Microsoft released a bunch of important updates to Windows 11 earlier this week, adding tabs to the Notepad app, integrating the AI-powered “new Bing” into the search box on the taskbar, and -iPhone pairing preview, complete with basic iMessage support. And Microsoft continues to test other features publicly through its Windows Insider Program, especially in the more experimental Dev channel. These builds will likely form the basis for the big 23H2 operating system update later this year.
This week’s Dev channel build shows a new and improved volume mixer for Windows and its apps directly from the Quick Settings menu at the bottom-right of the taskbar. The new mixer lets you switch between output devices and control the volume of your output, and it displays per-app volume and mute settings so you can mute or unmute an individual app. This is an improvement over the current Quick Settings controls, which only offer system-wide volume adjustments and require multiple clicks to change output devices.
This build also expands a feature called “Auto Color Management” (ACM). ACM is hardware-accelerated, system-level color management that ensures that colors in apps look the same on different displays with different capabilities, and it’s designed as a replacement for more older Windows color management technologies such as Image Color Management (ICM) and the Windows Color System. (WCS).
Let’s talk briefly about what color management is and why it’s important. Different displays have different properties. Some may support high-dynamic range (HDR) while others may not. Some may support extended color gamuts such as DCI-P3 or Adobe RGB instead of the more common sRGB. Some support 10-bit color, while others only support 8-bit color. Whether you’re writing software or creating images or videos, you want to know that your content will look the same on all types of displays, regardless of what color technologies the displays support.
Windows 10 introduces Advanced Color to address this issue specifically for HDR displays, ensuring that content designed for SDR displays appears correctly even on monitors with a higher dynamic range. The Windows 11 2022 Update introduces ACM, a version of Advanced Color for “select qualifying and specially rendered SDR displays,” such as those on the Surface Studio 2+ and Surface Pro 9, to ensure that the apps designed for sRGB displays only use colors from the sRGB color gamut while also making more colors available to apps that can take advantage of it. This Windows 11 Insider build extends ACM support to all SDR displays connected to a compatible GPU.
ACM has specific GPU hardware requirements, although these are usually mild: an AMD RX 400-series GPU or newer, an Nvidia GTX 1000-series GPU or newer, or any dedicated which Intel GPU (including Arc and the weird DG1 card). All Ryzen integrated GPUs and the integrated GPUs of 12th-generation or newer Intel CPUs are also supported. You must be running an up-to-date graphics driver with WDDM 3.0 support.
Other changes in this build include a setting to always or never show the Windows touchscreen keyboard instead of letting your PC show or hide it automatically based on whether a physical keyboard is connected, a newly found help page for voice access commands, and more testing of ads for other Microsoft services in the sign-in menu (these all take the form of backup reminders, but the cloud that files are backed up to is Microsoft’s OneDrive service).