Windows 11 Heads to the Insider Program

Posted on June 28, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 11 with 36 Comments

A few days earlier than I expected, Microsoft has released the first test build of Windows 11 to the Windows Insider Program.

“We are excited to be releasing the very first Windows 11 Insider Preview build to the Dev Channel,” the latest Insider blog post reads. “Build 22000.51 is currently rolling out and includes beautiful, fresh, calm visuals and many of the new features you saw during our event last week such as the Start and Taskbar, Widgets, Snap layouts, redesigned Settings[,] and more.”

Some features are still missing, as promised: Chat with Microsoft Teams, some new Store features including Android app support, and refreshed in-box apps like Photos are not yet available. But it looks like some features that are missing in the leaked build I’ve been using for almost two weeks will be available, including the new Store and the new Notification Center and Quick Settings interfaces, which, like much of Windows 11, appear to have been borrowed from Chrome OS.

It looks like we’re finally getting an all-new File Explorer that features a cleaner command bar (as opposed to a top-heavy ribbon) as well. And the Settings app, finally, has been updated too, with simpler and more consistent navigation.

Windows 11 also supports Wi-Fi 6E, which I believe is new. As interesting, the Office team has released a “visual refresh” of the core Office applications in Microsoft 365 to coincide with the Windows 11 release. Those with Windows on ARM can also now run 64-bit Office for the first time.

You can learn more about Windows 11 and the Windows Insider Program from the Microsoft website. But I will be using these new builds every day and writing about my experiences, and about all the new features, as we move forward in testing and towards launch. So stay tuned for more.

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Comments (36)

36 responses to “Windows 11 Heads to the Insider Program”

  1. Avatar

    superwindows88

    interesting. downloading fine on my 'ancient' CPU

  2. Avatar

    BudTugglie

    Please tell me why I should upgrade to Windows 11? Nothing compelling that I can see. Certainly nothing to get me to consider upgrading my hardware. It doesn't even look like an interesting feature update to Windows 10....

  3. Avatar

    waethorn

    Just remember that the Insider Program requires full telemetry.

  4. Avatar

    ecumenical

    I like the colors on the various user directory icons. Reminds me of the old Tiger-era days in Mac OS X.

  5. Avatar

    hrlngrv

    Viewing this at some distance, are microcomputers running whatever OS supposed to be tools or experiences?


    If tools, then changes in the UI should be viewed as no more welcome than a change in how a push-pull screwdriver's clockwise-counterclockwise-fixed control works. If experiences, then usage efficiency really wouldn't be a priority.


    Can some basic changes improve efficiency? Yes. The Search box in the Start menu from Vista through Windows 10 (but no longer in Windows 11's own Start menu), jump lists, TaskView, snap. OTOH, rounded corners are only looks.


    By the fall will Control Panel finally work with dark theme? Notepad, Paint, Wordpad?

  6. Avatar

    matt11to5

    Excited to set up a VM or an old workstation to test.

  7. Avatar

    bluesman57

    Just installed on my Surface pro 6. Looks great, love the new setting menus. I dock when at home with a big Dell monitor and I tried the window restore feature and it works as advertised. That's really a big deal for me, because that was always a huge hassle. Outlook comes back scaled correctly, YES!

  8. Avatar

    jackb

    Still no Tabs in Explorer. Why not Microsoft, why not?!?!

    • Avatar

      hrlngrv

      Why no adjustable tab stops in Notepad? Why no blurring effects in Paint? Why no translation functionality in Wordpad?


      The bundled applets are INTENTIONALLY as simple as possible while still being able to perform their respective tasks.


      There are PLENTY of 3rd party file managers with tabs and/or 2 panes. Just as there are plenty of plain text editors with configurable tab stops, regular expression find and replace, scripting/macros.

  9. Avatar

    hrlngrv

    The Windows 11 taskbar may just be the thing which keeps me from continuing to use Windows after Windows 10 reaches EOS.


    Not only must it appear at the bottom of the screen an nowhere else, not only does it no longer support toolbars, there's no longer any way to turn off/hide the taskbar clock or change which system notification icons appear in the taskbar. In Windows 11 Settings, use Search, type system icons, and Search reponds with No results for system icons. Personalization > Taskbar no longer contains any settings which affect which icons always appear in the taskbar's system tray/notification area and which appear in the overflow area access by ^.


    Apparently the Windows 11 taskbar really & truly is MSFT's attempt at dumbing down the Windows UI past Chrome OS levels. (Chrome OS's shelf can be moved to any sides of the screen, and one can group app icons in its launcher.) MSFT seems intent on a dumber Windows UI than what was in Windows 95.


    Lipstick on the disinterred corpse of Windows 3.x.

    • Avatar

      quayledant

      I hate the fact that you can't move the taskbar anywhere else, but I'm pretty sure you can still customize which icons appear in the system tray they call 'taskbar corner overflow' now. I'm on build 22000.51

  10. Avatar

    navarac

    Interesting. My old fashioned Quick Launch Toolbar remains after installation, which means my top-level desktop remains totally as it was. System reports Windows 11 Pro 21H2. Once you get beyond the desktop into Settings, it has substantially changed and I have to hunt for things, although not excessively. This will keep me occupied for some time. I just hop Microsoft doesn't go down the A/B Testing route though. I gave up being an Insider for Windows 10 in the end as I was downloading builds for no reason, as such.

  11. Avatar

    rehilliard

    Mixed signals. On my win10 insider dev VM, clicking Setup > Windows Insider Program, a red admonishment at the top "Your PC does not meet the minimum hardware requirements...". But, the 10.0.22000.51 win11 preview is downloading. i7-6700, tpm 1.2. The machine is running manjaro and the insider dev version is running in vbox which doesn't have support virtual tpm I don't think. Maybe I'm one of those insiders who is being allowed to install but won't be able to run it on bare metal when it's released.

    Big fun for sure!


    • Avatar

      dftf

      "is running in vbox which doesn't have support virtual tpm"


      You don't need a TPM when running in a Virtual Machine: when Windows 11 detects it is running inside one, most of the hardware-requirements are overlooked.


      Refer to page 16 of this PDF: download.microsoft.com/download/7/8/8/788bf5ab-0751-4928-a22c-dffdc23c27f2/Minimum%20Hardware%20Requirements%20for%20Windows%2011.pdf

      • Avatar

        Alastair Cooper

        If there isn't a simpler method, I think this might provide a convoluted way around the hardware checks.


        Install inside a VM, then apply that image to the real hardware.

  12. Avatar

    navarac

    I will, at least, give Windows 11 a fighting chance to win me over. Downloading it now.

  13. Avatar

    wbtmid

    Maybe the "calm" visuals will will calm the tempers?



  14. Avatar

    wbtmid

    Downloading now as well, on my machine with an "unsupported" cpu.

    • Avatar

      dftf

      They have said that during the Insider Preview test-phase, most of the hardware-requirements will be ignored. But when the final retail version is released, those same PCs won't be able to run it, and you'll have to revert back to Windows 10 (whether that means they will convert your install to a Windows 10 install automatically, or you'll have to clean-install, is currently unclear)

  15. Avatar

    sherlockholmes

    My 5 year old gaming pc cant run Win11. My 7 year old business laptop can. Oh Microsoft.

  16. Avatar

    scovious

    I have some questions for anyone brave enough to test it!


    Are the right click menus consistently dark, in dark mode? Even when right clicking on Edge's title bar? How about the copy files window?

    Have any new functions or views been added to File Explorer?

    Can the wide spacing between Quick Access choices in File Explorer be set as more tightly compacted?

    Are there more granular sound controls like with EarTrumpet?

    • Avatar

      dftf

      Looking at what EarTrumpet does, it seems to let you adjust the volume on a per-app basis.


      So... how is that any-different from what you can do in Windows 10 today? Right-click the speaker icon and choose "Open Volume Mixer" and any running app that has recently played sound will be there.


      And the Edge team are also looking to add websites and Web Apps into that list too, so you can adjust volume for individual websites, and for web-apps, just the same as for native apps

      • Avatar

        quayledant

        You can also move individual apps to individual output devices. I use that functionality all the time, and it doesn't work on Windows 11, which sucks.

    • Avatar

      Paul Thurrott

      No. When you right-click on the Edge title bar, the resulting menu is white, not dark, while the PC is in dark mode.

    • Avatar

      navarac

      Wide spacing can be reduced (options / view)

  17. Avatar

    dallasnorth40

    To be safe, I only put Windows 11 on my old Surface Pro 5 and not the Surface Pro 7 that replaced it as my main computer. Funny thing, guess which computer is NOW my main computer. I love the new Windows way more than I thought I would. And I expect it will get better and better as we go.

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