Windows 11 has a new preview build that comes with a lot of fresh stuff, including a big change and some small tweaks to the taskbar and accessibility improvements.
Microsoft just pushed build 22621.1343 to the Release Preview Channel and is reintroducing the search box to the taskbar.
As Windows 11 users will undoubtedly know, the operating system changed the traditional search box seen in Windows 10, turning it into a button that you had to click before typing your query in the box at the top of the search panel.
However, with this new preview, we have a traditional box in the taskbar where you can type your query directly.
Further minor changes to the taskbar include adjusting the system tray where icons now have a rounded focus (when hovered over). For tablets (2-in-1), there’s a touch-optimized taskbar that’s easier to use with your fingers (and retracts completely when collapsed to maximize screen real estate on a smaller display).
In addition to quite a bit of work on the taskbar, there are also plenty of extras in terms of accessibility.
We’re talking about improved support for Braille devices and additional voice access features (especially the “click” command, which allows you to verbally instruct the cursor to click on various items on the screen), as well as better scrolling using voice commands.
In addition to new features, bug fixes and tinkering are expected. Microsoft also notes, “We’ve improved Windows reliability after installing updates,” which sounds like a useful change to us. This is obviously a pretty broad statement, but more stability after an update must be a good thing.
For a full list of features and bug fixes – in this case, it’s a long one – check out Microsoft blog post (opens in a new tab).
Analytics: Improve search and development with accessibility
Microsoft has certainly done a good job here with a focus on the taskbar and accessibility as mentioned, and a tasty bone thrown in for 2-in-1 laptop users.
We’re glad to see the rather unwieldy search button changed, or at least that’s how we found it. It’s not that we often search that much in Windows, but having this box is a definite boon – we’ve always viewed the button as a step back that added unnecessary fuss.
That said, not everyone wants a big box on the taskbar, but the good news for those folks is that there are taskbar settings for how you want the search function to be – you can turn it back into a button if you like.
The new voice features, and there are plenty of them, are also commendable additions. It’s true that voice clicking (and now scrolling) can be a rather slow way to navigate your desktop, but it will certainly be an invaluable option for some people.
Since these changes are in the Release Preview, the final stage of testing before features arrive in the full release of Windows 11, we can hope to see some of these features sooner rather than later. Perhaps even in the next big update known as Moment 3? Watch this space…
By Tom’s gear (opens in a new tab)