Windows 11: Latest updates bring a wave of new features

    If you think you understand Microsoft’s strategy for Windows feature updates, it’s time to reset. With Windows 10, Microsoft experimented with feature updates during the tumultuous first year or two, even assigning a marketing name to each major feature release: Anniversary Update, Creators Update, They eventually settled on a predictable schedule for feature updates, with major releases every six months, typically in March/April and September/October.

    Those feature updates are designed to be distributed through Windows Update and are, for all intents and purposes, a full version of Windows upgrade.

    Microsoft returned to that schedule with the launch of Windows 11, pledging to deliver these sometimes disruptive feature updates only once per year, in the second half of the year. (That decision also applies retroactively to Windows 10.)

    Reasonable people might assume that the change in schedule means that Microsoft has committed not to deliver any new features beyond those annual year-end feature updates. LOL – League of Legends, as the kids like to say.

    Windows boss Panos Panay put together the list of “new experiences” (that’s Microsoft’s way of talking about features) at the end of February in a lengthy blog post.

    Many of those changes are coming this week as part of the March Tuesday Patch update. That’s right on schedule for what previously would have been a semi-annual feature update. It also poses a series of questions, starting with the obvious one.

    Is this a Windows feature update?

    Oh no.

    New features implemented in the March update were previewed in the February 2022 non-security update (Cumulative Update 2022-02 for Windows 11 for x64-based systems. [KB5010414]). Other new features will come in the form of app updates from the Microsoft Store and through what Microsoft calls “services”.

    That may seem like enough to qualify as a feature update, but there’s an important difference. This update comes in at a relatively light 230MB on x64 systems. That’s about one-tenth the size of the feature update Windows 10 used to run at the time.

    The first official Windows 11 feature update will be available in late 2022.


    There’s now a Weather icon at the far left of the taskbar (where the Start button used to be), showing the current temperature and a brief forecast.

    What are these new Windows 11 features?

    The new feature Microsoft has chosen to highlight is the Windows Subsystem for Android, which allows Windows 11 users to download and install a selection of “managed” (that is, small) Android apps from Amazon. Appstore. This feature is not automatically installed and does not require the latest Windows 11 cumulative updates – much more in a minute.

    Another set of new features focuses on the Windows 11 taskbar. There is now a Weather icon at the far left of the taskbar (where it used to be Windows 10’s Start button), which shows the current temperature. current and brief forecast. Clicking that icon will open the Utilities pane. If you don’t want to, you can hide the Weather icon by disabling the Widgets option in Taskbar Settings.

    Windows 11 now shows a clock on the second monitor on multi-monitor setups. Some Windows watchers might argue that this is not a new feature but a fix, and it’s hard to argue against that.

    For audio calls using Microsoft Teams with a work or school account, the taskbar microphone button now lets you mute and unmute your audio with a single click. Likewise, the buttons at the bottom of each application window allow you to share that window (and only that window) with the current Team call.

    Two “redesigned” applications with very familiar names Media Player and Notepad are also available.

    What does the new Media Player app do?

    Microsoft has a rich history of attaching confusing names to new products, but this time they have really outdone themselves.

    If you’re running Windows 11, at some point you’ll notice that the Microsoft Store automatically installed a new app called Media Player on your PC. In fact, the app was a replacement for the ill-fated Groove Music, which then followed the even more evil Zune Music, which…

    Well, you get the point.

    Anyway, the best part of the story is that the completely archaic Windows Media Player (Wmplayer.exe) program still exists on Windows 11, with the Windows Vista era theme still intact. It still lets you rip CDs and can still sync with your 20-year-old MP3 player if you want.

    Meanwhile, the new Media Player is a renamed version of the Groove Music app that’s as beautiful as its predecessor and equally relevant for any music fan who hasn’t owned a 20-year-old MP3 player. age.


    After years of being mostly ignored, Notepad is finally getting a refresh in Windows 11.

    What does the new Notepad application have?

    If you are looking for the most hidden utility out of all the Windows utilities, the extremely basic Notepad text editor is sure to be on the shortlist as a finalist. After years of being mostly ignored, it’s finally been updated in Windows 11.

    The biggest change in the new Notepad is that it is a so-called modern application, installed and served through the Microsoft Store. Other than that, the list of new features and changes is pretty slim:

    • It now supports dark themes, so you don’t have to face a blinding white background when editing text documents in a dark room.
    • Multilevel undo (Ctrl+Z) is supported, along with Redo which is not on the menu but works with the standard Windows Ctrl+Y keyboard shortcut.
    • The menus have been simplified a bit.

    That’s not really much for new features, and most people who want a full-featured text editor will opt for a third-party app like Notepad++ or Atom. More than anything, the Windows Notepad app update says less about the app and more about how Microsoft is focusing its development resources on Store apps rather than traditional Win32 programs.

    What’s the deal with Android on Windows 11?

    I reviewed Windows Subsystem for Android last month and it’s really amazing to talk about. Limiting the app selection to a subset of the apps in the Amazon Appstore means that very few apps deliver any meaningful value on a full-sized Windows laptop that supports touch. One exception is Amazon’s own Kindle app that runs on Surface tablets like the Surface Pro X or the smaller Surface Go 3.

    It is also important to know that the Android subsystem requires quite a bit of resources. For full details, including installation instructions, see “Android on Windows 11: Is it worth the effort?”

    Do Android apps from the Google Play Store work on Windows 11?

    Microsoft has embraced Android on its own mobile devices, including the Surface Duo and Surface Duo 2. It has also partnered with Samsung on a number of Android-specific integrations.

    But integrating Google’s store into the Windows platform may be a bridge too far for Microsoft, which is not keen on the prospect of allowing Google to stick with Windows. If it’s not likely that Windows Subsystem for Android becomes a surprise hit, those talks could heat up. But don’t hold your breath.

    Is Microsoft bringing back Internet Explorer?


    If you read the support document announcing the changes in this release of Windows 11 you will see many references to “Internet Explorer mode”, including a new feature: the ability to share cookies between Microsoft mode Edge Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge. That feature allows Windows 10 users to open older web pages originally written for Internet Explorer in a sandboxed Microsoft Edge tab that supports legacy features (like ActiveX controls and Browser Helper Objects) that are no longer available. support in Edge. This feature is a big deal for enterprise customers with legacy business stream apps, but it’s not something consumers and small businesses are likely to use.

    Do any of these work on Windows 10?

    Any changes to the Windows shell are specific to Windows 11, so don’t expect to see them on an older operating system. Likewise, Windows Subsystem for Android is a Windows 11-only feature. To run Android apps on Windows 10, you’ll need a third-party solution like Bluestacks.

    The new Media Player is also the MIA for Windows 10. Curiously, its listing in the Windows 11 Store shows the old name, Groove Music, with an updated version number of 11. The listing for the same app shows as the session number. version 10 on Windows 10. Apart from the name, it’s hard to discern any significant difference.

    As for the new Windows Notepad, no, you cannot install it on current versions of Windows 10. Its Store listing notes that the minimum requirements for this product include Windows 10 version 19541 or later. up. That version is currently only available as an Insider Preview. Check back later in the year, after Windows 10 22H2 is released.

    Are these unexpected features a regular thing?

    Yes Yes. In a blog post in February, Panay said the company plans to release new features more often.

    As today’s release shows, we’re committed to delivering experiences into Windows 11 that enrich and inspire people’s lives. Over time, you’ll find us releasing new features into Windows 11 for end users more often in addition to our annual updates. We will take advantage of the many update mechanisms we have available including service and Microsoft Store updates. Our goal is to deliver continuous innovation, giving you the best experiences year round.

    The good news is that major groundbreaking feature updates, which can take 30 minutes or more to install, come only once a year. And with the 24-month support window for Windows Home and Pro editions, you can even switch to a biennial schedule for the PCs you manage.

    But if you want a version of Windows whose feature set is frozen and doesn’t change from month to month, it’s probably best to stick with Windows 10 for now.

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