Microsoft has begun overlapping preview builds of Windows 11 in the Developer Insider and Beta channels, essentially signaling to users that they have begun working on the features that will appear in the beta. next release of Windows 11.
Microsoft releases beta builds of Windows 11 in three separate channels: Dev, Beta, and Release Preview. The Development Channel is a laboratory for Microsoft concepts that may never ship, and Microsoft said in February that the Beta and Development Channels are on “parallel paths”. Amanda Langowski, Windows Insider program supervisor, wrote: “The Beta Channel will preview experiences that are closer to what we will offer to customers in general.
Today, Microsoft announced Windows 11 Build 22581 and the company will release it on both Dev Channel and Beta Channel simultaneously. This means two things: First, if you’re trying out Windows 11 builds on the Development Channel, you can safely switch to the Beta Channel without having to reformat your PC. But it’s also a signal that Build 22581 represents something closer to the final feature set of Windows 11’s upcoming fall feature release, also known as 22H2 or Sun Valley 2.
Until Microsoft actually releases Build 22581, we can’t say for sure what the build includes and excludes. And, even then, we can’t be absolutely certain that those will be the features that appear in the fall release. However, we can rest assured that some will appear in 22H2, as they have been highlighted in the blog post accompanying the announcement. Most of these are part of Microsoft’s Insider Build 22557, a major release of new features that Microsoft added in February.
Live subtitles: This cool new feature automatically creates subtitles on videos that you have stored to your PC, for those who are hard of hearing or simply watch in a quiet environment.
Start folders: One of the complaints about Windows 11 is the lack of Start menu folders, a feature in Windows 10. A new feature lets you group them, and a more recent addition lets you name them.
Redesigned Task Manager: The redesign of the traditional Task Manager app brings it in line with the design principles of Windows 11, but also adds an efficiency mode to try and limit the resources a particular application consumes. This isn’t a feature most users will use, but enthusiasts can use it to restrict background apps.
Taskbar optimized for tablets: In Build 22563 in February, Microsoft issued a change that shrinks the Windows 11 taskbar when used on a tablet, to allow for more workspace. Swiping up from the bottom expands it so you can interact with the icons.
Drag and drop apps in the taskbar: Microsoft doesn’t explicitly define this as a confirmed feature, but one of the “fixes” the company has made is to tweak the way drag and drop apps on the taskbar work. This is another Windows 10 feature that was excluded from Windows 11, but added back through the Insider build.
If your PC is in the Development Channel and you want to move it to the Beta Channel, you can go to Settings > Windows Update > Windows Insider Program and manually switch to the Beta Channel. There will be an undisclosed amount of time before Microsoft pushes new Dev builds, and once that window closes you won’t be able to switch channels without a clean install of Windows.
Microsoft hasn’t said when to release Windows 11 22H2 in the fall, but historically it was released around September and October after a long period of tweaking existing features and fixing bugs.