Windows fans have wondered when or if Microsoft would make new Windows 11 features available ahead of the next feature update in late 2022. Today, we finally got a partial answer: the software giant plans to release a “public preview” of these features in February.
“Next month we’re bringing new experiences to Windows that include a public preview of how you can use Android apps on Windows 11 through the Microsoft Store and our partnerships with Amazon and Intel,” Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay writes in a post about “the new era of the PC.” “[This public preview will also include] taskbar improvements with call mute and unmute, easier window sharing, bringing weather to the taskbar, [and] two new redesigned apps, Notepad and Media Player.”
This is both good and bad news.
First, I’ve always suspected that Microsoft would ship new Windows 11 features ahead of the next feature update. After all, Windows 11 arrived too quickly and in horribly incomplete form in October, and it has far too many regressions and missing features to stand on its own for an entire year. But Microsoft had been pretty quiet about its plans to update Windows 11 midstream to date. And so this revelation is quite welcome.
It’s also incomplete. We have no idea what form this public preview will take and how or if it will differ from the way Microsoft is currently testing new Windows 11 features via the Windows Insider Program. For example, every new feature he mentions is already available to Insiders now.
Worse, this is a rather small set of functional additions. He mentions just four new features—though, granted, one is quite major and eagerly anticipated—three of which were part of the summer 2021 Windows 11 introduction. And just two new apps, neither of which are exactly major advances or even necessary in any way. And seriously, “bringing weather to the taskbar”? This is both a regression and inane. Big deal.
So sure, I’m happy to see something happening. But the terrible communications and plodding nature of Windows development continues unabated. And I wish this part of the company—which claims that “details matter”—would provide more details than this.