know how things will pan out. By limiting production there’s a much lower risk that it’ll wind up with warehouses full of a gadget no one wants to buy.

Also, Apple’s Vision Pro isn’t like other VR headsets – and this isn’t simply because of the ethereal ‘Apple difference’ that makes its tech so attractive fans. The Vision Pro has features we haven’t really seen before in VR headsets – especially not all packaged together. It has dual micro-OLED displays that boast a higher resolution than the current best VR headsets, an outer display that can show off the headset wearer’s eyes via its EyeSight tech, a 3D camera for mapping a person’s face or an object, and a bevy of other sensors to facilitate next-generation hand-tracking, to name just a few.

Cramming all this into the headset is a challenge, according to insiders familiar with the situation, causing the Vision Pro to have low production yields – read: it’s slow to produce, and a number of Apple’s headsets may have defects that mean they can’t be sold.

As we've mentioned, we won’t know how easy it will be for would-be buyers to get our hands on the Apple Vision Pro until it launches sometime in 2024. When it does go on sale, you’ll want to make sure you’ve read our Apple Vision Pro hands-on review, and checked out the competition (like the Meta Quest Pro) to know if you want one or not – as you may need to move quickly if you want to order one before stock runs out.

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