Windows Insiders in the Release Preview channel can now test a big update for Windows 11 version 22H2. The build 22621.1343 released yesterday includes several features that Microsoft has been testing with Dev and Beta Channel Insiders in recent months, including various taskbar updates.
First of all, Microsoft is bringing back a real search box to the Windows 11 taskbar. Users will still be able to change how search looks in the taskbar and display the previous search icon or another version of it with a search label. Microsoft has also resigned the system tray area of the taskbar, adding a rounded focus to all icons.
This update also introduces a touch-optimized taskbar for 2-in-1 devices. Users can now swipe between the new “collapsed” and “expanded” states by swiping up and down on the bottom of their screen. The taskbar will also automatically switch to the new “expanded” state when users disconnect or fold back their keyboard. This touch-optimized taskbar can still be disabled in Settings > Personalization > Taskbar > Taskbar behaviors.
If you own a Windows on ARM device with a neural processing unit such as Microsoft’s Surface Pro X, this update also makes Windows Studio Effects available from quick settings on the taskbar. This makes it easier to turn on camera effects such as Background blur, Eye contact, Automatic framing, and Voice focus.
Lastly, this update introduces new accessibility features: There’s support for new braille displays and new braille input and output languages in Narrator. The new Voice Access feature also added support for interactions with more user interface controls, and voice scrolling has also been improved.
This first big update for Windows 11 version 22H2 should become available as an optional update for non-Insiders very soon. All these new features are expected to roll out to all Windows 11 users with next month’s Patch Tuesday update.