Windows Setup new UI

Windows 11 build 26040 updates Setup UI and adds Voice Clarity

A new preview of Windows 11 rolls out with an updated experience to install the operating system, new AI features, new feature to access photos from your phone, and more.

  • Microsoft finally released an updated version of the “Windows Setup” interface with a modern design.
  • Windows 11 build 26040 also adds the Voice Clarity feature to enhance audio using AI.
  • Also, this flight rolls out feature to access and edit photos from your Android phone using the Snipping Tool, support for USB4 with 80Gbps transfer speeds, and more.

On January 26, 2024, Microsoft began the Windows 11 build 26040 rollout for devices enrolled in the Canary Channel of the Windows Insider Program. This is a significant update that introduces various visual changes,  new features, and improvements.

According to the official notes, build 26040 introduces a new design for the Windows Setup process when performing a clean install or reinstallation of Windows 11. This flight adds support for USB4 version 2, which brings transfer speeds of up to 80Gbps and adds the ability to connect your phone to your computer to access and edit your most recent photos with the Snipping Tool.

Microsoft is also bringing Voice Clarity, previously only available for Surface devices, to Windows 11 users. The company is improving Narrator, Cast, and Windows LAPS, removing WordPad from the operating system, moving the Copilot button next to the notification area, and this preview rolls out changes for the Taskbar, File Explorer, Share, Task Manager, and more.

Windows 11 build 26040 new changes

These are the new features and changes rolling out with build 26040:

Quick access to photos from phone

Starting on build 26040, it’s now possible to receive notifications when new photos or screenshots are available from your phone, and then you can access and edit them with the Snipping Tool app.

To configure this feature, you have to open Settings > Bluetooth & devices > Mobile devices and click the “Manage devices” button, which will open the new “Manage mobile devices” app.

Manage devices settings
Manage devices settings / Image: Mauro Huculak

After connecting your Android phone, you can instantly access and edit your most recent pictures with the Snipping Tool.

Manage mobile devices app
Manage mobile devices app / Image: Microsoft

The company previously made available this feature with the release of build 23619 in the Dev Channel, but it’s now available through the Canary Channel.

Android new photo notification

Voice Clarity

Voice Clarity, previously available on Surface devices, is expanding to more Windows 11 computers starting with build 26040. This AI-powered feature enhances audio by canceling echo, suppressing background noise, and reducing reverberation in real time. It works with apps using Communications Signal Processing Mode, such as Phone Link and WhatsApp, without needing extra hardware. The feature will also be enabled by default.

According to the company, this feature also benefits PC games with online communication in this mode. Apps can toggle “Deep Noise Suppression” for voice-only or generic audio content. Voice Clarity ensures a clear voice in online meetings and smoother online communication.

Windows Setup

The development team is also updating the “Windows Setup” experience with a clearer and more interface that users will notice when performing a clean installation or upgrade using the USB bootable media. The company notes that all the features will continue to be supported, including unattended support. 

Windows 11 Setup new UI
Windows 11 Setup new UI / Image: Microsoft

The interface retains the familiar frame design but with a light background similar to the updated version of the Media Creation Tool. The company is even making the ISO file for Windows 11 build 26040 available for download for users to test the new experience.

It’s important to note that while this change does not affect the DISM operating system deployment, it may affect some of the workflows. 

USB4 version 2

Windows 11 is rolling out support for USB4 version 2 that introduces transfer speeds of up to 80Gbps (40Gpbs per lane with two lanes in each direction) through the now standard USB-Type C connector that uses a new physical layer architecture based on PAM3 signal encoding and newly defined 80Gbps active cables.

Windows Narrator 

As part of the Windows Narrator improvements, the company is introducing a new keyboard command, “G” or “Shift + G,” which allows image navigation in Scan mode (Narrator key + spacebar). 

Also, the development team is improving text recognition on images, including handwriting. If you want to try it out, open an image and use the “Narrator key + CTRL + D” shortcut with an active internet connection and “Image Descriptions” enabled in Narrator Settings.

Cast changes from Quick Settings

When opening the Quick Settings (Windows key + A) to use the Cast feature, you will notice that the system will suggest using Cast through a notification toast when performing multitasking activities, such as often switching between windows to complete a task or using Snap Assist to organize your screen space.

Cast find device option
Cast find device option / Image: Microsoft

Also, the Cast panel has been updated with additional support if you face trouble discovering nearby displays, fixing connections, and more.

Windows LAPS improvements

Starting on build 26040, the Windows LAPS (Local Administrator Password Solution) introduces several enhancements to improve security and manageability:

  • Automatic Account Management: Network administrators can configure LAPS to create managed local accounts automatically. This includes naming, enabling, and disabling the account and optional randomization for extra security. Also, it integrates with existing Microsoft local account management policies.
  • Improved Password Complexity: A new “PasswordComplexity” setting generates less confusing passwords. It omits certain characters, making passwords more readable. The Windows LAPS tab in the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in now uses a better font to display passwords.
  • Passphrase Feature: LAPS can now generate passphrases for easier readability and typing. Network administrators can choose from three-word lists and control the passphrase length. This feature supports backups to Windows Server Active Directory or Microsoft Entra ID.
  • Image Rollback Detection: LAPS can detect image rollbacks, ensuring that passwords match between Active Directory and local devices. It uses an Active Directory attribute and rotates passwords if a mismatch is detected. Update-LapsADSchema PowerShell cmdlet is required for this feature.

Copilot on the right side

The “Copilot” icon appears on the right side of the System Tray on the Taskbar. As a result of this change, Windows 11 will now disable the “Show the desktop” button on the right side of the Taskbar. 

Also, when hovering over the date and time in the System Tray, the tooltip will now always show a clock regardless of the number of clocks you have configured on the computer.

File Explorer new compression wizard

As part of the File Explorer changes, Windows 11 now adds a new compression wizard that includes the options to choose different formats like “gzip” and “bzip2” for individual files or create archives with different tar formats and compression types. 

File Explorer new compression wizard
File Explorer new compression wizard / Image: Mauro Huculak

In addition, you can adjust compression levels and select the data types stored in each archive for greater customization.

Windows Share improvements

Web browsers that support the Windows Share functionality can now share website links directly to WhatsApp, Gmail, X, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Also, if you have a Microsoft Entra ID, you can now share not only with Microsoft Teams contacts but also directly with specific Teams Channels and group chats through the Share interface. Additionally, nearby share transfer speed has significantly improved, allowing sharing on the same network while using the public or private profile, making it easier to share files through Quick Settings or File Explorer’s “Share” option.

Task Manager new icon

The Task Manager is not getting significant changes, but build 26040 introduces a new icon that matches the design style of Windows 11.

Accessibility changes

This flight also introduces a slew of fixes and improvements for the Windows Narrator:

  • Microsoft Word’s Narrator now provides enhanced document reading by announcing draft comments, resolved comments, bookmarks, and offering accessibility suggestions.
  • Microsoft Excel now consistently reads items in the auto-complete list when writing formulas.
  • Windows Narrator now accurately announces the selected state of menu items in applications like the device manager.
  • You can now utilize Voice Access for various tasks, including opening applications, dictating text, and interacting with on-screen elements.
  • Voice commands for Windows Narrator are supported, allowing you to use commands such as “speak faster” or “read next line.”
  • Fixed an issue where the Windows Narrator correctly announces selected items in combo boxes using the “Control + up or down arrow” keys.
  • Fixed a problem where the feature announced old dialog names even after users navigated to new dialog on a few web pages.
  • Fixed an issue where the feature was not reading the role of control in tables on the web while using table navigation commands with “CTRL + ALT + Arrow” keys.
  • Fixed a problem where the Windows Narrator announced unselected and newly selected values in elements, such as date fields or formatted tables.

Windows 11 also improves the input system by adding a couple of new keyboard layouts, including the “Colemak keyboard” and “Hebrew keyboard.” Also, this preview fixes a problem in the Magnifier settings page.

Finally, Microsoft is also noting various known issues regarding the Settings app, print spooler, Taskbar, Widgets, and some apps crashing.

Install build 26040

To download and install the Windows 11 build 26040, enroll your device in the Canary Channel through the “Windows Insider Program” settings from the “Update & Security” section. Once you enroll the computer in the program, you can download the build from the “Windows Update” settings by clicking the “Check for Updates” button.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 15 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 21 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].