Microsoft is finalizing the subsequent main characteristic launch of Windows 11, also referred to as Windows 11 22H2. What must you anticipate? A considerably minor replace, however with some options that buyers have been asking for for a while.
With information that Microsoft could also be selecting up the tempo of the way it releases options — with an eye toward Windows 12 in 2024 — it might be that the period of “feature releases” is coming to an in depth. No matter. We’ll nonetheless see some key options added to Windows 11 within the fall, primarily based on the Windows 11 builds that Microsoft has begun testing.
In reality, it’s honest to say that Microsoft has finalized Windows 11 22H2, because the working system has been launched into Microsoft’s Release Preview Channel of its Windows Insider program. Here, Microsoft trials new options and builds with a small group of beta testers who choose in to making an attempt them out earlier than they launch to most people. When will Windows 11 22H2 “ship” to your PC? If historical past holds, September or October, with October maybe extra doubtless since among the options listed beneath have some points.
Originally, Microsoft launched Windows 11 22H2 Build 22621 to the Release Preview Channel in June. (Right now, it’s at Build 22621.317.) Whatever the ultimate model finally ends up as, we could be assured that Microsoft will merely repair bugs from right here on out, whereas holding the tally of options primarily unchanged.
While your expertise will differ, putting in Windows 11 22H2 Build 22621 took about 5 minutes on a Razer Book (late 2021) assessment unit, which we repurposed as one in every of our check machines.
New options in Windows 11 22H2
A revamped File Explorer?
In 2017, Microsoft showed off Sets, then a rethinking of Windows 10’s File Explorer that mixed browser, Mail, Calendar, File Explorer and extra right into a single window with varied browser-like tabs denoting the separate apps. That endeavor was killed earlier than seeing the sunshine of day. Since then Microsoft has proven off a tabbed File Explorer (and simply a tabbed File Explorer) in 22H2’s Dev Channel, however that characteristic does not but seem within the model of File Explorer that ships within the present Release Channel construct, 22621.317.
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It appears like Microsoft isn’t as dedicated to a “release date” because it was once, nevertheless, so we nonetheless may even see that characteristic present up earlier than lengthy.
Microsoft is also revamping the left-hand navigation pane in File Explorer. The emphasis right here is much less upon exhibiting what Windows needs to point out by default — Documents, Downloads, Music, and so forth. — and extra what you’d wish to see, by way of steadily used and pinned folders. There’s larger emphasis on making the OneDrive cloud a part of your desktop, too, together with larger visibility into how a lot OneDrive storage you’re utilizing. Part of that features with the ability to “share” recordsdata on to OneDrive, which is admittedly not that a lot totally different than merely copying them into the OneDrive folder in File Explorer.
“Windows Spotlight” wallpapers
Windows 11 felt a bit sterile at launch, so we are inclined to lean in the direction of something that may humanize it a bit. That’s the place Windows 11’s “new” “Windows Spotlight” characteristic is available in. Windows Spotlight merely modifications up your background on the each day, pulling in a pre-selected photograph from Microsoft’s assortment and making use of it as your background. Longtime Windows customers know that this characteristic has floated around for years in some type or one other, nevertheless it’s nonetheless welcome.
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Snap layouts bar
You’re in all probability conscious you could pin a window to part of your display screen through Windows’ “Snap” characteristic. In Windows 11, you’ll be able to entry that by clicking on the “maximize window” portion of a window. In Windows 11, Microsoft has modified the best way you’ll be able to allow Snap by dragging any window to the highest of the display screen. Instead of mechanically maximizing it, the Snap window will seem.
Mark Hachman / IDG
Snap nonetheless works because it all the time does, from the “maximize window” icon. But this provides an even bigger space to “grab” or “target” along with your mouse or finger, making it simpler for everybody.
Accessibility options in Windows generally get quick shrift, if solely as a result of ready customers assume they’ll by no means use them. With Live Captions, all customers will profit. Live Captions is nothing greater than a characteristic much like utilizing your telephone’s mic to dictate a textual content, besides right here, the dictation is utilized to any video you might have enjoying again in your PC. As the video performs, Windows will present the captions as they’re spoken — even when the video doesn’t natively help captions.
Mark Hachman / IDG
Sure, it really works for streaming video, however it is going to be your recorded video the place this actually shines.
The Start menu is notoriously problematic in Windows 11, with an odd assortment of pinned apps, advisable recordsdata, and a hidden app record that’s a click on away. Not everybody could have taken full benefit of Windows 10’s skill to prepare apps contained in the Start menu, however this characteristic was just about not noted wholesale when Windows 11 launched. At the minimal, Windows 10 allowed you to prepare apps collectively in Start menu folders. Now—lastly—Windows 11 will as effectively.
Mark Hachman / IDG
The folders in Windows 11 (and, to be honest, Windows 10) are nonetheless tiny, to the purpose that you simply’ll need to squint to make out what they’ve inside them. But no less than you’ll be capable to group your most well-liked apps, one thing that you simply haven’t been in a position to do prior to now.
A small however vocal minority was outraged when Microsoft minimize this characteristic from Windows 11. Previously, dropping a picture file onto the taskbar opened your most well-liked editor. Ditto for, say, a Photoshop challenge. Now, this characteristic returns to Windows 11 through 22H2, restoring this component of the workflow for individuals who missed it. The Windows 11 taskbar is an annoying step backwards, however it is a transfer in the correct route no less than.
Voice Access and voice controls
Microsoft is including Voice Access in Windows 11 2H22, one other accessibility characteristic that can be utilized by nearly anybody. It’s one other “modality,” in a lot the identical manner you could click on through a mouse or faucet a touchscreen. Here, although, you’ll use your voice. Voice Access intelligently acknowledges elements of your display screen, in order that saying “Click next” will click on a button marked “Next” in your display screen. That’s the best way it’s alleged to work, anyway. Early testing on two totally different machines reveals that Voice Access highlights the right button, however doesn’t really course of the clicking operate.
Microsoft can also be including a button on the taskbar to mechanically mute or unmute the mic when in a Zoom or Teams name. You can already mute your mic in any variety of methods, after all, however Microsoft is hoping that you simply’ll all the time be capable to discover this common mute management.
Microsoft additionally tweaked two key components in Windows 11: Settings and the Task Manager. The latter has been given the Windows 11 therapy with each a practical and aesthetic improve that provides a left-hand nav bar to the app. Settings has additionally been enhanced, with extra details about Microsoft subscriptions added to the app.
Microsoft can also be making smaller modifications, too. One — shifting the climate widget to the far left of the taskbar — has already been pushed to customers. Others, together with enhancements to Near Share (and sharing recordsdata to OneDrive) might be a part of the smaller upgrades and modifications coming to 22H2. We’ll attempt to spotlight probably the most consequential as a part of our eventual assessment of Windows 11 22H2 later this 12 months.