Yesterday’s Microsoft combined work event spent a lot of time talking about Windows 11 features that we already know thanks to the Windows Insider Program, but that doesn’t mean it’s not. any new feature announcements. If you pay close attention, there are some new features revealed that we haven’t seen before, and some that we’ve seen but haven’t officially put to the test.
Either way, we think it’s a good idea to sum up all the new features we’ve seen shown or talked about during the event and its three breakout sessions. Microsoft did not say whether these features will be ready in time for the next major feature update, called version 22H2, or if they will arrive sooner or later. It’s also unclear when these features will be available for Insiders to begin testing.
Tabs in File Explorer
This is arguably the biggest new feature announced by Microsoft yesterday. Finally, it brought a tabbed interface to the File Explorer application, allowing users to open multiple folders and folders in one application window, much like a web browser. The time has come, which has been one of the top requested features from Windows Insiders since the Windows Insider Program started back in 2014.
Other platforms have had tabs in their respective file explorers for years, so Microsoft is definitely playing catch-up in this area. That said, better late than never. Tabs in File Explorer have appeared in a few Windows Insider builds (albeit unofficially) in a rather unfinished state. Hopefully in the coming months we’ll see this feature evolve into a fully tabbed experience.
Microsoft has also introduced an updated “home” experience with a slightly tweaked user interface. We’ve had an updated homepage layout in the Insider Program, but the refined UI design isn’t in the public builds yet. It’s subtle, but the version of File Explorer introduced at the event seems to be more in line with the rest of the Windows 11 design language, so hopefully we’ll hear more about the delivery update soon. this user interface for File Explorer.
Contextual IQ Features
Microsoft also revealed that it plans to introduce smarter, contextual behaviors and features to Windows 11 in the coming months. The example it uses at the event is with the share dialog in File Explorer, which will try to list the contacts it thinks you want to share specific files with in an effort to reduce the number of times click and time actually tried to share said file.
The company has said that it plans to introduce these contextual improvements in other areas of the operating system, and we’ve learned that a feature called “Recommended Actions” is in development that will provides quick actions for common tasks like creating an event in the Calendar app or adding a contact to your contact list when highlighting specific types of text and data.
It’s super brief, but Microsoft has once again introduced a full-screen version of the Utility Panel, a feature that was announced in June 2021, but has yet to ship even in preview. In addition, Microsoft also introduced the ability to sign in to the Utility Panel with both personal and work accounts, something that is currently not possible on Windows 11.
We do know that Microsoft is planning to open the Gadgets Console to developers at some point, although this was not announced at yesterday’s event. We’ll probably see Microsoft talk more about the Extensions Panel’s scalability at Build 2022, just announced May 24-26. For now, we’re still waiting for the Console. The full screen widget appears.
Video call improvements
Microsoft spent some time talking about hybrid work and how they built Windows 11 to help enhance hybrid business meetings through enhancements to voice calling scenarios with microphone and camera effects New and improved features powered by dedicated neural processors found in compatible Windows PCs.
Announced camera and mic effects include background blur, auto-framing, noise cancellation, voice clarity, and eye contact. Some of these features are already available in your favorite video calling apps, but Microsoft is building these effects into Windows 11 natively, which means they’ll work on any app that uses it. your camera, as long as you have a neural processor inside your PC.
So far, Microsoft is touting the Lenovo ThinkPad X13s as one of the first with a built-in neural processor, which means it will support all of these new camera effects coming soon. These apps will work in Teams, Slack, or any other app that uses your camera.
A major new feature announced for companies deploying Windows PCs to their employees is in the form of “Organizational Notifications”, which allows IT admins to deploy alerts directly to employees via Windows. . These alerts can appear as pop-ups above the Taskbar, through notifications in the Action Center, or directly on the lock screen. IT admins will be able to send these alerts to employees through Endpoint Manager, assuming your organization is using Azure Active Directory set up.
Cloud computing integration
Finally, Microsoft talked about some of the new features for commercial customers that it plans to offer “in the future”. All of these features are designed to better integrate the local Windows 11 desktop experience with the Cloud PC experience powered by Windows 365. For now, Windows 365 is a service you can only get. actually accessible via a web browser, but Microsoft wants to make Windows 365 a feature of Windows 11.
Here are the announced cloud integration features:
- Start Windows 365: Lets you sign in directly to your Cloud PC and designate it as the primary Windows experience on the device.
- Windows 365 Offline: Allows you to work in Windows 365 even when disconnected, and when the internet is restored, your Cloud PC automatically re-syncs to the service without data loss, so the user experience use and the working process is always stable.
- Switch Windows 365: Gives you the ability to move between your Cloud PC and your local desktop the same way you would between windows in Task Switcher, using the same familiar keyboard, mouse, or swipe gestures.
- Windows 365 Apps: Provides another way to get straight to my Cloud PC from the Taskbar or Start menu. All have a desktop path to my Cloud PC, providing a personalized welcome experience, customized to tailor my settings, profile, and work style.
Microsoft has highlighted these experiences as the “future” of Windows desktop experiences for commercial customers, which implies that these features are not available. Microsoft is committed to making them available, but it may take some time before they start showing up on products.
Applications folder on desktop?
Finally, I want to point out something that Microsoft doesn’t especially notice, but was detected in the background of another demo. During one of the breakout sessions, a brief demo of the Taskbar popped up to reveal what looked like a folder of apps on the desktop. In the top left corner, you can see a square thumbnail with four social network icons in it, titled “social networks”.
To me, this looks like an apps folder, which Windows 11 doesn’t currently support on the desktop. You can create application folders in the Start menu, but not on the desktop. Hopefully, this isn’t just a conceptual blunder and we actually see this coming out as an official feature soon.