What is the first significant update to Windows 11, and when can users expect to see new features? For example, Microsoft could release a Windows 11 update in 2022 that isn’t quite a spring feature update.
Instead, the spring update to Microsoft’s Windows 11 operating system is now live. The first Amazon apps, a redesigned taskbar, and other features are new additions.
Windows Update, the Microsoft Store, & new “experience packs” that will download quietly in the background; facilitate changes to the Windows 11 operating system will be the primary channels through which Microsoft will push the newly added features to your new computer (PC). The latest Shop updates will automatically push out updated versions.
Notepad and Windows Media Player, the latter of which will replace the older Groove Music app.
Groove was a Microsoft-owned online music streaming service discontinued several years ago. You can get to the new Media Player app by selecting “Groove Music” from the app drawer.
The following is a rundown of what’s new in the various new Windows experiences as of February 2022:
• The return of the clock to the taskbars of multiple monitors, which had previously been removed.
• The integration of a weather application on the desktop’s TaskbarTaskbar
• The inclusion of Android applications from the Amazon Appstore.
• The ability to mute your microphone within Teams, now accessible via the TaskbarTaskbar.
• Screen sharing within Teams is now easier with the TaskbarTaskbar.
• New Media Player and Notepad versions
The “update” may be delivered in chunks, with some arriving ahead of others. For example, when I clicked “check for updates” in my computer’s Settings menu, the most recent Windows 11 updates via Windows Update were not available. However, the updated versions of Media Player and Notepad are downloaded almost instantly from the Microsoft Store.
Although it is technically incorrect to call the new release the Windows 11 February 2022 Update, that may be its name. Not to be confused with a standard update, Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer Panos Panay referred to the updates as “new experiences in Windows 11” in a blog post. The current plan sets to release Windows 11 22H2, or whatever the final version will be called, sometime this fall.
What follows is new information for understanding the newly added features.
Android App Support
The new experiences were introduced early in the Windows Insider preview program, as were almost all of Microsoft’s other recently introduced features and capabilities.
In addition, we have an in-depth article that explains how to install Android apps on your computer using the Amazon Appstore, and we anticipate that the process will be essentially unchanged when using the new experiences.
The process is built around a single action. You have to go to the Microsoft Store, download the Amazon Appstore Preview app, and follow the on-screen instructions. Windows will create a virtual machine on your computer and download the necessary files in the background.
Surprisingly, most formal virtual machines require Windows 11 Professional. In this case, Android apps will be able to run on top of Windows 11 Home if you have the necessary hardware.
Is it worth it? To some extent, The limited number of apps (under 60 just before launch, though Microsoft says they’ll launch with around 1,000 apps) means that there are a lot of clunkers among the current offerings; these are the kinds of apps you’d uninstall from a new computer.
However, there are apps for United Airlines and The Wall Street Journal, indicating enough content to check out. Even Google’s app store cannot be accessed in its current state without some changes.
It is worth noting that the Amazon Appstore app featured approximately 50 to 60 apps before its launch, whereas Microsoft claims that it will launch with about 1,000 apps.
A Redesigned Taskbar
If you read our initial review of Windows 11, you will recall that we had some reservations about the redesigned Taskbar and Start menu. Some things have been fixed, but others have not.
Microsoft / YouTube: With Windows 11, you can mute your microphone simply by clicking the TaskbarTaskbar.
Inadvertent omissions that caused users to scratch their heads, such as removing the clock from the TaskbarTaskbar on all displays other than the primary one, have now been corrected.
It’s a little disappointing that two of the new features, muting the mic and sharing your screen, appear exclusive to Microsoft Teams and not any other app that uses your mic.
In other words, when you use Teams, a small microphone icon will appear on your computer’s TaskbarTaskbar.
(A mic icon already appears when using an app like Zoom, but clicking it takes you directly to the Windows 11 Settings page where you can manage mic permissions.) Simply clicking the microphone icon in Teams will muffle your microphone.
The same can be said for the new update, making sharing one’s screen within Teams easier. For example, if you hover your mouse over your TaskbarTaskbar while in the middle of a Teams call, you should see a small thumbnail of the active window and a button to share the screen. If you click it, it will be displayed for others to see.
You can now share your screen in Teams from within Windows 11.
Finally, the weather icon has made its way to the TaskbarTaskbar. On Windows 10, this is known as the “News and Interests” app. By default, the Weather icon in Windows 11 serves as a shortcut to the Widgets menu in the bottom left corner of the screen.
While another window is open, the weather icon will only summarize the current weather (such as sunny, partly cloudy, or overcast) and the current temperature. Then, when you move your mouse over it, a drawer containing some unexpected items will open.
The New Windows Media Player App
As previously stated, Windows Media Player has replaced Groove Music. Since Microsoft discontinued the Groove Music Pass in 2017 (five years ago! ), the usefulness of Groove Music has been called into question. The new version of Media Player works precisely as expected.
Select a music file, move to play it, and then proceed. There is no integration with Spotify, and there is no visualizer; however, there is fundamental support for audio and video playlists.
The redesigned version of Microsoft’s Media Player app can be found in Windows 11.
Although the app does not list the audio and video formats that it supports, it does have excellent integration with your Music, Videos, and Downloads folders, allowing it to locate and present the audio and video files that I have accumulated within the context of the app. Even if a specialized music folder has been added to the music library, the apps are said to retrieve content from OneDrive still.
The New Notepad
If you don’t use Notepad very often, you might be wondering what the new features are. For example, you may have noticed the new Dark Mode and how Notepad adapts to your system’s light mode or dark mode settings.
Aside from that, the most notable additions are emojis and the ability to undo multiple levels of changes at once (hurray!).
Microsoft did not say whether it would add to these new “experiences” over time. Whatever the case may be, Windows 11 has been repainted.
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