Since early June Windows 11 version 22H2 aka Sun Valley 2, is available in the Release Preview channel, Build 22621 takes a giant step toward release. Based on this RTM version, we reveal here what the first major Windows 11 update will bring. Windows 11 was released last fall and in doing so, Microsoft also broke its announcement or promise that Windows 10 would be the “last” operating system ever. Because according to the original plans, the operating system should work as “Windows as a Service” and continuously receive new features through updates.
However, with Windows 11, a new name was introduced and with the new version, some fresh features were added as well. There will also be updates for Windows 11, so the (internal) naming will not change for the time being. Specifically, this means that the update known as version 22H2 will come next fall or possibly even earlier. And while it doesn’t bring as many innovations as the original version of Windows 11, it does bring many improvements and fixes for “enhanced” features.
The new start menu was probably Windows 11’s biggest innovation, both visually and functionally. Appearance is always a matter of taste, but the start menu was very limited in terms of features. Microsoft changes that with 22H2 and makes considerably more personalization possible. You can now change the size or layout of pinned and featured items in the start menu. If you choose “More pinned items”, you get the fourth row for apps, with “More recommendations” the apps are reduced to two rows and the recommendations are expanded. With “Standard” everything stays as it was.
With version 22H2, app folders, as known from Windows 10, are finally making a comeback. For example, you can group apps in the start menu. This works by dragging one app over another or a shortcut to an existing folder.
The taskbar is essentially unchanged. However, it allows for a functionality that is desired by many, which is drag and drop. In particular, app icons can be dragged to the taskbar and saved there as a shortcut. One caveat: This won’t work with Steam games, because Windows 11 sees them as an Internet link and not as a program that can be linked in turn.
On the other hand, files can now be dragged into those programs found on the taskbar. But this is less intuitive than expected or hoped. For example, an image cannot simply be dragged onto the Photoshop symbol, after which the program opens with the photo. Instead, the application should already be running, the program window maximized and you can drag the file there – better than nothing, but still cumbersome.
The forced grouping of multiple instances of an application (eg multiple browser windows) still exists – so you still can’t quickly click on a specific browser window, you have to move the mouse there first. However, the flyout that you get when you move the cursor over the corresponding icon has been adjusted. A “group” of two applications (eg Word plus browser) is easier to recognize because the two windows are framed with the desktop background. Small but very practical improvement: If you move the mouse to the speaker symbol, you can use the mouse wheel to change the volume.
The Task Manager is perhaps the greatest functional innovation. Because it’s not only visually adapted to Windows 11 and Microsoft’s new Fluent Design (for the first time there is also a Dark Mode on board), it also gets a significantly improved and clearer view – with the categories on the page instead of tabs.
Also new is an “Efficiency” mode, which you can find by right-clicking an app or a background process: this reduces process priority and improves energy efficiency, “but can lead to instability in certain processes,” according to the report by Microsoft.
Quick settings and notifications
Microsoft has made some minor visual changes to the info center and settings, for example, notifications now have an “acrylic” background and animations have been improved. There is also now a “do not disturb” mode and button, which allows you to mute or hide all notifications. This can also be customized or automated to your liking, allowing you to specify certain times or activities under which “Do Not Disturb” will then run automatically.
Below the calendar is now a button for the “Focus” mode. This focus is intended to minimize distractions for a period of time, but the how – including length, notifications, tasks to be completed via the “To Do” app, etc. – can be customized. It is also possible to link a Spotify account during this focus period to play quiet music or podcasts. 22h2, Windows 11 22H2.
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