Today Microsoft announced the first big batch of 2023 updates for Windows 11, part of the company’s plan to release new Windows features “when they’re ready” instead of waiting for the big annual update. – updated in the fall.
The headliner, at least for people who signed up for the AI-powered preview of the “new Bing,” is support for Bing’s AI-powered features (including the infamous Bing chatbot) in the taskbar in Windows. We have written more about the features separately. Other changes are more typical of a regular Windows 11 release, with a combination of things we’ve seen before and things Microsoft has been testing in its Insider Preview channels for the past few weeks or months.
Some of the additions enhance existing Windows 11 apps or features. The Notepad app, recently updated with a Windows 11-style design and dark mode support, now supports tabs so you can view multiple notes in one window. A redesigned Quick Assist app streamlines the process of remotely connecting, viewing the screen, and controlling a PC you’re giving remote tech support to. And the Snipping Tool now supports recording onscreen video in addition to screenshots, making it even more useful for recording quick app demos or other snippets.
Microsoft has added some taskbar and Start menu features, too. New first- and third-party Widgets will aim to make Widgets even more useful than they are today—the screenshots show new widgets for Facebook Messenger and Spotify, as well as Microsoft’s Phone Link app and Xbox Game Pass. A “collapsed,” icon-free version of the taskbar now appears on convertible PCs when the keyboard is removed or folded, allowing a small area for websites and apps.
There’s also an “energy recommendations” section in the Settings app that will recommend tweaks to your sleep and power settings to optimize your battery life—this usually looks like things like “make your PC sleep faster” and “keep automatic screen brightness enabled. , “handy tips for casual PC users but nothing ground-breaking for experts.
One potentially exciting addition for iPhone users is the addition of iOS support to the Phone Link app, which should be available now (or soon) through the Windows Store for anyone enrolled in either which Windows Insider Preview channels. Like Android phones, you can make and receive phone calls, see and send text-based SMS messages (no photos or videos allowed, either sending or receiving), and watch of contacts on your phone. But an apparent lack of iMessage support will likely prevent it from feeling essential for most iPhone users, especially those who are used to getting full-featured and smooth iMessage support on an iPad or Mac. (We’ve asked Microsoft to confirm whether iMessage is supported, but one of the app’s screenshots clearly specifies that SMS messages are supported, and today’s blog posts don’t mention iMessage.)
The Your Phone app supports many features when paired with Android phones, especially those from Samsung; this update will also allow Samsung phone users to take advantage of easy hotspot pairing from the Wi-Fi menu in Windows and to send browser tabs from the phone to the PC.
It’s worth reading the full post to learn more about all the changes, which include support for braille displays and more voice control options, easier access to Windows 365 apps PC in the cloud, and new ways to control AI-powered webcam Studio Effects settings for some PCs that support them.
All of these updates require the Windows 11 2022 Update (aka 22H2) to be installed first. If you’re running Windows 11 22H2, most of the new changes are available to download now by checking Windows Update and manually installing the available update preview. Barring major issues, the update will automatically roll out to all Windows 11 22H2 PCs starting next month.
We’ll likely get a few more big Windows 11 feature drops throughout the year, including the 23H2 update in the fall. We’re still waiting for that update to take shape, but among the leaks and bits and pieces uncovered in the preview builds, it looks like Microsoft is testing a redesigned File Explorer with a more modern codebase and a possible replacement for the poor RGB lighting controller apps. . The release of the 22H2 ends in May of 2022, a few months before its release in September, so we expect to know more about the additions to the 23H2 this spring.