UPDATED 10/10/2023: Microsoft is also rolling out several new features specific to developers as part of the October 2023 update (KB5031354) for Windows 11 22H2. In addition to the slew of new features and improvements for the operating system, such as Copilot, Windows Backup app, redesigned version of File Explorer, Dynamic Lighting, and others, the company is also touting several changes and features that were built with developers in mind.
On the Windows 11 Copilot update (including version 23H2), Microsoft is introducing changes for the Out-of-box Experience (OOBE), new Dev Drive features, Configuration file support with the Windows Package Manager, and Microsoft Defender Performance mode. In addition, the new version of File Explorer brings changes to make it easier for developers to build apps that connect with the file manager, and the Taskbar rolls out various changes for developers.
Furthermore, the development team is introducing a new Dev Home app and various changes for the Windows Terminal as well as the Windows Subsystem for Linux.
This guide will dive into the new features and changes that Microsoft is rolling out for developers as part of the KB5031354 update (and version 23H2) for Windows 11.
Windows 11 Copilot update new developer features
These are the features and changes available for developers on Windows 11 starting on October 9, 2023.
OOBE setup and Dev Home
Starting with build 22621.2361 and version 23H2, Windows 11 updates the Out-of-box Experience (OOBE) to make it easier to set up a new installation with an experience designed for developers.
In other words, when setting up a new installation, on the “Let’s customize your experience” page, users will find the “Development” option to launch the Dev Home app to configure the device with developer tools and services to set up, test, and build applications.
Dev Home app
Dev Home is an app that can help you streamline the workflow with several new features, including using the Windows Package Manager (winget) command tool to make it easier and faster to set up a development environment and the new “Dev Drive” feature for better file system performance and a new dashboard to track your workflow.
The app also provides a customizable dashboard to help you monitor both your system and dev projects, and the support for extensions allows you to expand the functionalities of the app.
Dev Drive feature
On Windows 11, Dev Drive is a storage feature that allows developers to create regular and virtual storage using the Resilient File System (ReFS) with custom file system optimizations, Microsoft Defender Antivirus in performance mode, and features for better management of performance and security profile.
Windows Package Manager Configuration
Usually, when setting up a new device or virtual machine for development, installing applications, dependencies, and configuring settings can be tedious and cost a lot of time. The Windows Package Manager Configuration (winget configuration) is a feature that allows you to create and run a configuration file using the “winget configure” command to automate the installation of resources to get the desired development environment.
According to the company, the new “winget configure” command uses the Windows Package Manager and PowerShell DSC to automate the installation and configuration of the correct software versions, packages, tools, and frameworks. Since the configuration file removes the manual process of configuring a device, you can use this feature repeatedly, knowing everything will be set up correctly.
Furthermore, developers can always build configuration files and share them with the community to help others prepare their devices for specific development tasks.
The configuration file uses the YAML format with a JSON schema.
Finally, the Windows Package Manager now also includes the “winget download” that allows you to download application installers without installing them.
Microsoft Defender Performance mode
As part of the changes for developers, the Microsoft Defender Antivirus now includes the “Performance” mode that offers asynchronous scanning on Dev Drive volumes to maintain the storage free of malware without impacting performance.
The feature is known as “Dev Drive protection,” it’s available through the “Windows Security” app, inside the “Virus & threat protection settings” page.
When clicking the “See volumes” option, the page will show you the drives that the Microsoft Defender Antivirus is currently protecting.
File Explorer new functionalities
The build 22621.2361 and version 23H2 also introduce a new version of File Explorer that uses modern code while preserving the same familiar experience and functionalities for developers.
For example, the new file manager includes new functionality and collection control in WinUI3. Also, ItemsView collection control offers LinedFlowLayout and Island functionality, allowing developers to adopt WinUI3 look and feel in any part of their apps without changing the entire application.
In addition, Microsoft has added multi-threading capabilities to improve the performance of copy, move, recycle, and delete actions.
Finally, there’s a new implementation for the “libarchive” open-source project that allows support to view and extract many archival file formats (such as “.tar,” .tar.gz,” “.tar.bz2,” “.tar.zst,” “.tar.xz,” “.tgz,” .tbz2,” “.tzst,” .txz,” .rar,” and “.7z”) in the same fashion you do today with Zip files through File Explorer.
Tackbar new features
As part of the Taskbar changes, the development team is re-introducing the ability to show each instance of an application separately with its label with the new never combine option.
It’s now possible to remove the date and time from the System Tray with a new option available through the “Date & time” settings inside the “Time & language” section.
You can now terminate unresponsive applications from the Taskbar without opening the Task Manager using the “End Task” option from the right-click context menu. You have to enable the option from the “For Developers” page, which is now located in the “System” section (instead of the “Privacy & Security” section) of the Settings app.
Microsoft is also touting an updated version of the Windows Terminal and the Windows Subsystem for Linux as part of this rollout, but the updates are available regardless of the version of Windows 11.
For example, on Windows Terminal 1.9, the company is promoting new features such as Suggestions UI, Broadcast Input, and Web Search. Also, in the Canary Channel, the application introduces a new option to enable experimental features, including the new chatbot AI.
If you enable the new experimental option through the settings page, the system will receive nightly builds of the Windows Terminal, allowing you to try new features with the risk of coming across bugs.
As part of the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) update, it introduces the ability to automatically shrink in memory size when the virtual machine of WSL is idle. You can now also set up the application disks to be sparse so they will automatically shrink in size and conserve your storage space. The Hyper-V firewall has also been updated to allow the Microsoft Defender Firewall rules to affect your distros. In addition, there is a new networking mode that improves network compatibility, adds IPv6 support, and more.
Update October 10, 2023: The language of the writing has been updated to reflect that the update KB5031354 is officially available, with the October 2023 Patch Tuesday rollout out as a security update. Originally, Microsoft released the update (KB5030310 – build 22621.2361) as a preview on September 26, but now, the update is available for everyone with new features and security fixes starting October 10.