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AZ-600 basics - Configuring and Operating a Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Azure Stack Hub Updated: 2023

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Exam Code: AZ-600 Configuring and Operating a Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Azure Stack Hub basics November 2023 by Killexams.com team

AZ-600 Configuring and Operating a Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Azure Stack Hub

Exam Detail:
The Configuring and Operating a Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Azure Stack Hub (AZ-600) test is designed to validate the knowledge and skills of IT professionals in configuring and managing hybrid cloud environments using Microsoft Azure Stack Hub. Here are the test details for the AZ-600 exam:

- Number of Questions: The exact number of questions may vary, but the test typically consists of multiple-choice questions, case studies, and hands-on exercises.

- Time Limit: The time allotted to complete the test is typically 150 minutes.

Course Outline:
The AZ-600 course provides candidates with a comprehensive understanding of Microsoft Azure Stack Hub and its deployment, configuration, and management in a hybrid cloud environment. The course outline typically includes the following topics:

1. Introduction to Azure Stack Hub:
- Overview of Azure Stack Hub architecture and components.
- Understanding the Azure Stack Hub deployment models.

2. Deploying and Configuring Azure Stack Hub:
- Planning and deploying Azure Stack Hub infrastructure.
- Configuring Azure Stack Hub resources, storage, and networking.

3. Managing and Securing Azure Stack Hub:
- Managing subscriptions, quotas, and plans in Azure Stack Hub.
- Implementing security and compliance in Azure Stack Hub.

4. Azure Stack Hub Marketplace and Applications:
- Managing the Azure Stack Hub Marketplace.
- Deploying and managing applications in Azure Stack Hub.

5. Monitoring and Troubleshooting Azure Stack Hub:
- Monitoring Azure Stack Hub resources and health.
- Troubleshooting common issues in Azure Stack Hub.

Exam Objectives:
The objectives of the AZ-600 test are as follows:

- Evaluating candidates' understanding of Azure Stack Hub architecture, deployment models, and components.
- Assessing candidates' ability to deploy and configure Azure Stack Hub infrastructure and resources.
- Testing candidates' knowledge of managing subscriptions, security, and compliance in Azure Stack Hub.
- Evaluating candidates' proficiency in managing applications and troubleshooting common issues in Azure Stack Hub.

Exam Syllabus:
The specific test syllabus for the AZ-600 test may cover the following topics:

1. Azure Stack Hub Architecture and Deployment Models:
- Azure Stack Hub architecture overview.
- Azure Stack Hub deployment models and scenarios.

2. Deploying and Configuring Azure Stack Hub:
- Planning and deploying Azure Stack Hub infrastructure.
- Configuring Azure Stack Hub resources, storage, and networking.

3. Managing and Securing Azure Stack Hub:
- Managing subscriptions, quotas, and plans in Azure Stack Hub.
- Implementing security and compliance in Azure Stack Hub.

4. Azure Stack Hub Marketplace and Applications:
- Managing the Azure Stack Hub Marketplace.
- Deploying and managing applications in Azure Stack Hub.

5. Monitoring and Troubleshooting Azure Stack Hub:
- Monitoring Azure Stack Hub resources and health.
- Troubleshooting common issues in Azure Stack Hub.
Configuring and Operating a Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Azure Stack Hub
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Configuring and Operating a Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft
Azure Stack Hub
Question: 66
You have an Azure Stack Hub integrated system linked to an Azure AD tenant named contoso.onmicrosoft.com.
You need to allow users in an Azure AD tenant named adatum.onmicrosoft.com to access Azure Stack Hub resources.
Which three actions should you perform in sequence? To answer, move the appropriate actions from the list of actions to the answer area and
arrange them in the correct order.
Graphical user interface, text, application
Description automatically generated
Register a guest directory
To register a guest directory for multi-tenancy, you need to configure both the home Azure Stack Hub directory and the guest directory.
Configure Azure Stack Hub directory
The first step is to make your Azure Stack Hub system aware of the guest directory. In this example, the directory from Mary’s company, Adatum,
is called adatum.onmicrosoft.com.
Question: 67
Note: This question is part of a series of questions that present the same scenario. Each question in the series contains a unique solution that might
meet the stated goals. Some question sets might have more than one correct solution, while others might not have a correct solution.
After you answer a question in this section, you will NOT be able to return to it. As a result, these questions will not appear in the review screen.
You have an Azure Stack Hub integrated system that connects to the Internet. The integrated system uses an Enterprise Agreement (EA) for
You are creating an Azure Resource Manager template to generate a marketplace item for a virtual machine that runs Windows Server 2019
Datacenter and a custom application.
You need to ensure that Windows Server is licensed by using the bring-your-own-license model.
Solution: You add OsType: Windows to the Azure Resource Manager template.
Does this meet the goal?
A. Yes
B. No
Answer: B
Question: 68
You have an Azure Stack Hub integrated system.
You install the Azure Gallery Packager (.azpkg) tool on a management workstation.
You need to define a custom Azure Stack Hub Marketplace item that will provision a virtual machine from a base image.
Which file should you configure for each requirement? To answer, drag the appropriate files to the correct requirements. Each file may be used
once, more than once, or not at all. You may need to drag the split bar between panes or scroll to view content.
Question: 69
You and a Microsoft Support Engineer are troubleshooting an Azure Stack Hub integrated system. The security team at your company requires an
audit trail whenever management actions are performed on the integrated system.
You unlock the privileged endpoint (PEP) and perform several troubleshooting tasks that resolve the issue.
Which cmdlet should you run next?
A. Invoke-AzureStackOnDemandLog
B. Close-PrivilegedEndpoint
C. Get-AzureStackLog
D. Exit-PSSession
Answer: B
Reference: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure-stack/operator/azure-stack-privileged-endpoint?view=azs-2008
Question: 70
You need to configure name resolution to support the planned changes.
Which PowerShell cmdlet should you run?
A. Sec-DnsServer
B. Regiscer-CuscomDnsServer
C. Set-AzSDnsForwarder
D. Set-DNSClientServerAddress
Answer: B
Configure the integrated system to resolve external names by using a DNS Server that has an IP address of
Resolving external DNS names from Azure Stack Hub
To resolve DNS names for endpoints outside Azure Stack Hub (for example: www.bing.com), you need to provide DNS servers that Azure Stack
Hub can use to forward DNS requests for which Azure Stack Hub isn’t authoritative. For deployment, DNS servers that Azure Stack Hub forwards
requests to are required in the Deployment Worksheet (in the DNS Forwarder field). Provide at least two servers in this field for fault tolerance.
Without these values, Azure Stack Hub deployment fails. You can edit the DNS Forwarder values with the Set-AzSDnsForwarder cmdlet after
Configure conditional DNS forwarding
This only applies to an AD FS deployment.
To enable name resolution with your existing DNS infrastructure, configure conditional forwarding.
To add a conditional forwarder, you must use the privileged endpoint.
For this procedure, use a computer in your datacenter network that can communicate with the privileged endpoint in Azure Stack Hub.
Question: 71
You need to create the planned changes and meet the business requirements.
Which subscription should you use to host the SQL Server instance, and what should you configure on the instance? To answer, select the
appropriate options in the answer area. NOTE: Each correct selection is worth one point.
Graphical user
interface, text, application, chat or text message
Description automatically generated
Box 1: The Default Provider Subscription
A default Microsoft SQL Server instance will host the database of the App Service resource provider.
In Azure Stack Hub Subscriptions, select the Default Provider Subscription. Azure App Service on Azure Stack Hub must be deployed in the
Default Provider Subscription.
Box 2:
Enter the SQL Server details for the server instance used to host the App Service resource provider database and then select Next. The installer
validates the SQL connection properties.
Graphical user interface, website
Description automatically generated
Question: 72
You provision a new certificate to support the planned changes.
You need to validate the certificate.
Which PowerShell module should you install first?
A. Az.Websites
B. AzureRM.TemplateValidator
C. AzureStack
D. Microsoft.AzureStack.ReadinessChecker
Answer: D
Use the Azure Stack Hub Readiness Checker tool to validate that generated public key infrastructure (PKI) certificates which are suitable for pre-
deployment. Validate certificates by leaving enough time to test and reissue certificates if necessary.
The Readiness Checker tool performs the following certificate validations:
* Parse PFX
Checks for valid PFX file, correct password, and whether the public information is protected
by the password.
* Expiry Date
Checks for minimum validity of seven days.
* Signature algorithm
Checks that the signature algorithm isn’t SHA1.
* Private Key
Checks that the private key is present and is exported with the local machine attribute.
* Etc.
Note: Perform core services certificate validation
Use these steps to validate the Azure Stack Hub PKI certificates for deployment and secret rotation:
Question: 73
You have an Azure Stack Hub integrated system.
The retention period for storage accounts is set to 7 days.
A user reports that a storage account named hr12943 was deleted accidentally two days ago.
You need to restore hr12943.
Which four actions should you perform in sequence? To answer, move the appropriate actions from the list of actions to the answer area and arrange
them in the correct order.
Step 1: Connect to the administrator portal
Find a storage account
The list of storage accounts in the region can be viewed in Azure Stack Hub by following these steps:
Question: 74
You have an Azure Stack Hub integrated system.
The retention period for storage accounts is set to 7 days.
A user reports that a storage account named hr12943 was deleted accidentally two days ago.
You need to restore hr12943.
Which four actions should you perform in sequence? To answer, move the appropriate actions from the list of actions to the answer area and arrange
them in the correct order.
Step 1: Connect to the administrator portal
Find a storage account
The list of storage accounts in the region can be viewed in Azure Stack Hub by following these steps:
Question: 75
You need to identify the authentication and authorization process for the integrated system in Chicago. The solution must meet the technical
What should you include in the solution? To answer, select the appropriate options in the answer area. NOTE: Each correct selection is worth one
Question: 76
You need to support the planned changes for User1.
Which service should you include?
A. Microsoft.Subscriptions
B. Microsoft.KeyVault
C. Microsoft.Storage
D. Microsoft.Compute
Answer: A
Assign the delegated provider role to User1.
Delegation steps
There are two steps to setting up delegation:
Question: 77
You need to resolve the performance issue reported by the users in the priv1 region.
What should you do?
A. Redeploy the virtual machines to a new Azure Stack Hub node
B. Install the NVIDIA drivers on the virtual machines
C. Install the AMD drivers on the virtual machines
D. Add an additional scale unit node
Answer: C
Reference: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/virtual-machines/windows/n-series-amd-driver-setup
Question: 78
You schedule a planned maintenance window.
You need to perform an Azure Stack Hub update in the dev1 region. The solution must meet the technical requirements.
Which three actions should you perform in sequence? To answer, move the appropriate actions from the list of actions to the answer area and
arrange them in the correct order.
Graphical user interface, text, application, chat or text message
Description automatically generated
Question: 79
You need to configure the log forwarding. The solution must meet the Azure Stack Hub requirements.
What should you do?
A. Connect to and run the Set-EventLogLevel and Add-AzLogProfile cmdlets.
B. Connect to and run the Set-SyslogServer and Set-SyslogClient cmdlets.
C. Connect to and run the Set-EventLogLevel and Add-AzLogProfile cmdlets.
D. Connect to and run the Set-SyslogServer and Set-SyslogClient cmdlets.
Answer: D
Integrate Azure Stack Hub with monitoring solutions using syslog forwarding
The syslog channel exposes audits, alerts, and security logs from all the components of the Azure Stack Hub infrastructure. Use syslog forwarding to
integrate with security monitoring solutions and to retrieve all audits, alerts, and security logs to store them for retention.
Cmdlets to configure syslog forwarding
Configuring syslog forwarding requires access to the privileged endpoint (PEP). Two PowerShell cmdlets have been added to the PEP to configure
the syslog forwarding:
### cmdlet to pass the syslog server information to the client and to configure the transport protocol, the encryption and the authentication between
the client and the server
Set-SyslogServer [-ServerName ] [-ServerPort ] [-NoEncryption] [-SkipCertificateCheck] [-SkipCNCheck] [-UseUDP] [-
### cmdlet to configure the certificate for the syslog client to authenticate with the server
Set-SyslogClient [-pfxBinary ] [-CertPassword ]
Reference: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/azure-stack/operator/azure-stack-integrate-security
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Microsoft Configuring basics - BingNews https://killexams.com/pass4sure/exam-detail/AZ-600 Search results Microsoft Configuring basics - BingNews https://killexams.com/pass4sure/exam-detail/AZ-600 https://killexams.com/exam_list/Microsoft Eradicate your Windows PC’s most annoying headaches with these tools No result found, try new keyword!See also: Supercharge Windows with Microsoft’s free PowerToys Installing new programs can be annoying: Instead of loading the basic software configuration by hand, you should use the online service ... Tue, 07 Nov 2023 21:09:07 -0600 en-us text/html https://www.msn.com/ 9 Microsoft Edge Features to Boost Protection and Online Security No result found, try new keyword!That said, Microsoft Edge comes with a feature called Edge Secure Network, which uses the same basic principles of a VPN to protect ... This can be tricky to configure and can be very inconvenient, ... Sun, 05 Nov 2023 10:00:00 -0600 en-us text/html https://www.msn.com/ How to fix Windows 10 with an in-place upgrade install – Computerworld


Sometimes, a Windows installation simply goes off the rails. Menus don’t open properly, icons start moving around the desktop, File Explorer acts up, and so forth and so on. Enough things can go wrong, or turn strange, that it’s important to understand various basic Windows repair strategies.
Over the past few years, one of the chief strategies in my repair arsenal for Windows 10 has become what’s sometimes called an “in-place upgrade install” or an “upgrade repair install.” Before going into the details of how to perform such a maneuver, let’s start with a definition and some explanation.
An in-place upgrade install involves using the Windows OS installer to replace all the operating system files for Windows 10 on a PC. Basically, you’re using the setup.exe program to reinstall the same OS back over itself. This leaves user files entirely alone, retains many settings and preferences and, best of all, leaves already-installed apps and applications unchanged. It does, however, overwrite operating system files more or less completely. And in so doing, it often repairs a balky or misbehaving OS and returns it to normal, working condition.
Most of the time, it takes less than 15 minutes to perform an in-place upgrade install. This maneuver doesn’t require much post-installation cleanup, tweaking or follow-up activity, either.
Indeed, an in-place upgrade install can provide a quick and effective fix for many, many Windows problems and issues. I use this technique regularly myself, particularly when I notice that a system is starting to misbehave yet proves resistant to basic repair techniques, such as running the system file checker (SFC) or using the deployment image servicing and management (DISM) image cleanup capabilities. But an in-place upgrade install is not a universal panacea, and it doesn’t work to cure all Windows ills, either.
Here are some key limitations related to the suitability of an in-place upgrade install for any particular Windows installation:
Some cleanup or customization may be required once the in-place upgrade install has completed. You should check all of these things, some of which may require some work to complete:
The Windows.old folder, wherein the previous OS installation’s files reside, takes up just over 11% of the disk space on this PC.
Once you’ve chewed through this list and pondered the potential gotchas, the in-place upgrade install process is ridiculously simple.
An ISO, also called an “ISO image,” is a large single file that represents the contents of an entire optical disk — a CD, DVD or Blu-ray Disc. This format is particularly well-suited for installing a large, complex operating system such as Windows because it can bundle up all the programs, files, configuration data and so forth that go into installing that operating system on a PC.
You can visit the Microsoft “Download Windows 10” page to grab its Media Creation Tool. Once you run that tool, it will prompt you to grab a Windows 10 ISO file. This approach works only for current versions of Windows 10, though. If you need something older (or newer, like a Windows Insider ISO) you may want to turn to HeiDoc.Net’s Windows ISO Downloader instead.
Remember: the ISO you use to perform the repair install must match the version you’re trying to repair, as described in the preceding section. Your running OS can tell you everything you need to know to pick an ISO for an in-place upgrade repair install. See my related blog post for how to elicit that info.
Once you’ve got the right ISO, you’ll need to do a little prep work before beginning the in-place upgrade process:
With that out of the way, running the repair install is dead simple:
If you’ve got a bootable USB medium (normally a flash drive), you can skip step 1. Open the drive in File Explorer and run setup.exe.
When the Windows installer gets going, accept the license terms, select Upgrade this PC now, allow updates and click Next. Windows 10 grabs updates, switches over to the installer OS image, and gets itself ready to run. You must then accept the license terms and allow the OS to start the actual in-place upgrade.
By default, the installer keeps all personal files and apps on the target machine.  This is what you want, so there’s no need to dig into the “Change what to keep” item on the “Ready to install” page. (Just be sure that both “Install Windows 10” and “Keep personal files and apps” are checked on that screen.) As the in-place upgrade runs, the circular progress indicator shows that it’s upgrading Windows, from 1% to 100%.
The Windows installer prepares to reinstall Windows 10 (top) and grinds through the initial installation phase before the first reboot (bottom).
After that completes, it takes you through some additional setup screens where you have the option to customize settings or take the express route to completion. Once that is complete, you’ll sit through a number of colored screens as the installer puts the finishing touches on your in-place Windows 10 upgrade.
Please remember to check the list of items in need of possible attention and effort when the install is finished. But overall, it’s quite simple. For the vast majority of PCs, it will take less than 20 minutes for this process to complete. Older, slower PCs may take half an hour or more, but that has not been my experience.
When you’re done with the installation, don’t forget to perform your cleanup tasks, including running Disk Cleanup with “Previous Windows installations(s)” checked. In this example, Disk Cleanup will free up 24.7GB of space.
Knowing that I can perform an in-place upgrade install quickly and easily has really changed my outlook on Windows troubleshooting. Except for hardware problems (or driver issues, which tie directly into hardware as well), if I find myself spending half an hour troubleshooting a Windows problem, I’m already asking, “Is it time for an in-place upgrade install?” Once that time spent stretches past one hour, there has to be a good reason why it’s not a good idea to perform an in-place upgrade install to keep me laboring away at other things.
Simply put, it’s a great solution for resolving trying or opaque issues with Windows — as long as the target OS is still running well and long enough to run setup.exe through the first of the three or four reboots typical during Windows 10 installation. If you can make it to the first reboot, the new OS takes over after that anyway, and most problems will be fixed.
Over the past six months, I’ve either experienced directly or read about an in-place upgrade install fixing a lengthy laundry list of vexing problems, including these:
These days, if a Windows 10 problem proves hard to diagnose or fix, I’ll turn to an in-place upgrade install as a next or inevitable step in the troubleshooting and repair process. Much of the time, it provides the fix that’s needed, too. Savvy admins and power users could do worse than to do likewise.
Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.
Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.


Thu, 16 Nov 2023 01:35:00 -0600 Bill Taylor en-US text/html https://www.inferse.com/797766/how-to-fix-windows-10-with-an-in-place-upgrade-install-computerworld/
How to install WordPress blog using Microsoft IIS: Part 2

Welcome to the second part of the tutorial on Hosting a Website with Microsoft IIS. In this part, we will learn about configuring and creating the MySQL server and configuring WordPress. Now that you have followed all the steps of Part-1 let’s proceed to Part-2.

Creating a database in MySQL

  1. Run MySQL command-line client.
  2. Enter your root password that you set in subpart 2 of part 1, in the 12th step.Install WordPress blog using Microsoft IIS
  3. Enter the following:
mysql> CREATE DATABASE databasename;
Query OK, 1 row affected (0.00 sec)
mysql> GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON databasename.* TO "username"@"hostname"
IDENTIFIED BY "password";
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)
mysql> EXIT

Configuring WordPress

  1. Now go to your browser and type in your LAN IP that generally starts from “192.168”.
  2. Click on “Create a configuration file.”
  3. Click on “Let’s go.”
  4. Enter the details that you entered during creating the new Database and click submit.
  5. In the next step click on “Run the install.”
  6. Enter your details like Site Title, Username, Password, etc. in this step.
  7. Now click on Log in.
  8. Enter with your username and password that you created in this part to login.
  9. You will now be able to see your dashboard and operate your blog from this dashboard.

Your website is now live on your IP address. You can convert your IP into text or some website name, using many services out there like  www.no-ip.org.

You have successfully hosted your website. If you face any problems or find that you are getting some error messages, don’t panic just go through all the steps again and try to solve your problem.

Thu, 13 Apr 2023 22:57:00 -0500 en-us text/html https://www.thewindowsclub.com/configure-create-mysql-wordpress-iis
What’s new and improved in Microsoft’s .NET 8

One of the recurring themes of latest developer platform and tool releases, especially around .NET, is developer productivity. That’s not surprising, considering the current economic climate and its impact on staffing levels. We’ve all been tasked to do more with less.

Microsoft and the .NET Foundation recently released the latest version of their cross-platform development framework, .NET 8. In advance of the launch, I sat down to talk with Gaurav Seth, partner director of product, developer platforms, at Microsoft, about the new release and about how he sees developers using .NET 8 in their day-to-day tasks.

Because .NET 8 is a Long Term Support release, it’s likely to be adopted by most .NET development teams, who will expect the platform to work well for them until the next LTS release, .NET 10. Like .NET 6 before it, .NET 8 mixes new features with improved tools, focusing on common delivery patterns and supporting new ways of working.

Deploying faster, with optimized containers

A key focus has been on infrastructure, especially around the rapidly growing cloud-native workloads. One area that I’ve touched on in previous articles is .NET’s container images. These have continued to be optimized, building on distro-less, chiseled images to speed up downloads and to increase the density of services on a host.

That last point is not one we typically think about, but it’s going to have a significant impact on both the scalability and cost of cloud-native applications. If you can use fewer resources to run an application with no effect on its performance, then you’re able to Improve the economics of your code.

The numbers are impressive. A compressed, chiseled Ubuntu 22.04 image is now only 48MB, with a trimmed runtime of just 16MB. It’s small storage and memory footprint will allow you to speed up autoscaling of .NET resources in Kubernetes and try out new builds without waiting for images to obtain from your build system’s repository.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

Wed, 15 Nov 2023 20:45:00 -0600 en text/html https://www.infoworld.com/article/3710630/whats-new-and-improved-in-microsofts-net-8.html
Here’s Everything You Can Do With Copilot, the Generative AI Assistant on Windows 11

Despite plenty of misgivings, artificial intelligence—and in particular, generative AI that produces text and images from prompts—continues to be pushed into the hardware and software we use every day.

Microsoft has been active in the space, adding AI chatbot capabilities to its Bing search engine earlier this year, and it's now previewing an early version of its new Copilot AI assistant in Windows 11.

Copilot has been built to "enhance your creativity and productivity," Microsoft says, and it works in a similar way to Bing's chatbot—capable of coming up with everything from travel advice to an original poem.

To get Copilot in Windows 11, make sure you're running the very latest version of the operating system: Head to Windows Update in Settings to check (you might need to turn on the Get the latest updates as soon as they're available toggle switch).

By default, you should see a Copilot button on the taskbar, which you can click to launch it (head to Personalization then Taskbar in Settings if you want to change this). You can also launch Copilot with the Win+C keyboard shortcut, or via the Start menu.

Text and Image Generation

If you're completely new to generative AI, just dive in and try something: You can tell Copilot to compose a short poem, an introduction to a cover letter, or text for an email to a coworker. When you start a new chat, you'll see you can choose between More Creative, More Balanced, and More Precise conversation styles, just like Bing Chat on the web—so you can tweak how imaginative Copilot gets with its responses.

You're not just limited to generating text though, because you can ask Copilot questions as well. Thanks to its links to Bing and the web, it can tell you about the must-see sights in a particular place, deliver you cooking and recipe tips, or offer advice on the best ways to fix a DIY problem around the home. You'll see that the responses come with links to where the information has been sourced from online.

You can choose Copilot's conversation style.

Microsoft via David Nield
Sat, 04 Nov 2023 23:00:00 -0500 en-US text/html https://www.wired.com/story/microsoft-windows-11-copilot-generative-ai-assistant-tips/
Windows 11 2023 Update review: The rise of the AI PC
At a glance

Expert's Rating


  • AI-infused apps are stars
  • Passkeys are the future


  • Copilot isn’t all there, yet
  • Windows Backup and Restore underdelivers
  • RIP, Windows Mail

Our Verdict

Microsoft’s Windows 11 2023 Update (23H2) is the most meaningful update in years, striding toward the promise of an AI PC. But it’s not there yet.

Price When Reviewed


Best Prices Today: Windows 11 2023 Update

Microsoft’s most latest update to Windows 11, formally known as the Windows 11 2023 Update (23H2), is the most consequential update in some time. Of course, you probably think you know why: Windows Copilot, Microsoft’s first step in creating a Windows “AI PC.” But there’s as much under the hood and within updates to familiar applications like Paint that almost overshadow the rest.

Microsoft began rolling out the Windows 11 2023 Update at the very end of October, and you should see it start to deploy on your PC in the coming weeks — if it’s not there already. Consider this to be a review of the new features, but also recommendations to those you should try.

It’s important to note that Windows 11’s 2023 Update is both a cumulative update, as well as one that won’t be rolled out in one fell swoop. I expected to see some features in my Windows 11 Home test laptops, including features that other publications have reported were present. At press time, some of those have shown up; a few haven’t. To ensure that you do the latest features, update your PC via Windows Update after checking the “Get the latest updates as soon as they are available” box. Check the Microsoft Store, too, for individual app updates.

My favorite new features in the Windows 11 2023 Update? Passkeys, the updates to Paint and Photos, and heck, even Snipping Tool. Copilot is…okay. But killing off Mail in favor of the new Outlook app? Boo. BOO.

Windows 11 2023 Update Primary art possibility 1

Mark Hachman / IDG

Windows Copilot (Copilot) is blandly effective

Windows Copilot, now just called Copilot, is the flagship feature of Windows 11’s 2023 Update, and for good reason: Copilot helps usher in a new generation of AI-infused PCs. Copilot is an odd amalgamation of Bing Chat with some of the capabilities of Windows’ old Cortana app, now deprecated. Type in a question to the small chat box (up to 2000 characters, or less than about 500 words) and Copilot will return a Bing Chat-like response with a couple of sources at the end. Ask it to draw you a picture, and it will. It even can perform a few Windows tasks for you, such as shifting your PC to dark mode.

You’ll find the Copilot icon on your Taskbar, most likely just to the right of the Search box. (Or else use Windows+C).

Copilot is rudimentary at best. It’s slow: on a 400Mbps home broadband connection, it took about eighteen seconds to respond to a request, and several more to generate a response. Copilot churns through its response, line by line, reminiscent of how a dot matrix printer’s head would go back and forth.

Windows 11 2023 Update Copilot taskbar
Copilot still carries the “Pre” (Preview) badge.

Mark Hachman / IDG

On average, Copilot is a novelty. It’s not omnipresent, such as how your browser’s URL/search bar is. Instead, it must be opened via the small Copilot icon on your taskbar. Somewhat ironically, it appears right next to the Windows Search box — which really does nothing of the sort, search-wise. Microsoft has yet to commit to a genuine search experience on the desktop, and Copilot isn’t it.

Copilot can be used as a search tool, and functions pretty well when it’s asked to provide a lengthy response on a given Topic — such as what it itself can do. Ask it for assistance with a pitch deck, and it provides good advice. But as someone who has written for a living for about a quarter of a century, Copilot’s sourcing mechanism — a footnote, with a link at the bottom — is depressing. A list of links, whether it be from Bing, Google, Brave or elsewhere, provides some visual context as to what that page contains. There’s no indication whether Copilot knows what it’s talking about.

The key with Copilot: experiment. Do not think of it as a search engine, with narrow, factual queries. The best test of Copilot is to try open-ended queries. Copilot does have access to Bing, so asking it for up-to-date information will work: I asked it a question about a latest world event, and it cited information recorded on the date I asked it. One weakness: The information Copilot cited came from a report on its own news service, MSN, which only gave the headline when I hovered over it. As it turned out, the source was a respected news source, Reuters, but that’s not obvious.

And then there’s the personality. Which is to say, there isn’t one. Windows 11’s Copilot offers the same three personality modes at the beginning of the conversation: Creative, Precise, and Balanced. Changing them doesn’t seem to have much effect, as far as most generic inquiries are concerned.

Windows 11 2023 Update Copilot taskbar
Copilot can be used for all sorts of meaningful (or not) questions.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Microsoft goes to ludicrous lengths make sure you’re not offended or that it’s not violating privacy policies. “How do I create a pitch deck” warned me that the conversation wouldn’t be saved, as the information wouldn’t be public. God forbid you ask it anything even remotely racy, such as a question about the role of the male prostate. “My mistake, I can’t deliver a response to that right now. Let’s try a different topic” will be a frequent response.

And if you do choose to exercise your adult prerogative, it gets snippy: “That is not an appropriate Topic for me to chat about. Please respect my boundaries and let’s talk about something else. Thank you. 🙔 Copilot feels less like a personal assistant and more like a young HR representative sitting next to your desk.

Copilot will also summarize a web page, which is really handy for long articles or papers. The catch is, naturally, that it only understands Web pages which were opened in Edge, and it has to have been opened before the Web page loads, not the other way around. But yes, this is a useful feature.

One problem, though, is that Copilot isn’t consistent across Windows. A version of Copilot is tucked away inside Edge; if you click the icon in the upper-right-hand corner, you’ll see a Copilot window open up. But this version of Copilot is the less powerful one: if you ask it to switch your PC to dark mode, Copilot will deliver you a list of instructions that includes locating and switching the Windows setting. The Windows Copilot on the taksbar will offer a button to actually perform the process, instead.

Windows 11 2023 Update Copilot weird
Copilot can get weird and prickly, though.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Windows has always lacked a robust, one-stop-shop for help, tips, and new features. Copilot’s ability to guide and adjust settings on your Windows PC feels like a step forward, but it’s still so very random. I was rather pleased when I was able to ask Copilot exactly what it could do, and received a nice summary: take a screenshot, change your PC to dark mode, manage Bluetooth, and initiate a screen cast. All these are sort of useful, though painfully slow to use. And they work.

But what Copilot can do to manage your PC feels like such a tiny teaspoon of features set against the gallons of things Windows can already accomplish that it’s just not worth even asking. Even just being able to link to the appropriate Settings menu would be a good start.

But there is potential, even now. When I asked Copilot for help creating a pitch deck, it offered to open PowerPoint, and then gave me a list of ideas to construct it. And when I opened PowerPoint, I noticed that it had chosen to highlight “pitch deck” templates.

That’s exactly what users will want Copilot to do. Microsoft is not going to be in a race to convince users that Copilot can accomplish their tasks — but to convince users to assume Copilot will be able to perform those tasks. Until Microsoft can build a dependence upon Copilot, the feature will flounder.

File Explorer’s UI update feels useful for business users

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I value the new changes to File Explorer, specifically a new “carousel” view of files that puts the most recommended files atop File Explorer’s new “Home” view, and a “Gallery” view that shows you your photo thumbnails.

Windows 11 only seems to allow access to the carousel view if you have a corporate SharePoint account (my employer, IDG, does) and not if you use a personal Microsoft 365 subscription. But not only is it a nice way of keeping frequently-used documents handy, it also seems to aggregate documents that were emailed to a work account. Note that the documents File Explorer collects seem to be different than the “Recommended” files that the Windows Start menu collects.

Windows 11 2023 Update File Explorer carousel
Windows 11’s 2023 Update’s File Explorer, in the carousel view from the Home view.

Mark Hachman / IDG

If a file does appear in the carousel view, you’ll see some accompanying information attached to it, who created it, if you recently edited it, and so forth. You’ll even see “conversations” about it. The latter, though, assumes that you’re working and chatting about it in Windows apps. Emails about it didn’t seem to be referenced, and if you discuss the file in, say, Slack, I wouldn’t expect those conversations will appear.

There are many ways of transferring photos from a phone to a PC, including the Your Phone app that Microsoft provides for Android phones. The File Explorer Gallery view is another option, with a no-nonsense mosaic of photos that it pulls from your PC — from your phone’s camera roll, or via screenshots that you’ve saved via your PC.

Normally, I use the Photos app for this, reviewing my photos and then editing them. Here, it takes an additional step to edit your photos, via Photos or some other app. But the advantage here is that you can treat the files as files — selecting multiple files, saving them in a ZIP file, or quickly sharing images with contacts via a OneDrive link. That’s a handy feature that Photos lacks. In that app, “sharing” a handful of files means Windows will simply embed them inside an email.

Windows 11 2023 Update File Explorer gallery
Windows 11’s 2023 Update also shows latest photos in its Gallery view.

Mark Hachman / IDG

The one thing I don’t like about the Gallery view: it’s slow. I can take a photo on my Android smartphone and it takes minutes to show up, even if it can be found on OneDrive’s Camera roll and in the Windows Photos app, which connects to it. I can understand a delay, but I finally gave up on looking for a latest shot and moved on.

File Explorer now thankfully unpacks RAR and 7-Zip files, among others, which has been substantially overdue.

Passkeys are the future, now

I love passkeys. One of the advantages of Windows Hello is how simple it makes logging in, using just your face or a fingerprint to identify yourself. Web developers have long promised that we’ll start to see those in everyday web sites, just as mobile applications are now beginning to use biometric logins as either a secondary form of identification of just a primary login. Put another way, to log in to Google, all you need to do is let Windows recognize your face. That’s it!

Either way, we’re just starting to see passkeys appear. So far, I’ve only seen them offered for Microsoft, Google, and most recently, Amazon. Setting up a passkey can be as simple as accepting the invitation from the Web site to set up a passkey. In Amazon’s case, you’ll need to dig through your account settings to find the option.

Unfortunately, while Favorites and passwords can be synced via Edge, Passkeys currently do not. That means that if you move from PC to PC, you’ll need to re-apply the passkey.

Amazon Passkey

Mark Hachman / IDG

To manage your passkeys, navigate to Settings>Accounts>Passkeys within the Windows 11 Settings menu. While you’ll need to sign up with a web browser, it doesn’t matter if that browser is Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome; the passkeys will be saved to Windows on your PC.

Supposedly Windows offers the option of using a nearby phone as a security token to provide another level of authentication, but I was never offered that option.

Windows Backup and Restore overpromises, underdelivers

I can’t say I love the new Windows Backup and Restore option nearly as much. I’ve made my feelings clear in a separate story, but the bottom line is this: the new Windows Backup app is solid in what it promises. Backup takes your apps (but only apps that can be found in the Windows Store, mind) and stores them in the cloud. It should do the same with your documents and files.

Upon configuring a new PC, the “Out of the Box Experience” should offer to restore those apps and files. But the whole process is a mess. Videos don’t carry over. Neither do games and apps that you didn’t obtain from the Microsoft Store. And I’ve truly begun to dislike the whole “placeholder” file concept, which makes me wade through numerous icons to find the files I’m looking for, unless I hide them behind some master file folder.

Windows 11 Backup 2
Windows Backup is good in concept, but not in reality.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Backup and Restore should essentially clone my PC’s drive into the cloud, then reproduce it on a new PC. It doesn’t come close to that. Microsoft should either rename “Backup and Restore” to something that doesn’t promise a full backup and restoration, or possibly buy a company like PCMover. (Ironically, PCMover doesn’t transfer apps that can be acquired from the Microsoft Store.) With speedy broadband, downloading applications isn’t that big of a deal. But with games and big video files, transferring them from one PC to another can be a real pain. Windows Backup and Restore doesn’t really solve that problem yet.

UI improvements in Taskbar, Settings, and the Volume interface

The Start menu and the Taskbar are left relatively unchanged in the Windows 11 2023 Update. Some people (me included, on occasion) like when an app pinned to the Taskbar shows you what it actually is, instead of an icon. This feature an be configured in  Personalization > Taskbar within the Settings menu in the Windows 11 22H2 update: “Combine taskbar and hide labels.” If you set it to “never,” the icons on your Taskbar will be replaced with badged labels. (Even on a widescreen monitor, though, you won’t be able to see too much.)

Windows 11 2023 Update taskbar
Even on a widescreen monitor, using titles to differentiate your windows doesn’t help that much on the Windows 11 2023 Update.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Microsoft has said that it will be replacing the “Chat” app on your Taskbar with the oddly named Microsoft Teams (free), complete with an overhaul and with SMS texting. It’s not here yet, though.

Likewise, Settings has been improved, so that the first “home” page consolidates information that was previously scattered about several pages. It’s a front door to changing system settings like your display, personalizing your PC’s background, and managing your Bluetooth devices. Some people may care that the “Apps” section now separates some Windows apps, now labeled as “System components,” into a separate page.

Windows 11 2023 Update Settings
The Settings menu within the Windows 11 2023 Update is now compact and useful.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Settings now leans a bit too much toward subscriptions — most people probably don’t need a constant reminder of their OneDrive quota and Game Pass subscription, but it’s understandable.

Microsoft has also provided an updated audio mixer for Windows 11, which is a step forward. You’ll need the click the volume controls in the Taskbar, than navigate through to the small “wires” icon to the right of the volume bar to make any adjustments. But it’s a fairly natural interface, even if it “drops down” a bit, forcing you to scroll down. Muting works as expected.

App improvements overshadow Windows 11’s own

In years past, updates to various Windows apps were part and parcel of the Windows upgrade experience itself. No longer. Instead, updating your applications within the Microsoft Store app brings with it a whole host of improvements that, in this update, might just overshadow what Windows 11 now offers.

Microsoft Store AI Hub
The “AI Hub” within the Microsoft Store is worth a look.

Mark Hachman / IDG

AI “appears” inside the Microsoft Store app, as part of an “AI Hub” page that indexes some “AI” powered apps, including ones you may have heard of (Adobe Lightroom) and others you haven’t (Gamma). If you’re intrigued by AI, then it’s worth checking out — sort of a curated page of AI-powered apps that may become more important as AI itself does.

It’s a point I’ve tried to make tangentially in other stories, but it’s worth repeating: Microsoft cares about storing your data in its cloud, using AI to access it, and charging you a subscription fee for the whole package. Intel, Qualcomm, and AMD are trying to sell you local AI, that runs on your PC, for free. The two approaches may eventually go to war with one another…or not. But it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Windows 11 2023 Update Instant Games
If you need to play a game right now, there’s Instant Games.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Instant Games is another new novelty: quick games that you can play right from the Store without having to install them. There’s a dozen or so — but nothing that’s really worth seeking out.

AI in Paint and Photos: Wow!

The humble Microsoft Paint has also been supercharged in time for the Windows 11 2023 Update, with three distinct improvements: layers, Cocreator, and background removal. The three go hand in hand.

Layers have been a feature of photo-editing tools for some time. You can separate a primary layer in Adobe Photoshop, where you can add a photo or illustration; in another layer, you can add a secondary illustration, such as a background. When the editing is done, you can export the image with both (or more) layers combined together. Paint now has a simple version of this, where a Layers tool allows you to construct multiple layers, than combine them together via a Merge function.

I am a very basic amateur artist, which means that I initially struggled to use the Layers tool. Cocreator, though, helps. As the name suggests, it’s an AI image creator, much like Bing Image Creator. What’s odd about it, though, is that Bing Image Creator not only generates images of better quality and resolution, but works off a separate “credit” system. (Exhaust your credits, and the images are generated more slowly, at least on Bing Image Creator.) However, there are drop-down menus to choose styles, such as “oil painting,” that aren’t in Bing Image Creator.

Windows 11 2023 Update Paint ufo
I used Paint’s Cocreator to generate the cat, the snowy backdrop, and the UFO, then composited them together. Background removal is the small icon in the upper left, with the other tools more prominently displayed.

Mark Hachman / IDG

The easiest and best way I found to use the updated Paint was to import a photo (or use Cocreator), then extract the subject from the background. Again, that uses AI to identify the subject of the photo — no “magic lasso” or selection necessary. I then created a background layer. All of this is a bit like the Magic Select tool that I loved in Paint 3D.

This is a victory for Microsoft. You’re not going to get the sophisticated elements of a photo editing tool like Photoshop or Lightroom with the new Paint. Still, the update gently introduces you into lightweight AI art generation and editing, even if it’s a bit obtuse for newcomers.

There’s a small AI-enhanced addition to Photos, too: background blur, and it’s fantastic. You’re probably aware that traditional DSLRs add background blurring, or bokeh, as a natural byproduct of how a lens focuses. A digital camera or smartphone’s “portrait mode” adds this via AI. So too, does Photos.

You’ll need to select a photo in Photos, then edit it using the leftmost teeny-tiny icon above it. You’ll then see the interface that looks much like it did a year ago. What’s new, though, is the additional “background blur” option that appears to the far right. Click it, and Photos identifies the foreground subject and blurs the rest of the image. You have an option to adjust the blur function, and even unblur specific areas.

Photos’ new background blur really highlights the subject of a photo. Try moving the slider back and forth to compare the two.

Let’s put it this way: I take a lot of photos with a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, and it does just an average job at identifying the sharp, distinct edge of a laptop in portrait mode. Photos does it nearly perfectly. With the Photos’ Retouch /”Spot fix” feature back in place to erase bits of dust and dirt, plus Auto Enhance and now Background Blur, we can hopefully bury my old Photos complaints.

I’m going to stand up and cheer for the AI improvements in Photos and Paint. They’re not front and center like Copilot is, but they’re equally (if not more) important.

Snipping Tool is more than just a way to capture screenshots, though that’s the way I (and probably you) still think of it. But you can capture an image or video, and you can adjust the app’s settings to include audio from your mic and the system sounds. In reality, you can basically record an app while you narrate what’s going on. Microsoft doesn’t explicitly connect the Snipping Tool to Clipchamp, but that would be the next step to edit your videos.

Windows 11 2023 Update Snipping Tool text extract
Snipping Tool does a nice job of extracting text on just casual photos — not even screenshots. Formatting, though, is still an issue.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Snipping Tool also has a new component: the ability to extract and redact text. Windows 11 uses optical character recognition to extract text, and it does an excellent job when it does so. All you need to do is highlight an area on screenshot or PDF, and the tool copies the extracted text into the copy buffer. (I didn’t test this on a protected PDF, but it works just fine on a normal one.)

The app also is surprisingly intelligent when it comes to redacting text, too. As a test, I gave it a screenshot of a document the Consumer Electronics Association had sent me for CES. Snipping Tool automatically redacted my email and a personal identification number the CEA sent me. Unfortunately, it doesn’t automatically identify my username when I try and take a screenshot of the Windows Settings menu, however.

This probably isn’t what Microsoft had in mind, but there’s an undeniable 1980s Cold War vibe that I get when Snipping Tool extracts text from a PDF or redacts personal information.

RGB lighting controls

Dynamic Lighting doesn’t actually qualify as a Windows app, but it’s a sort of “uber app” within the Settings menu (Personalization > Dynamic Lighting) that supposedly eliminates the proprietary apps that govern peripherals with RGB lighting. Peripherals from Razer are still the favorites here, but you may find more are added over time.

SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless RGB lights
RGB peripherals like this one are the target for the Dynamic Lighting tool.

Michael Crider/Foundry

Ideally, Dynamic Lighting was designed to take RGB peripherals from Corsair, Razer, NZXT, Logitech and more and provide one app to rule them all, so to speak, rather than force you to obtain and load apps from each manufacturer to control all of the sparkly, blinking lights. Unfortunately, it’s sort of limited to a lot of modern Razer peripherals and not a whole lot else. I have an old left-handed Razer DeathAdder that I really like, but Dynamic Lighting does nothing to stop its constant pulsing.

Outlook is replacing Mail

One of the reasons not to get the Windows 11 2023 Update is the new Outlook app (which differs from the more robust Outlook app in Microsoft 365 — and no, I have no idea why there’s two). You may find, as I did, that Windows finally killed off Mail and replaced it with the lightweight Outlook app. Mail did just what it needed to do, and no more, with a dense UI that emphasized the essentials.

If you try to load Mail, the app will open, crash, then be replaced by Outlook. I have no idea why Microsoft can deprecate Movies & TV and Windows Maps but leave them in the Microsoft Store, but it can’t do that with Mail. Please bring Mail back, Microsoft!

Things we expected to see, but didn’t

In our introduction to Windows 11 2023 Update, we expected to see in-field inking: if you were to write “Bluetooth” in the search box, the ink would be inputted and accepted as “Bluetooth.” That isn’t the case, unfortunately.

Windows Spotlight appears to be the same as before, allowing you to opt in to Microsoft’s selection of desktop backgrounds. We’re not seeing options to up- or downvote backgrounds yet. Microsoft is also allowing HDR displays to display HDR-backgrounds in HDR, which appears to be the case on an HDR monitor. There’s no explicit mention of this that we can find, though.

All of these features may be headed to your PC (and ours!) in the future.

Conclusion: a step ahead

It’s been a while since PCWorld has written a Windows 11 feature update review, and a while since we’ve had a feature update worth reviewing. Windows 11 finally feels livelier, more energetic. I’m not entirely sure that Windows is headed in the direction most users care about, if only because I’m not sure Windows 11 users are demanding the AI future that Microsoft envisions.

To its credit, though, Microsoft’s first attempt at an AI-infused PC put artificial intelligence both high and low: as a high-profile assistant with Copilot, but also with more subtle, pointed improvements within Paint and Photos. My contacts in the chip industry feel that those very specific, localized features will be how AI PCs eventually succeed. Yes, you might walk away thinking that you’ll never need all this AI junk in your operating system. I can’t help but think these incremental updates will generally ease that reluctance, but over time.

If I had to deliver a letter grade, it would be somewhere around a B. Microsoft’s Windows 11 2023 Update is a step toward the AI PC, providing a foundational update that Microsoft can build upon.

This review was updated on Nov. 7 to clarify the differences between Copilot for Windows and Copilot for Microsoft Edge.

Sun, 05 Nov 2023 21:30:00 -0600 Author: Mark Hachman en text/html https://www.pcworld.com/article/2120866/windows-11-2023-update-review-the-rise-of-the-ai-pc.html
Surface Laptop Studio 2 review: stylish upgrade ideal for digital artists

The new Studio laptop, released in 2021, was met with a wave of great reviews including our own review of the Surface Laptop Studio that found it to be a great all-rounder hybrid, which delivers on performance. We’ve had to wait two years for the second iteration and I was excited to see this new version from Microsoft.

Upon opening the box, I saw that the design was almost identical, a little heavier, but generally the same great look and feel. The movement between the three modes – tablet, laptop and a propped up tablet – was equally well engineered, and I suppose there wasn’t much to Improve on there.

Then came the performance and battery tests. I was hoping for a significantly better battery with a latest generation processor to deliver results even on the most demanding of creative projects. Unfortunately, I don’t think the speed warrants the incredibly high price tag. The fact that the new M3 MacBook Pro, at a similar price point, gives unparalleled speed makes it hard to know why someone would choose this Microsoft laptop instead when looking for a laptop for graphic design.

That being said, if you’re a creative that wants a great all-rounder with digital art making up a significant part of your workflow, then it’s still hard to find anything that matches the impressive mix of power, versatility and modality the Surface Laptop Studio 2 offers.


Surface Laptop Studio 2

Surface Laptop Studio 2 is now available and prices start at a whopping $1,999 /ÂŁ2,069. There are five different configurations with every single one boasting the 13th Gen Intel Core CPU. The most basic model includes a basic Intel Iris Xe Graphics GPU alongside 16GB RAM.

The configuration that includes the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4050 comes with either 16GB or 32 GB RAM whereas the RTX 4060 is only available with 64GB RAM.

Microsoft sent me the business model containing the NVIDIA RTX 2000 Ada Generation Laptop GPU with 8GB GDDR6 vRAM. It also came with 32GB RAM and a 1TB SSD. You’ll need to take out a loan to make that purchase though as it’ll set you back £2,949.


Surface Laptop Studio 2

When it comes to design and functionality, this laptop is pretty much in a league of its own. Microsoft has managed to create a 2-in-1 laptop/tablet that is a joy to look at. The smooth chamfered corners and slimline edging deliver it a seriously sleek design that feels great.

The base of the laptop is a little more boxy and cumbersome so I hope that Microsoft simplify and streamline this part of the laptop in future releases. It’s an almost identical design to the first iteration though, so I’m not holding out hope on the design changing much next time round.

The laptop’s 2-in-1 feature sets it apart from most of its competition and the implementation is impressive. To move between the different states requires a fair amount of grabbing hold of the screen and I was concerned that it would be flimsy and prone to fingerprints and damage. I was pleasantly surprised to find a robust screen that stood the wear and tear despite its minimal thickness.

Surface Laptop Studio 2

Between the first iteration and this one, it seems to have put on a little bit of weight, 18 grams to be precise. This might not seem very much but its new weight makes it almost 40 grams heavier than the MacBook Pro 14-inch. The Studio 2 feels more like a chunky laptop than a portable device.

The build quality is right up there with the best Apple products with a solid aluminium chassis. It feels nice and more importantly is robust enough to cope with the inevitable knocks that come with owning a laptop.


Surface Laptop Studio 2

The display is an impressive 14.4-inch screen boasting a beautiful 2400x1600px. Not only is the resolution over and above FHD but it also packs in 201 pixels per inch (PPI) and has a refresh rate of 120Hz, making everything super smooth. This lovely experience is particularly noticeable when using the Surface Pen for drawing.

I also love the 3:2 aspect ratio of the display. The 14.4-inch of screen real estate looks significantly bigger than the 16:9 equivalents. This makes the device perfect for every type of creative and even those working with documents all day long.

It’s also a touch display that is perfect with the Surface Pen. Transitioning the device into studio mode and using the pen makes it ideal for digital artists.

Key features

Surface Laptop Studio 2

Great modality

This is one of the laptop’s biggest selling points. When the original Surface Laptop Studio was released, a split-hinge design like this had only been seen on the HP Spectre Folio. Microsoft’s implementation is significantly better and more robust with all three display positions perfectly executed with the user in mind.

The traditional laptop mode is a great default for most users but for creatives that want to interact more naturally with the device, there is a 45 degree stage mode and then a flat tablet style studio mode. Each position is expertly crafted and implemented making it feel like each one is in fact the mode it was made for.

My only issue with the stage and studio modes is that the keyboard that pops up seems way too big for comfortable typing. It takes ages to type words and would benefit from a much smaller form factor.

Smart AI

It’s very early doors for AI but Microsoft has endeavoured to integrate it into a number of different elements of the Surface Laptop Studio 2's user experience. AI is found in Microsoft 365, the taskbar, the camera, and Bing Chat. Most users are unlikely to make use of these AI features, but they're a first step demonstrating Microsoft’s commitment to innovation.

Immersive entertainment and gaming

Although not targeted directly at the gaming laptop market, Microsoft has still designed a device that performs admirably in this area. The NVIDIA GeForce RTX cards are set up for games with ray tracing, but more than that the Studio 2 laptop provides a high level of immersion. This has been achieved through a gorgeous display and Omnisonic speakers. The majority of laptops deliver a tinny sound that makes you reach for your headphones but these speakers are excellent. The audio is clear, loud, and gives a wonderful sense of surround sound, ideal for playing games or watching movies.

Power and performance

Surface Laptop Studio 2

We’ve seen that this laptop has a beautiful design, a gorgeous display and a number of features that set it apart from the competition but what about its performance? We ran a number of benchmark tests with Geekbench and Cinebench to test the CPU and GPU performance.

Geekbench scored the CPU single-core at 1296 and the multi-core at 6008. The equivalent test through Cinebench resulted in 893 and 5284 scores respectively. I had expected significantly better performance and was disappointed to see that my Handbrake test transcoding a 10 minute 34 second 4K video to 1080p took 21 minutes and 47 seconds. The M3 MacBook Pro is pitched at a similar price point but it significantly outclasses the Studio 2 with a Geekbench CPU multi-core score of over 20,000.

Moving on to the battery performance. The specs state 16 hours of battery life but I’m not sure what planet that was tested on. While carrying out a range of not very demanding tasks, I lost 75% of my charge in only five hours, leaving me reaching for the power cable. I appreciate that hybrid workers are not the target market, but I’d like for it to have at least lasted a full day of work.

Should you buy it?

Surface Laptop Studio 2

If you want a laptop with all the latest specs, no matter the cost, then this is the laptop for you. It does pretty much everything really well. Its design and more importantly the implementation of the 2-in-1 functionality means the device just works in every configuration.

The display is large, bright and most importantly, for digital artists, a touchscreen. The latest generation Intel CPU and NVIDIA GPUs make this a high performing laptop that will serve almost all creatives well, including 3D artists, graphic designers and video editors. If you’re happy with a more traditional laptop at a more affordable price then the Dell XPS 15 is a great alternative.

Mon, 13 Nov 2023 23:26:00 -0600 en-US text/html https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/surface-laptop-studio-2-review-132655400.html
Review: Microsoft Lumia 640 for Cricket Wireless


The Lumia 640 runs Windows Phone 8.1 with the Lumia Denim update installed. In other words, it has the most up-to-date version of the operating system available. (Microsoft has said the 640 can be upgraded to Windows 10 Mobile later this year.) Windows Phone 8.1 is a robust platform and goes feature-for-feature against Android and iOS.

The Glance screen acts as a screensaver when the display is “off” and lets you see the clock and missed calls/messages. Press the screen lock button to turn the screen fully on for a more in-depth look at your day. The lock screen includes the clock, date, calendar appointments, and notification previews. I've always liked that the lock screen also supports various backgrounds, such as Bing's Photo of the Day, your local weather, health and fitness data, or latest Facebook photos.

Windows Phone uses one infinitely tall home screen for Live Tiles, which act like app icons and widgets at the same time. The Tiles come in small, medium, and large sizes and you can arrange them in any configuration you choose. Many of the Tiles are transparent, which lets you see the wallpaper behind them. You can also store folders — with collections of apps inside — on the home screen. You can add as much to the home screen as you want.

The secondary UI element to Windows Phone is the full list of installed apps. You need only swipe to the left to access them. They are always arranged in an alphabetical list. Windows Phone includes a drop-down notification panel, too, but it isn't quite as feature rich as those on Android and iOS. It provides toggles to the WiFi and Bluetooth radios, airplane mode, the camera, and all your notifications.

The Settings tool is the last piece of the user interface. I strongly suggest you pin the Settings shortcut to the home screen. For the first time, Microsoft has clumped the system controls together in rough categories. (Previously, the Settings menu was a scrambled mess.) Like Android and iOS, the controls for the 640's wireless radios are now all packaged together under a single heading. The categories (networks, personalization, accounts, system, time/language, input/accessibility, privacy, updates, and extras) really help increase the utility of the extensive tools available for customizing how the Lumia 640 behaves.

Microsoft opted for the venerable 1.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor paired with 1GB of RAM. The combination works well with the Lumia 640, which felt fast and zippy across the board.


Calls and Contacts

The phone and people apps have barely changed since the 2011 debut of Windows Phone 7. The phone app is spartan at best. Call history is the default view when you open the app, but there are buttons along the bottom to access voicemail, the dialpad, your contacts, or search. Using the speed dial function, available by swiping to the right, will be a huge time saver. As is the norm for modern smartphones, you can control call rejection behaviors, set automatic message responses, make use of call forwarding, and so on.


The People Hub is your contact list with some social networking tossed in for good measure. The app hooks into Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and will pull latest activity from those sources to create a three-network feed within the contact app. The People Hub is just as powerful and usable as the Android and iOS contact apps. I like the social aspect, which I think Microsoft integrated to a better extent than Android or iOS have.



The Lumia 640 requires you to have a Microsoft account, even if it's just a Hotmail/Outlook email account. The native email app in Windows Phone is not as strong as what's available to Android and iOS, but it's still capable. You can use your Gmail or Yahoo email account on the 640 with no problem.

The SMS app has lost utility over the years. It used to cover SMS, Facebook Messenger, and Skype in one app; now it only handles SMS. Like the phone app, it's somewhat spartan, but still manages well enough for basic text, picture, and video messages.

Skype is preinstalled and is one of the juicy extras I mentioned earlier. Microsoft is giving Lumia 640 owners 60 free world Skype minutes to use each month for two years. That means you can spend an hour on the phone via Skype to the most far-flung places on the planet at no extra cost.

Facebook is preinstalled, but Facebook Messenger and Twitter are not. Those apps are available from the Windows Store.


Wed, 11 Oct 2023 12:00:00 -0500 en-US text/html https://www.phonescoop.com/articles/article.php?a=15832&p=6469
Microsoft’s answer to the MacBook Pro is big on style, and price

Under the hood

Like many creativity-focused laptops, the Studio 2 packs much more power than you’ll need for day-to-day tasks. Intel’s Gen 13 i7-13700H contains a 14-core beast of a CPU, though I’d argue it’s a bit wasted in the basic $3520 configuration where it has to handle graphics processing as well.

Moving to the more expensive models ($4200 minimum) gets you an Nvidia RTX 4050 or 4060, and up to 64GB of RAM, which gives it enough grunt for serious 3D design, video editing, high-end gaming and driving multiple 4K displays.

So while the sharp Dolby Vision display and Atmos-enabled speakers make it great for watching movies, and the power and 120Hz refresh make it capable for gaming, those should really only be considered bonuses. You’re paying this kind of money for the unusual pen-friendly design and high-end production power.

For less-intensive work, you’re likely to find that the trade-offs the Studio 2 makes – heavy design, huge price tag, relatively short battery life – are a tad extreme.

That’s not to say it can’t be used as a general laptop. The premium trackpad, great screen and nice webcam really make Windows 11 shine, as long as you don’t plan to be away from a power plug for more than five hours or so. The new AI-powered Copilot features in the operating system feel right at home on the touch-first design of the Studio 2, even if the chatbot does still need a bit more time in the oven before it becomes truly helpful for work.

Aside from the two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, the Surface packs a USB-A and microSD slot, which is handy, though a full HDMI would have been nice.

The Surface Laptop Studio 2 (right) is bigger and heavier than the latest MacBook Pro, but whether it’s more powerful depends on how you configure the devices.Credit: Tim Biggs

Head to head

If the Surface Laptop Studio 2 is Microsoft’s answer to the MacBook Pro, it only makes sense to compare the two. And, coincidentally, Apple’s 2023 models powered by the M3 chip have just been put on sale. There are a much broader set of configurations for the Mac, meaning that relative to the Surface there are cheaper, more powerful and bigger screen options, but for the sake of direct comparison we’ll pit the 14-inch Surface model against the M3-powered MacBook Pro.

The Mac starts at $3500, configured with an 11-core CPU, 18GB of memory, and a 512GB storage drive, which is a close match to the $3520 Surface, but as stated above, this particular Microsoft machine will be weak in the 3D department, especially against the MacBook.


Microsoft also can’t match Apple at the high-end, where the MacBook with M3 Pro can be configured with a wild amount of CPU cores and RAM to make for an $11,000 beast. But if we take the highest end Studio 2 – RTX 4060, 64GB of RAM, 1TB of storage – and make a Mac for the same price, we get a model with a 14-core CPU, 30-core GPU, 32GB of RAM and 1TB storage.

On paper this means you can make a more powerful Surface at this roughly $5000 mark, but the machines will still be better at different things. Apple’s chip integrates the CPU, GPU, memory and machine learning processor into a single package, which is hugely efficient compared with just about any Windows machine and will deliver you better battery life.

On the other hand, Nvidia’s RTX chips are an industry-wide standard, meaning ubiquitous compatibility across professional graphics apps and games, which is a win for the Surface.

The display is brighter, sharper and has a higher contrast on the Mac, and it’s a difference you immediately notice with the devices side-by-side. However, I really dislike the notch on the top of the MacBook Pro, plus I find the Surface’s display more useful given its tall 3:2 aspect ratio.

The folding touch screen with stylus support, clearly, is something the MacBook can’t match.

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Sat, 11 Nov 2023 11:31:00 -0600 en text/html https://www.smh.com.au/technology/microsoft-s-answer-to-the-macbook-pro-is-big-on-style-and-price-20231109-p5eisq.html

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