It looks like Microsoft just took the first step towards that rumored ‘handheld mode’ for Windows 11

Windows 11 just took a big step forward when it comes to handheld gaming with the introduction of a new ‘compact mode’ for the Xbox app on PC.

As we recently reported, the new mode was introduced as part of the November update, and it streamlines the interface for a smaller screen.

In other words, it’s specifically targeted at gaming handhelds running Windows such as the Asus ROG Ally (which just dropped in price in a big way) and Lenovo Legion Go. But it could be useful in a number of scenarios on portables and even elsewhere, of course, and it’s worth diving into this in a bit more depth – as we think it could have wider ramifications in terms of where Microsoft is headed here.

To recap, compact mode collapses the sidebar (on the left of the app) into icons, removing the labels attached to those icons. This enables that part of the interface to be something like a quarter of the size that it previously was.

It’s a small interface change, but one with a big impact, as that frees up quite a lot of screen real estate when it comes to a compact display like the ones found on the various Windows-powered Steam Deck rivals.

Microsoft says it’s working with device manufacturers to get compact mode turned on by default on gaming handhelds where it’s going to be most beneficial, which certainly makes sense – you’ll definitely want to use this on such hardware.

For now, though, you can turn on the new feature via your profile at the top-left of the Xbox app (make sure the app has been updated first).

Asus ROG Ally white handheld

(Image credit: Future)

Looking at the Big Picture

Windows-powered Steam Deck rivals like the Asus ROG Ally and Lenovo Legion Go have taken a lot of flak for their cumbersome UI, and how Windows 11 is light years behind SteamOS in terms of the experience on a small screen. This compact mode is a relatively small change, as mentioned, but a very important one.

Moreover, it shows that Microsoft appears to be committed to improving the Windows gaming experience on handhelds, with the company noting that: “We’ll continue to focus on updates to deliver a great Xbox app experience for Windows handheld screens.”

We’ve previously heard about a full-on ‘handheld mode’ for Windows 11 that Microsoft was at least discussing behind closed doors – well, that’s the rumor anyway – and this latest move makes it seem like we’re actually seeing something concrete towards that end.

Whether we get a full handheld-friendly desktop down the line, we shall have to see, but if Microsoft wants to help make Windows 11 portables a more serious contender, this will really help a great deal to that end. Another important advance will be power-efficiency improvements to drive better battery life, which has been another major criticism of these Windows handhelds. (And we’ve just witnessed a change in testing along these lines, too).

The new compact mode could also be useful for gaming on smaller laptop screens, or indeed in scenarios where you’re hooking up a PC to a large-screen TV for gaming, and want to use an interface more like Valve’s Big Picture mode rather than the fiddlier traditional desktop.

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Microsoft Paint, supercharged: How to use new AI and Photoshop-like features

Microsoft is significantly expanding the functions of Paint in Windows 11. The app is also getting a new version. The outdated program is to become a modern image editor that also contains AI functions. In the future, you will be able to use the OpenAI-LLM Dall-E directly in Windows 11 and in Paint.

The new functions are also available after installing the Microsoft Paint app from the App Store. Updating the Paint app usually also works via the Store app in Windows 11 and selecting Library > Get updates. If the Paint update can be found in the window, you can install it here.

Microsoft is also constantly expanding the functions of Paint. If you already have the new version, you may receive additional new functions through an update.

However, you shouldn’t expect too much from the new Paint. Even in the new version, Paint will certainly not be a comprehensive competitor for other image editing tools. If you want to edit images comprehensively, there is no getting round solutions such as Adobe Photoshop or the open source Gimp.

Microsoft Paint Cocreator

Brad Chacos/IDG

If you start Paint in Windows 11, you can quickly see whether the new version is already installed. In addition to the new interface, the two new buttons “Cocreator” and “Layers” can be found at the top right.

Working with Paint is a lot of fun, and simple image editing as well as the layers, transparency, and especially the Cocreator are interesting and offer many possibilities.

Cocreator creates AI images with OpenAI Dall-E

The Microsoft Cocreator in Paint allows you to create an AI image directly in Paint, which is then generated via OpenAI Dall-E. This means that in the future Paint can also be used as a tool for creating AI images directly in Windows 11.

Microsoft Paint Cocreator

Brad Chacos/IDG

The creation is done by entering a prompt, which Paint supports with a wizard. For this to work, however, it is necessary to log in with a Microsoft account, as image processing takes place in the Microsoft cloud.

After creating the image with the wizard, Paint displays various alternatives of the image as a preview. If you click on an image, Paint displays it in the main window and you can edit it. The Cocreator is available via the “Cocreator” button at the top right. Users initially receive a free credit of 50 images (Cocreator Credits). The number of credits still available can be seen at the bottom of the window.

Microsoft Paint Cocreator

Brad Chacos/IDG

You can create a new version of the image at any time using the “Create” button. But make sure you have enough Cocreator Credits. Once these have been used up, you can no longer create new images with Cocreator during the test phase. In the future, it should be possible to top up your credits. It is not yet clear how this can be done.

Layers in Microsoft Paint work like in Adobe Photoshop

Layers are commonplace in image editing. Until now, Paint could not handle them. In the new version, layers are available via the “Layers” button at the top right. After clicking on “Layers,” Paint displays another area on the right-hand side. Here you can divide the image into layers and add further layers. To do this, click on the plus sign.

Layers can be stacked in Paint, just like in Photoshop or other image editing tools. Superordinate layers hide subordinate layers. To make areas of the lower layer visible, work with transparency in the parent layer. You can edit layers via the context menu. For example, you can merge layers, change the order, or delete layers.

Microsoft Paint Cocreator

Brad Chacos/IDG

It is also to be expected at this point that Microsoft will continue to expand the functions of layers so that even more functions are available when you work with layers.

Remove backgrounds in Microsoft Paint

Microsoft is constantly expanding the functions of Paint. New functions can therefore be integrated at any time. Removing backgrounds with Microsoft Paint is also available. Backgrounds can be removed via the “Image” tab and the button for removing backgrounds.

Will the new Paint functions also be available for Windows 10?

It is possible that Windows 10 will also get the new Paint functions. Although Microsoft does not intend to release a new version of Windows 10 after Windows 10 version 22H2 , it has already announced a number of new features.

Windows Copilot, the AI assistant from Windows 11, will also be included in Windows 10, and there are already petitions to postpone the end of support for Windows 10 in October 2025. It is therefore possible that the new Paint version will also come to Windows 10, but this is not certain. Windows 11 is currently required for use.

Microsoft Paint Cocreator

Brad Chacos/IDG

According to various sources, almost three quarters of all Windows users still use Windows 10 and only just under a quarter rely on Windows 11. The rest still use Windows 7/8.1 or even Windows XP and Vista.

For these reasons, Microsoft has many reasons to integrate new functions into Windows 10, especially in order to make its AI functions available to a wider public. However, few users will switch from Windows 10 to Windows 11 just because of the new Paint program.

This article was translasted from German to English and originally appeared on

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The fear and hype around AI is overblown

Two reputable news organizations — Reuters and The Information — recently reported sources claiming that recent drama around OpenAI’s leadership was based in part on a massive technological breakthrough at the company.

That breakthrough is something called Q* (pronounced cue-star), which is claimed to be able to do grade-school-level math, and integrate that mathematical reasoning to improve the choosing of responses.

Here’s everything you need to know about Q*, and why it’s nothing to freak out about.

The problem: AI can’t think

The LLM-based generative AI (genAI) revolution we’ve all been obsessing over this year is based on what is essentially a word- or number-prediction algorithm. It’s basically Gmail’s “Smart Compose” feature on steroids.

When you interact with a genAI chatbot, such as ChatGPT, it takes your input and responds based on prediction. It predicts the first word will be X, then the second word will by Y and the third word will be Z, all based on its training on massive amounts of data. But these chatbots don’t know what the words mean, or what the concepts are. It just predicts next words, within the confines of human-generated parameters.

That’s why artificial intelligence can be artificially stupid.

In May, a lawyer named Steven A. Schwartz used ChatGPT to write a legal brief for a case in Federal District Court. The brief cited cases that never existed. ChatGPT just made them up because LLMs don’t know or care about reality, only likely word order.

In September, the Microsoft-owned news site MSN published an LLM-written obituary for former NBA player Brandon Hunter. The headline read: “Brandon Hunter useless at 42.” The article claimed Hunter had “handed away at the age of 42” and that during his two-season career, he played “67 video games.”

GenAI can’t reason. It can know that it’s possible to replace “dead” with “useless,” “passed” with “handed” and “games” with “video games.” But it’s too dumb to know that these alternatives are nonsensical in a basketball player’s obit.

The Q* solution: AI that can think

Although no actual facts are publicly known about Q*, the emerging consensus in AI circles is that the technology is being developed by a team led by OpenAI’s chief scientist, Ilya Sutskever, and that it combines the AI techniques Q-learning and A* search (hence the name Q*).

(Q-learning is an AI-training tool that rewards the AI tool for making the correct “decision” in the process of formulating a response. A* is an algorithm for checking nodes in a graph and looking for pathways between nodes. Neither of these techniques is new or unique to OpenAI.)

The idea is that it could enhance ChatGPT by the application of something like reason or mathematical logic — i.e., “thinking” — to arrive at better results. And, the hype goes, a ChatGPT that can think approaches artificial general intelligence (AGI).

The AGI goal, which OpenAI is clearly striving for, would be an AI tool that can think and reason like a human — or convincingly pretend to. It could also be  better at grappling with abstract concepts. Some also say that Q* should be able to come up with original ideas, rather than just spewing the consensus of its dataset.

The rumored Q* model would also excel at math itself, making it a better tool for developers.

On the downside, the doom-and-gloom set even suggest that Q* represents a threat to humanity — or, at least, our jobs.

But here’s where the hype goes off the rails.

Not so fast: The fast pace of AI change is an illusion

Georgia Tech computer science professor Mark Riedl posted on the X social network that it’s plausible Q* is simply research at OpenAI aiming for “process supervision” that replaces “outcome supervision” and that when OpenAI published general information about this idea in May “no one lost their minds over this, nor should they.”

The idea of replacing word or character prediction with some kind of supervised planning of the process of arriving at the result is a near-universal direction in labs working on LLM-based genAI. It’s not unique to OpenAI. And it’s not a world-changing “breakthrough.”

In fact, AI doesn’t advance with individual companies or labs making massive breakthroughs that change everything. It only feels that way because of OpenAI.

Although OpenAI was founded in 2015, its culture-shifting ChatGPT chatbot was released only about a year ago. Since then, the tech world has been turned on its head. Thousands of LLM-based apps have emerged. Tech funding turned hard toward funding AI startups. And it feels like this brand of AI has already changed everything.

In reality, however, OpenAI’s innovation wasn’t so much in AI, but in the project of providing access to genAI tools to the public and to developers. The company’s ChatGPT services (and its integration by Microsoft into Bing Search) caught hundreds of other AI labs in companies and universities off-guard, as they had been proceeding cautiously for decades. ChatGPT set the rest of the industry scrambling to push their own research into the public in the form of usable tools and open APIs.

In other words, the real transition we’ve experienced in the past year has been about the transformation of AI research from private to public. The public is reeling, but not because AI technology itself suddenly accelerated. Nor is it likely to unnaturally accelerate again through some “breakthrough” by OpenAI.

Actually, the opposite is true. If you look at any branch of any technology or set of technologies that approaches AI, you’ll notice that the more advanced it gets, the slower further enhancements emerge.

Look at self-driving cars. I was physically present at the DARPA Grand Challenge in 2004. In that contest, the Pentagon said it would grant a million dollars to any organization with an autonomous car capable of finishing a 150-mile route in the desert. Nobody finished. But the next year and in the next DARPA Grand Challenge, the Stanford entry finished the route. Everyone was convinced that human-driven cars would be obsolete by 2015.

Fast forward to 2023 and activists are disabling autonomous cars by placing traffic cones on their hoods.

The highest level of autonomy is Level 4, and no Level 4 car is available to the public or capable of driving on any roads other than pre-defined, known routes and under certain conditions of time and weather. That last 5% will likely take longer to achieve than the first 95%.

That’s how AI technologies tend to progress. But we lose sight of that because so many AI technologists, investors, boosters, and doomers are true believers with extreme senses of optimism or pessimism and unrealistic beliefs about how long advancement takes. And the public finds those accelerated timelines plausible because of the OpenAI-driven, radical changes in the culture we’ve experienced as the result of AI’s recent public access.

So, let’s all take a breath and relax about the overexcited predictions about how AI in general, and Q* in particular, are about to change everything everywhere all at once.

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The best movies on Netflix in December 2023

Are you searching for a good film to watch? Here, we bring you a list of the best films on Netflix UK right now, ranging from action and adventure to thrillers and documentaries. There are so many good films on Netflix, but sometimes it can be too much choice and it’s really tricky to search through, so we’ve sifted through the lot to come up with the ultimate list of movies that we think you’ll enjoy.

If you’re looking for TV shows to watch on Netflix UK, check out our best TV shows on Netflix article. You can also check out our guide to all the Netflix plans.

This list is updated every month, but movies are changing on Netflix every day. That might mean that one or two of these movies are no longer available to watch by the time you come to read this article, and some good new films may have emerged. 

Let’s get down to business then. Here are the best movies to watch on Netflix in the UK right now.


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Glass Onion

Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc in 2022's Glass Onion


Rian Johnson’s sequel to the hit Knives Out has everything you need from a murder mystery. Southern detective Benoit Blanc is back to solve yet another complex case when he is invited to a luxurious island owned by a tech billionaire. One of the attendees ends up dead, and Blanc must suss out who is guilty.

Don’t Look Up

A scene from the film 'Don't Look Up'


Don’t Look Up is a black comedy that follows two astronomers who discover that a giant comet is on course to hit Earth and cause mass extinction. However, trying to warn the general public and media proves difficult, as people quite simply don’t want to look up and face the truth.

All Quiet on the Western Front

Soldiers in a trench in the film All quiet on the Western Front


All Quiet on the Western Front is the joint-second most nominated film of the 2023 Oscars, up for nine awards. This adaptation of a 1929 novel charts the closing days of WW1 from the eyes of a young German soldier. Gradually, he learns about the horrors of battle as he struggles to survive.

Tick, Tick… Boom!

Tick Tick Boom


Tick, Tick…Boom! is the biographical story of Jonathan Larson (the creator of Rent), an aspiring musical creator in New York City who questions whether he is on the right career path, all whilst trying to juggle his own personal relationships. If that isn’t enough for you, it stars Andrew Garfield and is directed by musical royalty, Lin-Manuel Miranda. 

Spirited Away

Spirited Away


There’s a whole ton of Studio Ghibli films out now on Netflix, and one of the most beloved is Spirited Away – having received numerous accolades, including sixteenth place on the ‘best films of the 21st century’ list. The film follows young Chihiro, who must save her parents from being turned into beasts forever. 

Beasts of No Nation

Beasts of No Nation

Netflix’s first original film may boast Idris Elba in its cast, but great as he is, he’s not the real star here. That honour belongs to Abraham Attah, the Ghanaian teenager who makes his acting debut here as a young boy dragged into service as a child soldier in a vicious civil war. Unsurprisingly it’s pretty troubling stuff, but it’s undeniably powerful and difficult to forget.

Under the Shadow

Under the Shadow

Set in Tehran during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, this Persian-language is that rarest of things: a horror movie that feels genuinely new. That’s in part thanks to the relatively novel monster (the shadowy Djinn), partly the setting, and partly the brilliant central performance from Narges Rashidi. It also manages the neat trick of being totally terrifying while shedding hardly a single drop of blood.

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Family in The Mitchells vs. the Machines on Netflix


The Mitchells vs. the Machines is one of the funniest animated family films in years, and criminally underrated. Katie Mitchell is set to enroll in film school. However, her family insist on taking her on a road trip to college. Their journey is interrupted by the impending robot apocalypse, and as such the four must band together to save the world.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

This film is like marmite, and whether you enjoy it will all depend on if you’re a Eurovision nut or not. Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams play an Icelandic singing duo who dream of making their Eurovision win a reality. With cameos from actual contestants of the competition, to commentary from Graham Norton and catchy songs, its the euro trash we’ve always wanted. 

Marriage Story

Marriage Story

Strap yourselves in for an emotional grilling with Marriage Story, as over the course of a few hours we see the gradual process of a divorce unfold, turning more toxic and ugly over time. It shows the complexity of how a relationship breaks down, and how the legal elements of separation conflict with the emotions of the couple. It’s not the easiest watch, but it’s certainly enlightening, and rather heartbreaking. 



This smart sci-fi film from director Alex Garland (of the also excellent Ex Machina) got a cinema release in the US, but went straight to Netflix here in the UK. Don’t take that as a bad sign though: it’s not that Annihilation is bad, but simply that studio Paramount worried its mix of trippy visuals, dark horror, and loose plot wouldn’t convert to big box office returns. This isn’t an easy watch, but trust us, it’s worth it.



Anima is something a little different: this 15-minute short is essentially an extended music video. However, it’s an extended music video starring Thom Yorke for three songs from his album Anima, and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Turn the volume up and settle in for a surreal, dystopian dance that would be the perfect warm-up for a meatier movie.

Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Monty Python's Life of Brian

This Monty Python classic re-tells the story of Jesus of Nazareth from the perspective of Brian – who’s not the Messiah, just a very naughty boy. As silly as it is satirical, the film pokes fun at religious and historical figures alike in that special, surreal way that only the best of Monty Python ever could.

The Devil Of All The Time

The Devil Of All The Time

With all-star cast including Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson and Sebastian Stan – The Devil Of All The Time tells the story of a southern-American village that is plagued by a number of disturbed characters. It explores the concept of how faith can be twisted to justify malicious behaviour, and follows a young man as he does his best to keep himself – and his family – safe. 

Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened

Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened

This Netflix original documentary follows the horrendous production woes – and post-production arrests – that dogged Fyre Festival, here dubbed the greatest party that never happened. From co-founder Ja Rule to a pilot who taught himself on Microsoft Flight Simulator, this is a tour de force of incompetence.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

This Western anthology from the Coen Brothers tells six distinct, unconnected stories in the old West. Don’t look out for character connections – there aren’t any – but instead follow the ebb and flow of theme, as the directors explore mortality, kindness, and the futility of existence across these utterly distinct, utterly memorable tales.



Dumplin’ brings a new spin to the traditional all-American beauty pageant – showcasing how we should be celebrating all bodies of various shapes and sizes, rather than the ‘ideal look’ that has been perpetuated for so long. Add that in with Jennifer Anniston and a Dolly Parton soundtrack, and you’ve got the perfect film for a cozy night in. 

The Night Comes for Us

The Night Comes for Us

If you liked Indonesian martial arts epic The Raid but thought it could be just a little more violent, then The Night Comes for Us may be for you. The Raid’s star Iko Uwais returns – though in a supporting role this time around – and the martial arts action is just as impressive, but now backed up by enough gore to make The Evil Dead blush.

Paddington 2

Paddington 2 screenshot

Studio Canal

Both the Paddington films are on Netflix, but Paddington 2 is one of the few movies ever to have a nearly perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes (and for good reason). It’s got the beloved bear adventuring through London, a heartfelt family story that will leave you in tears, and a flamboyant Hugh Grant as the villain. What more could you want?

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Spider-Man No Way Home

Marvel Studios

The third MCU Spider-Man movies is arguably one of the best Spider-Man movies out there, with multiversal villains, surprise appearances and a rollercoaster storyline. Peter Parker’s notoriety as Spider-Man begins to interfere with his friends lives, so he turns to Doctor Strange for help.

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New Windows 11 energy-saving option could save money and extend your laptop’s battery life

Windows 11 laptops could soon benefit from improved battery life thanks to a change in the works currently in testing.

The new feature called ‘Energy Saver’ is in the freshly released preview build 26002 of Windows 11 in the Canary channel (the earliest testing avenue).

Microsoft describes it as an extension of battery saver, and it reins in system performance to give you more battery life. The blurb for the feature notes it will limit some background activities, so apps and the system may run a bit slower, or be a touch less responsive when you return to them, but your laptop will last longer.

Energy Saver can be set to kick in when your battery percentage drops to a certain level, or you can manually select it. In the latter case, the option is present in the quick settings accessed via the system tray (far right on the taskbar).

Speaking of the quick settings panel, in build 26002 Microsoft has applied some other work here, including experimenting with a tweak that makes it pop up faster and act more responsively, which will be a useful addition to the mix.

Furthermore, dealing with VPNs has been improved in quick settings, with the introduction of the ability to turn your VPN on or off with just a single click.

For all the gory details of the changes made in build 26002, check out Microsoft’s blog post (spoiler alert – they’re not all that gory).

Analysis: Energy Saver – and Money Saver, too

What we don’t know yet is how much effect this new Energy Saver will have in extending battery life, but Microsoft is certainly billing it as a more heavy-duty method of eking out greater longevity than battery saver, so that’s promising.

What’s also interesting with this feature is that while it’s designed for laptops, Microsoft is also allowing it to be used for desktop PCs (or notebooks plugged into the mains and not running on battery, for that matter).

In short, this allows you to save a bit of money when running your desktop PC all day – maybe you work from home and do so, like us – if you’re happy with somewhat constrained performance levels, of course. With power bills being what they are, though, and the cost-of-living crisis still very much around, it’s a useful option to have. Not to mention an environmentally-friendly choice, to boot.

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Lifetime access to 1TB of cloud storage is just $119.97 through 12/17

While considering how to begin the new year with positive life changes, you may want to look at your online storage situation. The weeks leading up to the new year are an excellent time to snag holiday deals, like a lifetime of 1TB of cloud storage from Koofr for just $119.97 (reg. $810).

With 1TB of storage, you’ll have space to store around 17,000 songs. And you can connect to other storage services to create a cloud hub. Featuring a duplicate finder, among other things, your encrypted files are accessible on unlimed devices for life. 

Invest in the peace of mind that comes with knowing your files are protected and within reach whenever needed.

Get a lifetime subscription to 1TB of Koofr Cloud Storage for the exclusive $119.97 (reg. $810) through December 17 at 11:59 p.m. PT with code KOOFR.

Prices subject to change.

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