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Microsoft Issues Preview of New Windows 11 Features

Posted March 28, 2023 | Windows | Windows 11

In April, Microsoft will issue a cumulative update for Windows 11 version 22H2 that adds a few minor new features. But you don’t need to wait: you can download the preview version of this update now.

You can learn more about this update—KB5023778, which updates Windows 11 version 22H2 to build number 22621.1485—from the Microsoft Support website. But you may recall that I discussed these features one week ago when they headed to the Windows Insider Program’s Release Preview channel with little or no prior testing, depending on the feature.

As important, you may also recall that Microsoft followed the same release pattern for the so-called Moment 2 update to Windows 11 version 22H2: with that release, we saw a preview version on February 28, two weeks ahead of the mainstream release on March 14. If you’re familiar with Microsoft’s release schedule, the March 14 date makes sense, as that’s the second Tuesday of the month (Week B), or what we still call Patch Tuesday. But February 28 makes/made no sense, as Microsoft had never scheduled regular updates for a Week D in the past (the fourth Tuesday of the month).

Well, here we are again on the fourth Tuesday of this month, March 28. And as it turns out, this is the new schedule, though Microsoft didn’t bother to even announce it until one week ago (or three weeks after it issued that Moment 2 preview).

“[An] optional non-security preview release [is] available the fourth week of the month,” Microsoft’s Chris Morrissey explained in Tech Community blog post. “These production-quality updates are released ahead of the planned security update release for the following month. In addition, new features may initially be deployed in the prior month’s optional non-security preview release, then ship broadly in the following month’s security release … We have found this to be the optimal time for us to publish and for you to consume these updates. That’s two weeks after your latest monthly security update and about two weeks before you’ll see these features become part of the next mandatory cumulative update.”

So there’s your rationale. As for today’s preview release, it includes three of the features that I wrote about last week—Microsoft account notifications in Start, Search box improvements for custom color mode, and Microsoft Defender for Endpoint improvements—plus several bug fixes related to Notepad, PowerPoint, Microsoft Narrator, USB printing, and more. That means that the other new feature from last week—a new Bing chat button in the Search box on the Taskbar —will arrive in a future update (presumably in preview in late April) or is perhaps being retooled given the controversy around this terrible UI.

I guess we’ll see. But the big news here is that Week D is now officially a thing. And we can expect to see more new features previewed like this going forward.

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