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Microsoft Releases New Windows 11 Pre-Release Build With Several New Features

Posted December 8, 2021 | Windows | Windows 11

Windows 11 Insider Preview build 22518 is now available for testing for those in the Dev channel, and this one adds several new features. Given the timing, it’s reasonable to assume this will be the last major update before the holidays.

“This build has several new features for Windows Insiders to try out including Spotlight collection backgrounds, an updated entry point for Widgets with weather and voice access,” the announcement post notes, adding that it’s not yet available on ARM-based PCs “due to an issue that causes these [PCs] to rollback when attempting to update to this build.” Microsoft is working on a fix.

New features include:

Spotlight collection. Many Windows users enjoy the Spotlight feature on the lock screen, which brings nice, Bing-based photography will signing in. With this related feature, Windows 11 will deliver similar imagery to the desktop, with a new photograph and related “fun facts” every day.

Widgets update. For some reason, Microsoft looked at the terrible Widgets feature in Windows 11 and decided that what it needed to fix was where the Widgets icon is located in the taskbar. So it’s testing a new location: to the far left of the taskbar, where the Start button should be. That will get some nice misclicks, I bet, disingenuously driving Edge, MSN, and Bing usage. On the good news front, this change is fixing a regression, at least: you will once again see a weather update on the taskbar instead of an icon before you remove the icon for good.

Voice Access. This “new experience [will] enable everyone, including people with mobility disabilities, to control their PC and author text using their voice.” This works with such things as “opening and switching between apps, browsing the web, and reading and authoring mail,” and it leverages on-device speech recognition and doesn’t require an internet connection.

Windows Subsystem from Linux (WSL) improvements. As you know, WSL 2 is now available from the Microsoft Store, and in this build, Microsoft is making it easier to get the latest updates. Now, when you use the `wsl.exe –install` command, it will install it from the Microsoft Store by default. There are also some additional command-line arguments to help better configure the install. You can learn more here.

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