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Microsoft Tests New Windows 11 Features in the Release Preview Channel

Posted March 21, 2023 | Windows | Windows 11 | Windows Insider Program

Today, Microsoft released a new preview build of Windows 11 to the Windows Insider Program’s Release Preview Channel. And it includes some minor new features that I don’t believe Microsoft has yet tested in the Canary, Dev, or Beta channels.

This is, of course, troubling, but I guess it’s better than just shipping them directly to stable without any testing, as Microsoft did with the Search “pill” (now called the Search icon and label) in late 2022.

Also unclear here is exactly when and where new Release Preview Channel features will ship to the general public. As you may know, the Release Preview Channel is where testers can “preview fixes and certain key features, plus get optional access to the next version of Windows before it’s generally available to the world.” But the next version of Windows doesn’t ship until September/October (23H2) and the most recent “Moment” update, Moment 2, just shipped. Will these features arrive in Moment 3 (if there is one) or just randomly in some coming month? There’s no way to know.

Anyway. Here’s what’s new in Windows 11 build 22621.1483.

Microsoft account notifications in Start. Available to only “a small audience right now,” this annoying new feature will deploy more broadly in the coming months, Microsoft says, and some testers “might notice different visual treatments” as it gathers feedback. Basically, when you click the user profile picture in Start—where you normally see options like “Change account settings,” “Lock,” and “Sign out,” Microsoft will now also display reminders related to your MSA. In the example shot, shown above, you can see a reminder to use OneDrive to back up key system folders to the cloud.

Bing chat button in the Search box on the Taskbar. If you leave the space-wasting Search box enabled on the Taskbar, it will include a new button that will open the Bing chat experience in Microsoft Edge. Those who don’t sign into Windows with a Microsoft account will instead see a dynamic search highlight button.

Search box improvements for custom color mode. If you leave the space-wasting Search box enabled on the Taskbar and customize the Windows 11 color mode a Dark Windows mode and a Light app mode In Settings > Personalization > Colors), the Search box will now display in a lighter color. It’s almost like they didn’t test this new feature enough. Nah.

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint improvements. Commercial customers who sign-in with a Microsoft Work or School account whose organizations use Microsoft Defender for Endpoint will see many new features and improvements to that product. You can learn more here.

In addition to these coming-in-hot new features, this build also addresses enough bugs and other issues that one wonders how Microsoft could possibly wait that long to ship it out into the world. And then fix all the new issues this build creates in a future milestone. This is what continuous innovation looks like, folks.

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