Here Are the New Windows 11 Features That Microsoft Announced

Posted on April 6, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 25 Comments

At its Windows 11 hybrid work event yesterday, Microsoft highlighted new features that it is bringing to Windows 11 in the future. I have questions—it’s not clear when these features will arrive, for example—and I should emphasize, as Microsoft did, that these features were presented as being for its business customers only, and related to hybrid work. But with the understanding that most will apply to all Windows 11 users, I think it’s worth stepping through them.

Here’s Microsoft they revealed. Note that many of these new features were previously known and can be accessed via Windows Insider Preview builds today. And that I’m only focusing on the features that are specific to Windows 11.

Passwordless single sign-on. Microsoft allows customers to securely sign into their Azure Active Directory (AAD) and, as of last September, Microsoft (MSA) accounts without passwords. And because you can sign in to Windows with these accounts, you can use passwordless sign-on there too. This isn’t unique to Windows 11—it works with Windows 10, too—but it’s interesting.

Enhanced phishing protection. Windows Defender SmartScreen will detect phishing attempts when you sign in to your account (not clear if that’s just for AAD) on the web using Microsoft Edge or in apps (not clear if that’s just Store apps).

Start menu folders. This one addresses a functional regression in Windows 11, where the system as shipped no longer supported the ability to create folders of shortcuts as you could in Windows 10.

Tabs in File Explorer. Microsoft once intended to bring tabs to all application windows in Windows 10 via a feature called Sets. But now, years later, Microsoft will bring tabs to File Explorer only. It is, in the words of one Microsoft presenter, the “number one requested Windows Insider for Business feature since forever.”

Cloud PC integration. Those with Windows 365 accounts will one day be able to take advantage of three new integration features in Windows 11: Windows 365 Boot, Windows 365 Switch, and Windows 365 Offline.

New Snap layouts. Microsoft is enhancing the Snap Layouts feature in Windows 11 with new layouts and is making it more discoverable by adding an overlay at the top of the screen that appears whenever you start moving a window.

Favorite files. File Explorer’s default view—which Microsoft now calls a “home page”—is called Quick access, and it’s gaining a new Favorites group that will do for files what Favorites do for web pages in Microsoft Edge.

Widgets improvements. Microsoft is again showing off the full-screen Widgets interface it demonstrated last summer, indicating that this missing feature will eventually arrive in Windows 11. It is also enhancing Widgets to support both work (AAD) and home (MSA) accounts.

Live captions. Arguably the most impressive of the new features, this new accessibility feature will add onscreen captioning for any audio source, be it a playing video or whatever. A related Voice clarity feature will help suppress unwelcome noise in the environment and make video and audio calls clearer.

Improved focus tools. Microsoft is rebranding the Windows 11 Focus assist feature to just be called Focus, and it is significantly improving how it works.

This is a solid list of productivity and work-related enhancements for sure. Is it enough to put Windows 11 over the top? I don’t believe so, not for businesses anyway. But I welcome any steps forward.

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (25)

25 responses to “Here Are the New Windows 11 Features That Microsoft Announced”

  1. sherlockholmes

    Nothing of interest here. I had hoped for something else really.

    • will

      I am with you on this. While these are some good things, I was hoping for more and wanting to see Windows move into some better productivity areas. I am curious how the Windows 365 push is going to really be used as it is a higher cost to now have both a laptop AND a Windows 365 instance? Not 100% sure I am seeing how this is better?

      I have a feeling this is what we will have now for the next decade and it goes with what Paul said in that if you think Microsoft is going to just fix all of the UI issues and missed features in this update, or the next few updates, you are wrong. It is a rinse and repeat of Windows 10...with a new UI.

      • lvthunder

        It really depends on how you structure your company. If you have your employees bring their own hardware then it would just be the cost of the Cloud PC for the business. I have a friend who works for a company and if you want to go into the office you go on their Intranet and reserve your space for whatever day. In that situation you could be using your laptop with CLoud PC and then when you go to the office you can use whatever they have there and it's exactly the same.

    • lvthunder

      Something like what?

  2. dftf

    "Live captions [is] arguably the most impressive of the new features, this new accessibility feature will add onscreen captioning for any audio source, be it a playing video or whatever."

    Is it really that impressive, given I can do this right-now on Android (and I'm sure Apple users will confirm you can do it on that-side, also).

    Windows has had built-in speech-to-text support since at-least Vista, via the Windows Speech Recognition app. Surely it cannot be that difficult to simply expand that tech to also support internal audio-streams, not just external sources? (If your system offers the option, you could likely pick "Stereo Mix" as your default recording-device, and have Windows Speech Recognition transcribe a video now...)

  3. WaltC

    I agree that Win11 is nowhere near ready for business. I've been in the Insider's beta group since Oct 1 2014 and we were sailing along really well in Win10 up through the last build of Win10 --21390--best build of Win10, imo, had "Auto HD" working well--then they slammed us with Win11--which has so many regressions of Win10 it is difficult to name them. The biggest one for me is the fouled mess they made of the task bar--can't move it any longer. Since July 2021, thousands of people have chimed into the HUB to express their complete dissatisfaction with the Win11 taskbar--and Microsoft has literally ignored those complaints. The biggest beef reported--and they ignore it. Go figure. WInd11 so far is a side-show of UI changes--nothing substantial, under the hood at all. I like Win11, but don't like having to spend $5 to place my taskbar where I want it on my desktop! Some decisions they make are inscrutable--and Microsoft won't even explain their position of the dumb, static task bar.

  4. hrlngrv

    | Widgets improvements

    It's still Widgets, so still the same unwanted content.

    Improvements like the guy in the apartment above you getting new tab shoes.

  5. jvpulver

    When Edge first came out, and I saw the "Favorites" was turned into something unusable, I turned to Google Chrome. The old system of using File Explorer to maintain the links was perfect. It is easy to use and maintain. I have 575 Folders and 7,000+ links in my Favorites folder. I cannot fathom why the designers took something easy to use, and turned it into an unmanageable database.  Well, maybe I can.

    After my initial investigating with Edge in W10, I turned to Chrome. I did not have any systems with the right hardware to test W11. I finally figured out how to get W11 running under Hypver-V, even though that system cannot run W11. I have Dev Channel (I think) version 22H2 Build 22581.200. I am currently upgrading it to 22593.1 (ni_release ).

    I just tried Edge and noticed all of my Favorites are listed under "Other favorites." How did they get there? I did not export them, and the W11 was a clean install under Hyper-V.

    More importantly where can I find a document which explains how the Favorites work in W11?

    Thank you and stay safe,


    • dftf

      In Windows 11, the "iexplore.exe" executable, which launched the Internet Explorer interface, is no-longer provided; for companies, "Internet Explorer Mode" inside Edge, replaces it. So the "Other favourites" is likely a one-time import of your Users/Favourites folder. (Or it may be live-linked: try closing Edge, creating a new URL link in there, open Edge again and see if the new one appears.)

      As for how bookmarks work in-relation to the new Edge it is the same as for all Chromium-derived browsers (such-as Chrome, Opera, Brave, Vivaldi): they go into a single database file called "Bookmarks", located by-default in Users/YourName/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Edge/User Data and then inside a folder matching the name of your profile inside Edge. By-default, this is just "Default". "Bookmarks" is the live one; "Bookmarks.bak" being a backup copy.

  6. mark-swiss

    I would like to see functioning Search on Windows 11 feature list. Not having a robust and reliable Search functionality is disappointing.

  7. simard57

    "Start menu folders"

    is this a step on the path to the return of a Cascading Start Menu?

  8. crp0908

    Will Microsoft Teams honor Windows 11 Focus settings by not interrupting when Focus is On and set to Priority only?

  9. bschnatt

    '...the “number one requested Windows Insider for Business feature since forever” '

    Incorrect. Let me fix that for you:

    '...the “number one requested Windows feature since forever” '

    You're welcome...

  10. ggolcher

    Live captions is a big deal to me. English is a second language in my home and having captions helps us a ton.

  11. thalter

    I really wish Microsoft would stop wasting energy trying to make widgets a thing. They've been doing this since at least Internet Explorer 4.0 and Active Desktop, and it has never taken off.

    • Donte

      I would assume some form of telemetry is telling them that some people actually use them. They have shut off other things for the same reason I would imagine, like that people taskbar thing that is now gone.

      That and it probably makes some kind of money? I personally do not care as long as I have the option to turn it off.

      • justme

        I'm there with you. While the telemetry wont discriminate real use from "accidental clicks" (due to them being placed where the start menu used to be on the left) - they must have some sort of data to suggest people use them.

        As long as I have the ability to turn off/disable/uninstall them I'm not too bothered.

      • ianbetteridge

        Absolutely agree. The number of people who talk about how everyone uses feature X or no-one uses feature Y without realising that Microsoft (and Apple, and Google, for their OS’) have huge amounts of telemetry data telling them exactly what features people use. That doesn’t mean they won’t develop or reintroduce features which only 2% or people use… but if more people are using widgets, widgets get supported and developed sooner.

  12. jf-nyc

    Still waiting for "Never Combine" to come back to the taskbar.

Leave a Reply