Windows 11 22H2 new features
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Windows 11 22H2 new features and changes (so far)

Here's everything there's to know about Windows 11 22H2 so far.

UPDATED 5/12/2022: Windows 11 (version 22H2) is expected to become available during the fall of 2022. It’ll represent the first major update of the new generation of Windows, introducing a new set of features and enhancements to improve security, productivity, and the overall user experience.

Although we’re still months away from the release, the Microsoft team has already been showing pieces of what to expect with version 22H2.

It’s worth noting that improvements in the Dev Channel are not tied to any specific release of Windows. However, most of the new features and enhancements will ship in the next feature update, and some others may arrive even before. This guide highlights the improvements as they appear in previews through the Windows Insider Program and will be updated regularly to reflect the changes. Last updated on May 12, 2022, with the changes available on build 22621.

TL;DR

As part of the new features for Windows 11 22H2, Microsoft is expected to ship:

  • New Start menu folders to group apps.
  • New option to change the number of pins in the Start menu.
  • Taskbar ability to drag and drop files and apps.
  • New Taskbar experience optimized for tablets.
  • New Snap layouts drag and drop interface.
  • New Spotlight feature for the desktop.
  • New Task Manager with a modern interface.
  • New Live captions feature to improve understanding of spoken content.
  • New Voice access feature to control a device with voice.
  • New touch gestures for tablets.
  • News Smart App Control (SAC) feature to block dangerous apps.
  • Legacy interface with visual changes.
  • Updated Focus feature with focus session integration.
  • Updated File Explorer better OneDrive integration and tweaks.
  • Updated Quick Settings with options to control Bluetooth devices.
  • Updated Print Queue and Print dialog apps with automatic printer detection.
  • Improved power management tweaks to reduce energy composition.
  • Option to uninstall updates from the Settings app.

What’s new on Windows 11 22H2

These are the new Windows 11 21H2 features already available through the Windows Insider Program.

Start menu and Taskbar improvements

Windows 11 22H2 brings new settings to customize the “Recommended” section in the Start menu. While it’s still not possible to disable and remove the feature, you can now choose from three different options in the Start settings page to show fewer recommended items and more pins, including “More pins,” “Default,” and “More recommendations.”

Start settings layout
Start settings layout

The “More pins” only shows a single row of items and allows you to show more pins. The “Default” option shows three rows of recommended items and three rows of pin items, and the “More Recommendations” option offers more recommended items and two rows of pins.

Start menu recommended options
Start menu recommended options (Source: Microsoft)

In addition, this new version adds another entry in the right-click context menu for the “Recommended” and “More” buttons in the Start menu to refresh the items.

As part of the power menu settings, Windows also adds a quick access button that opens the “Sign-in options” page.

Power menu with Sign-in options
Power menu with Sign-in options (Source: Microsoft)

The “Windows Easy of Access” folder has been renamed to “Accessibility,” the “Windows Terminal” to “Terminal,” and “Windows Media Player” to “Windows Media Player Legacy.”

Another big feature of the Start menu is folders. You can now drag an app on top of another to create a folder. You can add more apps to a folder, rearrange apps within a folder, and remove apps from a folder.

Start folders
Start folders

It’s also possible to rename the folder with the “Edit folder” option.

Windows 11 22H2 Start menu folders
Windows 11 22H2 Start menu folders

Taskbar

In the Taskbar, you can now scroll the mouse wheel in the Taskbar volume icon to change the volume level, and on the Taskbar settings page, you will now find the option to enable or disable the ability to share a window from a Taskbar on apps like Microsoft Teams.

Share any window from my taskbar
Share any window from my Taskbar

The experience is getting a minor update that shows when you use spatial sound in the tooltip.

Windows 11 22H2 brings some changes for the “Quick Settings” flyout, including a new option to open the “Bluetooth & Devices” setting page when right-clicking the “Bluetooth” button. In addition, there’s a new icon next to the volume slider to make the option more discoverable.

Bluetooth with Settings option
Bluetooth with Settings option

In the “Notification Center,” the experience improves the visibility of apps names from the notifications. In addition, the notification design has been updated to include an acrylic background. And the animation used in the Windows Hello notification when setting up the feature has been updated.

Notifications with acrylic background
Notifications with acrylic background

Microsoft is also updating the notification system. For example, in apps that send notifications for calls, reminders, or alarms, the three high-priority notifications will now appear stacked simultaneously. This means that you may end up seeing up to four notifications at one time (three high-priority and one normal priority).

Windows 11 22H2 finally brings an updated flyout design for the system hardware indicators, including volume, brightness, camera privacy, when turning the camera on and off, and airplane mode to align with the new system style design language. These new elements also support the light and dark color modes.

Windows 11 new volume control
Windows 11 new volume control

Furthermore, when using the Windows key + ALT + K keyboard shortcut, you will now see a confirmation flyout when muting a Microsoft Teams call.

Keyboard mute flyout
Keyboard mute flyout (Source: Microsoft)

Also, when you open the “Quick links” menu by right-clicking the Start button or using the “Windows key + X” keyboard shortcut, you will notice that the “Apps & Features” entry has now been renamed to “Installed apps.”

Windows 11 22H2 Quick Link menu
Windows 11 22H2 Quick Link menu

Furthermore, the menu now includes the “Terminal” entry to open the Windows Terminal app. The Windows PowerShell entry will appear if the console isn’t available.

Also, Windows 11 now shows the estimated battery life in the tooltip for the battery icon in the System tray.

The Task View (Alt + Tab) experience now shows Snap groups to allow users to switch to different snap groups quickly. Also, the preview for Snap groups will now show part of the desktop wallpaper to make it easier to distinguish between the groups.

When you open Task View on a system with multiple monitors, the background should now be acrylic on both monitors.

Windows 11 22H2 Task View with Snap groups
Windows 11 22H2 Task View with Snap groups

In addition, this version is making keyboard focus visuals more prominent in Task View to make them easier to see.

Furthermore, when using the ALT + Tab keyboard shortcut, the experience will show running apps in a windowed interface instead of a full-screen experience. However, clicking the Task View button in the Taskbar will continue to show running apps in full-screen. Also, The selected item in “ALT + TAB,” “Task View,” and “Snap assist” will now use the system accent color.

Alt + Tab with item colored selection
Alt + Tab with item colored selection (Source: Microsoft)

In addition, in this new version, there is a new interface to switch between languages and keyboard layouts with an acrylic background, and it improves the overall performance and reliability.

New input switcher
New input switcher (Source: Microsoft)

Windows 11 22H2 also brings the ability to drag and drop files between app windows by hovering over apps in the Taskbar to bring their windows to the foreground.

If you attach a file to an Outlook email by dragging it and hovering over the Outlook icon in the Taskbar to get the window to the foreground. Once in the foreground, drop your file into the email to attach it.

You can also customize the Taskbar with apps from Start’s “All apps” list by dragging and dropping over the Taskbar to pin them. And you can drag and drop to the desktop via “Show desktop” at the very left corner of the Taskbar.

Taskbar app drag and drop
Taskbar app drag and drop

Microsoft has added a new visual indication to the Taskbar in the share window feature, indicating which window is being shared. This is important when multiple applications run or split your attention across multiple monitors. When you choose to share a window in your Microsoft Teams call, the shared window will now be surrounded by a colored border.

On a laptop or desktop configured with more than one color profile, you will be able to add a quick setting to switch more easily between these modes.

Color profile in Quick Settings
Color profile in Quick Settings (source: Microsoft)

When casting (Windows key + K) from your computer, a “Cast” icon will appear at the lower-left corner of your Taskbar to indicate you are casting. Clicking the icon will open the “Cast Quick Settings,” where you can quickly stop the stream.

Cast icon in Taskbar
Cast icon in Taskbar (Source: Microsoft)

Microsoft has also updated the battery charging indicator to use a lightning bolt instead of a power cable.

Battery indicator
Battery indicator (Source: Microsoft)

This new version introduces a new Taskbar design for tablets. Microsoft describes it as a new design that “makes you feel more confident and comfortable.” The updated version of the Taskbar will automatically transition to tablet mode when disconnecting or folding back the keyboard on a convertible device. (The feature won’t be available on laptops or desktops.)

The Taskbar offers two modes, including “collapsed” and “expanded.” The “collapsed” state hides all the icons except those essential ones from the system tray, giving you more space and preventing you from accidentally invoking the Taskbar when holding your tablet.

Taskbar for tablets
Taskbar for tablets (Source: Microsoft)

On the other hand, in the “expanded” state, the Taskbar is optimized for touch with bigger icons. You can easily switch between the two states by swiping up and down on the bottom of your device.

You can always control these experiences on Settings > Personalization > Taskbar > Taskbar behaviors with the “Automatically hide the taskbar when using your device as tablet” setting.

In the Quick Settings flyout, when clicking the Bluetooth option will direct you to a new page within the experience that allows you to view the available device, connect and disconnect peripherals, and see the battery status for supported devices. 

Bluetooth in Quick Settings
Bluetooth in Quick Settings (Source: Microsoft)

Also, the “Keyboard Layout” section has been removed from the Quick Settings flyout.

The Widgets dashboard now brings the personal and news widgets into a single stream to make it easier to discover and engage with content.

Widgets with dynamic content
Widgets with dynamic content (Source: Microsoft)

Windows Spotlight

Windows 11 introduces “Windows Spotlight,” a new feature that changes the desktop background automatically every day with different pictures around the world.

Spotlight for desktop
Spotlight for desktop (Source: Microsoft)

When you enable the feature, you will also see the Spotlight icon on the desktop that lets you change the image quickly. You will get the options to like or dislike so that future photos will be more tailored to your liking, and if you like the picture, you can double-click the icon to open the browser to find out more information.

The first image will be a picture from Whitehaven Beach in Australia. Later in the day, a new collection of up to five backgrounds will download and be available on the computer. This process could take up to 24 hours.

The feature is similar to Spotlight for the Lock screen, and you can enable it from Settings > Personalization > Backgroud and select the “Windows Spotlight” option under the “Personalize your background” drop-down setting.

Windows 11 22H2 Spotlight
Windows 11 22H2 Spotlight

If you have a new device or new device, then the system will try to set the Spotlight feature as the default experience with 4K background images.

Do Not Disturb and Focus

On Windows 11, the “do not disturb” feature makes it easy to silence notifications banners. You can set up rules to automatically turn on do not disturb in the Notifications settings. For example, you could set do not disturb to automatically turn on outside of your work hours. In addition, you can set priority notifications to control whether calls, reminders and specific app breaks through when do not disturb is enabled.

Do not disturb
Do not disturb

In addition to changing the name from “Focus assist” to “Focus” to help you stay on track, the feature now integrates with the Clock app for other focus tools, such as a focus timer and calming music.

To start “Focus” is easy from the Notification Center by pressing the Start Focus button.

Start Focus
Start Focus

When you start a “Focus” session, Taskbar badging will turn off, flashing of applications in the Taskbar will turn off, a focus timer will appear on screen, and do not disturb will turn on. When your focus session ends, you’ll receive a notification letting you know your focus time has been completed. You can personalize your focus experience on Settings > System > Focus.

New Snap layouts drop menu

Microsoft is also adding a new way to snap windows into snap layouts for both touch and mouse. You can try it by dragging a window to the top of the screen to reveal the snap layouts, dropping the window on top of a zone to snap it, and using Snap assist to finish snapping your windows in the selected layout.

Snap layouts top screen
Snap layouts top screen

The company has improved Snap assist to seamlessly animate between zones in a layout for a better end-to-end experience.

Snap assist will now show the three most recent tabs of Microsoft Edge as suggestions to snap in the layout. You can always disable the feature from the “Multitasking” settings page in the “System” section.

When resizing apps in the snap layouts, you will see the corresponding app “icon” on top of the acrylic background.

Snap layouts app icon

If you press the “Windows key + Z” keyboard shortcut to open Snap layouts, the layouts will now appear with numbers to make them easier to identify.

Snap layouts with numbers
Snap layouts with numbers

Microsoft has updated the snap group visuals to include the desktop wallpaper to make it easier to differentiate your groups from normal windows. This will appear when using ALT + TAB, Task View, and the Taskbar previews.

You will also notice a new transition animation that shows going from one snapped window state to another. Rotating the computer between portrait and landscape orientation is snappier more responsive. And Microsoft has reduced the number of notification sounds that play when you connect and disconnect docks and monitors.

It is now easier to move the cursor and windows between monitors by letting your cursor jump over areas where it would previously get stuck. This behavior is controlled in settings on System > Display > Multiple displays, and using the Ease cursor movement between displays option.

Finally, Windows 11 also made minor changes to the snapping options under System > Multitasking to help simplify them and make them easier to understand.

File Explorer and Desktop changes

Starting on Windows 11 22H2, File Explorer introduces a new default “Home” page. Technically, Microsoft renamed the “Quick access” page to “Home.” However, the “Quick access” name will now be the name of the first section in “Home,” and the “Pinned files” section is now called “Favorites.”

Home in File Explorer
Home in File Explorer

Furthermore, the recent and pinned files sections are now searchable using the search box in File Explorer, even if they are not local files.

It’s also possible to use the Ctrl + Shift + C keyboard shortcut to copy the item path to the clipboard when selecting a file or folder.

As part of the context menu experience changes, this new version brings the modern right-context menu to the desktop Recycle Bin. The context menu for network shares includes an option to pin to “Home” without switching to the legacy menu.

Recycle Bin new context menu
Recycle Bin new context menu

Also, in the legacy context menu (Show More Options), the items now include more padding and the highlight is light or dark, depending on the system color instead of blue. You will also see this in the File menu of the Task Manager experience.

Classic context menu new highlight
Classic context menu new highlight

As part of other File Explorer improvements, the context menu adds a few new top-level options, including “Install” when right-clicking on font files and .inf files. “Install certificate” when right-clicking on .cer files. “Map network drive” and “Disconnect network drive” when right-clicking on “This PC.” And “Disconnect” when right-clicking on network drives.

From the “This PC” page, when you click the See more (three-dotted) menu, you will now find the option to add a media server connection.

Connect to a media server option
Connect to a media server option

On Windows 11 22H2, the “Add to Favorites” support is now available for files in addition to folders. Pinned files will appear in the new “Favorites” section above “Recent” in Home.

When using a Microsoft, work, or education account, Favorites and Recent files from Office.com will also appear on the “Home” page.

Also, changes that pin or unpin files hosted in OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams will sync and be reflected in Office.com and Office apps. File activity updates from collaborators such as edits and comments are shown in the “Tiles” view and can also be shown in the “Details” view.

File Explorer also comes with a new OneDrive integration to help you have control over storage consumption and ensure your files are syncing. When browsing your OneDrive folders, you can now see your sync status and quota usage without having to leave File Explorer.

OneDrive File Explorer integration
OneDrive File Explorer integration

Furthermore, the app can now show previews of items within folders.

File Explorer folder preview
File Explorer folder preview

When sharing a local file in File Explorer to Outlook, it’s now possible to compose an email message directly within the share window without going into Outlook directly.

Share inline Outlook in Explorer
Share inline Outlook in Explorer (Source: Microsoft)

The Quick Access page can now show content from OneDrive, Downloads, and virtually from all the index locations. If files are not locally available on the computer, they will show thumbnails, and you can share them through OneDrive sharing.

In addition, the File Explorer includes new icons for the Rename, Properties, and Optimize options to be more consistent and easier to understand.

File Explorer new context icons
File Explorer new context icons

Microsoft is also updating the “Open with” dialog design to align with the Windows 11 design, and it’s making it easier to set a default app to open an app.

Open With new UI
Open With new UI

Also, you can use the “Shift + Right-click” shortcut to open the classic context menu instead of the modern alternative that offers fewer options.

New Task Manager design

Windows 11 22H2 has a new Task Manager with a design that matches the desktop style. This includes a new hamburger-style navigation bar and a new settings page. A new command bar on each page gives access to everyday actions. Microsoft has even added a dark theme for the new Task Manager.

Task Manager new design
Task Manager new design

Task Manager also now includes a new Efficiency mode (formerly “Eco mode”) feature that will come in handy when you notice an app consuming high resources and want to limit its consumption, allowing the system to prioritize other apps.

You can apply “Efficiency mode” by clicking on the command bar on the “Processes” page or right-click on the process. You can only use “Efficiency mode” for a single process and not the entire group process. If the option is grey out, it generally means that it’s a core Windows process, and throttling it might affect the system’s performance.

The “Efficiency mode” process will have a new “leaf” icon, and there’s a new “pause” icon for “Suspended” processes to indicate the process is in suspended mode.

In addition, the Task Manager now includes accent color support for the “Processes” tab heatmap. However, in some cases, you will see the default blue accent color to ensure readability.

Task Manager accent color
Task Manager accent color (Source: Microsoft)

Task Manager also introduces at least five new keyboard shortcuts:

  • Alt + E – ends the selected process.
  • Alt + N – opens the dialog to run a new task.
  • Alt + V – turns “Efficiency Mode” on or off.
  • Ctrl + Tab – Cycles through the tabs in the navigation area.
  • Ctrl + Shift + Tab –  Cycles through the tabs in the navigation area in reverse.

The app has other shortcuts as well. You only need to press the “Alt” key to display the trigger letter displayed on the interface.

New Print Queue and Print Dialog

Windows 11 now has a redesigned version of the Print Queue app that matches the new modern design. The app also has easier to use with visuals that make it easier to view and manage print jobs.

Print Queue new UI
Print Queue new UI (Source: Microsoft)

Also, the Print dialog interface has been updated with the new Windows 11 design language, and it can now discover network printers automatically. If you select a printer that was never available on the computer, Windows 11 will install the device automatically without opening the Settings app.

Print new UI
Print new UI

Touch experience changes

Windows 11 now will launch apps maximized by default on table posture for small devices, 11-inch screen diagonal and under.

The new touch keyboard and IMEs designs will now show on the Lock screen and where you enter your account information.

New touch keyboard in the Lock screen
New touch keyboard in the Lock screen (Source: Microsoft)

Also, Windows 11 22H2 updates the media controls that appear on the Lock screen for supported apps using a design similar to the media controls available through the Quick Settings flyout. However, these controls will always use the dark color mode to match the Lock screen environment.

Lock screen media controls
Lock screen media controls (Source: Microsoft)

Windows 11 22H2 includes new touch gestures to make it easier and quicker to navigate the desktop and apps with touch:

  • Swipe with your finger from the middle of the Taskbar to invoke the Start menu and swipe back down to dismiss it.
  • Swipe right to left from Pinned to get to All apps and left to right to get back to Pinned. The same gesture works for Recommended/More.
  • Swipe with your finger from the bottom right of the Taskbar to invoke Quick Settings and swipe back down to dismiss it.
  • Microsoft updated the animation when swiping to invoke and dismiss Notification Center from the right edge of your screen so that it’s more responsive and follows your finger.
  • In full-screen touch-oriented apps and games, you will notice a gripper that appears if you swipe from the edges of the screen.

Lock screen improvements

Windows 11 now comes with an updated accessibility flyout on the login screen to align with the new modern design principles.

Sign in screen accessibility menu update
Sign in screen accessibility menu update

Settings app improvements

As usual, the next version of Windows 11 will include an updated version of the Settings app with various new features and improvements. For example, the app now improves results when searching for settings, and the icons from the navigation pane have been increased to make them a bit easier to see.

Windows 11 now includes links in Settings to help customers find different programs to give their computers a second life or recycle it.

Storage Sense will now be enabled by default for computers going through OOBE. Your current settings will be persisted on the upgrade. You can configure your Storage Sense settings under System > Storage.

Display page

On the Display page, the pop-up design when the “Identify” experience now has rounded corners to match the modern design of Windows 11.

Identify displays new style
Identify displays new style

Also, on supported hardware, the display calibration is now directly available under Settings > Display > HDR instead of opening a separate Settings page.

Under the “Multiple displays” settings, you will now find a new “Ease cursor movement between displays” option. The option is meant to make it is easier to move the cursor and windows between monitors by letting your cursor jump over areas where it would previously get stuck.

On the “Graphics” page, you will find a new Change default graphics option that opens a new page. The page includes a new feature known as “Optimizations for windowed games,” and it has been designed to improve latency and unlock other exciting gaming features, including Auto HDR and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR). Latency improvements can benefit all gamers, from improving your input lag to creating a competitive edge in your gaming experience.

Optimizations for windowed games
Optimizations for windowed games

Multitasking

On the Multitasking page, Windows 11 also made minor changes to the snapping options to help simplify them and make them easier to understand.

Multitasking settings
Multitasking settings

And the option to show Microsoft Edge tabs has been updated for Snap assist and the Alt + Tab interface.

Sound page

On the Sound page, you will now see a warning when microphone access has been restricted in your privacy setting.

Sound page warning
Sound page warning

Focus page

On the Focus page, the settings have been re-organized to integrate with focus sessions and configure the features you want to have enabled or disabled ruing a session, including timer, badges, and flashes from apps in the Taskbar, and do not disturb.

Focus settings

As part of the Focus features, version 22H2 adds 5-minute increments for everything under a half-hour to focus session length options.

Power & battery

On the Power & battery page, the default values for Sleep and Screen off are reduced to save energy and carbon emissions when the computer is idle. Windows 11 will also offer power-saving recommendations to help reduce carbon emissions to those with Sleep and Screen offset to Never.

New power management
New power management

Taskbar 

On the Taskbar page, under the Taskbar behaviors settings has new options to disable flashing apps and recent searches history when hovering over the Search button.

Taskbar behaviors settings
Taskbar behaviors settings

Storage Spaces

The Storage Spaces page has a new design to match the Settings design style on Windows 11 and new iconography. However, no new features have been added.

Storage Spaces new UI
Storage Spaces new UI

Disks & Volumes

The Disks & Volumes page is also getting updated in this release to match the new Settings app design style.

Disks and Volumes new UI
Disks and Volumes new UI

Bluetooth

As part of the Bluetooth improvements, Windows 11 will now remember if you turn on Bluetooth or Wi-Fi while in airplane mode. Then the next time you use airplane mode, the radios will reflect your preference.

Printers & Scanners 

The Printers & Scanners page has been updated to show more details about the printer and scanner.

Printers more details
Printers more details

Advanced sharing settings

The Advanced sharing settings page is new in the “Network & internet” section. The page ports several sharing settings previously available in Control Panel, including Network discovery, File and printer sharing, and public folder sharing.

Advanced sharing settings
Advanced sharing settings

In addition, some entry points for network and devices settings in Control Panel will now open in the Settings app.

Fonts page

On the Fonts page, Microsoft made some adjustments to improve the design of the page, including that the drag and drop area for installing fonts is larger now.

Fonts settings
Fonts settings

Touch page

The Touch settings page available through the “Bluetooth & Devices” section adds a link to make it so that the press and hold visual is now always displayed regardless of the setting state.

Themes page

On the Themes page, the contrast theme colors based has been tweaked, and the links are now more distinct on hover when using the desert theme.

Taskbar page

On the Taskbar page, the system now adds a new option to disable the list of recent searches when hovering over the Search icon.

Search button disable recent items
Search button disable recent items

Touch Keyboard page

On the Touch Keyboard page, Windows now adds a new link to the touch keyboard personalization settings to help improve discoverability.

Installed apps page

The Apps & features page in the “Apps” section is now pided into two separate pages, including “Installed apps” and “Advanced apps settings.” The “Installed apps” page now only includes a view of all your installed applications.

In the top-right corner of the page, you will find three options to change the view of the listing. Furthermore, the “sort by” menu has been updated to sort from smallest to largest files, and you can even sort by “Name (Z to A)” and “Name (A to Z).”

Installed apps settings
Installed apps settings

It’s now possible to launch the apps settings page using the ms-settings:appsfeatures Uniform Resource Identifier (URI).

Also, Microsoft has removed the “Programs and Features” page from Control Panel, which means that all the links will now point to and open the Installed apps page.

Advanced app settings page

The Advanced app settings is also a new page in the Settings app that now includes the remaining settings of the “Apps & features,” which are no longer part of the “Installed apps” page.

Advanced app settings
Advanced app settings

Default apps page

On the Default apps page, Microsoft is bringing back the ability to quickly switch default browsers. Once you upgrade to this new version, you will find a new “Set default” button that will automatically configure Chrome, Firefox, or any other browser the system default.

Windows 11 22H2 change default browser
Windows 11 22H2 change default browser

When you use the option, the system makes the new browser the default for .htm, .html, HTTP, and HTTPS, which are the primary protocols to access the web. However, it’s not perfect since Microsoft Edge will continue to be the default for other protocols, including .pdf, .svg, .xhtml, and FTP.

Also, when searching, Windows 11 will now show a drop-down of options containing your current query without pressing the Enter key first.

Default apps search
Default apps search

Optional features

On the Optional features page, it’s now possible to install and uninstall the Windows Management Instrumentation command-line (WMIC).

WMIC optional feature
WMIC optional feature

Accounts

In the Accounts section, Windows 11 22H2 is removing the “Your Microsoft Account” page, and it’s bringing the Microsoft 365 subscription information to the “Accounts” section. As part of the details, you will find your payment information, billing details alerts, OneDrive storage usage, and the people you share the account.

Microsoft account (paid)
Microsoft account (paid) (Source: Microsoft)

In the case that you don’t have a subscription, you will find the information about OneDrive and an option to get subscribed.

Microsoft account info (free)
Microsoft account info (free) (Source: Microsoft)

Time & language

The Time & language section and the Date & time pages have been updated to include a live digital clock and information about the currently selected option.

Time & language hero controls
Time & language hero controls

Language & region page

On the Language & region page, in a continued effort to modernize the user interface, Windows 11 redesigns the page to add languages to align with the design style across the experience.

Language add new UI
Language add new UI

Date & time page

On the Date & time page, standard users (aka non-admins) should now be able to change the time zone if Location access is not granted, rather than the drop-down going blank.

Mouse pointer and touch page

On the Mouse pointer and touch page, the touch indicator option will now be disabled by default in new installations.

Touch indicator disabled
Touch indicator disabled

Ethernet and Wi-Fi

On the Ethernet and Wi-Fi page, Windows 11 22H2 adds support for “Discovery of Designated Resolvers” (DDR), allowing the system to discover encrypted DNS configurations from a DNS resolver known only by its IP address.

Windows 11 22H2 DNS DRR setting
Windows 11 22H2 DNS DRR setting

VPN page

On the VPN page, you can now see some VPN connection details when clicking the connection in the Settings app.

Find my device page

On the Find my device settings page, you will find new links to help you learn more about the privacy resources.

Find my device privacy settings
Find my device privacy settings

Windows Update

On the Windows Update page, if available in your location, you will see a new “Windows Update is committed to helping reduce carbon emissions” message, which is part of a new power management feature coming to version 22H2.

Carbon emissions message
Carbon emissions message (Source: Microsoft)

In this release, the system will try to schedule automatic updates during the times that will result in lower carbon emissions, for example, when more clean energy is used (hydro, solar, and wind) by the electrical company. 

Microsoft is working with “electricityMap” and “WattTime” to implement this feature. If energy data is available at your location, you will see the above message, indicating that the feature is enabled.

Uninstall updates

On the “Windows Update” section, the “Update history” page has been updated with a new Uninstall updates setting to uninstall updates from within the Settings app without having to open Control Panel. However, since the Control Panel no longer includes the “Programs and Features” page, using the Settings app is the only way to remove updates using a graphical interface moving forward.

Uninstall updates page
Uninstall updates page

Input changes

On Windows 11 22H2, Microsoft is expanding the Touch Keyboard theming experience to other input features, including for the emoji panel, voice typing, and IMEs.

Input themes
Input themes (Source: Microsoft)

Windows 11 now supports Hungarian for handwriting input as of this build. Also, the company is working on adding an IME On/Off key to the touch keyboard small layout for the Japanese, Korean, and Chinese Traditional IMEs. In addition, the team is adding small layout support for the Chinese Simplified Microsoft Pinyin and Microsoft Wubi IMEs.

Microsoft is also working to improve the input experiences on Windows 11. For starters, some of the emojis have been updated based on feedback, including the smile with tear emoji, sakura emoji, and colored heart emojis. It now also adds a few new items to the kaomoji section in Windows key + Period (.) based on feedback, including UwU.

Windows 11 now supports Hungarian for handwriting input as of this build. Also, the company is working on adding an IME On/Off key to the touch keyboard small layout for the Japanese, Korean, and Chinese Traditional IMEs. In addition, the team is adding small layout support for the Chinese Simplified Microsoft Pinyin and Microsoft Wubi IMEs.

Windows 11 22H2 now ships with more than 37 new emojis in the emoji picker, including “melting face,” “beans,” “coral,” “mirror ball,” and “playground slide.” In addition, there is a small accent-colored dot in the bottom corner of their entries in the emoji panel for emojis that can be customized.

Voice Typing

The Voice Typing feature introduces a few commands, including:

  • To Enter – Say “Press Enter.”
  • To Backspace – Say “Pres Backspace,” “Backspace.”
  • To Space – Say “Press space,” “Insert Space.”
  • To Tab – Say “Press Tab,” “Tab.”

Smart App Control (SAC)

Smart App Control (SAC) is a new security feature available through the Windows Security app to block untrusted or potentially dangerous applications.

Smart App Control
Smart App Control (Source: Microsoft)

You first need to configure SAC in evaluation mode. While in evaluation mode, it will learn if it can help protect the device without getting in your way. If so, it will automatically enable itself. Otherwise, it will automatically disable itself. While in evaluation mode, a user can manually turn on SAC in the Windows Security app under the App & Browser Control section.

Also, Windows 11 will now notify you that the Core isolation feature to protect the memory integrity is disabled, so you can turn it back on to protect your computer against malicious attacks.

Live Captions

Live Captions is a new accessibility feature that allows anyone to better understand audio by viewing captions of spoken content. Captions are automatically generated on-device from any content with audio. Captions can be displayed at the top or bottom of the screen or in a floating window.

Live Captions
Live Captions

In addition, Microsoft says that you can resize the caption window and personalize the caption appearance by applying or customizing a caption style. Microphone audio can be included, which can be helpful during in-person conversations. Live captions support English (U.S.) content.

Use the Windows key + Ctrl + L keyboard shortcut or from the Accessibility flyout under Quick Settings to use Live Captions.

Voice Access

On Windows 11 22H2, Voice Access is a new feature that enables anyone to control their laptop or desktop computer using their voice.

When using Voice Access, you can use your voice to open and switch apps, browse the web, dictate emails, etc. According to Microsoft, voice access “leverages modern, on-device speech recognition to recognize speech accurately and is supported without an internet connection.”

Voice Access
Voice Access (Source: Microsoft)

The feature only supports the English-U.S. language, which means that the “Windows display language should be set to English-U.S. Otherwise, voice access may not work as expected.”

Voice Access is available on Settings > Accessibility > Speech. When you enable it for the first time, you will need to download a speech model for the on-device speech recognition. Once the package has been downloaded, you can choose a microphone to use your voice to control Windows 11.

You can choose to auto-start Voice Access the next time you sign in via the Settings app. You can also use voice commands or keyboard shortcuts (Alt + Shift + C and Alt + Shift + B) to control whether voice access is listening or not listening.

Once the feature is activated, you can say “Voice access wake up” and “Unmute” to get voice access and start listening to you. “Voice access sleep,” “Mute” to put voice access to sleep. Or “Turn off microphone” to stop voice access from listening to you.

The system even provides an interactive guide to learn how to use Voice Access and find all the commands.

Voice Access guide
Voice Access guide (Source: Microsoft)

Navigating the Windows 11 experience is quite simple. For example, you can say things like “Open,” e.g., “Open Edge,” “Open Word,” to open an app. Or “Switch to,” e.g., “Switch to Edge” to switch to an active app. or “Minimize window,” “Maximize window,” “Close window” to manage windows. Or “Click,” for example, “Click Start,” “Click Cancel” to click an item, like a button or a link, just to name a few.

Also, you can now use Voice Access with the touch keyboard. For instance, you can spell words, enter numbers, punctuations, and emojis. 

Some of the new commands include “Show keyboard” to open the touch keyboard, “Hide keyboard” to close the touch keyboard, and “Click number” to type a key.

You will also find a setting to add punctuation automatically when dictating text has been added. You can turn it on by clicking on the settings icon on voice access UI and selecting automatic punctuation from “manage options.”

Microsoft added a new setting to filter profanity. This is on by default, and any profane or sensitive words will be masked with an asterisk (*) when dictating text or commanding. You can turn it off by clicking on the settings icon on voice access UI and selecting filter profanity from “manage options.”

It is now easier to use the “show numbers” command as Microsoft has reduced the occurrence of number labels hiding the controls on windows UI and making it hard to understand the control under a number.

The company has improved feedback messages for unsupported languages and feedback messages for using voice access when you have multiple monitor setups.

Windows 11 also improves the discoverability of using the touch keyboard with your voice to enter passwords or PINs, correcting mistakes, and spelling out words using “correct that” and “spell that” commands.

Narrator

Windows 11 introduces several changes to the Narrator experience when browsing the web with Microsoft Edge. In this new version, Microsoft is making it easier to type in edit fields, such as the address bar, because the Narrator scan mode will now turn off faster. The Narrator will now read the character that the cursor position is at after a character has been deleted.

According to the company, you will also get more contextual information when navigating the web. For instance, required radio buttons and edit fields will now be read out as required, and more information about lists, including list levels and accurate list indices will now be readout.

You will have a more consistent navigation experience with improvements in heading navigation, a more consistent scan mode navigation experience where scan mode is less likely to loop between items, and a more consistent hyperlink reading experience when navigating forwards and backward.

In addition, Narrator is gaining new natural voices. According to the company, these more “natural voices enable Narrator users to enjoy scenarios like browsing the web, reading, and authoring mail, and more.”

These new voices use modern, on-device text to speech, and, once downloaded, they are supported without an internet connection. Natural Narrator voices are available in English-U.S.

If you want to use the new natural voices, open Narrator and click the “Install now” button. Under the “Add natural voices” section, click the “Add” button. Choose either the “Jenny” or “Aria” voice, and click the “Install” button.

Narrator add natural voices
Narrator add natural voices

Here are also some new Narrator commands to make it easier for users to switch voices, including:

  • Narrator + Alt + the Minus key – move to the previous voice settings combo box.
  • Narrator + Alt + the Plus key – move to the next voice settings combo box.

Updated keyboard commands include:

  • Narrator + Alt + the Left Bracket key – move to the previous punctuation reading mode.
  • Narrator + Alt + the Right Bracket key – move to the next punctuation reading mode.

Microsoft Edge with Narrator

This version also improves navigating the web with more useful information, navigating dialogs is more natural, and editing text should now be more reliable when using Narrator with Microsoft Edge.

When navigating the web, you can have the Narrator read the current item (for example, current page, current time, etc.). When you need to sort a table on the web, the Narrator will announce the sort order you’ve selected (for example, ascending, descending).

Windows 11 makes it simpler to know when an item is selected in a tree view control and the state of a checkbox when these are part of a list. Microsoft also has improved link navigation, and you will find that tabbing through links on a webpage and pressing Enter will always take you to the link destination.

When you encounter a dialog box on the web, Narrator will help you stay focused within the dialog box and prevent navigation to the content behind it.

Furthermore, Narrator has a few improvements for editing text on the web. If you delete text on a form field, Narrator will read the character that was deleted, and if you need to cut a large set of text with Control + X, Narrator will confirm that the text has been cut.

Also, as part of the “Narrator” experience, the feature now provides a new male natural voice called “Guy.”

In addition to these new features and improvements, Microsoft is also detailing many fixes and known issues that Insiders need to know before upgrading their devices.

System changes

On Windows 11 22H2, Microsoft is also updating various aspects of the system. For example, the “TabletInputService” service has now been renamed to “TextInputManagementService.”

Legacy title bar with mica material

The title bars for legacy components like in the Run dialog now use the Mica transparent material.

Legacy title bar with Mica
Legacy title bar with Mica

Installation changes

Similar to Windows 11 Home edition, Windows 11 Pro edition now requires internet connectivity. If you choose to set up a device for personal use, a Microsoft account will also be required for setup. You can expect Microsoft Account to be required in subsequent WIP flights.

If you choose to set up a device for Work or School, there is no change, and it will work the same way as before.

Authentication support

You can now use Windows Hello Facial Recognition from an external monitor with a camera and supports the feature when the laptop is closed.

Networking changes

In the original release of Windows 11, Microsoft introduced SMB compression, a new feature that allows a user or application to request compression of files as they transfer over the network. The feature removes the need to compress a file manually with an application, copy it, then uncompress it on the destination machine. When using compression, files will use less bandwidth, therefore taking less time to transfer, but at the cost of some additional processor usage during transfers.

Starting with version 22H2, Windows 11 includes new changes for the SMS compression algorithm so that if compression is requested, the file will always try to compress during a network transfer.

Windows 11 will once again allow TKIP and WEP connections, and it’ll continue to warn users to connect with more secure technologies like WPA2 (WPA3 is the current standard).

Graphics improvements

Windows 11 22H2 is expanding Dynamic Refresh Rate (DRR) experiences on laptops with 120Hz displays. When you move the cursor, the system will boost to 120Hz, making your computer feel more responsive.

Touch and pen interactions blend into smooth animations in Windows UI and app UI. Smooth scrolling is now supported in Office and Microsoft Edge Canary and Windows UI like the Settings app.

This version also introduces a feature called “Optimizations for windowed games,” and it has been designed to improve latency and unlock other exciting gaming features, including Auto HDR and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR). Latency improvements can benefit all gamers, from improving your input lag to creating a competitive edge in your gaming experience. Go to System > Display > Graphics > Change default graphics settings to enable the feature.

New policy to suppress update notifications

This new version includes a new policy to disable system update notifications. It’s called “Display options for update notifications,” and you can find it on the Group Policy > Computer configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update > Manage end user experience.

Windows Update notification policy
Windows Update notification policy (Source: Microsoft)

Windows Sandbox

Windows Sandbox mapped folders now support relative paths. For example, ..\relative\folder...

BitLocker USB exclusion

On version 22H2, Windows 11 introduces a new policy to exclude USB removable drives from BitLocker encryption. The company says that this will solve the problem of automatic or accidental encryption of storage built into specialized devices like video cameras, voice recorders, conferencing systems, medical devices, etc.

Magnifier

The Magnifier and the on-screen keyboard now have new modern icons using the Fluent design system.

Windows 11 Home disable SMB1

If you use the Home edition of Windows 11, the SMB1 protocol now ships disabled by default as Microsoft plans to remove the binaries completely in future releases.

The company explains that if you have “installed SMB1 manually or upgraded from a previous version of Windows where SMB1 was installed, upgrading to the latest Dev and Beta Channel build will not remove SMB1.”

Group policies for administrators

Windows 11 22H2 also introduces several new policies to give administrators more control over the Start menu, Taskbar, and System tray.

For example, now it’s possible to use the Group Policy Editor to disable the “Quick Settings” and “Notification Center” flyouts. You can disable all the Taskbar settings. You will also find an option to disable search in the Start menu and Taskbar, and you can disable the Task View feature.

Also, in the Start menu, you now have the option to remove the “Recommended” section, context menus, and the “All apps” list.

The new options are configurable from the Start Menu and Taskbar settings in the “User Configuration” section.

Startup experience

As part of the boot experience, the startup will now show a progressive ring animation instead of an animated circle of dots. (Microsoft also plans to adopt this new animation in other parts of the OS.

Windows 11 new boot animation
Windows 11 22H2 new boot animation

Also, when doing a full build upgrade of Windows 11, the progress ring animation has been updated, aligning with the new progressive ring animation instead of an animated circle of dots.

The Windows startup sound will no longer play after the computer reboots automatically to apply updates. Also, moving forward, Windows 11 ships with .NET Framework 4.8.2, which brings ARM64 support for the runtime.

Out-of-box experience (OOBE)

In the OOBE experience, you will now find a new page to process that lets you link your Android phone to Windows 11.

Android phone link in OOBE
Android phone link in OOBE (Source: Microsoft)

Input

Microsoft has added a new extra-large candidate height option for Simplified Chinese IME users under Personalization > Text Input in Settings.

Microsoft Journal will now come pinned by default on the “Pen” menu. If you don’t have the app installed, it will be installed from the Microsoft Store if chosen on the Pen menu.

Microsoft Journal
Microsoft Journal (Source: Microsoft)

The ADLaM keyboard layout adds access to brackets and ADLaM Hamza. To access these:

  • Right Alt + \ will now input »
  • Right Alt + | will now input «
  • Right Alt + Shift + [ will now input {
  • Right Alt + Shift + ] will now input }
  • Ctrl + Shift + ; will now input the Hamza character

Also, the company updated the Pashto keyboard layout so that ې and ئ are now directly accessible on the keyboard.

Other improvements

Windows 11 now supports wideband speech when using Apple AirPods products (AirPods, AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max) to improve audio quality for voice calls. And for devices that are part of a domain, Credential Guard is now enabled by default.

In addition, you can now download Speech Packs for Voice Typing from the Microsoft Store, and Windows adds support for HTTPS boot for Hyper-V Generation 2 virtual machines.

Finally, the Get Started app will now launch automatically after an upgrade to highlight the new improvements.