Almost a year after Windows 11 launched, the first yearly update has arrived with the Windows 11 2022 Update announced today.

Rolling out to more than 190 countries from today, Executive Vice President & Chief

Product Officer, Windows and Devices Panos Panay has announced the update on the Windows Blog. The update focuses on four key areas, Making the PC easier and safer to use for everyone, Empowering people to be more productive, Making Windows the best place to connect, create and play and Delivering added security, management, and flexibility to the workplace.

Making the PC easier and safer to use for everyone

After a year in the wild, Microsoft is responding to feedback in order to make Windows 11 even easier to use. Focusing on accessibility with voice control, as well as offering improvements to the Start menu, including faster and more accurate search, Quick Settings, improved Widgets board and File Explorer.

One of the updates includes letting you organise your pinned apps in the start menu into folders. You can also get a more balanced view of your apps letting you personalise your start menu, changing the amount of recommended files, or maybe more of your pinned apps. 

A big ask from users is an update to File Explorer, which now lets you open multiple tabs within a single window. This will allow you to more easily manage the plethora of open windows on your desktop.

Microsoft has also improved search in the Start Menu, it’s faster and more responsive, letting you get to apps, or even settings a lot faster. 

Lastly, Microsoft is adding more accessibility features, including adding automatic captions from any audio-content you have playing on the system – similar to Google’s Live Captions for Android. 

Microsoft is also improving Voice – offering more natural voice models for Narrator, as well as the option to control your PC with just your voice, including opening and closing apps, the Start Menu and more. 

The app control feature and automatic captions feature are both available in preview only for now, with English (US) currently the only language option available, though this will extend further later. 

Empowering people to be more productive

Microsoft has also announced more tools to help you focus on your work, with new Focus Feature, as well as enhancements to Snap Layouts.

The new Focus feature will help you minimise distractions, implementing a Do Not Distrub mode that prevents you from being pulled away from the task at hand. The Focus feature is integrated into the clock, letting you specify blocks of time where Windows will silence notifications, turn off taskbar badges and application notifications in your taskbar.

The Focus feature has a control centre that lets you see just how much time is left, as well as showing off stats about how much time you’ve saved.

Snap Layouts – one of Windows 11 best features IMO – are also getting an update with improved touch navigation, and the ability to snap multiple browser tabs in Microsoft Edge. 

Making Windows the best place to connect, create and play

Microsoft is also adding features for improved gaming, as well as updates to Windows Studio Effects including offering improvements to video calls, and they’re also expanding their Android Apps on Windows availability.

Previously only available in the US, the Android Apps on Windows deal with Amazon is being expanded to international markets. The Amazon App store now has over 20,000 Android apps available to Windows 11 devices – if they meet specific hardware requirements

Microsoft has been working to flesh out the apps available, as previously the Amazon app store has held decidedly out of date versions of most Android apps. We’ll be having a play with this one more when it’s live.

For Gamers, Microsoft is also unlocking auto HDR and Variable Refresh Rate on windowed games in the update. 

The update will also see Clipchamp added as a built-in app in Windows. Clipchamp makes video editing simple with a number of templates, effects, and more included to make creating content easier. 

Finally, Microsoft has added new Windows Studio camera and audio effects to improve video conferencing. A new AI based system improves voice with Voice Focus able to filter background noise, while Background Blur will blur what’s happening behind you. Auto-framing will make sure you keep eye contact with people in the meeting, even if you move around. 

Delivering added security, management, and flexibility to the workplace

Microsoft has also been improving their security features of Windows 11 – which they already describe as the most secure Windows ever. The update will build on this by offering more automatic security for protecting users from malicious content – as well as now offering built-in presence detection.

The update brings a new Microsoft Defender SmartScreen will monitor the system, alerting users when they start entering their Microsoft credentials into a malicious app, or a website that’s been hacked. 

There’s also a new AI based Smart App Control that will monitor the system for any malicious or untrusted apps that have been installed. The Smart App Control will also be able to block any scripts or macros that are unsigned from running on the system. 

Lastly, Microsoft has built support for locking and unlocking the system when you approach or leave with native presence detection for Windows Hello.

Still to come

Microsoft has also announced that they will be bringing more features to Windows 11 outside of these yearly updates. There’s a few new features teased for next month:

Enhancements to File Explorer, including bringing tabs to File Explorer to help you organize your File Explorer sessions like you do in Microsoft Edge. The new homepage in File Explorer gives you quick access to your favorite and recent files, you can pin important files for quick and easy access–even including information at a glance of colleagues’ actions on your shared files through the power of OneDrive and personalized suggestions based on your Microsoft 365 account.
Photos app:
In an update to the Photos app in Windows 11, we will be introducing a new Photos – managing experience that brings a gorgeous gallery, simplifying browsing, finding, management and consumption of your collection of photos. It also allows you to easily backup your photos with OneDrive, enjoy powerful experiences on Windows devices and offers a delightful “Memories” experience.
Suggested Actions on Copy:
Copy phone numbers, future dates and get suggested actions such as making a call with Teams or Skype or adding an event in the Calendar app.
Taskbar Overflow:
Taskbar will offer an entry point to an overflow menu that allows you to view all your overflowed apps in one space.
Share to more devices:
Discover and share to more devices including desktops using nearby share.

Get the update

The Windows 11 2022 Update will be available from today for Windows 11 users, as well as those wanting to update from Windows 10 to Windows 11 with the 2022 update included. To access it, simply check the Windows Update section of Settings to see if it’s available for your device yet.