Windows 11 event: Here are all the new features announced by Microsoft

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

Yesterday’s Microsoft Hybrid work event spent a lot of time talking about the Windows 11 features we already know thanks to the Windows Insider Program, but that doesn’t mean the event was devoid of any new feature announcements. If you’ve paid close attention, a few new features we haven’t seen before have been revealed, and some that we’ve seen but haven’t been officially tested yet.

Either way, we thought it would be a good idea to collect all the new features we’ve noticed appearing or talking about during the event and its three sub-sessions. Microsoft doesn’t say whether these features will be ready in time for the next major feature update, known as version 22H2, or whether it will come before or after that. It’s also unclear when these features will appear to Insider subscribers to begin testing.

Tabs in File Explorer

Win11 File Explorer Tabs

Source: Windows Central

This is arguably the biggest new feature that Microsoft announced yesterday. A tabbed interface has finally been brought to the File Explorer app, allowing users to open multiple folders and directories under a single app window, just like a web browser. It’s time too, as it’s one of the most requested features of Windows Insiders since the Windows Insider Program started in 2014.

Other platforms have had tabs in their file explorers for many years, so Microsoft is definitely playing catch-up in this area. However, it is better to be late than never. Tabs in File Explorer have already appeared in some (albeit unofficial) versions of Windows Insider in a somewhat patchy state. Over the coming months we hope to see this feature evolve into a fully classified experience.

Microsoft also offered an updated “home” experience with a slightly modified user interface. We already have the updated homepage layout in the Insider Program, but the revised UI design hasn’t been rolled out to public builds yet. It’s subtle, but the version of File Explorer shown at the event feels more consistent with the rest of Windows 11’s design language, so we hope to hear more about this UI update for File Explorer soon.

Context IQ features

W11 contextual ad

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft also revealed that it plans to bring more intelligent and contextual features and behaviors to Windows 11 over the coming months. The example I used in the event is with the File Explorer sharing dialog, which will attempt to list the contacts with whom it thinks you want to share certain files in an effort to reduce clicks and time spent trying to share said file.

The company has stated that it intends to introduce these contextual improvements in other areas of the operating system as well, and we already know that a feature called “Suggested Actions” is in development that will provide quick actions for common tasks such as creating an event in the Calendar app, or adding a contact to your contact list Help you identify certain types of text and data.

Enhanced widgets panel

Windows 11 widgets full screen

Source: Microsoft

It was very brief, but Microsoft once again experimented with a full-screen version of the widgets panel, a feature that was announced back in June 2021, but not even shipped in preview. In addition, Microsoft has also demonstrated the ability to sign in to the Widgets panel with a personal and work account, which is not currently possible on Windows 11.

We know that Microsoft plans to open the Widget Panel to developers at some point, although this was not announced at the event yesterday. We’ll probably see Microsoft talk more about widgets expandability at Build 2022, which was just announced May 24-26. For now, we’re still waiting for the full screen widgets to arrive.

Video calling improvements

W11 new camera effects

Source: MIcrosoft

Microsoft has spent a significant portion of the time talking about hybrid working, and how it’s building Windows 11 to help improve hybrid work meetings with improvements to voice calling scenarios thanks to new and improved camera and microphone effects powered by dedicated neural processing units found in compatible Windows PCs.

The announced camera and microphone effects include background blur, auto framing, noise suppression, audio clarity, and eye contact. Some of these features are already available in your favorite video calling apps, but Microsoft builds these effects into Windows 11 natively, which means they’ll work across any app that uses your camera, as long as you have a neural processing unit inside your PC.

So far, Microsoft is promoting the Lenovo ThinkPad X13s as one of the first devices with a built-in neural processing unit, which means it will support all these new camera effects soon. These should work in Teams, Slack, or any other app that uses your camera.

organizational messages

W11 organization message

Source: Microsoft

A big new feature has been announced for companies deploying Windows PCs to their employees in the form of “organizational messages” that will allow IT administrators to publish alerts directly to employees via Windows. These alerts can appear as pop-ups at the top of the taskbar, via a notification in the Action Center, or directly on the lock screen. IT admins will be able to send these alerts to employees via the endpoint manager, assuming your organization is using the Azure Active Directory setup.

Cloud PC Integration

W11 Cloud PC . Connection

Source: Microsoft

Finally, Microsoft talked about a few new features for commercial customers that it plans to introduce “in the future.” All of these features are designed to better integrate the local desktop experience in Windows 11 with the Cloud PC experience that Windows 365 offers. As of now, Windows 365 is a service that you can only access via a web browser, but Microsoft wants to turn Windows 365 into a feature from Windows 11 features.

Here are the announced cloud integration features:

  • Booting Windows 365: Allows you to log directly into your cloud PC and set it as the primary Windows experience on the device.
  • Windows 365 is offline: Allows you to work in Windows 365 even when disconnected, and when the Internet is restored, your cloud PC will automatically re-sync with the service without data loss, so your user experience and workflow stays on.
  • Windows 365 Switch: Gives you the ability to cycle between Cloud PC and the local desktop just as you do between windows in Task Switcher, using the same familiar keyboard commands, mouse, or swipe gesture.
  • Windows 365 app: Provides another way to directly access Cloud PC from the taskbar or start menu. All using the desktop path to my cloud PC, providing a personalized and personalized welcome experience to customize my settings, my profile, and my work style.

Microsoft has highlighted these experiences as the “future” of the Windows desktop experience for commercial customers, which means these features aren’t even close. Microsoft is committed to delivering them, but it may take some time before they start showing up in the product.

Application folders on the desktop?

W11 Desktop Application Folder

Source: Microsoft

Finally, I wanted to point out something Microsoft didn’t do specially He announced, but was spotted in the background of another demo. In one of the sub-session, a brief demo of the taskbar appears to reveal what the application folder looks like on the desktop. In the upper left corner you can see a square thumbnail with four icons of social networks, titled “Social Media”.

To me, this looks like an application folder that Windows 11 does not currently support on the desktop. You can create application folders in the Start menu, but not on the desktop. Hopefully this wasn’t just a misconception and we’re actually seeing this appear as an official feature soon.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.