New Windows 11 Experiences Are Now Available

Posted on February 15, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 11 with 44 Comments

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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Comments (44)

44 responses to “New Windows 11 Experiences Are Now Available”

  1. blue77star

    This is ridiculously sad.

  2. shark47

    " This was among the features that Microsoft promised at the June 2021 Windows reveal but never delivered."

    Well, not never delivered, right?

  3. brettscoast

    I find this all very underwhelming, hope it improves from here on in because it can't get worse at this point.

  4. matt11to5

    Sounds like some great changes. Hope we keep getting small easy feature updates like this that don't break things.

  5. sherlockholmes

    Im so happy Im running Windows 10 Elterprise 1809 LTSC right now ......

  6. roundaboutskid

    Windows 11 - "The START button in the middle, but not really"

  7. wright_is

    Media Player still looks like a Windows 7 version and Notepad also hasn't changed...

  8. jchampeau

    I wonder how many people will click the mute button and say something salty about their boss/customer/teacher/colleague. And then experience regret.

  9. straker135

    How’s Mary-Jo coping with her new emoji powered Notepad Paul?

  10. erichk

    Well, I just downloaded and installed my favorite table hockey game from the Amazon Store, "Glow Hockey." Not a bad start I guess.

  11. nanovak

    I've got the experience pack installed and the new Notepad and Media Player. How do I get the clock to show up on my secondary display or the weather in the taskbar? Not seeing those options jump out at me anywhere.

  12. ames

    This is all coming via the Microsoft Store and not a cumulative update?

  13. spacein_vader

    Surely designing a mic muting button that only works on 1 specific version of 1 specific app is harder than designing a global switch?

    Not to mention it'll be very confusing for people who'll expect it to work with everything.

    • wright_is

      Yes, it is very strange. The current physical mute buttons mute all active apps (i.e. you press the mute button and the microphone mutes (duh!) and it sends a signal to all active applications, which toggle their microphone status to muted. It also works the other way round, if I mute in an app, the mute light on the headset comes on. I can also unmute from anywhere.

      E.g. With my Jabra headset, I can mute with the button on the headset/cable and it tells my telephone software and Teams etc. that it is muted. If I unmute in the software, the mute light on the headset goes off.

      If third parties have been doing this for years in Windows 7, 8 and 10, it can't be that hard for Microsoft to do it universally in Windows 11 as well.

  14. bluvg

    "Media Player and Notepad"; “We can’t wait to see what you do with them.”

    Um, watch video and write/edit plain text?

  15. jgraebner

    My gosh this implementation of the Amazon App Store is terrible. As far as I can find, the only filtering options are "Games" or "All Apps". A huge percentage of the apps available are no-brand games, including a ton that seem to be aimed at toddlers. There is no filtering by category or even an option to view non-game apps only. Scrolling through, I did find a few prominent apps such as Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Audible, and Kindle, but you have to scroll through a bunch of crud to get to them.

    Other than Minecraft, I don't see any actual Microsoft Apps. If you do a search for "Outlook", it brings up Yahoo Mail and AOL Mail.

    • lvthunder

      How did you install the App Store. I went to the Microsoft Store and clicked on what I thought was it and it said something went wrong on their end and try later.

    • lvthunder

      My feeling is most people won't go to the Amazon Store to find the apps. They will just search the Microsoft Store and when you hit an Android App you will just push the button and the Amazon App Store will launch and take you straight to the app you wanted.

      As for the apps themselves, I think they just enabled a few of the top apps and then started with the kids games. It will be interesting to see how quickly they add other apps. I don't know the condition of the Amazon App Store on their own tablets.

      Who knows maybe Google will look at what Microsoft has done and decide to finally work with them.

  16. scovious

    I'm happy to see the clock and weather widget return! I would be bitter if I was a massive pessimist and didn't appreciate the difficulty of effective simplification, but I'm just glad that Microsoft is listening to feedback. If they're listening now, Dark Mode isn't finished so keep going.

  17. blue77star

    Media Player is a f. joke. Multi billion company delivers this level of joke.

  18. beckoningeagle

    Emoji support in notepad, can't wait!

  19. brothernod

    One of the things I've been curious about is if the Android Apps will be better than the Windows Apps.

    For example the Hulu app from the Microsoft Store is great, but you cannot offline videos. I wonder if, once procured through the Android store, that will be remedied.

  20. mattbg

    Does anyone know if the window Share button is based on an API that any collaboration apps can use and not just Teams?

    Hard to believe that it would not be, but...

    Am I expecting too much to hope that this would only be active if you are actually have collab software installed and in a collaboration session with someone? Or is it just going to be there always, and even on your Call of Duty window?

  21. jdawgnoonan

    So I turned the Widgets button back on so that I could see the update. They seriously left justified the button when your start menu is centered which places the weather widget all of the way over on the left side. Okay, that is annoying, as is the widget button being on the taskbar in any location, so I turned it off again.

    • wpcoe

      Actually, I like the widget left-justified when the main Taskbar is centered. It looks a little more balanced that way. I read somewhere once where somebody had tweaked it so the Win-key was on the left, and I would like that, too.

      However, apparently it only displays weather on the Taskbar after you've actually clicked-on and opened the widget. Nope. I'm turning Widgets off again. (I removed all the other widgets a long time ago.)

      • jdawgnoonan

        My issue is that when the Start stuff is centered and then I have the Weather Widget on the far left with the System Tray on the far right every time I look at my taskbar my eyes involuntarily strain to look at everything that is there since they are so distant. I agree, it makes it more balanced to be left justified opposite the System Tray, but I do not like what it makes my eyes feel like.

  22. chirowilk

    MS bought Nuance. Hope they employ a kick ass dictation system in the OS.

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