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 1/24/2022: 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. 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 January 24, 2021, with the changes available on build 22538.

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 better 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)

This version of Windows also adds a quick access button to the power menu that opens the “Sign-in options” page as part of the Start menu improvements.

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” in the “All apps” list.

Also, 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.

Taskbar

In the Taskbar, Windows 11 22H2 will also bring back the ability to show the clock on all monitors, removing the need to use third-party tools to get the same experience that existed in previous versions of Windows. You won’t find an option to control this feature, this will be the new default behavior.

Also, you can now scroll the mouse wheel in the Taskbar volume icon to change the volume level, and in 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

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, 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).

This feature update also introduces the ability to mute or unmute the microphone from the Taskbar when using Microsoft Teams.

Windows 11 mute and unmute button
Windows 11 mute and unmute button

The button will appear automatically in the system tray, at the bottom-right side of the Taskbar, when you are in a call. You can see the call audio status, the app accessing the mic, and you can quickly mute and unmute the call.

You can also use the Windows key + Alt + K keyboard shortcut to mute and unmute calls.

The company says that this new feature is not limited to Microsoft Teams. Developers will also be able to integrate this feature directly into their applications. Also, we won’t have to wait until the next version of Windows since it’ll be available in a future servicing update.

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. Furthermore, these new elements also support the light and dark color modes.

Windows 11 new volume control
Windows 11 new volume control

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.”

Installed apps entry
Installed apps entry

In the Taskbar, the Task View (Alt + Tab) experience now shows Snap groups to allow users to switch to different snap groups quickly. Also, when you open Task View on a system with multiple monitors, the background should now be acrylic on both monitors.

Windows 11 build 22494 snap groups
Windows 11 build 22494 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, Windows 11 adds the ability to share an app window directly from the Taskbar to a Microsoft Teams meetings call.

When you are in a Teams meetings call, hover over an open app in the Taskbar and click the Share this window button. When you finish sharing the content, hover over the app button again and click Stop Sharing or choose another window and click Share this Window to switch the presentation to another app.

Taskbar share app window
Taskbar share app window (Source: Microsoft)

For example, if you are showing a PowerPoint presentation in full-screen mode, move your mouse to the bottom of the screen, and the Taskbar will pop up for you to share or stop sharing.

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)

Widgets with weather

Microsoft is updating the Widget icon as well. Starting with this release, the entry point will be located on the left side of the Taskbar with the current weather information similar to the widget available on Windows 10, and the Widgets dashboard will now open as you hover over the icon.

Widgets icon with weather
Widgets icon with weather

If you choose to align the Taskbar icons to the left, the Widgets icon will appear next to the Task View icon.

Spotlight collection

Windows 11 introduces “Spotlight collection,” 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 likings, 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 “Spotlight collection” option under the “Personalize your background” dropdown setting.

File Explorer and Desktop changes

Starting on Windows 11 22H2, you can 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 “Quick Access” 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.

Old context menu new highlight color
Old context menu new highlight color

As part of the 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.

Also, 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
Connect to a media server

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)

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.

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.

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 Assist page

On the Focus Assist page, there’s a new option that allows you to choose whether the feature will enable automatically for the first hour after a Windows feature update.

Focus assist new feature
Focus assist new feature

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.

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 divided 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 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 dropdown of options containing your current query without pressing the Enter key first.

Default apps search
Default apps search

Your Microsoft Account page

On Windows 11, the “You Microsoft Account” is new. The new page displays your Microsoft account information, including details about your Microsoft 365 subscription, quick access to order history, payment details, and Microsoft Rewards.

Windows 11 new Your Microsoft Account settings
Windows 11 new Your Microsoft Account settings

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 dropdown 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

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)

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,” “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, “Click number” to type a key.

Narrator

Windows 11 is introducing several changes for 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 read out.

Finally, 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.

Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA)

Microsoft is also bringing support to run Android apps and games to Windows 11 with the introduction of the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA). WSA is similar to the Windows Subsystem for Android since Windows doesn’t support Android apps natively, the new platform will provide a virtualization layer to run apps and games from Android.

Windows Subsystem for Android

The platform lets you run the same apps as your phone (for example, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.). And what’s more interesting is that the apps will run whether you have a system with Intel, AMD, or Qualcomm processor.

However, the implementation is not straightforward since there are many things going on behind the scene for this to happen. For starters, to bring Android apps to Windows 11, Microsoft is partnering with Amazon and Intel. Amazon will provide the apps from Amazon Appstore (so not every app will be supported), and Intel will provide its Bridge technology to run the apps, but this Intel solution won’t be required on AMD or ARM systems.

In addition, the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) will be needed a virtual environment for the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) to run Android apps without the need for Google Play Services support.

Windows Subsystem for Android won’t come included on Windows 11 22H2, instead, it would be an additional install available through the Microsoft Store when getting the Amazon Appstore on supported hardware. 

The apps in the Amazon Appstore require 8GB of RAM (16GB recommended), a solid-state drive (SSD), and a supported processor (Intel Core i3 8th Generation, AMD Ryzen 3000, Qualcomm Snapdragon 8c, or above).

Finally, Windows 11 also supports the ability to sideload Android apps without a store, which means that users won’t be limited to using only the Amazon Appstore. However, officially, you won’t be able to run most Google apps (such as Gmail and Maps) since they required the Google Play Services platform, which isn’t supported on WSA.

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.”

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

The Emoji panel now has new emojis using Fluent design styles. The company is even shipping a Clippy emoji in this release.

Windows 11 22H2 new emojis
Windows 11 22H2 new emojis

Microsoft is also making the emojis more inclusive by adding the ability to edit the skin tone of group emojis (family members, couples with hearts, kissing, and people holding hands). In addition, the emojis search is now more flexible in Portuguese and Polish languages.

Family emoji light theme
Family emoji light theme (Source: Microsoft)

Also, this version will ship with an updated version of the Korean IME.

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 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.

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

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 that brings ARM64 support for the runtime.

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

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.