Microsoft announced the release of some minor new Windows 11 features, new Windows 11 apps, and a preview of the Amazon Appstore for Windows 11. The latter, alas, is only available in the United States.
“Today, we’re excited to announce new experiences for Windows 11 are starting to become available, including an Amazon Appstore preview available in the US, taskbar improvements, and two redesigned apps: Media Player and Notepad,” Windows lead Panos Panay writes in the announcement post. “We can’t wait to see what you do with them.”
Here’s what’s happening today.
Amazon Appstore Preview featuring select Android apps and games. A preview version of the Amazon Appstore for Android is now available in the Microsoft Store for Windows 11 in the U.S. only, offering users access to “more than 1,000 more apps and games,” which is a big leap from the 50 they tested through the Windows Insider Program. This was among the features that Microsoft promised at the June 2021 Windows reveal but never delivered.
Mute/Unmute in the taskbar. This feature will display a Microphone icon in the taskbar and will initially allow you to mute/unmute the microphone for Microsoft Teams only (and only for work and school accounts, so not the consumer Microsoft Teams that ships with Windows 11). There’s no word on whether this feature will come to other apps that use the microphone, but in the past, Microsoft said that it would. This was also among the features that Microsoft promised at the June 2021 Windows reveal but never delivered.
Window sharing from the taskbar. Now, you will be able to hover over any app icon in your taskbar to display a Share control in the preview, allowing you to more easily share content from that window with others. This, too, was among the features that Microsoft promised at the June 2021 Windows reveal but never delivered.
Weather on the taskbar. The new Widgets interface in Windows 11 didn’t initially display the weather forecast in the taskbar by default like its Windows 10-based predecessor. But this feature is back and, yes, you can disable it if you don’t like it.
Clock/date on secondary displays. In another regression, Windows 11 didn’t initially offer a way to show the clock/date display on the taskbar on secondary displays. But this feature has been returned in this month’s “new experiences” release.
Two redesigned apps. The “new” Media Player app replaces Groove Music and adds local video playback capabilities. And the updated Notepad features a fresh new design that matches the Windows 11 look and feel, provides some minor UI changes, and adds a few new features like long-overdue Dark Mode support, multi-level undo, and emoji support.
So, none of this is particularly monumental. But Microsoft has, at least, finally confirmed that it will continue to add missing features and other improvements to Windows 11 outside of its annual Feature Update schedule. This is desperately needed, given all the regressions in Windows 11.
“Over time, you’ll see us release new features into Windows 11 for end-users more frequently in addition to our annual update,” Mr. Panay writes. “We will leverage the variety of update mechanisms we have in place including servicing and Microsoft Store updates. Our goal is to deliver continuous innovation, providing you with the best experiences year-round.”
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