Windows 11 was launched final 12 months, and now Microsoft has pushed out the primary considerably sizable replace for the desktop working system. The upgrades are useful but comparatively small in comparison with a number of the massive OS modifications Microsoft has made previously. It appears Microsoft didn’t really feel prefer it had all that a lot to enhance on, contemplating that chief product officer Panos Panay called Windows 11 “the most used and most loved version of Windows ever” in this week’s announcement.
Microsoft highlighted new accessibility and safety tweaks to the desktop OS. New accessibility enhancements make dwell captions extra distinguished and add extra “natural” sounding automated text-to-speech narrators. A brand new Focus mode works like a do-not-disturb function in your smartphone, blocking all onscreen notifications for a set period of time.
On the security side, Microsoft says it will soon be adding identity-theft alerts to Windows Defender (if you subscribe to the Microsoft 365 office suite). Microsoft Defender SmartScreen tells you if you’re putting login info into a website that is known to be malicious or has suffered a data breach.
There are additionally some format and usefulness modifications like improved window snapping, which helps you to snap particular person browser tabs to completely different components of the display. (Hooray, locations for much more browser tabs to go.) There are some new updates to Photos as effectively. Some are centered on creating extra nice visible preparations, and others discover new methods to show outdated pictures of memorable occasions, even when typically you might not want the reminder.
Microsoft also played up its environmental efforts, saying that it can now schedule power-hungry system updates at a certain time of day in specific locations so they’ll put less strain on electrical systems. Sleep and screen-off settings have also been tweaked to use a little less power.
Here’s some more news from the world of consumer tech.
A More Hackable Chromebook
Framework, a company that designs gadgets with repairability in mind, has a new laptop coming out. It’s a Chromebook—the result of an official partnership with Google—that’s built to be ultra customizable. Like Framework’s more traditional laptop PCs, the Chromebook features four port slots that can be customized with a combination of connectors. There are options for USB-C ports, HDMI connectors, Micro SD slots, and even 1-terabyte storage options. The pieces that slot in are hot-swappable, which means you can swap your ports or storage on the fly if you need a different connector. (Don’t worry, there’s a headphone jack built in.)
And since Framework is big on repairability, the Chromebook is also built to be taken apart. It ships with a screwdriver that can be used to disassemble just about any part of the machine, and you can swap out internal parts, or even the keyboard and screen bezel. For the privacy-minded, it has a physical switch that instantly shuts off the mic and camera.
The Framework Chromebook is available for preorder now starting at $999. The company says it will start shipping in early December.
Google’s Cheaper Chromecast
Google’s plug-n-watch Chromecast is a handy little puck that you can slug into the side of a TV to stream movies and shows from all sorts of services. Google’s got a new Chromecast now, and at only $30 it’s a simple, cheap option for running streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max on just about any screen or monitor.
It’s definitely a budget option. The resolution on the $30 dongle maxes out at 1080p; it doesn’t support 4K like Google’s $50 Chromecast, which is still available. Both come with a remote that accepts input from both your hands and your voice, and both work with Google’s Stadia cloud gaming platform.
Amazon Reignites the Fire
Amazon lately updated its cheapest Kindle, and now it is sprucing up its Fire HD tablets. Sure, these low cost Android tablets will not be iPads. They can’t even run the total vary of Android apps. But should you or your children have used and favored Fire HD tablets, or in case your family will get most of its content material from Amazon, this can be a spiffy improve.
The two new Fire HD 8 pill fashions get a claimed 30 p.c velocity increase in keeping with Amazon. Both function a claimed 13 hours of battery life too. The base mannequin begins at $100 and comes with 32 or 64 GB of storage. There’s additionally a Plus model, after all. The new Fire HD Plus will get an additional gigabyte of RAM (3 GB) and prices $120. Both tablets can settle for microSD playing cards as much as 1 TB if you would like extra storage.