Microsoft Plans to Add Copilot Keys to Keyboards

On January 4, 2024, Microsoft, along with a number of OEMs, plans to add an additional Copilot key to the keyboards of several new PCs and laptops to allow users to quickly turn on the AI-powered Windows Copilot.The Copilot key will replace the traditional menu key (app key), and will be located next to the Alt key on the right side of most keyboards. Windows Copilot, built into Windows 11, is said to be a ChatGPT-like chatbot that can answer questions and even perform actions within Windows.

In countries where Windows Copilot is not available, the Copilot key launches Windows Search. Microsoft hasn’t revealed which OEMs will be adding the Copilot key, which could be announced at the next Consumer Electronics Show and beyond. The new Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 models are expected to launch in the spring and are confirmed to come with the Copilot key. Microsoft is also planning more AI-focused updates to Windows in 2024, including ‘refreshes’ to Windows systems and integrating AI into more software and services. Microsoft says 2024 will be the ‘Year of the AI PC’.

VESA Releases Adaptive-Sync 1.1a Standard

VESA updated the Adaptive-Sync standard for adaptive synchronized display technology on January 4, with the aim of supporting ‘dual mode’ gaming displays. For the first time, Adaptive-Sync version 1.1a is said to provide a publicly available performance standard for variable refresh rate displays. Version 1.1a also introduces a test procedure for evaluating monitors with varying maximum refresh rates at reduced resolutions, and introduces a new dual-mode test and flagging feature. The Dual Mode Test allows eligible monitor manufacturers to certify products at two different sets of resolutions and refresh rates (e.g., 4K/144Hz and 1080p/280Hz).

SpaceX Launches Cell Phone Data Satellites

On January 4, SpaceX launched the first six satellites capable of providing cellular data services. These Starlink satellites work like data towers in space, working with a user’s existing cell phone without the need for specialized equipment. The main purpose is to provide text messaging services in areas where cellular signal coverage is weak or unavailable. In the future, SpaceX also plans to provide voice and data services.

It is reported that SpaceX received U.S. approval last month to begin testing a service called Direct to Cell. The service is designed to enable cellular connectivity on a global scale, and SpaceX is currently working with T-Mobile US Inc. while AT&T Inc. has a partnership with satellite operator AST SpaceMobile Inc. SpaceX also plans to work with operators in other parts of the world, including Optus in Australia, Salt Mobile SA in Switzerland, Rogers Communications Inc. in Canada, One New Zealand Group Ltd. in New Zealand, and Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones in Chile and Peru. Nacional de Telecomunicaciones SA in Chile and Peru, and KDDI Corp. in Japan. Starlink expects total sales to reach about $10 billion this year, surpassing SpaceX’s rocket-launching business, which accounts for two-thirds of total sales, Bloomberg reported.

LastPass Mandates Master Passwords of More Than 12 Digits

LastPass, a password management tool, announced on January 4 via its official blog that it is requiring users to set a master password of at least 12 digits, a measure it says is designed to counteract the growing sophistication of password cracking and brute force techniques in order to improve the security of their accounts. lastPass has also provided a list of password-setting practices, suggesting that users set their passwords to use at least LastPass also provides a list of password setting practices, advising users to use at least 12 characters when setting passwords; combine uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special symbols, with at least one of each type; make sure the master password is known only to you; avoid using email addresses and personal information as passwords; don’t use consecutive characters; and make sure that the master password isn’t shared with any other accounts or apps.

Dell Announces New XPS Series Laptops

Dell announced the new XPS 16, XPS 14, and XPS 13 laptops on January 3, all powered by Intel Core Ultra processors. Starting at $1,899.99, the new XPS 16 replaces the old XPS 17, and features a 16.3-inch OLED screen, up to Ultra 9 185H processors, 64GB of RAM, 4TB PCIe 4.0 SSD and RTX 4070 graphics. Starting at $1,699.99, the XPS 14 replaces the older XPS 15 and features a 14.5-inch OLED screen, Gundam Ultra 7 165H processor, 64GB of RAM, 4TB PCIe 4.0 SSD and RTX 4050 graphics. And starting at $1,299.99, the XPS 13 replaces the XPS 13 Plus lineup with a 13.4-inch OLED screen, Gundam Ultra 7 165H processor, 64GB of RAM and a 4TB PCIe 4.0 SSD. All of the new XPS models support touch and variable refresh rate screens, offer multiple port options, and come in different body thicknesses and weights. They are expected to be available in the first quarter of this year.

X Platform Launches Foundation Subscription for Certified Organizations

Recently, X (formerly known as Twitter) launched a new subscription tier called “Basic” designed for certified organizations that offers a gold checkmark. This new tier is priced at $200 per month, which is more affordable than the $1,000 per month cost of the previous “Full” access service. The tier not only offers a gold checkmark for certified organizations, but also includes a number of other features. The move is seen as a response to the poor reception of the previous high-priced plan, although X says it’s a move to better serve small businesses.

Galaxy S24 to be Unveiled

The Galaxy S24 series scores have once again appeared on the Geekbench scoring platform. The scores show the Exynos 2400 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor versions, both of which have seen an increase in scores, with the Exynos 2400 version having almost matched the performance of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 version. The Galaxy S24 Ultra is expected to be powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor globally, while the Galaxy S24 and S24+ will use the Exynos 2400 in some regions and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 in others, and the core layouts of the two processors are slightly different, with the Exynos 2400 featuring a quad-cluster, 10-core design with 1+2+3+4 cores, and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 featuring 1+3+3+4 cores. The two processors have slightly different core layouts, with the Exynos 2400 featuring a quad-cluster 10-core design of 1+2+3+4 and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 using a quad-cluster eight-core design of 1+3+2+2. Samsung will officially unveil the new Galaxy S24 series at an Unpacked event in San Francisco on January 18 at 2 a.m. BST.